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4 Easy Steps to Redirect an Entire Domain for SEO in a Rebrand

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Updated July 19, 2019
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Redirecting an entire domain in a rebrand

Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

Ahhhh – the delight of moving an entire domain over to a new domain. First off – this should be done so rarely because there is some possibility of a rankings hit, but in my experience that rankings hit need only be a small hiccup if you are doing SEO on a regular basis with new content and earning links back to a site.

Google suggests the following about redirecting an entire site:

  • Split it into smaller more manageable chunks
  • Time your move to coincide with lower traffic if possible
  • Expect temporary fluctuation in site ranking during the move.
  • You may want to try an A/B test or Trial Run.

All good points – but what about the nitty-gritty?

Redirecting an entire domain in a rebrand

What all needs to be done during a redirect of an entire domain?

  • Make sure the site is set up and working well at the new domain.
  • Prepare all of the URL mapping – where are the old pages going to go on the site? Have your redirects written
  • Configure the server to redirect from the old URLs to the new ones.
  • Make sure you have Analytics and Search Console set up on the new site – but you can monitor the hits on the old and new.

 

1. The site is set up and working well at the new domain

Of course, you want to make sure that this is a smart decision from a ‘brand equity’ standpoint – meaning you’re going to make use of the new brand, and the old brand doesn’t have too much recognizability and value to be discarded. If you’ve gone through the heavy-lifting to understand the liabilities here – making the domain transition is relatively easy enough – just make sure the site is up and working at the new domain first.

  • You’ll want to make sure their are no manual penalties on the site you’re redirecting – and that the link profile is clean.
  • Secondly, you’ll want to make sure the new domain is clean of any manual penalties and that the site in good standing with search (or in no standing.)
  • Most of your domain authority should transfer over in a full redirect, but it will take 1-2 months to get back up to full traffic and beyond, and 3-6 months for things like your ‘Domain Authority’ (Moz’s metric for domain power,) and ‘Domain Rating’ – (Ahrefs metric for Domain power), to return to the levels of your previous domain.

No worries – as long as the traffic gets transferred, and the race for the #1 organic position for all of our money keywords continues!

 

2. Prepare all of the URL mapping – where the old URL’s are directed to the new

Redirects are really easy to write if you know where to look – the .htaccess is the best way to do this – and can be done cleanly there so that ideally your redirects aren’t contingent on the content management system handling them (if you did them through a plugin) to be up and functioning perfectly.

“Redirects help Google understand that your website content has moved to a different home and to update its index accordingly.”

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You want all pages to be redirected individually to the most relevant page on the other new site/ new URL.

This can be done with one “wild card” redirect which makes each page/post/file point to its new location.

You’d have to Google “[host] wildcard redirect” to find the right instructions for your specific hosting provider.

For Godaddy it’s this:

 

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^olddomain.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.olddomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://newdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

You can also do this directly at the WordPress level (though less recommended) using a plugin like Simple 301 redirects (instructions)”

 

3. Configure the server

Make your .htaccess file live.

-or–

Make all of the redirects in ‘Simple 301’ redirects live.

It’s time to get the new site all of the ‘breath of life’ in its direction – in the form of link redirects and in the form of the redirects just from your old site. It should be noted that you should keep the site up, and the SSL paid for and activated in some form for as long as you want all of the juice to be redirected to the new site.

Now you could always do a domain provider level redirect, but you’re likely going to need the full site live / the SSL certificate applied for a long time – to maintain the power from the old site – channeling in. Yes, this is money – but if there is a significant value from that domain and the links pointing to it – keep it comin’.

 

4. Make sure you have analytics and search console set up on the new site (and the old site).

As Foreground puts it: The main way to do this is use the “Change of address” feature (only available in the old version of GSC at this time), which requires that you first add and verify your new domain in GSC.

You can find detailed instructions here: Search Console Help – Use the change of address tool

But it’s mainly 3 easy sub-steps:

A. Add the new site as a property – here’s an example where treasuredspaces.com is the domain, and we’ve already activated an SSL certificate on the new domain and verified it’s working.

Add a property in Google search console

B. Verify the new domain – with a little code in the header of the site (or have your developer add the snippet)

Confirm new property- google search console

C. Use the change of address tool – located here (you have to go to the old version of search console- as of this writing)

Gear on the top right of the old version of search console, and select'change of address'

Use the steps listed to confirm you’re ready – or do the remaining steps and press ‘Submit’!

Then use the change of address in google search console - after you've added the redirects

Congratuations!

Just go to Google Analytics > Property settings and change the domain to reflect the new location, and you’re ready to monitor your sites traffic and search presence!

Property settings - google analytics - new website change

If for some reason you can’t accomplish those steps, option 2 would be to at least submit sitemaps in GSC for both the old and the new domain, so Google becomes aware of all the 301 redirects you’ve put in place in the previous step.”

A few common questions about redirecting your whole domain and SEO

 

“Will my site get sandboxed after 301 redirecting and going webmaster console move features etc? “

‘Sandboxing’ is a way to say that a site can’t rank for anything for awhile before Google recognizes it, and starts ranking it.

I can say with certainty – this is very, very unlikely.

Because so many people have already linked to your current domain (if you’ve been doing SEO, content marketing, or other marketing aggressively) the equity from those links gets carried over very quickly, particularly after you redirect your whole site to the new domain.

 

Does this reset the trust factors?  I have read examples in my research where some people say it only took a few weeks and everything was back to normal and others that have said it took years.”

Once again, from my experience – this need not be the case.

You may want to make sure all of your local directory listings, places where you’ve guest posted, trade organizations, and awards – update the link on their websites back to you to reflect the new URL. 

This will allow LESS of the ‘link equity’ to be lost in the redirects.

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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

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Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan
18:43 19 Jun 19
I am a small business owner who was referred to Hook Agency to develop my website, promoting and advertising my business. The first time I spoke with Tim I knew his company would be a good fit for my business. The entire Hook Agency team was very responsive, acommodating, patient, and easy to work with. They made the whole process productive and stress-free. I recommend their services to anyone starting a business or for those who simply would like the best agency supporting their business.read more
Jen Wright
Jen Wright
19:48 06 Jun 19
Truly honest and caring people - I reached out to Hook Agency to schedule a consult with them, and I received a call from Tracy Kelly the same day. He was personable, kind, and took the time to explain what I was looking for wasn't a fit for their agency, but went completely above and beyond to talk to 2 other businesses to see if they would be interested in working on the project I have in mind, and then sent me a follow up email with their contact information. I am so impressed with the Tracy and his honesty and integrity. If you're worried that someone is going to sell you on services you don't need - you can expect a breathe of fresh air with Tracy and Hook Agency.read more
David Keinert
David Keinert
13:17 04 Jun 19
I was looking for agencies because we wanted to create a new website and blog. Hook was one of our top choices, but admittedly, I was nervous based on the fact they had not done work in my industry before. Fast forward to a year later, and I couldn't be happier. The team at Hook is responsive, resourceful, creative, and fun to work with. We have great content on our blog, and website continues to grow each month. I'm "Hook"ed!read more
Ryan Hanson
Ryan Hanson
03:10 24 May 19
We have nothing but great things to say about the Hook Agency. Their website work, and subsequent SEO, blog writing, and social media expertise have done wonders for our lead pipeline. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a competent and professional digital marketing team. We already have them contracted to do another project!read more
Jesse Hoekstra
Jesse Hoekstra
20:17 15 May 19
Great company to do some SEO work with and also a great help on the website building. They have quick response to questions, updates, and last minute changes.
Greg Toler
Greg Toler
17:07 15 May 19
Tim and the entire Hook Agency team has been the exact partner my company needed for all things web design, SEO, and even digital marketing strategy. Was hesitant at first with the complexity of my industry, but they have far exceeded expectations with research and content development. Our SEO position and inbound leads were almost nonexistent. Within three months our website authority and position had drastically increased, and we were consistently receiving organic leads. Now we have closed our first inbound lead as an organization and are transitioning to let Hook manage our PPC. As a small business, Tim has been helped us get the best bang for our buck while getting to know our company and process to help achieve our goals. We have used several large and small SEO companies in the past, but Hook Agency's management has provided the first measurable difference and growth. Would highly recommend!read more
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Josie Franske
16:11 22 Apr 19
We considered several web-design firms before selecting Hook Agency to redesign a large portion of our company site, and we're incredibly happy with the results. Not only was the team able to create exactly what we wanted, they've come up with some great compromises between keeping our brand voice and SEO writing, providing solutions that I'm confident no other firm would be able to dream up. It's been a very collaborative process and we're seeing great outcomes. They've also provided technical support on some small web issues, which takes major headaches off our plates as a small business without a full-time IT department. We absolutely recommend them!read more
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Karine Woodman
02:50 21 Apr 19
We absolutely love our website. Hook Agency was very professional and provided us with a website that exceeded our expectations. We've also continued with their SEO services.
Jamie Rykyto
Jamie Rykyto
23:18 21 Jan 19
Very impressed! Long story short, our company website that was hosted elsewhere somehow lost data and went down. When the hosting company failed to do anything about it Hook Agency didn’t hesitate to help. They went above and beyond to get us back up and running. They made us feel confident and comfortable with what they were doing and explained everything each step of the way. I would definitely recommend them!read more
Maygen Lacey
Maygen Lacey
16:16 09 Jan 19
Super impressed with Tim. I had no idea how to find a web developer in my budget. Even though he was well out of my price range, he still very kindly took the time to suggest a few options and and walked me through how pro web developers operate. Class act! Thank you!!
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Casey Palmer
18:49 16 Oct 18
Such a good website creator! So creative, responsive and helpful. Great team!!!
Robbin Julien
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00:29 18 Sep 18
HOOK made the complex topic of SEO far less intimidating. They were patient and understanding with our learning curve. They worked "with" us, educating us as to where the opportunities were. They identified what "they" could do for us and even more valuable, what "we" could and should be doing for ourselves. HOOK and their style of full transparency, had us feeling comfortable immediately and ultimately feeling like we had a trusted partner working for our best interests. We look forward to our future collaboration and success!read more
Andrew Alshouse
Andrew Alshouse
17:24 10 Aug 18
Hook Agency has been a great resource for our small business. From creating our initial site to making updates as we grow, Hook has always been easy to work with. And they are quick with bug fixes which I really appreciate!
Reed Leidle
Reed Leidle
17:07 27 Jul 18
Amazing! Seriously, first class customer service and good people!!! Talk about going above & beyond... couldn't ask for a better experience.
Mark Graham
Mark Graham
18:45 16 Jul 18
Finding a website design company that is highly creative, technically competent , fundamentally sound, well organized, willing to listen and committed to service is unique indeed. We found exactly that at Hook Agency.
Eric Pfeffer
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21:10 05 Jul 18
Without even paying a dime, Tim looked at my google analytics account and my google console account and gave invaluable free advice. Although his services were not a good fit for my needs at this point, I would highly recommend his services for SEO and high raking on google searches. Hook Agency is the way to go!read more
Craig Pladson
Craig Pladson
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Tim and his team were collaborative, responsive, fast and delivered quality work on a tight timeline. The Wordpress pages they built are easy to update, mobile friendly and we plan on using the template they built for landing pages down the road. Tim also provided insightful guidance on SEO and lead generation best practices along the way.read more
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Anna Overly
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When I began searching for an SEO agency last year, I received a lot of generic proposals from SEO agencies who wanted our money but didn't show any dedication to learning our niche industry. Tim, on the other hand, came to the table armed with a list of keywords to go after, goals to reach, a knowledge of what our competitors were doing, and an eagerness to understand our industry. Since then, Tim has shown a deep commitment to our success and has gone above and beyond to make sure we reach the goals we set. In the last year, our company has experienced a 30.8% increase in conversions from organic search (3mos/3mos) and a 135.06% increase in page views from organic search (3mos/3mos). The conversation has shifted from "let's get more leads" to "we need to hire more employees to handle all this new business." Tim has been incredible to work with, and I'd recommend him highly to anyone looking to hire an SEO specialist.read more
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Sarah Lietz
15:19 21 Feb 18
Tim has always been super responsive, creative in design, and helping us long after he should! Highly recommend!
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Patrick Lorence
15:52 20 Sep 17
“My company launched our completely revamped website and couldn't be happier with the way the site turned out, and our experience with Tim B Design. They took our old website with outdated graphics, poor sales results and transformed it into a modern, incredibly attractive and sales thriving site. In 6 short months we have seen a 300% increase in sales by online traffic, a greater return than we had ever imagined. Our product keywords are up over 350% and our website can easily be found on top of any major search engine. When we met with them to discuss the project, we were immediately impressed with how easy they were to communicate with—just real, down to earth, believable people that don't talk over your head with tech jargon. They listened and spent ample time understanding our products and message to make sure the site layout was exactly what we wanted.These days, I feel that people get to know your business through your website before they even walk through your door so it better be a good first impression. Our site brings in new clients every single day. The best part is that my website is so easy to use, I am able to edit content whenever I need to. It’s become such a great tool for my business. I am so in love with my branding, I receive compliments everyday. The Tim B Design team is amazing. They are creative, quick and so much fun to work with, I highly recommend them to any business.”Brad LorenceOwner, Banksystems Marketing Incread more
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Niles Deneen
19:44 03 Aug 17
Awesome - we are seeing great improvement in our traffic and engagement. It's a pleasure working with Tim he is such a gifted guru of seo and digital marketing.
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14:44 11 Jul 17
Tim B Design is exceptional to work with! He and his team have a great attitude, they've shown excitement in helping my business, and they are go getters! When I first contacted Tim on his website he responded to me almost immediately which was great. After our first face to face meeting I knew I wanted to work with him. I agreed to have them design my logo and build my website. In the process of doing that Tim thoroughly educated me on the importance of SEO which I knew very little about. There was absolutely no pressure to purchase anything while he was educating me but I decided to enter in an agreement for that too. Shortly after starting SEO they had availability to take over my social media accounts and I jumped at that opportunity. I put my full trust in them and they are doing great with all of it. Because of their work I've already seen growth in the number of sales leads generated by my website which is terrific! If you need help with any of these areas you need to contact Tim B design. Thank you Tim and Bea!read more
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