Hidden SEO Costs Of A New Domain

by Jim August 1, 2017

Welcome back rankers! All good I hope. Today I went to the auDA extraordinary general meeting. The auDA is the Australian domain name administrator and there are a lot of people upset with them at the moment so there was an extraordinary general meeting called by the members, and I got up and spoke about direct registration and moving domain names. This is because we have just finished moving our domain name and I wanted to explain to these people who are proposing a new Top Level Domain Name for Australia called .au what a disaster it would be for most businesses who decided to make the switch to an .au from say a .com.au or even a .net.au.

Increase Brand Recognition

So as many of you know, back in April we decided to switch from our .biz domain name to .com.au. The reason we decided on that was because it was one of those things we were planning on doing for years. We originally got the .biz back in 1999 because back then we were dealing a lot with the U.S. with content, and in 1999/2000 the U.S. didn’t really know what a .com.au was. Things have changed significantly since then.
So we kept putting it off. If you’ve ever looked at an SEO’s homepage, certainly in the last ten years, SEO homepages don’t change a lot. SEO sites in general don’t change a lot if they are already ranking well. That was certainly the case for us for a bunch of years. I think we were number one for ‘SEO Melbourne’ for seven or eight years and then we pushed a new site live and lost some of those rankings.
Anyway, this is what happened this time. As you can see in this graph, we are still on .biz at this point. We do the switch to .com.au the day after. Then you can see the immediate drop in traffic. That is domain name change. Even when you do it properly, you will still experience a drop.

Domain changes recovery
Domain changes recovery tougher on weaker brands

We took a hit on the traffic before it came back, and now it is better than the same time last year. Because we are on the .com.au we now have a better brand for users to understand and they can see it’s an Australian site quite easily and they don’t have to fear being taken away to the U.S. on a .biz, which is what we suspected many thought.
All of this took time. When you are moving from one domain to another domain and it could be the same Top Level Domain or it could be two .coms and you are acquiring a business or whatever. If you are moving domain names, and I’ve done four in the past twelve months, the bigger your brand, the shorter the dip will be. For instance, with ProBlogger, it was only a couple of weeks with 10% less traffic from Google. With Retail Global it took a little longer as they weren’t as strong a brand due to being new. ProBlogger were going from .net to .com, so there’s at least a consistency of the domain part, if not the extension. So there are lots of variables that play into it, but essentially the stronger your brand and the more people that are looking for you, the more people that are actually typing your brand in, the dip will certainly be a lot shorter than ours.

Pay Attention to the SEO Details

The other things we did, we launched a new site, upgraded WordPress and a new theme, but to get through all of that took about twelve weeks. A lot of that time is waiting and adjusting. You can see all of our annotations here, such as moving to Cloudflare and doing the DNS on there. We had weird URLs turn up for HubSpot in our Google Index. One of the things I’m always amazed by is how many people don’t know how to do a site: of their domain name and find out what’s in there and what Google knows about your site.

SEO domain tasks
SEO domain tasks

That’s one of the main activities you’re doing when changing a domain. The way we approach it is if you’re doing a domain name change then I check it every day, check the index to find out if the old domain has disappeared and the new domain is fully indexed. What I found with the .biz in our situation was that there were still a few misreporting’s, or false positives, of URLs that were indexed under .biz. But when I went and looked under Google Search Analytics there was no traffic going to .biz. There were no impressions coming up and certainly no clicks going through because there were no impressions. So at that point I said we could now do a manual removal of the old domain from the Google Index.

We then did the site change and it wasn’t until about a month ago that the tide started turning for us. It does take a while if you are doing this. For a domain name you also need to do a change of address in Google Search Console, and you also have to do all the normal things for a site migration. You need to go through and do all of your redirects, if you are changing your site like we did you have to make sure you’re carrying across all those SEO elements. It’s certainly worth it once you get through it, but you have to get through it.

If you are considering getting another domain, or moving domains, whether it be something in Australia or another TLD, just make sure you understand the full cost. For me to do that for someone it would probably cost around $10-$12k if we were on it for four months or so. Plus you have the cost of loss of traffic if it’s done properly. If it’s not done properly then the loss of traffic will be far worse. Just be aware of those factors and understand the full costs when you are moving domains.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully that’s helpful. Please share the show and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, otherwise you can leave them on YouTube. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel as it’s the easiest way to find out when the new shows are out. Feel free to hit us up on https://stewartmedia.com.au/ or if you’re on SmartCompany, leave some comments there. Thanks very much everyone. See you next week. Bye.

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