The Complexities Of Changing A Web Address

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Internet ConceptWeb addresses, otherwise known as domain names are in important and crucial part of brand identity for a business or organization. They are the identifier for a website on the World Wide Web. Once in awhile, a time will come when a web address needs to be changed.

Changing a web address has far-reaching implications. Perhaps the most obvious implication is the fact that you have to notify all the people who were familiar with the old address so that they update their bookmarks. 

Whatever the implications of changing a web address, there are many reasons why a brand may opt to do so.

Some Reasons For Change

Like people, businesses or organizations go through various changes over time. It is to be expected that some businesses or organizations will change their name for one or more of several reasons. Following such a change, it becomes necessary for the website of  the business or organization to also go through a corresponding change.

If you want to keep a competitive edge, your business or organization will have to continuously re-evaluate its marketing and positioning and one of the strategies that is likely to propel your brand forward is to re-brand. In such instances, as part of the re-branding initiative, the web address would also most likely change.

We can't always get what we want all the time and at times it is impossible to initially get the domain name you want and prefer, so you settle for one that doesn’t suit you so well but will suffice. If good fortune favours you, you may later find that the domain that was once unavailable become available and the domain change therefore automatically becomes necessary.

Another reason for changing a domain name might have to do with the way you would like your business or organization to be perceived online. You might choose a domain that has better success with Search Engine Optimization, SEO. You might also want to change the visibility of your website from an international perspective such as using a .com compared to a local top-level domain like .co.za.

Emails Need To Be Handled

Once you change your domain, your email addresses will also have to change. This is necessary unless you want to confuse clients by having an email address on a different domain than your website. Not only is this confusing for your clients, but it also makes you appear unprofessional.

When you change your domain, you shouldn’t get rid of your old domain immediately. It is necessary to maintaining your old domain and hosting for a while before getting rid of it. This has to be done until the email accounts from your old domain stop receiving mail so that you do not miss anything.

The reason why you keep the old domain and hosting for a while is that you can continue to receive mail on it and set the mail server to forward all mail to the new email accounts on the new domain. An auto-responder should also be set on the old domain email accounts to automatically send a response to all mail senders notifying them of the change in address.

Posted Site Links Will Be Broken

Since you will already be maintaining the old domain and hosting after the domain change for purposes of providing continuity with email, you should also use these resources to make sure that the content that you posted out there is also not adversely affected. What has happened with the change is that the content you posted before online will have broken links unless the old domain and hosting are maintained.

Essentially this means that all the articles you have ever posted on the old domain will no longer be available once that domain and hosting is removed. If you think in terms of SEO, this means you will lose any advantage  gained from these posts. Not to mention that you will have disappointed site visitors following the old links.

To remedy this situation, you need to have have your web developer setup what is known as a 301 Redirect. What this does is indicate to anyone, or anything visiting links on your old domain that they have been permanently moved to a new location and accordingly redirect them to the new location. The redirect will let search engines and site visitors know to look for content on the new domain rather than the old one.

As for links posted in other places such as social media and other websites, the links will not be updated and will result in broken links if you remove the website on the old domain and choose not to redirect. This is a choice you would have to make on whether to keep the old domain for redirection purposes or not in order to preserve the accessibility of these links.

Plan It Out Diligently

Changing a domain can be demanding to a brand in terms of impact on SEO and user experience and requires a certain level of expertise to pull off. For one thing, there is the moving of files as well as database between the new domain and the old domain and adjusting of parameters to get the job done. If you get a good web developer to carry out the tasks, it should go without a hitch. What is essential is to plan for the complexities of changing your web address and anticipate their impact. 

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