Why is my website not ranking after a domain name change?

So, you’ve got a brand-new website with a shiny new domain, but the Google results aren’t rolling in as expected. Wondering why? It’s probably because of something called Domain Authority. Stick around to find out why ranking after changing domain names takes time and, more importantly, how you can speed up the process.

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New Domain vs SEO Rankings

So you’re planning to switch your website’s name, especially for a new launch or rebrand, but is it a good idea to do so? Well, yes, always yes, but you gotta be prepared. Rule 1, you first need to understand how this change affects search engine optimisation (SEO) and how to handle it to avoid losing organic traffic. 

The next question you should have in mind… does changing your website’s name impact SEO? Yes, it does. If you’re used to being on the first page of Google, switching names will likely shake things up. Your old name has a history and some backlinks that Google loves – (what are these? Just scroll down), but with the new name, it’s like starting fresh once again – building up a good reputation takes time. Now let’s discuss these things further.

What makes a website rank?

To rank websites, Google uses web crawlers that scan and index pages. Every page gets rated according to Google’s opinion of its authority and usefulness to the end user. Then, using an algorithm with over 210 known factors, Google orders them on a search result page.

Why Your Rankings Are Affected When Changing Domain Name

1. New Webpages Lack Domain Authority

Google needs time to recognise and trust new websites. Your site’s authority, determined by various factors, plays an important role in whether Google decides to display your page to users. Being a newcomer, your website starts from position 0, and while it will take off, a bit of time is needed to reach those top positions in Google.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). The higher your domain authority score is, the more likely you are to perform well in search results.
domain authority

2. Competition for Popular Keywords

Established and reputable websites have an upper hand as they’ve had more time to build authority and target competitive industry keywords. If, for example, you’re trying to rank for common terms like “shoe shop,” it might be tough initially cause you’re up against the big players, so yes, it’s a tough battle. However, focusing on longer, more specific keywords that cater to your niche and consistently targeting them can work wonders. Remember, starting from scratch is challenging but not impossible.

3. Loss of Backlinks

Switching your domain name may lead to losing important backlinks from other websites. Backlinks are essentially links from one website to another. If these backlinks were boosting your site’s credibility, their absence can affect how well your website ranks in search results. So, why should you care about link building? Backlinks, in the eyes of Google, are like brownie points. Each link is a brownie point, the more you have, the higher you rank.

4. Search Algorithm Confusion

Google’s algorithms may get confused during a domain name change, leading to a period of uncertainty in how your site is interpreted. This confusion can cause fluctuations in rankings until the algorithms adjust. Be prepared for the fact that re-indexing all your pages might take at least three months to get back to your previous organic rankings. In some cases, this process could stretch to six months or even a year.

5. Changes in User Behavior

Users may be familiar with your old domain name, and when you make a change, it can temporarily alter how they interact with your site. This change in user behaviour directly impacts how Google views the relevance and popularity of your website. Essentially, Google pays attention to how people engage with your site, and a positive user experience (UX) is a signal to search engines that your content is valuable and worthy of higher rankings.

6. Content Relevance Challenges

When you switch to a new domain, there can be a momentary mismatch between the content you already have and the new identity of your domain. Google might take some time to comprehend and synchronise your existing content with the changes made to the website. This adjustment period is important because it allows Google to accurately assess and categorise your content in relation to the new domain, ensuring that your website is appropriately understood and ranked in search results

7. Technical Issues During Migration

If the technical elements of changing your domain, like redirects and the structure of your site, are not smoothly executed, it can lead to problems with how search engines index your site. This, in turn, can have a negative effect on your rankings. In simpler terms, if the behind-the-scenes technical stuff – aka your backend SEO isn’t done well, search engines may struggle to understand and properly rank your website, impacting its visibility in search results.

8. Trust Building Period

Think of trust as a currency in the online world, especially for search engines. When you change your domain, your website enters a trust-building phase. This means your site needs time to show it’s legitimate and reliable to both users and search engines. It’s a bit like when you move to a new neighbourhood – at first, people are unsure about you, but over time, as you consistently prove yourself, trust grows. Similarly, after a domain change, your website needs to consistently demonstrate its reliability and legitimacy to earn the trust of both users and search engines.

9. Impact of Historical Data

Last but not least, let’s not forget about history. A sudden change in your domain can disrupt this continuous flow of data. This disruption can impact how Google assesses the reliability and relevance of your site. To put it simply, Google relies on the history of your old domain to understand your website better, and an abrupt change can create a gap in this understanding, affecting how Google perceives your site’s trustworthiness and relevance.
factors affecting ranking

Recap – Realistic Impact on SEO When Changing Domain Names

After changing domain names or unveiling a brand-new one, give yourself time to settle in. Let us help you keep posting top-notch content, and soon your website will grow and claim a top spot in Google search results! For a firsthand look at what our SEO strategy can achieve, read about our SEO roadmap work here. Remember, just like the song says, if you’ve walked five hundred miles, you can walk five hundred more! Consistency is the secret to better SEO rankings, so don’t give up if you don’t see quick improvements. Cheers!
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