Although it is simpler than moving a brick-and-mortar store to a new location, the transition of an online store from one URL to another does come with its own unique set of challenges.
And the most noticeable problem with changing site URLs is organic traffic loss.
You’ll have to find some way to maintain sales coming from your search engine traffic during the transition.
If you’ve found your way to this article, there’s a good chance you’ve given some thought to relocating your shop to a different domain.
Okay, Tech-One will give you a full guide on how you’ll do it.
Let’s jump right in!
- Use 301 redirects
- Get Google to see your new domain
- Submit XML sitemaps
- Test your redirects
- Check, rename & annotate Google Analytics
- Update external links/backlinks
Before Redirecting Traffic to a New Domain for your E-Commerce Shop
Before you redirect your e-Commerce traffic to a new domain, you should do these things first.
Set up a holding page on the new domain
Even just one page describing the new company or stating “Coming Soon” would suffice.
Having a presence recognized by search engines eliminates one potential cause of a delay in transferring your rankings because search engines are aware of when a parked domain is made active.
And don’t forget to include your contact information as well as any other vital information in order to make it useful to whoever is looking for it.
Make a list of all your site URLs
Gather all the URLs you can find and crawl your website so that you can discover all of the URLs that Google will see.
Then, make use of your content management system to compile a list of all URLs (if that functionality is available), compile data from Google Analytics, and even use third-party tools that display all of your pages that have been linked to by other websites (see some of your options below).
If you are running pay-per-click campaigns (like Google AdWords), it is crucial that you include any display URLs being used in your advertising.
After you have successfully redirected traffic to a new domain, the performance of the website will be evaluated using this master list of URLs to determine how well the site is functioning overall.
Map your redirects
Map your existing URLs to your new ones. In many cases, your URLs will remain the same, but with the new domain in place.
For example, http://www.olddomain/home maps to http://www.newdomain/home.
You could also take this opportunity to remove some pages.
If your planning has revealed any errors on the site (such as 404s) or existing redirects, you will need to decide where you will redirect these old URLs too.
You can then create XML sitemaps for both the old URLs from your map and the destination URLs on the new domain, ready for launch.
Redirecting Traffic to a New Domain for your E-Commerce Shop
Now it is time to actually redirect your e-commerce store traffic!
Use 301 redirects
301 redirect is an HTTP status code showing a permanent redirect from one URL to another. This means any visitors that request an old URL will be immediately redirected to the new URL.
Back on your original domain, put your 301 redirects live, preferably 1:1 redirects for each original URL, so maximize effectiveness for redirecting traffic.
Sometimes it is not possible to do 1:1 redirects, and the entire domain will be redirected to the equivalent URL on the new domain. This is less optimal, but in most cases, it will still work!
While you are at it, test the new domain setup as well.
Get Google to see your new domain
Utilize the “Fetch as Googlebot” tool found within Search Console for your website’s homepage as well as its most important URLs when redirecting traffic.
First and foremost, check to see if the page is being rendered properly.
This means ensuring that Google sees the page in the same way that your human visitors do.
The next step is to make use of the option to “Submit to Index” that is associated with that URL in order to request that Google index the page.
Submit XML sitemaps
You can submit your XML sitemap by making use of Search Console as well as Bing Webmaster Tools.
By doing so, Google and Bing will be encouraged to crawl all of the URLs contained within it (and hopefully score and index them).
You will also see how many of those pages have been indexed, a number that should increase over the first few days after the migration, hopefully reaching a number comparable to what the previous domain was able to achieve.
This should encourage the search engines to crawl these old URLs, see the 301 redirects that are in place, and visit your new domain.
Test your redirects
Enter the full list of URLs from your previous domain into the crawling tool that you used during the testing phase, and then crawl all of those URLs.
Using the crawler software, check to see that each and every URL is successfully redirecting to the new domain.
If your software allows it, check for redirect chains to see how many redirects each request is sent through before landing on the final URL. We want there to be as few steps as possible, with one being the ideal number.
Check, rename & annotate Google Analytics
You can test whether or not your analytics are functioning properly by logging into your Google Analytics profile and utilizing the Real-Time reports.
After that, you should rename the profiles and views according to the circumstances, as well as add an annotation that indicates when the migration was initiated (so that you can determine what effect it has on your traffic).
Update external links/backlinks
This is the last thing to do when redirecting traffic.
Get in touch with the site’s owners, explain the situation to them, and politely request their assistance in updating their website.
In addition, if there are any other links that you can alter, such as those leading to your social profiles, you should do so at this time.
And while we’re on the subject of social media, check to see that all of the buttons on your website point to your new domain.
Make sure you’re aware of the dangers of a site transfer before you begin. Although redirecting traffic to a whole new domain seems difficult, it is possible to do so with little effect on traffic or sales by following the advice of industry professionals and preparing ahead of time.
Hopefully, this article has helped you know what to pay attention to. Check out our blog for more tips on SEO and marketing!
Or, if you want to accelerate your business growth with innovative and result-driven marketing tactics, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.