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HubSpot COS FAQ: Can I Change Our Domain while Moving to the COS?

By November 20, 2013May 4th, 2023Uncategorized

This is another in our series of HubSpot COS FAQ’s based on questions we get asked a lot by HubSpot customers who are interested in migrating their website and blog to the Content Optimization System (COS).

We want to rebrand our website and give it a new domain. Can we do this as part of our migration to the COS?

Well, yes and no. If you want to change your domain, we can do that as part of the migration. However, we do NOT recommend changing your domain AND changing the site structure (URLs) at the same time.

To retain your search engine rankings, never do these two things together. It’s better to do one and then wait 6 to 8 months and do the other. Likewise, no major content changes should be made in conjunction with a new domain name. Too many changes will make this a new site in the eyes of the search engines, and your search rankings will suffer or even disappear completely.

Rebrand your website with a new “look and feel”

Moving your website to the COS is a great time to think about a website re-design, whether for rebranding or just to give your website a fresh look. Many HubSpot users are taking the opportunity to do this. You can move from the old HubSpot CMS with a new design, or from WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal with a new design. This will give your web visitors a whole new experience with your website.

You might want to consider using smart content as part of this new experience, to customize page content to your visitor’s stage in the sales funnel, or the industry/company they are from. The COS is flexible enough to allow for any website design you want, and any features you want to add to it.

But please do NOT change your domain as part of this migration! Wait 6-8 months.

The correct process for changing your domain name after a site migration

Changing your domain name is not an insignificant event, and must be handled properly in order for your site to retain its search engine rankings. Here’s how you can minimize the damage and protect your organic traffic:

  1. Wait until 6-8 months after your site migration
    . Too many changes all at once will make this a new website in the eyes of the search engines, and your search ranking will suffer.
  2. Understand that there will be a few weeks of ups and downs in the search engines. Know this and plan for it.
  3. Plan a bigger than normal push for new content and guest blogging posts to try to drive NEW links to the NEW domain. Talk to some of your friends with blogs and get guest blogs setup… then once the site launches, publish those blogs.
  4. Create 301 re-directs for EVERY PAGE. This is easy to do in HubSpot. Call their tech support or your web developer if you have questions.
  5. Benchmark key things like the number of indexed pages you have before the move to the new domain and compare to make sure the number of pages is the same after the move.
  6. Setup your Google Webmaster tools account.
  7. In Google Webmaster tools there’s a menu item for “Domain Change”  —  submit your request there.
  8. On the day you change the domain… go to Google and search for EVERYTHING related to the business and any of your pages or posts that show up in the search engine results. Click on each link you find and make sure that page is 301 redirecting properly.
  9. Look at the inbound links either on Google Webmaster tools or MOZ’ Open Site Explorer and go down the list to check that all the major links were 301 redirected.
  10. Check for 404 errors on 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 30 days (and so on) in Google Webmaster tools or  MOZ for 404’s and then clean up any errors you find.(Hat tip to @SavvyLuke for some of these tips)

We don’t recommend changing your domain as part of your website/blog migration. Instead, give the search engines 6-8 months — THEN change your domain name. But do it carefully with forethought and good planning. These 10 steps will keep you on the right path and help prevent damage to your search engine rankings.

Migrating to the COS does require some thought and planning. Get our free COS Readiness Checklist and start the process for your company.

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Larry Levenson

Larry is passionate about inbound marketing and is a HubSpot Certified Trainer. He's learned the "secrets" of leveraging HubSpot to make marketing hyper-effective and customizes that information to help our clients meet their goals. Larry lives in Prescott, AZ, and when not at work, he is hiking or hanging out with teenagers as a volunteer with Boys to Men USA.