Domain Transfer & Change: How to Do It Right

Whether for family, work, or cost reasons, there are many reasons for moving. As in analog life, you can also move in the digital world.

Just like a normal move, a domain move involves organizational effort and carries some risks. For a smooth process with a low impact on trust and traffic, a domain move should be well thought out in advance and carried out with great care.

Domain transfer vs. domain change

Basically, a distinction must be made between a domain transfer and a domain change. One speaks of a domain change when the Internet address of a website changes. A domain change primarily affects the domain name; an existing website is linked to a new domain. In the case of a domain move, often also called domain transfer or website migration, a provider change takes place. An existing website and its address are transferred to a new server. Of course, the domain can also be changed during a domain transfer, but this is only an additional option and has nothing to do with the actual process of domain transfer.

  • Domain transfer: The provider changes. The website and the domain move to a new web server. The domain usually remains.
  • Domain change: The Internet address changes. The website is linked to a new domain. The provider usually remains the old one.

Reasons for a domain change

There are different reasons why a change of the internet address can be useful or even necessary.

Change of the company name

When a company changes its name, for example after a change of ownership, a merger or a realignment, the Internet presence should be adapted accordingly.

Infringement of trademark rights

If the previous domain name contains names or places to which someone else owns the rights, there is a violation of trademark law. In such a case, the name must be changed.

Adaptation to page content

If the content of a website that has existed for years no longer fits the domain name or if one has registered a name that promises more popularity and traffic or simply fits better to the topics of the site, the address should be adjusted.

Geographical orientation

If the website is to be internationalized, for example because the orientation of a company is expanding, a change from a .de to a .com domain is a good idea. For regional companies, domain extensions such as .berlin, .bayern or .london offer advantages with regard to their local users.

Risks of a domain change

A domain change is always associated with high effort and also involves risks, at least from an SEO point of view. Before you decide to change a domain, you should have thought about possible consequences and check whether there is an alternative to the change. To avoid negative consequences, it is advisable to consult an expert. The biggest danger with a domain change is that the ranking of the website will initially deteriorate. Search engines do not know the new domain and even if all measures are technically implemented correctly, it takes a few weeks until all parameters are transferred from the old to the new address and the page reappears in the old position in the search results.

Tips for a domain change: What you should pay attention to

If your old domain has a good position in the search results of Google and Co., the page should of course perform at least as well after the domain change. A transition completely without ranking loss is hardly possible due to the problems described above. However, if you pay attention to a few things, your page will quickly be back to its old status:

  • Put the new site and the old site online at the same time for a few days so that the new site is indexed by the search engines.
  • Inform Google about the domain change and enter the new address in your Google Search Console account.
  • Set up a 301 redirect. This ensures that your page can only be accessed under the new domain and that there is no duplicate content.
  • Share the domain as soon as possible on your social networks and rating platforms. These entries are especially relevant for local search engine optimization.
  • Check internal links on the website and adjust them to the new domain structure.
  • Check external links that lead to your site. All important backlinks from other sites should be changed so that they are not lost. For this purpose, the respective website owners must be informed.
  • If you have purchased a domain that is already in use, be sure to check the previous trust in advance. Abstractions from the past could have a negative impact on the development of your domain.

Reasons for domain transfer

A domain transfer involves transferring a domain from one hosting provider to another. ICANN established binding rules for domain transfers as early as 2004 to simplify the process and make it more secure. Even though a domain transfer is relatively fast (depending on the domain within a few hours up to a few days), the optimal time to initiate a domain transfer is about two weeks before the expiration of the respective domain. This gives you enough time to react to possible problems. Before you start moving your domain, be sure to create an up-to-date backup copy of your website and save the data on your computer. Due to the change, you may no longer have access to backups at your old provider or the data may have been deleted.

The actual domain transfer consists of the following two steps:

  • Requesting an authorization code for the domainThe authorization code (short: Auth Code) serves as a password for a domain transfer and must be requested from the current provider. It usually consists of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Depending on the provider, the Auth Code will be sent to you by e-mail, fax or post. Thanks to the Auth Code, your domain is prevented from falling into the hands of unauthorized persons.
  • Moving the domain to the new providerEnter your previous domain name as the desired domain at your new provider. After the availability check you will be informed that your desired domain is already registered. Now you can enter the Auth Code and you will be authorized for the corresponding domain. This is followed by the transfer of the domain to the new hosting provider. This process is automatic; your new provider will take care of everything and there is no need for action on your part. Detailed information about the technical process can be found in our dd24 FAQ.By the way, the ownership of a domain does not change by a transfer. Both the Whois data and the name servers remain the same, the change only affects the registrar responsible for the domain.

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