If you’re in the process of rebranding your website, you may be wondering how to redirect the domain while retaining your rankings. After you’ve moved your content over to the new domain, you’ll need to tell the search engines you’ve switched domains. If done properly, your PageRank and rankings on specific posts, pages, or categories will not be affected.
There are two steps to redirecting your domain: inserting redirect code, and updating Google Webmaster Tools.
First, you’ll need to login to your cPanel. Normally, this can be done by going to yourdomain.com/cpanel (substituting yourdomain.com for your actual domain name). Use the credentials your host gave you to login. Make sure you are logging in to the old domain’s cPanel!
Once you’re logged into cPanel, click on the File Manager button. On the popup that appears, make sure the “Show Hidden Files (dotfiles)” box is checked, then press Go.
Find the file named .htaccess. It should be right below the wp-includes folder for most. Select the .htaccess file and click on the Edit button. If an encoding check box pops up, just click on Edit.
Paste the following code at the top of the file. Replace newdomain.com with your actual new domain name.
RewriteEngine On RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]
Now, just save the file, and you’re done with that part! Next is updating Google Webmaster Tools.
Google Webmaster Tools
First, login to Google Webmaster Tools and make sure both the old and new domain names are registered under your account. If they aren’t, click the red “Add a Site” button and follow the instructions.
Click on your old domain to open the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. On the left hand side, click on Configuration, then Change of Address.
Select the new domain from the drop down menu and click Submit. It should look like the screenshot below.
That’s all there is to redirecting your old domain to the new one! Since you’ve let Google know that your website has changed addresses, you shouldn’t lose your PageRank or any other rankings.