Do you want to change your domain name? Are you worried that it will affect your SEO efforts till now and you will lose your current SERP rankings? Well, there is a way to change your address or domain name without losing your current rankings. There can be many reasons for you to change your domain name permanently or temporarily. But, when you change names, you have to make sure that users and search engines can find you and treat you the same. You can use redirects effectively so that search engines and users can be led to your new domain instead of a dead end.
Every website has a URL or its online address. Whenever a user clicks on a link that leads to your website, they are following the URL to your web page. Redirecting is the way in which the user is directed to a different URL or page.
Redirects are usually used when you have to change your address permanently or temporarily due to various reasons. If you do not use a redirect when you change your domain name and URL, your users will get a page not found error when they click on an old link or type in the URL.
To understand why redirects are necessary and when you need to use them, consider the following instances.
You need to re-arrange directories within your website.
For example, you need to change 'abcd.com/products/winter' to 'abcd.com/winter'. When a user performs a search on keywords relevant to your website, the old URL with an old directory structure that is already ranked in the search engine will be listed. The problem is that when a user clicks on that link they will get an error message that the page can't be found. You might have seen error codes like '404 files not found' or '400-bad request'. These error codes are so annoying to the user. So, it's very important to make sure that our website visitors won't be seeing something like that with our website.
All you have to do is use a redirect like this:
Redirect 301 '/abcd.com/products/winter/' to '/abcd.com/winter'
After you change to a new URL for some reason, if the users type in your old URL, or click on hyperlinked text points to the old URL, they would get an error page. So, instead of giving them a dead end, you can redirect them to your new website.
There are different types of commonly used redirects:
301 Redirect – Permanent Redirect
302 Redirect – Temporary Redirect
307 redirect- Temporary Redirect, Successor of 302
MetaRefresh – Page Level Redirect, Not recommended for SEO
Let’s say that you have a website with ‘abcd.com’ as the domain name. Then you decide that you want to change it to something shorter, say ‘ab.com’.That’s where 301 redirects SEO come into play. A 301 redirect tells search engines like Google that “Hey we’ve changed names from ‘abcd.com’ to ‘ab.com’.
You can do it by using
Redirect 301 /http://www.ab.com/
It also says that now that we have a new domain name, take all our existing rankings from the old site to our new site”, and search engines do that. When you do a 301 redirect, you tell Google that you’ve permanently changed your URL. It’s like changing addresses. It is like telling the postal service that you changed your address and they will forward all your emails to your new address.
On the other hand, a 302 redirect tells Google that you’ve changed your address temporarily to another site. Let’s say you have two sites. One is called ‘abcd.com/summer’ and the other is ‘abcd.com/winter’. In summer you want to direct all your traffic to ‘abcd.com/summer’ where you sell summer products and in winter to ‘abcd.com/winter’ where you sell winter products. That’s where we use a 302 redirect.
It is suggested that you use 301 redirects for most cases. 301 redirects help you preserve rank and trust. 302 redirects can be used when you really need to temporarily move your website only for some time. There are claims that there is only some difference between 301 and 302 redirects. But to be on the safer side, use 301 redirects. That is what most SEO experts use.
Using redirects can help you to preserve your rankings and let your users find you even when you change your address. When you want to change permanently use 301 redirects and for temporary purposes use 302. These methods work in directories within a URL as well. If you want to navigate your visitors to different pages within your website you can use the above-given methods. You can use 301 redirects to redirect an entire site or a single page. You can implement 301 redirects also by using PHP redirects or apache mod_redirect.
Using 301 redirects is considered the best method for all removed URLs because it passes up to 99% of rank power into the new URLs. These are more preferred by search engines and users. You should also make sure that you don’t use the redirects for too long, ideally not more than a year.