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Rebranding your business can be an exciting initiative to take on. You can set your business up to gain more visibility, increased recognition and higher-level promotion. In short, you could give your business a fresh start.
It’s important to be prepared, though, because the process of rebranding can get extremely stressful, mainly due to fear of losing your Google rankings. Should you let the fear of dropping in SERPs cause you to trash idea of rebranding? Absolutely not!
You can rebrand your business without losing your SEO value if you take some basic measures to ensure that you keep that hard-earned SEO juice.
In this guide, we have listed out some strategies that will help you do that. By following the action steps provided in this article, you will be able to retain your SEO while rebranding your website.
Changing your domain name can have the most profoundly negative impact on your Google rankings. Why? Because your domain name contains all the SEO link juice that you have acquired over the years.
Hence, if you decide to rebrand your business, consider keeping your domain name. To maintain your earned SEO rankings, you can simply rebrand your website logo and look without changing the URL.
However, if you are also changing your business name, you have few other options but to change your domain name. In this case, setting up redirects will help you retain your SEO rankings; however, be prepared to put forth some effort to earn back the authority you lose during the transition.
To start with, you should have a good look at what your existing content looks like. This is vital because most of your current business authority comes from your content. An audit will help you set a fair benchmark for rebranding.
To begin your content audit, you can use keyword research tools such as Google Analytics, ahrefs, or SEMrush. These tools will help you analyze your best-performing pieces of content, determine the current traffic that each of these posts is generating, and consider preserving these content pieces during rebranding.
Another important thing to check during your audit is your backlinks. Why? Because backlinks are one of the most predominant factors that affect your SEO. If you lose the backlinks, you will lose SEO value.
Take note of the inbound links you have and check out the sources of these links to ensure their validity. You should also consider preserving the content pieces that have the highest number of strong inbound links.
While auditing your existing content, keep an eye out for low-quality content and pages. You can later decide whether to update or remove this content from your new rebranded site.
Content is one of the major factors responsible for your SEO. Hence, you must take special care of the content while rebranding your business.
You have put in plenty of effort to create this content, and it has proven to be valuable in gaining authority and backlinks over time. While it is typically best to preserve existing content that has earned a great deal of domain authority, rebranding your business might involve a completely new spin on your content.
If some pieces of content do not fit with your new brand, you may decide to remove it in the interest of brand continuity but be aware that you could be forfeiting some domain authority in the process.
If you’re starting from scratch and find that brand continuity calls for you to remove all of your old content, it’s advisable to maintain at least some similarity in the structure of your content. You can preserve the fonts, heading structure, style and tone. These things also matter as they will get noticed by both users and search engines.
If you decide to change your domain name, then you will have new URLs, which can prove tricky, as Google bots have crawled through your old website since it was created. To ensure the least possible damage to your SEO, you can try maintaining the URL structure.
For example, suppose your old URL structure was “old_domain.com/blog/post_name.” Then you should try to preserve the same URL structure for your new domain as well.
So, have the new URL structure as “new_domain.com/blog/post_name.” Do not change it to something like “old_domain.com/post_name,” as this might hurt your SEO.
Suppose you have decided to keep your old content for the new brand as well. Then you can have the exact same URL slugs for the content. For instance, suppose your old domain had a post with the URL “old_domain/rebrand_seo.” Then have the same name when you rebrand like “new_domain/rebrand_seo.” This will also help you keep your SEO juice.
Setting up redirect URLs is an essential step involved in the process of rebranding your business. It may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it’s crucial to be able to gain back your original search engine rankings.
To maintain as much of your SEO juice as possible, you will need to set up ‘301’ redirects so that your users and Google will be redirected to your new domain name from the old one. In doing this, you will also be redirecting all your backlinks to your new domain. Properly done, redirecting your traffic will allow you to maintain your domain authority and gain back your original traffic.
To get started setting up 301 redirects, you can use a spreadsheet. In the spreadsheet, map the old URLs to the new URLs so that there is no mismatch in the redirects. Then you can use this spreadsheet to set up the backend. You can do this by adding the redirect code to your .htaccess file.
As mentioned above, you must maintain your old URL structure. Suppose you have decided to remove any old content. Then you can redirect these URLs to the new content that acts as the best match to the old content.
Google’s crawlers will assess your redirects and help you gain back your authority, but it can take some time, so remember to have patience with the process.
Google began adopting mobile-first indexing several years ago. This means Google now crawls the mobile version of your website before the desktop version when determining your rankings. No matter how good your desktop version is, your rankings will largely depend on the mobile version, so ensuring the mobile friendliness of your rebranded website is an absolute must.
While redesigning your new website, ensure that you pick a mobile-friendly design. You should make sure that the new website is responsive to all device sizes and try to focus on the speed of your mobile website, as these factors greatly contribute to maintaining your SEO through a rebrand.
After you complete the rebranded site, it’s recommended that you conduct comprehensive testing to ensure the new site looks and performs well on all device sizes. Test every page’s load speed as well. This will give you the opportunity to fix any issues before launching the new site.
You can use Google’s free mobile test and page speed insights test to check the mobile friendliness and the speed of your new website.
Structured data helps Google more easily understand the data on your website. A relaunch is the perfect time to evaluate and add new structured data or schema markup so that Google can quickly index your new website.
Web developers will often comb through all the content pages on your site, adding different types of schema markup to each page depending on the purpose of the page. These can be a local business schema, product schema, FAQ schema, and breadcrumbs. Adding these markups will help you maintain your SEO rankings more easily.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are some of the most important tools for SEO. These tools help to track your audience and your search engine clicks. Hence, updating these tools should be an essential part of your rebranding toolkit.
If this all seems like something you don't want to do yourself, consider contacting Sarasota marketing agency Vivid Studios, they have the expertise to transition your company without hurting your SEO. Vivid Studios provides the following services:
Should you decide to change domains while rebranding, be sure update the domain name in Google Search Console. You can do this by using the “Change of Address” feature.
Google Search Console is also where you can set up all the 301 redirects and URL structure as mentioned in the above steps. You can refer to Google’s documentation on moving a site.
After that, verify your new property on Google Search Console. Following this, use the Change of Address tool by Google to change your web address from the old to the new domain. You can monitor the traffic after this step to ensure that everything is working as expected.
During setup, log into your admin dashboard and go to “Property Settings” in Google Analytics. Here, you can edit different fields to accommodate your new domain. These can be the property name, default URL, default view, etc.
If your current business has been set up locally, then local SEO is also something that you must consider. Citations and NAP consistency play a major role in determining your local SEO rankings. If you ignore these, then you’ll definitely notice a drop in your rankings after rebranding.
Start by making a list of citations that for your business from directories such as BrightLocal or Moz Local. Enter them into a spreadsheet; each citation will have the name, address, and phone number (NAP) details that you will need to organize and update for your rebranded business.
To update your NAP information, most online directories allow you to log in and make the necessary edits or submit a request form for the changes to be made. This can be a tedious, time-consuming process, but this step is essential if you want to retain your SEO value for the rebranded business.
If you decide to change your domain name, your old home page will become irrelevant. However, this page may have generated lots of traffic and gained top SERP positions over time. To avoid losing this advantage, it’s advisable to create a linking page between the two.
A linking page will act as a bridge between your old domain and your new one. The URL for this page can be “new_domain.com/old_domain.” On this page, you might choose to explain your rebranding and add FAQs and/or updated contact information. You can also link to the old domain’s home page from this linking page. When considering SEO value, be sure to optimize the linking page for your old domain name.
These measures will ensure that this linking page will rank on Google in place of your old home page. This will, in turn, ensure that your competitors do not use this opportunity to get your old website traffic.
If your business has garnered a considerable amount of brand name searches in the past, consider a promotional strategy to make users aware of your rebranding efforts. This will help existing users continue to find you using your new domain/brand name.
Promoting your new brand is the most important thing you can do to reduce the number of services for your old brand name. You can add FAQs and blog articles to your new website that provide important information about your rebrand. Optimizing these pages for your old brand name will help you avoid losing out on this huge chunk of traffic.
If you set up 301 redirects, you will get some SEO juice from your older backlinks; however, sending inbound links directly to your new domain will be much more effective. You can achieve this by doing some link update outreach.
The audit of the existing content that you did in the first step will come in handy here. We suggest revisiting the spreadsheet you made and reaching out to each of the websites that previously linked to your content and providing them with the new link to either the same or similar content within your new domain. Let them know that you’ve rebranded and would be grateful if they’d update the links accordingly. To add incentive, you can let them know that your content has been revamped to better suit their audience’s needs.
If this effort is successful, you will be able to get back at least some of the links to your new domain. This will help you retain your SEO and domain authority.
The next big step is to start promoting your new brand. This will have a huge positive impact on your SEO.
If you promote your new brand well, you’ll earn positive social signals. You might also earn some new backlinks and brand mentions. All these will help you to gain back your search engine rankings.
The rebranding process is far from over once your brand is launched. The next couple of months will be crucial for monitoring and optimizing your new brand’s SEO. Continuous monitoring after rebranding will help you see early if something’s gone wrong and quickly take corrective action to ensure that you don't lose your traffic.
Rebranding your business may seem to be an extremely daunting task, and you’d be right to think so. It is a very involved process. On top of that, the fear of losing SEO adds pressure to do everything right. Keep in mind, however, that you can handle all this by setting up effective systems.
The tips provided in this article will help you set up all the necessary systems for rebranding. Once you follow these steps, you’ll definitely be able to maintain a sizable chunk of your hard-earned SEO value and recover your lost traffic quickly.
Joseph Schneider is the Director of Haitna, an Internet marketing agency based in Houston, Texas. He has a strong passion for social media marketing and search engine optimization. He delivers well-researched actionable resources for advertisers.
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