Changing domain names can be extremely overwhelming especially when all the technical jargon is so difficult to understand. I’ll admit that when I was first doing research to change the domain name on my blog, I found myself reading and re-reading articles multiple times and getting nowhere. We composed a list of things to consider along with some tips that we think might be helpful for anyone considering to change domain names.
Throughout my 7 years of blogging, I’ve only ever used WordPress. In the very early days, I did try Blogspot but ultimately decided WordPress was more suitable for my needs. Shortly after I started, I purchased my domain from WordPress which dropped the “wordpress” in “foodinthecitytoronto.wordpress.com” to give my site a more professional appearance. Several years later, in 2016, I decided overhaul the overall look of my blog and purchased a theme with pipdig which involved making some technical changes. In order to use the pipdig theme, I changed my domain from .com to .or and switched from hosting on WordPress to Site ground, a web hosting service that I am still using today.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CHANGING DOMAIN NAME
(1) Register your new domain name
You can do this with most web hosting services and also on WordPress. Keep in mind that depending on where you register your new domain name, there may be a period of time where you cannot switch web hosts (ie. on Siteground you may not switch web hosting services for 60 days after purchase)
(2) Backing up your site
Before you start making any changes to your site, it is important to take a full back up of your site! There are WordPress plugins and other solutions out there at your disposal to create a site back up. We currently use UpdraftPlus for creating regular backups and also to back up before the domain name change.
(3) Notifying your Web Host
It’s always a good idea to contact your web hosting service provider. Once you have made a plan for changing your domain name, run it by your web host. Make sure they check out your specific site and give you the go ahead before proceeding further. They may be aware of something on the back end that you are not.
(4) Redirecting links (+short links)
You will need to forward all of the links from your old domain to your new domain. This is so that when a reader tries to reach one of your existing pages or blog posts at the old domain, they will automatically be redirected to your new domain. I also had a lot of short links embedded in my website that are re-directed to other sections of my blog under the new domain name. For example, www.foodinthecitytoronto.com/category/travel will automatically load the page www.gracelisamay.com/category/travel
(5) SEO and Google Analytics
If you have any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) applied to your old domain, you will need to transfer these over to your new domain in order to preserve the SEO that you have worked so hard for! For example, if you use Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools on your website, you will need to notify them of your move by submitting a change of address.
(6) Pipdig and paid themes
If you have a paid theme from Pipdig or another service, be sure to let them know about your domain name change. They were extremely knowledgeable and helpful and also have a paid service to help you with the transition.
(7) Miscellaneous $$$
Depending on how you choose to manage your websites, you may have both additional one time costs and on-going charges. For example, you may incur costs for mandatory upgrade of your package with your web host, purchase of your new domain, maintenance fees on the new domain, annual privacy protection and pipdig fees.
THINGS TO DO AFTER DOMAIN NAME CHANGE
(8) Notify your contact list
Notify PR companies, brands and other fellow bloggers that you’re collaborating with & readers about the name change and where + how they can find you going forward.
(9) Social Media Handles
Before you purchase your new domain name, ensure all the handles for the new name are available across all platforms (should you want the name to be consistent). I recommend keeping all the old handles as well to re-direct the traffic to the new handles.
(10) Email Address
In my case, I had to change my email from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com. (no fees involved, emails are not forwarded). firstname.lastname@example.org became an invalid email address. I also registered email@example.com because having an additional gmail account never hurts!
(11) Final Updates
Last but not least, update the minor touches to the blog which includes: your blog post signatures & watermarks on photographs (if any).
Hope this post gives you a better insight of things to consider when changing domain names. I know it can be daunting at first so just take it at your own pace!
Thanks for reading guys 🙂
Contributor: EY & I