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5 Classic Errors When Changing a Website’s Domain Name

2014-06-17

Last week United Kingdom got a new top level domain - the short .uk domain went live. Many websites use co.uk today and will surely change to the snappier .uk domain name. However be aware that it is not a simple task, if you want to keep the value built up by the old domain name. To help out we published an infographic last week identifying the 15 steps for a succesful change. Have a look if you're planning to do a domain name change. If you know someone who plans a change, then you can also send them the 15 page guide found below the infographic. Analysis of new .uk websites I analyzed some of the first websites to update to a .uk domain name. In this post I will explain the 5 classic errors I found. Some errors are minor (3-5), however if you care about your brand, you want to make sure, they are fixed. Errors 1 and 2 can be devastating for any website depending on search traffic and converting leads to customers. Some consequences are de-indexed pages in Google and a very bad on-site user experience. A correctly performed domain change project takes a minimum of six weeks, so there are plenty of errors in these first cases. Kudos to these sites though for acting fast and enjoying the first-mover effect of branding with a .uk domain name. They still have some work to do over the next weeks. 5 classic errors Here are the 5 classic errors of what happens, when you change your website's domain name: ERROR 1 : You now got a bunch of 404 errors One day you have a website with 100 pages which all redirect correctly. Then you change the domain name and suddenly 50 of them show a 404 error. That is bad! Liabilitycover.co.uk is a website set up to drive leads to Blackfriars Insurance group. Below you can see the number of links to liabilitycover.co.uk (529 links from 44 websites).

Wauw! Instead of leads and turnover all you get from now on is a hefty bounce rate. Let me present you with another example. ivanhoe-runners Ivanhoe Runners is a running club with 100 members located close to Leicester. They changed last week from ivanhoerunners.co.uk to ivanhoerunners.uk. Making this swift so quickly de-indexed a large number of pages. As you can see below they have only 23 pages indexed in Google for ivanhoerunners.uk ivanhoerunners-uk In comparsion with 811 pages indexed for ivanhoerunners.co.uk... ivanhoerunners-co-uk Normally it will take some time (2-4 weeks) for all pages to be de-indexed and re-indexed, but as we show in the 15 step guide it can be done a lot smarter. In this case many of the pages have turned into 404s. With the use of check my links in Google you can see the error pages in the screenshot below: ivanhoerunners-co.uk404 When you click on any of the results this is the 404 page you get : ivanhoerunners-co-uk404 ERROR 2 : Internal links on your page suddenly don't work In the example from ERROR 1 of liabilitycover.uk one of the menu points in the top menu is a dead link. Not cool. liability-cover-404 When you do the change you need to double check that there are no 404s. If you download Screaming Frog SEO Spider, then you can retrieve a full list of all your pages. You then insert them into BizzBuzz' screenshot tool. You can then quickly scan if there are 404s or other problems. ERROR 3 : Social media accounts not updated You need to check that your social media profiles don't show the old website address. It is a minor detail compared to ERROR 1 and 2, however you want to be taken serious, as a brand having everything under control. stripykat.uk is a designer handbag shop and was until last week formerly known as stripycat.com. Their Google+ account still gives the old website address. Or how about wanago.uk formerly wanago.co.uk. They forgot to update their Twitter profile. wanago-co-uk When you change the domain name, then make sure to go through all social media profiles and other 3rd party accounts such as Trustpilot. ERROR 4 : Forgetting to check the website for outdated info You need to check for outdated info on the website when changing the domain name. Typical issues to look after are citations of the old domain name. These are usually found in the company description. Old emails are also often listed on the site. If you decide to keep the old emails, then make sure as a minimum to do a catch-all email forward from the new domain name. leasingoptions.uk is a UK car leasing company, which changed from leasingoptions.co.uk this week, and also updated their emails to @leasingoptions.uk. However they forgot to change the email addresses on the website as in the example below. leasing-options-old-email ERROR 5 : Not checking the web for outdated info If you have links from authority sites, and they use the old domain name as anchor text, then it is important to reach out and have them correct it. The great thing is that you can recommend a better anchor text than the new domain name. In the example below leasingoptions.co.uk had a link from a domain rank 70 (Ahrefs.com's 0-100 rank) website. bad-link-text So these are some of the most common errors. Preparation is the key when it comes to changing the domain name. Let me know your thoughts below. Are you planning to change domain name? There are certainly lots of options at the moment both with .uk and the new top level domains.

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