How to Maintain SEO During Rebranding

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  • 8/23/2017

    You’ve gone through the long and arduous process of deciding to rebrand your business. New logo, new website, even a new name. You’ve weighed this decision with all your stakeholders and have determined based on data and analyses of your customer base that your brand is no longer resonating with your core audience.

    You’re now ready to take the plunge… wait. You haven’t done that?

    STOP

    Please go back and read our blog post on Brand Evolution to help you determine if this is the right decision for your business.

    RESUME

    For those of you who have already gone through that process, you’re now wondering, how do I maintain my search visibility? How do I take all of that SEO work I’ve completed in the last several years and ensure it gets translated onto the website? How do I protect my business from taking a hit in the rankings?

    And if you’re not wondering these things… well, you should be.

    To help, we’ve compiled a checklist for you to make sure you cover all your bases when going through a rebrand.

    • Try to keep your domain name

      If you are not changing your company’s name during this rebrand or, for any other reason, can keep your domain name the same, do so. Sometimes, this is entirely unpreventable and that’s okay, but if you can hold onto that domain authority, it’s the best way to go.

    • Block your new website from search engines

      While your new website is being developed, make sure to block it from being crawled or found in the robots.txt file. This is will ensure that your customers don’t stumble on it accidentally and get confused that you’re putting duplicate content out there.

    • Create one-to-one 301 redirects

      If you are not changing your domain name and your directory structure is staying the same, you can skip this step.

      More than likely, you are changing your directory structure or your domain name or both. Regardless of which, make sure you work with your development team to ensure that each page on your old site is 301 redirected to the most relevant page on your new site.

      This ensures that the most page authority is transferred to the new site as possible. Additionally, it helps Google understand that this about page for your old brand is now this about page for your new brand.

    • Create a new instance of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

      Some SEO specialists will tell you to keep all the data in the same analytics account. Here at thunder::tech, we recommend creating a new instance.

      Why? Because more than likely, you’re going to have a lot of URL changes on your new website. A lot of people want the historical data, but it ends up being confusing when you actually need to look back.

      When you keep the two instances separate, you’re able to still view that historical data and you’re able to start fresh in terms of goals, conversions and events. A lot of times, these elements need an audit anyway.

    • Indicate the brand change in your new content

      New website, new content. You might include indications on your about page indicating why you decided to rebrand your company or you might have new services/products you’re adding to your repertoire. Either way, new content is great and will definitely help make your new brand launch stronger, but make sure to include indications to your customer base that they’ve found the right place.

      Here are a couple of ways of doing that:

      1. Include phrases like “formerly Old Brand Name” or just simply (Old Brand Name) in title tags, meta descriptions, headers and on page content (like the footer of your website). Pro tip: Include this information on your social pages and directories as well.
      2. On your current Page Not Found (404), add a note about the brand change. That way, if there are any bookmarked pages that people visit and they’ve been missed when you did your 301 redirects, people will know they are still in the right place.
      3. Add a section of content to your business’s About Us page about how you came to the decision for the evolution. This will help users understand your brand’s history and tell Google who you are, too!
    • Update all directories your business is registered on

      Have listings on Yelp, YP, Google, etc.? Make sure to update your business’s name and, again, indicate that your brand has changed. These can only help indicate to search engines that your change is legitimate and point people to the right place when searching for your previous brand name or website.

    • Promote and Measure!

      After you’ve put all the technical aspects into place, now comes the really fun stuff, promotion! Talk about the shift in your brand in a fun, exciting way on social media. Get your users/customers amped up about the change. This business is your baby so take care of it, nurture it and, most importantly, be proud!

    After you’ve done all the shouting from all the rooftops, go visit your analytics. What happened? What worked or is working? What didn’t or isn’t? Make adjustments, reach out to media contacts to get some press coverage or try some things that you may not have tried before. You have a new brand, backed by your old brand that people knew and trusted, the world is your oyster.

    Okay, all clichés aside. If you follow these steps above, your business should not take a hit from search engines. Keep in mind, you may seem some dips in the short-term. These are common, don’t panic. Continue with the steps as planned and be tenacious. If you do it right, your decision to rebrand will make your business stronger than ever before.

    Thinking about rebranding or amplifying your current brand’s website presence? Want to figure out how it’ll impact your SEO? Our Search Engine Optimization Specialists and web team are ready to field your hits. Give us a call or tweet us @thundertech.
    About the author:: Maggie Babuder is an Optimization Specialist at thunder::tech. She creates and executes comprehensive optimization strategies that supplement clients’ business goals. She’s best described as an eternal optimist who loves puppies, wine and a good daily quote for inspiration.
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