Changing the root domain (URL) of your site comes with some potential downsides, and we’ve seen domain changes negatively impact ad earnings and traffic. We wanted to share some helpful information with you so you feel well-informed if you ever find yourself making this decision for your site.
What do you mean by "root domain/URL"?
Your site's root domain looks like this: myawesomesite.com
How does changing my root domain affect my ads?
Your root domain has a “reputation” with advertisers. Advertisers learn to trust the traffic, content quality, and audience characteristics of that root domain, and that's important when they're deciding whether or not to bid on your ad placements.
If "myawesomesite.com" changes to "mycoolblog.com", that can reset everything with advertisers since they aren’t familiar with "mycoolblog.com" yet -- even if you redirect all the traffic correctly.
The new domain looks like an entirely different site to advertisers, so it has to go through an approval process again. Certain premium advertisers won't approve domains with less than one year of traffic history, so the timeframe for getting every advertiser running on the new domain again can potentially take over a year.
Advertisers have to relearn your site and your traffic from scratch, and sometimes that new domain never reaches the same earning potential of the old domain. When you change your root domain, you lose everything you’ve built with advertisers over time, which very often leads to an immediate drop in ad earnings. Sometimes earnings recover quickly, but there's no guarantee the new domain will earn the same way as the old domain with an established history.
Does switching from HTTP to HTTPS or changing my permalink structure count as a root domain change?
Nope! These changes DON'T constitute a root domain change with advertisers. Changing the protocol used to access the domain (like HTTP or HTTPS) or the format of your permalink (like whether there are dates, categories, etc. included in the longer URL) does not affect your long-term track record with advertisers.
Note: It's still important to your traffic to make sure those changes are handled correctly and that the proper redirects are in place. Switching to HTTPS? Check out our helpful tips right here.
Other potential impacts of changing your domain:
In addition to an impact on earnings, we’ve also seen sites take a major hit to their traffic after a URL change and never recover the same monthly traffic, even years later. Here’s one example of a site that made a URL change in 2016 and unfortunately, earnings and traffic did not recover:
I understand the risks and I'm going ahead with changing my domain! Is there anything I can do to prepare?
Let the AdThrive team know right away so we can help! We’ll submit the new domain for advertiser approvals as soon as possible once you make the switch — if you let us know ahead of time, we can be ready when the new domain goes live. As with any major change to your site, we recommend making changes during our business hours (M-F, 8-5 ET) so we're available to help!
Rebranding often brings along new themes and designs, so we’ll also check your ads and make any changes necessary so everything works with your awesome new look! We have some suggestions for design and theme changes which we recommend checking out here.
We know this is a decision for you to make based on your long-term business goals and that sometimes the benefits to changing your root URL (domain) can outweigh the associated risks. Some sites recover quickly from that initial drop and see no negative long-term impact, but that tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
More often than not, URL changes can be damaging overall, so we wanted to give you a little more background on how domain changes relate to advertising so you can make the best decisions for your business. You work super hard on your site and it’s our goal to help you make the most money possible - both now and in the long run!