Changing your domain name is a big decision. It impacts your brand, website, and all-important SEO. If the decision has been made, here are some basic SEO preserving items:

1. Set up 301 re-directs for any pages where the URL structure will change.
2. Update any backlinks, profiles for your root domain.
3. Verify the new site in Google and Bing Webmaster tools, and then use the Change of Address page in Google’s Webmaster Tools to specify the new domain.
4. Re-submit an XML sitemap to Google and Bing through Webmaster Tools.
5. Once your site has moved, be aggressive with new content creation in order to generate link bait and provide the search engines with more options to rank your pages.

Considering other variables that you might be changing along with your domain, such as web hosts, content management systems, and web design, a domain name change could cause some unwelcome short-term SEO risks.

How Important Is Changing Your Domain Name to You?

For branding purposes, you may have no choice. Whether to go with something slightly longer or shorter, slightly more keyword-rich, and so forth, becomes less important than preserving search engine traction if your current domain already has some. If your existing website or blog does not have much traction to begin with, the decision to change your domain may be a lot easier. I would advocate that you do make sure you get the domain name right, now, so that it’s set for years to come.

Several reasons for changing it might be:

1. To make it memorable.

2. To make it valuable to sell.

3. To make it more relevant to your site content.

4. To make it more part of a corporate brand.

Is Buying Lots of Domain Names To My Benefit?

This topic could be its own blog post, as this question comes up on a weekly basis. Let’s get one thing straight: buying up domain names and re-directing them to your main site will not help your SEO. Your main concern is focusing on the domain you have. There are reasons, however, to have a few relevant domains you re-direct:

1. Closely matched URLs for misspellings (e.g., plural versions).

2. Stop competitors from buying them and developing them out.

3. Tracking offline campaigns e.g. print and radio.

Patience is a virtue in SEO, keep all these considerations in mind before making a decision but act quickly once you have assembled all the right information