Skip to main content

Updated May 13, 2024

How to Transfer a Website to a New Domain and Maintain Search Engine Rankings and SEO using 301 Redirects

Moving an established WordPress website (or any website) to a new domain name can scary. In this blog post, we will show you the best way to move your existing website to a new domain using 301 redirects and Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) Change of Address Tool to keep your search engine rankings.

The first step is to post the website to the new domain. This can be done in several ways. You can use ManageWP, cPanel Backups, etc. There are plenty of other tutorials explaining how to move a website, so we won’t cover that here. Radiant Design can help if you need it!

This step is highly recommended for maintaining search rankings and history, but not necessary. Make sure both domain properties have been added and verified in Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console) and they’re both in the same Dashboard. You will eventually use their Change of Address Tool, but do NOT use this tool until Steps 3 and 4 have been completed.

The third step is to create 301 permanent redirects for all pertinent pages in the old website to the corresponding pages of the new site. For WordPress sites, we recommend a plugin called Quick 301 Redirects for WordPress by Premio. After installing the plugin, we recommend going to and entering into the search bar. This will show all indexed pages of your website. These results are ranked by relevance, which is very important. If your site has thousands of pages, you may only want to redirect your top 100 pages. Next, create the redirects within the plugin. NOTE: Do NOT redirect your homepage yet. Test a few of the old pages to make sure they are redirecting properly.

The fourth step is edit the .htaccess file of your OLD site (if you have access to it) using the supplied code below. NOTE: once you make this change, you will no longer have access to any page within your site, including the wp-admin area. If you do NOT have access to your htaccess file, you can just redirect your homepage in the Quick 301 Redirects plugin instead. NOTE: in the example below, replace with your NEW domain name. Once the .htaccess file has been saved, all traffic from your old site will forward to the new site.

#Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

The last step is to use the Change of Address Tool provided by Google Search Console. When logged into the correct Google account, click on the old site, and then look for the gear icon at the top-right. Click that and you should see the Change of Address link. Click that, follow the steps, and you should be good to go. If you need more detailed instructions, please use this link.

That’s it! Make sure to test several of your old site links and homepage to make sure they are redirecting properly. Please note, the new site URLs will not show up in Google search results right away. It can take several weeks for Google to index the new site and approve the redirects.

Want help moving your website? Or do you need WordPress website maintenance? Radiant Design can help.


Copyright 2017-2024 Tom Lempner and Radiant Design. Updated May 13, 2024

Radiant Design

Author Radiant Design

Tom Lempner is a website designer, website developer, graphic designer, audio engineer, musician, marketing expert and SEO professional based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

More posts by Radiant Design

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply

Close Menu

Radiant Design

Cincinnati, OH
Dayton, OH