How To Change Your Shopify Domain Name
Your Shopify domain name (also called a URL) is the digital version of a physical address and directs people to your online location. This is a prime piece of website real estate and can help develop your brand and build trust with customers.
When you sign up for Shopify, your primary domain link will be the default 'your-store-name.myshopify.com'. However, you can change your website address by adding a custom domain and setting it as the primary domain.
This short guide will highlight the benefits of having a custom domain and give you step-by-step instructions on how to change your default URL.
You might be asking, “what's the point of changing the domain if there is already an existing one?” And you'd be right, you don't have to change the URL at all, however, there are some big benefits to having a custom domain name.
- Establish your brand: a custom domain looks more professional and allows you to create a consistent online presence. If you stick with the default, you will probably end up changing it down the line as your business grows.
- Rank higher in search engines: a custom address is more relevant to your users' searches than a generic domain. If it contains words related to your industry, it also allows search engines like Google to gain insight into what your website is all about and makes it easier for people to discover online (improves website search engine optimization).
- Be memorable: matching your website name to your brand/business name helps ensure that it will stick in your potential customer's minds and makes it more likely that they'll return to your website later.
- Build customer trust: let's face it, the internet is full of scams and people are weary of clicking on URLs that they don't recognize or that don't have a solid trust value. A custom domain shows that your website is clearly linked to your business and encourages those who trust your brand to click the link for promotions, etc.
As you can imagine, it is useful to have the domain name the same as the name of your online shop or as close as possible. Imagine a brick-and-mortar store called Jimminy's but the sign outside says Jim's Sporting Goods - you're not going to know if you're in the right place or not!
Unfortunately, you're not always going to be lucky enough to get exactly what you are looking for, so it's a good idea to brainstorm some alternative options.
You can do a domain name search using a domain name generator as these provide hundreds of ideas and only show names that are still available. Alternatively, you can brainstorm short words to add to your chosen URL that won't affect the branding or look at your various domain extension (also known as top-level domain) options.
Shopify offers a domain name generator and the WHOIS Domain Lookup that allows you to get the domain availability status with the click of a button.
The best domain extension is always '.com' but because these are so popular, they aren't always available and generally cost a lot more.
Alternatives include country code top-level domains which indicate where your store is located ('.ca', '.dk', '.th', etc.) or ICANN-era generic top-level domain such as '.art', '.bargains', '.buy', '.fashion', etc. You can check availability by going to a registrar's website.
If your chosen domain name is already owned by someone else, you can contact the owner and see if they would be willing to negotiate a transfer of ownership for a reasonable price.
We suggest avoiding long, complicated names that customers won't remember; keep the name simple, relevant to your brand, and easy to spell.
It is also wise to make sure you are not infringing on any trademarks when choosing your name.
Using the default domain is free on Shopify but if you want a custom URL you will need to purchase one. Prices vary depending on which route you take. Your options are to use a domain you already own, buy one through Shopify, or buy a new domain through an external registrar.
When you change your primary domain, all subdomains such as the default your-store-name.myshopify.com redirect to the new primary domain.
You might be wondering how much it will cost to switch from your generic URL to a custom URL. Well, it really depends on what you choose. Domain prices are generally based on the following:
- The keywords used. High-demand keywords will cost more than non-standard keywords. For example, catvideos.com would cost a lot more than catvideosfromeurope.com.
- The top-level domain. This is the very last bit of your URL such as '.com' or '.org'. Price varies depending on which TLD you choose.
- The domain registrar. Each registrar has some variations in pricing. Most will offer a discount or even a free version for the first year and then charge a larger sum for renewal whilst others have more standard pricing models.
Domains are priced per annum and premium domains (ones with high marketing value) can cost you thousands or even millions of dollars.
Domains can be purchased through Shopify or from domain registrars (eg. GoDaddy or Google Domains), through web-hosting companies (such as Hostinger or Network Solutions), or via a site builder such as Shopify
If you don't have an existing domain name, your easiest option is to buy one through Shopify. They offer quick, reliable, and unmetered hosting with a range of benefits such as:
- No hidden costs and competitive pricing for '.store' and .shop' domains.
- A URL that matches your store name as closely as possible.
- Automatic creation of a new TLS certificate (also known as an SSL certificate).
- Unlimited email forwarding. Set up a 'yourstore.com' email address and have all emails sent to this address forwarded to your existing email (note that Shopify does not offer actual email hosting).
- Automatic updates guarantee access to the latest features without any hassles.
- Quick load times for customers around the world thanks to their use of a content delivery network (CDN) through Fastly.
- Unlimited bandwidth so you don't have to worry about issues as your organic traffic grows.
Note that domain hosting services are only available with a paid Shopify plan.
To buy a domain through Shopify follow the instructions below:
- From your Shopify admin page, go to 'Settings' in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
2. Scroll down and click on 'Domains'.
3. Click on 'Buy new domain'.
4. Type in the domain name you would like to purchase and review the available extensions and their prices.
5. Choose the domain you want and click 'Buy'.
If you want your domain to automatically renew before it expires, you can select 'Auto-renew this domain every year'.
6. Review and confirm your personal information.
7. You can also confirm whether the domain extension includes WHOIS Privacy, a service that hides your personal information from public domain registration records. If the domain name you chose includes this option, then a message will be displayed. If you don't see the message, feel free to click 'Cancel' and select a different domain extension that includes this option.
8. Read through the ICANN policy and Domain Registration Agreement, and then click 'Buy' to complete the process. It can take up to 48 hours for the new domain to start working.
If you own an existing domain through a third-party provider or would like to purchase one outside of Shopify, you can also connect these to your Shopify store.
Use an existing third-party domain: you will still need to pay your third-party provider for your domain and will need to use their platform, to manage your domain settings and renewals.
Transfer a third-party domain to Shopify: If you own an external domain but want your domain management to be accessible on Shopify, you can transfer the domain. Once this is done you will no longer need to use the third-party provider and can manage the domain through your Shopify admin.
Connect A Third Party Domain To Shopify
- Go to your Shopify settings and navigate down to 'Domains'.
- Click 'Connect existing domain', enter your domain name, and click 'Next'.
3. Click 'Connect automatically'.
You might need to log in to your third-party provider account and click 'Connect' to finalize the link. It will take up to 48 hours for your domain to be verified, but once done, it will be listed under the 'Third-party domains' section of your store with a 'connected' status.
Transfer A Third-Party Domain To Shopify
Transferring your third-party domain is a little more complex and there is a 60-day waiting period after registering a domain before you are able to transfer it to a different domain provider or make any changes to your registrar information.
To be honest, this is probably the most time-consuming of the processes outlined in this article and can incur some additional costs. However, if you have an established URL, it is well worth keeping it and going through the admin rather than losing the trust and customer base you have already built up.
If your domain is eligible for transfer, then you can follow the steps below:
- Connect your domain to Shopify as above to avoid any interruption in service.
- Unlock your domain and get a transfer authorization code from your domain provider. Contact your provider for more details on this step.
- Make a copy of any domain records that you might need to configure your domain after the transfer.
- From your Shopify admin, click on 'Settings' → 'Domains'.
- Click 'Connect existing domain'.
6. Click 'Transfer it to Shopify', in blue text below the domain box.
7. In the transfer domain dialog box, enter the domain that you want to transfer to Shopify and click 'Next'.
8. Click 'Verify domain'. You will now get one of two messages: Domain unlocked → click 'Next'. Domain locked → make sure you have prepared your domain for transfer (steps 1 to 3).
9. Enter your authorization code into the verification code dialog box and click 'Next'.
10. Click 'Buy and transfer'.
11. Confirm the transfer. This is generally an email asking you to confirm the changes/approve the transfer.
You will have the option, as above, to auto-renew your domain every year. If you'd like this option, simply select 'Auto-renew this domain every year'.
Note that it can take up to 20 days to transfer your domain but your domain will remain accessible throughout the process.
Congratulations, you have taken the first steps towards building a cohesive online brand!
By following our step-by-step guides we hope to have made this process quick and easy for you to follow. If you have any concerns or issues, simply reach out to your third-party provider or to Shopify for further assistance.
If you enjoyed this how-to guide, feel free to take a look at our other tutorials on setting up a successful Shopify store!