As any online professional can tell you, changing your practice’s website domain name will affect your SEO in some way, shape or form. However, the main question from all our doctors is how changing your domain name will affect your search engine results and keyword rankings.
With a new domain, Google has to come back and crawl your website, re-index the changes and apply them to how they rank the site. Since so much is new, this can often result in undesirable ranking fluctuations. Basically, Google has built a relationship and gotten to know your old domain and when you do a website redesign or get a new domain, the search engines have to get familiar with your website again.
Since changing the domain URL and business name can have a negative impact on the SEO results after the initial switch, but we’d be happy to provide you with a personalized plan of action to help you transition to your new domain, with steps to build your SEO results back up after the transition process is complete! In the meantime, there are a few crucial steps you must take once your new domain is up and running.
Updating your domain will affect SEO as you will essentially lose inbound links. Inbound links or “backlinks” come from an external site to yours. Backlinks are among the main components of good SEO performance. You will have to rebuild these links when changing domain names to minimize losing any connections you acquired over the years with your previous domain.
Link building is essentially actions aimed at increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a page. Acquiring hyperlinks from other websites not only naturally transitions potential patients to your website, but also allow search engines to gather sufficient information about your practice. In fact, when Google crawls a website they check not only the page content but the inbound and outbound links to conclude your relevancy to keyword searches. Meaning that even though you may be the top provider of a service in your area, a doctor who has created a successful online campaign through link building with social media and local community programs will rank better due to Google’s perception that they are the more “trusted and preferred brand”.
Having these other websites “pointing” to yours is a huge way to generate more traffic and better rankings. After your new domain has officially been launched, plan to connect with the various teams, clubs and local organizations you have been affiliated with over the years so they can link to your current domain. The Sesame SEO Team can help by providing you our link building kit, which includes an email template asking someone you currently sponsor to link to your website and asking to sponsor a group or organization that you are not yet connected to.
A 301 redirect is a permanent page redirect which passes the link equity (ranking value) to the redirected page. Setting up a 301 redirect will not only send the user to the correct page, but it will also tell search engines that the page has permanently been moved and transfer the link credit to the new URL.
301 redirects are also crucial for user experience. An existing patient might click links from old confirmation emails, an outdated review platform or their bookmarks, which will not be updated with your new URL. If a patient were to click an old link, a 301 redirect will forward them to the current page they were looking for under your new domain. The Sesame SEO Team will complete these redirects as soon as your new domain has been launched!
Once your redirects have been established, it is crucial to comb over every page on your website and find any mentions of your old domain. Make sure that your site’s text and hyperlinks are updated to reflect your new URL. This goes beyond mentions within your websites content; be sure to double-check your website’s navigational aspects like the header, footer, and various buttons. As you manage the launch of your new web domain, this quality, updated website copy will show prospective new patients and search engines that they can put their trust in your practice.
Consistency is paramount for businesses wanting to rank well in local organic search results. It is important that your business name, address, phone number and website URL you make available on your website are mirrored exactly the same across the internet. When potential patients visit your citation profiles and read through your rave reviews, that is only step one in their online journey to find a new oral health provider. If they were to click on a link to your website and be referred to a domain that no longer exists, they could get so frustrated at the error that they may choose to continue their journey with another prospective provider.
As a part of the SEO service, we do an audit of four major listings: Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and Yellow Pages to make sure your Name, Address, and Phone number are mirrored exactly across the internet. It is important that the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) you list on your website is mirrored correctly across the internet. If the NAP is inconsistent, it will negatively affect rank and online performance as Google cannot tell what information is correct. Once we complete the audit of these few basic listings, we can advise you on how to update them if we find the information to be inaccurate.
However, if you find that the volume of citations you have to update is well above what time allows, the Sesame SEO Team can advise you on what third party citation management companies we would suggest you work with to supplement your existing SEO service!
Often times, changing your website domain name can feel like ending a relationship and expecting your new friend to be able to pick up right where the last one left off; impossible! However, utilizing our tips and tricks while working closely with your Sesame SEO Team should prevent any major losses in website traffic and ranking performance. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us so we can ensure a smooth and effective domain transition!
—Naomi Ellis, Senior SEO Specialist, Sesame Communications