What To Consider When Changing Your Domain Name?

You should be careful when changing a website domain. There are ways to make the process easier and more flexible.

Video Transcript:

David: I’ll ask the question. Good. All right. So. You have a question about changing the URL.

Tricia: Yes. So, I know that you need to be really careful and do it the correct way so that you don’t completely destroy your SEO efforts.

David: Yes.

Tricia: So, I remember talking about this probably over a year ago, and I went into Curious Ants to find it. And I was probably typing the wrong keyword in to find where we discussed it so that I have notes on what specifically I need to do.

David: Okay. So, I’m looking in Curious Ants to see. Let’s try this. Alright? There’s already a conversation about changing domain names. And it looks like you’re asking it.

Tricia: Yeah. Okay. So, this was it. How long ago was that? Do we know?

David: March of last year.

Tricia: Okay. So, it was over a year ago. So I can go through and watch that video and check. Is there anything new since then?

David: No, I don’t think there’s anything new. I’m about to do this with a client who is rebranding their business.

Tricia: That’s sort of what’s going on here. Mine’s not a huge, huge rebrand. One of their business names is three words, and they’re dropping one of the words from it. They said it gives them problems. And my first thought was to make sure you want to do this before you do that because it’s a whole name change and URL change.

David: This is interesting. You say that because when I talked to this client about it. They pushed back. Pardon me a little bit because they thought I was threatening. I said if we do this. You shouldn’t go back. And they’re kind of like, well, we’re going to go back if we decide to go back. They kind of put me in my place, which is fair, yes. That’s their prerogative. Right? My job is to tell them the best way to do it. If, in six months, they decide, no, we don’t want to do this. I just need them to know the implications of changing it too much.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: And so, I appreciate them pushing back. And yeah, it’s way outside my scope to tell them what they should call their company. But they should know that now. Now, this is a fairly large website. So, we decided to go ahead, and while we’re changing the domain name, we’re going to change the entire URL structure of the website. Normally, when we redesign a website, we don’t really want to change any of the URLs, even to the point of a slash or not at the end of the URL. If that’s what the old one has, we want to make sure the new one has it, or vice versa. Right? Because anytime we change the URLs, Google has to index the site, and it’ll take a while for Google to do that. But there are two things we’re changing while we’re doing this. We’re changing all the URLs because the old site infrastructure was all level. As far as the URL goes, there was no organization to the content. So, for instance, they have different divisions, and the website is website.com/service, and it is all these services. Well, that’s not a great information architecture view for a couple of reasons. One, it doesn’t allow people to understand that you offer more than the service by reading the URL. Right? By instantly looking at the URL, you see that it’s part of a subset of services. You instantly look like you’re providing more services. So, for instance. If it’s website.com/widgets/blue, I now know I have more than just blue widgets, and I might want to find the widgets page to see all the other colors of widgets. Also, when you do breadcrumbs, the schema for breadcrumbs within the site, you can then instantly allow people to get to the widgets page from the blue widgets page. And so that helps with the internal linking and site infrastructure. So, I’m just saying as long as we’re doing this, let’s just change every single URL and offer some sort of organization to this. And that would be really a good thing. The other thing I’m doing, and I go back and forth on this, is it isn’t a hard and fast rule… Go ahead.

Tricia: I have a question. I want to make sure that I understand that right. So, for example, I’m just looking kind of at my website. I think I did it this way, or maybe I didn’t. Okay, so I have yourbizwatchdog.com/services, and then there’s a page there that lists my certain little thing, but then from there, I can also go directly to any of my services. So, it’d be like /services/gbpfixit.

David: Right.

Tricia: Are you saying it should be like that or not have services? It should be like that with service.

David: Absolutely.

Tricia: Okay. That’s what I have done in the past, and I wanted to make sure.

David: So, if you didn’t do that and you just did, GMB Rescue Services, you might not think that you offer anything but that. But if you have services, it kind of begs the question that they offer much more than that, right? And they want to investigate as they’re evaluating you. Plus, the breadcrumbs thing allows for better site infrastructure and internal linking. And if you have the breadcrumb schema in the search results, you will show up not just as a URL, but it will break it out and show services and then your particular service. The other thing. I’m doing, and as I say, I go back and forth on this, I’m going to add a triple W to the beginning of every URL.

Tricia: Oh, you are adding it. Sorry, I was getting my highlighter.

David: I go back and forth on this. There’s another thing I’m doing, too, but the reason I like it is for future compatibility and flexibility. First of all, I’m going to set up a redirect so that if someone types a domain name without the triple W, it still gets there, right? So, it’s not really a concern. It’s really more for computers than for humans. Right? You can get to the same page when you type in WWW or not. So, I could give out business cards and not have triple W, and people will still get to the page. But there might be times when a client wants to add a tool, a service, or something like that. And then, you can do the subdomains, like app.website.com, or, God forbid, you have to have your blog on a separate subdomain. Well, HubSpot pretty much requires that. And so, you could then have blog.website.com easily, and it’s cleaner. So, I’m going to just do that. Now, if someone just said no, we don’t want triple W, I’d be fine with it. But I really think for maximum flexibility, I like putting triple W in there. And I guess the other thing I was going to mention, too, is I really like having all my blog posts as a subcategory of the blog.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Don’t just put all your blog posts as website.com/top-tips-to-do-this or /top-tips-to-do-that in the URL. I want website.com/blog/top-tips-to-do-this. So again, a lot of the same reasons, but one of the things that’s really nice for the blog perspective of having a subdirectory, so to speak, for the blog, is I can then easily go in my analytics or my search console and see which blog posts are performing better as opposed to which landing pages, because I can just say anything with blog in the URL is a blog post. As long as they have to change everything, great. I might as well just do it all. That’s kind of it. If I had a website and they didn’t do it, I would not start over if it’s already done that way.

Tricia: Okay.  

David: Yeah, unless they have two blog posts and they really haven’t done anything, then I might. I actually started The Reliable Acorn Blog as reliableacorn.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-this. Then I regretted it because, for instance, in this case, I wanted to do remarketing to see if you landed on my blog post. I wanted to remarket you to sign up for my email list. I had no easy way to tell a remarketing cookie which were blog pages. And so, when I could just say any page with blog/whatever, retarget those visitors. It became really easy to set up. And that was worth it. So, at one point, I actually just said, well, I’m going to take the hit traffic. I’ll set up all the redirects and just redirect everything to blog/whatever the URL is.

Tricia: Okay.

David: Yeah. So anyway, those are some things to think about. I don’t remember what I was talking about last time.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: I guess what I call changing domain names.

Tricia: Yeah. I’m going to take those because I remember that, and I don’t know why I couldn’t find it, but anyway, I think maybe I said URL instead of domain. It’s interesting that you’re going back to www at the end. In the beginning, I’ve done it the other way.

David: I go back and forth. Today is a triple W day, and tomorrow it’s not. It’s not something I’d fall on my sword for, but I think it allows for maximum flexibility for clients. Let’s say a client wants to add a payment portal. That’s a great idea. It would just be so much easier if they had triple W for the main website and portal.website.com for that, and that kind of helps. Again, I’m not changing it, I’m setting up redirects to let me go there. Some clients hate it. I get that. I’m not going to fight that.

Tricia: Yeah. I don’t like it, because, for me, when I’m looking at it, I don’t like seeing the www. I don’t know. It’s just a personal thing. There’s no rhyme or reason to it other than I just don’t like the way that it looks.

David: The only time people really know it is when it’s written down.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: It’s quick. Not looking at anything, is Curious Ants triple W or not?

Tricia: I don’t know.

David: Right. Who cares?

Tricia: It is not.

David: It is.

Tricia: It is?

David: The point is you didn’t even know.

Tricia: Yeah, right. I didn’t have a clue.

David: So later, if I need to add consulting.curiousants.com as a different service, I can do that. I mean, I could do it without the triple W, but that would distinguish the main website and the other thing, right?

Tricia: Yeah.

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