When you move house, you usually let the post office and any important contacts know. It’s much the same when you move on the internet – you carry out a ‘digital change of address’. And it’s easier than you might think, even if you’re not a digital professional. Keep reading to learn how to change your digital address and the rules you need to bear in mind.
Websites are usually found and accessed through search engines like Google. This quick and easy means of retrieving information has become a fixed part of our everyday lives. Because few of us type internet addresses directly into the browser any more, you don’t necessarily need to inform users directly about your digital move.
However, it isn’t a good idea to simply wait until search engines automatically notice that you’ve moved to a new address. Even though the site can be accessed, it may disappear from search results or tumble down priority listings while you’re waiting. You can prevent this by carrying out a digital change of address. All it takes is five easy steps:
1. Set up redirects
Search engines don’t like outdated addresses that lead nowhere or result in error messages. They tend to downgrade websites with invalid links in their search results. To prevent this, Google and other providers expressly recommend setting up ‘redirects’. This means that anyone who clicks on the old link is immediately redirected to the new .swiss website.
2. Update internal links
You are likely to have numerous links within your own website that help users navigate between different pages. You can also use redirects to send people to the new internet address, but it’s even more efficient if you update these internal links from the start. This means that rather than redirecting, the new links point directly to the new site.
3. Register your move …
Once redirects are set up, controlled and activated, register the old and new addresses in the Search Console (Google) or Webmaster Tools (Bing). Any internet user can access these settings for free. If you register the addresses here, you can mark the old and new addresses accordingly. This officially alerts search engine operators about the move. From that point on, they know that they must capture the new address.
4. … and a new sitemap
The new website address will be captured more quickly if you also register a new sitemap. A sitemap is a bit like a floor plan of your home – it informs search engines of the structure and content of your website. To register the new sitemap, simply enter a link to it in the Search Console or Webmaster Tools. These links usually end in /sitemap.xml, which makes them easy to find.
5. Start the recapture of the website
Finally, in Search Console or Webmaster Tools, simply press the button to start ‘crawling’ your sitemap, which recaptures the website.
If you follow these instructions for your digital change of address, search engines will have no trouble finding your new .swiss location. You can then settle into your new .swiss home without a worry.
P.S. Just as an address often reveals something about its resident, an internet address can say much about its owner. At dot.swiss/en/who/, you can find examples of websites that emphasise their connection to Switzerland with a .swiss address – which stands for Swiss-renowned values such as quality, reliability and innovation.