Should you change it? What are the repercussions? What is there to gain?
Advice on best practices when it comes to SEO is constantly changing and ever evolving. Practices that might have been front centre stage 2 years ago might be little more than a footnote now.
Google’s John Mueller recently clarified the official stance on changing domain names, this proved to be rather interesting. Lots of companies get tempted to change their domain names, maybe they’re simply rebranding, or maybe they’re looking to appeal and rank higher for a specific niche. It used to be common practice to buy keyword-stuffed domain names in the hope that they’ll rank higher using exact-match algorithms.
If you’re looking to change your domain name to corner a specific market, the official line is now “don’t bother”. John Mueller stated that the best case scenario is that you basically end up exactly where you were, and don’t lose any rankings. John cites the likeliness of temporary drops, technical issues and plain bad luck as being some key reasons not to change your URL in an effort to manipulate rankings.
The technical task of changing your domain name can be fraught with error if not handled carefully. All pages need to be redirected over to their new location to avoid results dropping out of Google’s search engine index. This might be easy if you’ve got 5 pages on your site, but imagine you’ve got 500, or 5,000? You’d be forwarding using a range of pattern-matched rules, easy to overlook pages and cause harm to your own rankings.
The takeaway here is that if you have a website currently residing on billscompany.co.uk, probably don’t waste time and effort changing this to bills-artisan-sausage-rolls-southampton.co.uk as you’ll just end up shooting yourself in the foot.
We are very much of the belief that to improve your rankings, you need to start with great content and worry less about trying to fool search engines into ranking you above your competitors. At the end of the day, Google wants to show high quality results. You rank better by having a higher quality site.