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How To Change Your Primary Domain

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If you are a Bluehost customer with a Shared hosting, VPS hosting, Cloud Hosting, or Dedicated hosting account, you may need to change your primary domain on your account at some point. This could be due to various reasons, such as rebranding your website or switching to a more suitable domain name.

Fortunately, Bluehost assists in this process and can help you with how to change your primary domain (rename) process. However, before starting the process, it's recommended that you review the information provided by Bluehost to ensure that you understand the process and any potential implications or issues that may arise during or after the rename process. By doing so, you can ensure that the process is smooth and hassle-free.

Important note: Rename refers to changing the primary domain in your Bluehost account. In this article, we may use the term rename instead of change your primary domain, as it means the same thing.



What You Should Know Before Changing the Primary Domain (Rename)

When Do I Need to Change My Primary Domain?

Changing your primary domain is generally only necessary in these situations:

  • You'd like your users to log in to their accounts using a new primary domain name.
  • Lose ownership of your old domain and would like to remove it from your account.
  • Use Google App Engine, which authenticates via user accounts on the primary domain.
  • You'd like consistent branding in Drive shares and Calendar invites, which constantly show the user's primary email address.

General Considerations When Changing Your Primary Domain for Customers with Google Workspace

  • When you change the domain name, it may take some time to see the changes in your Apps.
  • Changing your domain name doesn't automatically change the users' primary email addresses and groups provisioned under that domain. You can rename your users to your new primary domain, but first, ensure you understand the impact of changing a username before proceeding. You can also change a group's email address.
  • To start receiving mail at the new email addresses, MX records must be set up and pointing to G Suite. We strongly recommend that you do this before performing the rename.

A Few Words of Caution

  • Recent Purchase - A rename cannot be processed if you've processed any hosting transactions within the last two hours. Hosting transactions include your account's original purchase, upgrading or downgrading your hosting plan or term length, renewing your hosting term, or canceling a hosting renewal.
  • New Domains - Newly registered domains cannot be canceled after purchase. If you want the primary domain released, it will only be replaced with the other domain you wish to use as a primary but will not be refunded. The said domain will still be under your ownership for a year, and you may use it whenever you wish to in that duration or let it expire for a single year.
  • Weebly - Changing the primary domain name will prevent you from publishing an existing Weebly site on the old and new primary domains. If you're using Weebly to publish your website on either the current or new primary domain, we highly recommend that you do not change the primary domain name, or you'll have to rebuild your website(s).

Preparing for SEO Impact

SEO considerations. Changing your primary domain can have significant SEO implications. This includes fluctuations in search rankings and a potential loss of domain authority. To mitigate these risks, it’s essential to implement a few key strategies:

  • Set up 301 redirects. Create 301 redirects from your old domain to your new one. This tells search engines that your site has moved permanently. This helps in transferring the SEO value from the old domain to the new one.
  • Update backlinks. Reach out to websites linking to your old domain and ask them to update their links to your new domain. While this can be time-consuming, it's crucial for preserving backlink value.
  • Submit to search engines. Notify search engines of your domain change by submitting your new domain to them. This can help speed up the process of indexing your new domain.

Google Search Console updates. When changing your primary domain, it's crucial to update your information in Google Search Console as well to ensure continuous tracking of your site's search performance. This includes updating your domain property and using the Change of Address tool to inform Google about your domain change. This also helps preserve your website's search ranking and visibility during the transition.

  • Update domain property. Log into Google Search Console and update your domain property to reflect the new domain name.
  • Change of address tool. Use the Change of Address tool in Google Search Console to inform Google about your domain change. This step is critical for ensuring Google processes your domain change correctly and helps maintain your site’s search performance.

Updating Third-Party Services

Integration updates.When you change your primary domain, it'svital that you update this information across all third-party services integrated with your website. This can include: Analytics tools. Update your domain information in Google Analytics or any other analytics tools to ensure your traffic data is accurately recorded.

  • Social media platforms. Make sure to update your website link across all your social media profiles.
  • Email marketing software and payment gateways. Update your domain information to maintain the functionality of these services and ensure a seamless user experience.

Social media and branding. After changing your domain, ensure the following:

  • Update social media profiles. Update your website URL immediately on all social media profiles to reflect the new domain.
  • Review online materials. Ensure that any online materials, such as digital brochures or e-newsletters, reflect your new domain to avoid any brand confusion.

Legal and Compliance Considerations

These steps are important to ensure that your domain change does not expose you to legal challenges or violate any regulations. This safeguards your business against potential legal repercussions and maintains trust with your audience.

  • Conduct a trademark search. Use online trademark databases to check if your new domain name infringes on any existing trademarks. This can prevent potential legal issues related to brand infringement.
  • Reflect changes in legal documents. Update your website’s Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and any other legal disclaimers to mention the new domain name. It's crucial these documents accurately reflect your current, new domain to comply with legal standards and maintain transparency with your users.

How to Change Your Primary Domain (Rename)

Make sure to have the current primary domain, the new primary domain, and the last four of your password ready.  Also, confirm that you have read and understood the following information:

  • Domain Management - The current main domain will no longer be resolved. If that still needs to be active, please set that as a parked or add-on domain after the renewal.
  • Process - The process can take 20 minutes to 5 hours, depending on your account size

Depending on your account size, the process can take 20 minutes to 5 hours.

  • Downtime - The websites and email hosted on this account will be down. At the same time, the system changes your primary domain, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.
  • Backups - Your usernames, passwords, files, databases, etc., will not be changed. However, we highly recommend downloading a complete backup of your website files and databases to your home computer as a fail-safe against possible file corruption.
  • File Directories - The new primary domain will point to the public_html directory, as the current primary domain does.

You are responsible for moving the website files for both domains to their new locations so that the sites function correctly.

  • Custom Configurations - Any subdomains, custom DNS settings, and email forwarders on the old and new primary domains will be deleted during this process. You are responsible for setting those up again when the change is complete.
  • Weebly - Changing the primary domain on this account will permanently break the ability to publish an existing Weebly site on both the new and old primary domains. You will have to rebuild your website(s) from scratch.

Important note: When you're ready to change your primary domain name, contact our support for help. We'll provide further instructions for the account rename and assist you throughout the process.

Get New Domain and Protect your Brand

Protect your brand by buying a variation of your current domain. See domain availability.

Summary

Knowing how to change your primary domain on your Bluehost hosting account can be a complex process. Still, it can be accomplished smoothly with the right guidance and preparation. Before starting the process, it's essential to review the information provided by Bluehost to ensure that you understand the process and any potential implications or issues that may arise during or after the rename process. Doing so can ensure that the process is hassle-free and that your website and professional email remain running smoothly.

If you need further assistance, feel free to contact us via Chat or Phone:

  • Chat Support - While on our website, you should see a CHAT bubble in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. Click anywhere on the bubble to begin a chat session.
  • Phone Support -
    • US: 888-401-4678
    • International: +1 801-765-9400

You may also refer to our Knowledge Base articles to help answer common questions and guide you through various setup, configuration, and troubleshooting steps.

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