If You Have to Change Your Domain Name, this is the Way to Do It

There’s a reason so many articles and blog posts online place an emphasis on choosing the right domain name before your website is even up and running. In fact, there are many. Once you have a domain name and a website for some time, people become familiar with the name, your brand, and knowing what they can expect from you. If you change it, they may lose track of you and not bother learning or remembering your new name.

However, there are times when you may want to change your domain name. If you didn’t pick a great domain name to begin with you may want to change it at a later date, and if your company ever goes through a period of rebranding, a domain name change may also be called for. When it is, it’s important that you know how to do it properly so the change can be as seamless as possible and regular visitors to your site don’t get lost in the mix.

First, spend some time thinking about exactly what you want the new domain name to be. You don’t want to have to go through the process again, and changing the domain name too many times can confuse visitors and eventually keep them from coming back to the site. Once you’ve settled on a name you want to use once and for all, choose a registrar you want to use and register your domain name with them.

After registering the domain name, you’ll need to assign that name to the website through the same registrar. This process will vary depending on the registrar you’re using. Some make it very simple while with others, it can be a bit more complicated. If the latter is the case, just contact the registrar and ask them to walk you through it; most registrars should be happy to.

Once the domain name has been registered, you’ll then need to make sure that your website’s design still reflects the new name. This is especially true when the domain name is being changed for rebranding purposes, as the ‘About’ page may have to be revamped and the logo and tagline may also have to be changed. Be sure to read through all the content that’s on the site to make sure it all matches with the new domain name.

The most important, and sometimes the most difficult, step in changing your domain name is to redirect users from the old domain name to the new one. If this step is missed, visitors may simply visit the old domain and be confused when they land on a page advertising the space for sale or showing an error message. The web host you’re using may have a ‘redirect’ function that will automatically take the visitor to the new domain but if they don’t, this will be a bit more difficult as you may have to let them know through other outlets such as Facebook. In either case, keep the old domain active until traffic to it starts to die down. It also doesn’t hurt to place a notice within the old domain letting visitors know the site has moved.

Lastly, don’t think your visitors won’t notice the new rebranding or the new domain name; and don’t leave them out of the loop as to why. Place content on your page explaining why the change was made and what bigger and better things they can expect out of the new brand.

The decision to change a domain name isn’t one that should be taken lightly, but there are a number of valid reasons to do it. When it comes time to make that change, be sure to do more than simply register a new domain name and assign that name to your website. Let everyone know what you’re doing and why, and the entire process will be much easier and go much more smoothly.