Have you ever visited a site only to find a 404 error stating the page was not found? If yes, you may wonder why. After all, you visited this page just recently. Well, there are various causes of 404 errors. It may result from a broken link or a change in domain. Whatever the case, 404 errors can harm a site's SEO.
As a website owner, there are many reasons why you may want to change your domain name. It's normal. However, while doing so, take care that it does not affect your SEO negatively. So, how do you change domains without any SEO implications? A simple, yet effective way of doing so is via domain authority 301 rebranding. Through 301 redirects, you can rebrand your domain without any hiccups. But what exactly is it? Not to worry, this article will answer that question and more.
What 301 redirects are
After changing your domain name, you need to get started on 301 redirects. 301 redirects will signal to search engines and browsers that a webpage has been moved to a different location.
For instance, you relocated to another community. Without a doubt, you would inform friends and family of your new address. Otherwise, they may end up looking for you at the old address and finding out that nobody's there.
Similarly, when you change your domain, you've moved from one address to another. Setting up a 301 redirect would be like informing your visitors of your new address. But in this case, your visitors will be automatically sent to the new address. Isn't that impressive?
So, you do not need to bother about a loss in traffic or SEO rankings. Even if a user inputs your former domain address in the search bar, they will be immediately sent to the current address. But why should you even bother with 301 redirects in the first place?
Why are 301 redirects necessary?
Consider the above illustration. You don't share your new address with friends and family. When they search for you at the old address, they find nobody or even still, they find nothing.
In that sense, when you don't set up a 301 redirect, your visitors will search for you with the old domain. But rather than finding nothing, as mentioned above, they'll be welcomed by a 404 error code.
And as seen above, 404 errors can harm your SEO. Furthermore, it can damage your brand's reputation. If not taken care of immediately, you will lose a lot of traffic and customers. Any effort you had put into your online presence will be thrown down the drain.
To avoid this, it is better to get started on 301 redirects. By doing so, you are directing visitors to the right page and giving them what they want. It will only be a matter of time before they memorize your new domain name.
When should you set up a 301 redirect?
301 redirects are very essential in the online world. As the perfect solution to 404 errors, they are useful in many situations other than domain rebranding. Here are three other cases that might require 301 redirects:
Yet another major cause of 404 are broken links. As you may know, broken links refer to those URL links to pages that no longer function. Since web crawlers won't be able to find the content, a broken link can damage your domain authority and SEO as a whole.
Since it can also damage users' experience, you need to fix any broken links as soon as possible. By using 301 redirects, you'll be able to direct visitors from a broken URL towards one that is working. Yes, it's that simple.
But what if the redirected page also stops functioning? This leads to broken redirects. Broken redirects are web pages that direct to pages that no longer exist or function. Like broken links, you can fix broken redirects by pointing them to an existing web page.
After deleting a page, you'd want to direct the URL to another web page. If not, a visitor may click that URL and end up on a 404 page.
There are many benefits of merging two different pages into one. Perhaps they are not performing as you thought they would individually. By combining them, you increase their chance of ranking high.
Furthermore, research has proven that a page with fifty backlinks is better than two pages with twenty-five backlinks each. Hence, by merging two pages, you also combine their link equity. But after merging, don't forget to redirect the URL of the two pages to the merged page.
Domain rebranding is no doubt one of the main situations that call for 301 redirects. As mentioned earlier, there are many reasons why a brand may want to change its domain name. Whatever the reason is, as seen in this article, 301 redirect is essential to retain all your SEO efforts. But how do you use domain authority rebranding?
How to use domain authority 301 rebranding
Now, you know what 301 redirects are and why they are necessary. With all that in mind, here's a guide on how to use domain authority 301 rebranding.
1. Inspect the pages on your previous domain
The first step is to perform full auditing on your previous site. Take account of every page you have as well as your site's structure. SEO tools like Ahrefs and Screaming Frog will help you do this with ease.
While doing so, take note of your inbound links since they play a major role in your site's rankings. Once you've done this, it is time to start moving your content to the new domain.
2. Transfer content from the previous domain to the new one
Does this sound stressful? Well, you should know that it isn't. It is one of the easiest processes of relocating your site. If you are retaining the structure of your former site as the new one, you only need to move all your content to the new server.
But what if you want to change your site's structure? If so, you'll have to go through each of the web pages on your previous website to identify the most significant matches for the new domain. This implies that you may have to go through the process manually. Hence, it is advisable to retain your old site's structure. That said, the effort you'll put in reorganizing your site won't go to waste.
Once you're done, don't forget to run a test to ensure everything is functioning perfectly.
3. Retain your SEO efforts via 301 redirect
The final step is to direct all the pages from the previous site to the corresponding ones of the new domain. Setting up 301 redirects is very easy. If your site is on WordPress, you only need to use plugins. After all, there are several plugins designed for this. Some of which include Pretty Links Pro, Page Links To, and All in one SEO.
Once you're through with setting up 301 redirects, don't forget to inform other sites that you've moved. Particularly those websites that link back to your web pages. You can ask that they update the links on their site. All this will help to retain the rankings of your previous domain.
Truth be told, SEO is not an easy task. To get to the top pages of Google's SERP, one may need to put effort into their SEO strategies for years. Hence, the thought of losing all those efforts for a simple thing as a 'change in domain' is scary.
As seen in this article, you don't have to go through that fear. By practicing domain authority 301 rebranding, you do not need to worry about a loss in ranking or traffic. And of course, you will be able to retain your customers. So if you are thinking of rebranding, you should make the move as soon as possible.