How Changing Domain Name & Website Host Affects SEO

How Does Changing Your Domain or Web Host Affect SEO?
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Everyone who wants to increase their organic website traffic, improve their lead conversion volumes, and enhance the visibility of their brand knows that SEO is a crucial strategy. In fact, most brands realize that SEO is key to a successful branding strategy in modern times.

But brands and webmasters face a major challenge in pursuing SEO gains. The search engines (especially Google), keep changing their rules and regulations with regards to SEO algorithms and rules. As you might surmise, this creates a great deal of confusion.

If you do not understand how changing your domain name and website host might affect your SEO, you are in good company. Here is what you need to know about both of these changes with respec to your organic performance.

How does changing the domain name affect SEO?

Let’s start with a key fact to accept: You will definitely impact your SEO success and long term strategy by moving to a new domain.

Most website owners refuse to change their domain name in the vast majority of situations. After all, if the website is performing well beforehand, a domain change can negatively impact rankings and overall organic traffic volumes.

Take time to understand the implications of a domain name swap before choosing to move on it.

For instance, if you are retaining control over the old domain name (which you can do for up to ten years), you should deploy 301 redirects. These redirects will push visitors to your old URLs over to the most relevant pages on the new website / domain.

Alternatively, if you are planning to sell your old domain, you will be starting over completely. Without control of the old domain, you will lose all link equity you’ve built up or earned over the life of the website.

After selling the old domain name, take the old content and publish it in a new place. If the value of the content was good, it will probably attract new links anyway.

While search engines are trying to figure out what to do with your redirects, your organic traffic may very well decrease temporarily. If you keep generating great content for the new site, you should be able to recover your traffic within three-to-six months.

Hosting and SEO

Does hosting affect SEO? This is another question that is very common among website owners.

The short answer to this question is: “Yes.” Like domain name changes, your SEO performance can be negatively impacted by moving to a new web host.

While many people are convinced that hosting changes have minimal effect on SEO, here are a few ways in which these changes can occur.

  • The server location: There was a time when Google relied on TLD’s (Top Level Domains) to classify websites based on the country where the hosting servers were located. With time, they started using IP addresses instead. It is important to make sure that the web host server is located in the same country that your website is serving to avoid losing traffic because of the geographical location of the new host.
  • The quality of the server: look for a web host that offers top quality hosting services. If you go for a host whose servers are crowded and there is a lot of downtime, you will end up lower on the SEO ranks.
  • The page load speed: Most website owners are trying to make their sites as fast as possible. One of the determiners of website load speed is web hosting. If your host slows down and web page loading exceeds acceptable performance standards, Google will rank you lower. This is particularly likely for mobile searches, which now account for over half of all internet searches overall.
  • The hosting plan: If for any reason you have to downgrade your hosting support plan, be prepared for the consequences that this will bring to your page rank. Go for the best plan your budget allows from the start to minimize risk.
  • Changing the structure of the website: Different hosts will make certain structural changes to your website. When crawlers come across the site, they will mistake it for a new site, which can lower your rankings and performance.
  • The type of hosting plan: When deciding on what to choose between shared, dedicated, and vps hosting, remember that a dedicated server is best for SEO. However, not everyone can afford a dedicated server. If you opt for a VPS hosting service provider, make sure that it is reliable to avoid downtime, which is very bad for SEO.

Before migrating your website to the new host, make sure that you investigate the new provider’s history of service and available hosting packages. In small but significant ways, your move to a new web host will surely have some effect on SEO.

Other factors that affect SEO

Web hosting and domain name changes are just two of the many factors which can affect your SEO rankings. It is important to learn about other website structure related factors that could also impact your SEO performance.

If you want to stay on top of the rankings:

  • Make sure that you create a good website structure, because it will give a positive user experience, and the visitors will be more likely to keep coming back.
  • Create a site structure that has sensible links for easy navigation.
  • Create a great website structure so that Google Crawlers can have an easier time classifying, indexing, and ranking the site.
  • Before developing or redeveloping a website, plan out a hierarchy in great detail that is as “flat” (i.e. only 3-4 clicks from the home page to any internal page) and as user friendly as possible.

In a nutshell, anything that changes the structure, location, and content of your website will have an effect on SEO. The important thing is to try and use the discussed measures to minimize these effects.


Feature Image screenshot taken from domain.com directly.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

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Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. She understands the importance of productivity at work and never stopped finding new ways to create her work productivity. Riya is also a content marketing strategist for VPS HiSpeed, a virtual server company hosted in Thailand. Connect with her on twitter, @sanderriya.

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