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How to change your domain name

Whether it's because of a brand refresh or your business has outgrown its domain name, sometimes a domain name switch is in order.
By Erin Hutchison
Content Marketing and Social Media Specialist

So you have a website up and running and you decide you want to change your domain name.

Maybe you’ve gone through a brand refresh, grew the scope of your business or merged with another company and have decided to switch your domain name to .CA.

For whatever reason, you’ve decided this is something you want to do but it feels…intimidating. Don’t worry, we can guide you through it.

A lot of the technical details will depend on your situation, but here’s a quick overview so you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you have any questions you should ask your registrar or give us a shout.

Changing the domain for your website

Here are some things you need to check off your list:

  1. Purchase a new domain name.If you need some inspiration for a new domain name, read our guide: Bringing your business online: How to choose a domain name and more.
  2. Set up your website.Prop up a website with your new domain, either with a web building platform or purchase a hosting package.Hold up!

    Setting up a whole new website might sound like too much work or expense for the time being. In that case, it is simpler to forward your new domain name to your existing site. It just takes a few minutes to paste the destination link in and hit save. Now you can use your shiny new domain on materials and it’ll redirect to your existing site, all for the cost of a domain registration. Easy, eh?

    If you’re looking to do a full migration though, continue to step three.

  3. Migrate the content to the new website.This can be quite complex, especially if you have a website with a lot of pages. Tip: do this in a test environment to iron out all of the kinks before you do the real deal. We can rely on trusty Moz to help you with their Website Migration Guide.
  4. Cancel the hosting plan on your old domain, and set up a 301 redirect.Do not let go of your old domain right way. It will likely still get residual traffic – monitor it closely and see what sources people are coming from. Even when traffic begins to dwindle, it is an asset for your business. Keep it in your hands, since the cost of renewing a domain every year is a nominal fee to ensure no bad actor registers it.

Rebranding with a new domain: Email addresses, business cards and more

Now that your site is on your new domain, here are some things you need to take care of.

Keep your customers and key stakeholders informed of the rebrand.

Give them a heads up, and announce when you’ve made the switch.

Update your email addresses.

Each email address has to be recreated and existing email messages moved to the new one. How this works will depend on what system you use, so do some research on how to roll this out.

Do some SEO work.

Ensure you don’t lose out on any website visits and that search engines understand that the switch was made. Again Moz (yes, we’re fans!) has created a helpful infographic for this:  Achieving an SEO-Friendly Domain Migration.

Update all the things.

Doing a full rebrand requires updates of:

  • Google Business Profile, social media profiles, and other significant sources of traffic
  • internal documents
  • business cards
  • marketing material
  • pesky PDFs (e.g. policies)
  • product packaging
  • signage

You won’t get everything overnight. That’s ok. This takes time. Think of it more as a treasure hunt – see how many of your employees can find places that have your old domain!

There you have it. Good luck with your domain name makeover! 

Need to find a new domain name for your website?

Use our domain search tool to find an available domain name today!

About the author
Erin Hutchison

Erin brings to CIRA a background of marketing experience in higher education and the not-for-profit sector. In 2015, she participated in ISOC’s Youth@IGF Programme and traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend the IGF. She has a Bachelor of International Business from Carleton University.