Unless you struck gold when you first created your website, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll outgrow your current domain name and be in need of a rebranding. Whether that excites you or keeps you up at night worrying, there’s one thing you don’t want to forget or deprioritise: SEO. Failing to consider SEO when changing domain will 1) upset your SEO team and 2) risk you being practically undiscoverable to your users, lost in the search results below your competition. Here you’ll find useful questions you should always ask before launching a new domain name from the SEO experts at John Cabot. You’ll find even more at SEO Considerations When Choosing a New Domain Name for Your Website.

Is There High Search Competition?

Search is what SEO is all about, which is why you should always be aiming for gaps in the SERPs so you can eventually score those top spots and increase your traffic. When considering a domain name, assess whether that’s possible and seek out the least competitive keywords to use as your name. Avoid any generic keywords in your domain name, or any that are similar or the same to others as you’ll always be competing with them, even if you’re in an entirely different industry.

Is it Unique And Distinctive?

First and foremost, your domain name should tell everyone that you are a strong online brand – especially your users and Google themselves. Being memorable is the key to this alongside being unique and authoritative – your goal is to be unavoidable to anyone looking for your targeted keywords and search queries. There are plenty of ways to go about this like using and combining buzzwords and finding synonyms for keywords.  Remember, however, that being too unique can backfire – your brand name and domain need to be easy to spell and pronounceable in the mind to be memorable.

Will it be Easy For Users to Make Mistakes?

Expect your users to make mistakes when looking for your brand and you’ll be prepared for anything. These can range from anything from typos and pesky autocorrects to missed pronunciations when it comes to your brand spreading through word of mouth. The best ways to deal with this are to have an easy domain name, and if not, you should make a list of the URLs you anticipate will be the most common mistakes. If affordable, consider buying those domains and setting up redirects to your website, otherwise you’ll have users landing on the wrong websites entirely.

Is The Domain’s History Clean And Positive?

While the rest of these points may be somewhat intuitive, checking your domain history usually becomes little more than an afterthought. Realistically, however, it’s important to see how the previous owners of the website used it, especially if it has incurred any penalties from Google in the past, whether it has any spammy backlinks attached to it or had a bad reputation with its old customers. These will all factor into the SEO of your website, negatively impacting your rankings until you execute a plan to fix them, so you might be better off avoiding it.

If you’ve thought carefully about all these questions and are confident that your SEO needs are being met by your top choices, you might be ready to settle on a brand new domain name.