Launching a rebranding campaign for your company is a challenging proposition, especially if you think about the potential risk for your SEO rankings. With so many online marketing channels available today, the process of rebranding your company has become much more complex. On top of the difficult process, repositioning, creative headaches and everything else that’s involved, there’s just one problem: Google.
What is Rebranding?
Rebranding is the creation of a new look and feel for an established product or company. The usual goal of rebranding is to influence a customer's perception about a product or service or the company overall by revitalizing the brand and making it seem more modern and relevant to the customer's needs.
After all, the purpose of a rebrand is to improve your image in one or more ways, with the goal of becoming more relevant, more competitive, and/or more profitable in your target market. Rebranding can be done well with some careful planning, know-how, and a solid team on your side. Your business will thank you in the end when your SEO ranking doesn’t drop extremely instantly upon introducing your new brand. Done incorrectly, rebranding can cost you not only the SEO ranking but also the customers you're hoping to reach.
To make the rebranding process as smooth as possible for your business, consider the tips below:
- Try to Keep Your Original Domain Name
Changing your corporate image at any level is a long and tricky process with many potential things that can go terribly wrong. However, keeping your original domain name is the best way to keep the process simple and has the least chance of damaging your SEO rankings. We understand that too often a company name is exactly what needs to be changed during rebrand to give your business a makeover and a fresh start. Given that your business or products have new names or that you’ve moved your content to a new website, just make sure you understand that if you do decide to change your name, you’ll definitely need to change your domain name and you’ll take the risk of losing a lot of search engine traffic.
If you feel like you must make the change, transition will demand a lot of work with URL redirecting unless you want to have all your previous SEO efforts ruined. The best way to make search engines realize there’s a linking between the old and the new brand is creating a new page in the new domain that will be dedicated to the old brand. This page should offer an explanation on the changes you made and provide some details about what’s new about your company. This page should serve as a kind of a bridge between the old and the new brand.
Once you’ve done doing this, make sure this page links to your new homepage. This won’t get you the SEO results you had before, at least not immediately, but it will surely make a significant and positive impact.
- Try To Preserve Your Existing Content
Changing the name of your business usually won’t involve just a change in the domain name, but it will probably result in a complete redesign of your website. Even if you have to completely have a website redesign, try to keep your original content whenever possible. If you feel like you have to create new content for your website, try to closely reproduce your old content in order to avoid losing your authorship and authority. This will help you prevent your rankings from dropping. Anytime things change, people notice – and so do search engines.
Don’t overlook simple things like your fonts and headers; maintaining these little details could make a big difference when it comes to SEO.
- Try To Maintain Your Old Site for a Short Time
Optimizing your website takes a lot of time and energy, so it’s important that you don’t let all of your efforts go to waste when it comes time to rebranding. Some experts suggest NOT to take down your old site as soon as the new one has launched. It can take servers several days to recognize the new IP address. This means if you delete your old site right after your new site is launched, you could potentially ruin all your SEO hard works.
If you can, keep the old site live on a temporary web address. It’s not hurting anyone to leave it up for about 5-7 days, so play it safe and don’t hit the “delete” button too quickly. Just make sure the site can’t be accessed by a crawler.
- Use Redirects Correctly
In the end, it’s all about 301 redirecting your pages and then tracking your SEO in Webmaster Tools from your old site to your new site. This is the most important aspect of SEO when comes to rebranding or website redesign. A 301 redirection is the way to send both users and to a different URL from the one they originally requested. It is a key to maintaining a website's domain authority and search rankings when the site's URL is changed for any reason.
So, you should redirect every page from your old site to the corresponding page of your new site to optimize the user’s experience and boost your search engine results. Be aware that when moving a page from one URL to another, the search engines will take some time to discover the 301, recognize it, and credit the new page with the rankings and trust of its predecessor.
- Try to Retain the Same URL Structure
Customers like familiarity, so when redesigning a website, you ought to keep the URL structure intact. Before you get started on a new design, use a crawler to map out your existing website thoroughly to get a complete list of existing pages. Then you need to map all the old URLs to the new ones and let 301 redirects transfer the users and the authority you’ve built to the new website. This way, all your pages will maintain the rankings they had. Once you’re finished with the redesigned website, crawl the new site to compare its structure to the original site.
- Promote Your New Brand
Time to get the word out. After rebranding is done, it is important to promote your new brand by updating all your social media sites and directory listings. Depending on the social media platform and directories, this can be simple or challenging. You can also end up with more traffic and overall visibility than you had before by doing these things:
- Email announcement. Send an email to your customers, vendors, suppliers and friends letting them know that they're going to see some new things.
- Press release. Draft up a press release and get it in front of key media outlets in your industry.
- Guest posts. Write a blog post (or two) to sites whose audiences can learn from your rebranding experience.
- Monitor Your Changes
Finally, it is important to monitor the changes you have made to track traffic and rankings closely to spot any irregularities quickly. You should monitor your website for at least two to three months.
So, there you have it. Rebranding is not easy but when you follow these SEO best practices, a rebrand shouldn’t mean losing all your organic search rankings and traffic efforts, but an opportunity to start. Just remember to be careful and methodical during this process.