How to Create an SEO-Centric Rebranding Strategy

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Keith CoppersmithBusiness Consultant

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Rebranding is critical for your business growth. It ensures that your brand continues to resonate with your audience and reflects your key values and missions. Above all, rebranding helps you increase brand awareness and memorability, whilst also staying current.

Article 5 Minutes

However, when building a rebranding strategy, keep in mind that it goes far beyond refreshing website content and design. This is a complex process that also includes page migrations and structural website changes.

These are processes that, if not handled properly, can compromise your website rankings, traffic, as well as the overall user experience.

Here are a few tips on how to build an SEO-friendly rebranding strategy.

1. Don’t change your domain name if you don’t have to

Sometimes, staying on the same domain isn’t possible. Sometimes, your domain name stops reflecting your brand values. Or, you might have found that your desired domain is finally available. 

This is when you need to change your domain name, but do so carefully.

301-redirect every URL on your old website to the pages on your new domain. When moving to a new domain, you may significantly impact your organic rankings. Namely, your homepage ranks for most of your brand-related queries. When switching to a new domain, your homepage will feature new brand data and, therefore, lose its relevance towards your previous brand.

To keep your rankings, you should build a page on your new domain dedicated to your old brand. This page will bridge the gap between your old and new domains and help you rank for your old branded keywords. Additionally, this page will be a valuable resource for any visitor wanting to learn more about the reasons behind the rebrand and the details about it.

Your homepage should also contain information about the rebrand and link back to the page about your old brand.

2. Set up redirects properly

How successful redirecting pages from your old site to your new one will depend on your URL structure. For example, if you’re maintaining the same URL structure, this process will be quite easy. In this case, you can redirect your pages from your old site to the same pages on your new site with several simple lines of code:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^olddomain.com$ [OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.olddomain.com$

RewriteRule (.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

If you’ve changed your URL structure, redirecting your pages will be a bit complicated. Namely, you can’t redirect old pages to the same pages on your new site. Instead, you need to link them to the most relevant pages on your new site.

Create a spreadsheet with a column for your old URLs and another for new ones. As this is a long process, you should start with the most popular pages that generate the greatest traffic. This is also where a few lines of code may help you:

Redirect 301 /old-website-page.html http://www.yournewsite.com/new-website-page.html

Redirect 301 / old-website-page-2.html http://www.yournewsite.com/new-website-page-2.html

3. Keep your old website up for a while

Some businesses decide not to take their old domain down. Instead, they keep refreshing it regularly to keep their old domain name, but this can eat up a lot of time and effort and, at the same time, can cause multiple problems. For example, your inactive website may soon be spotted by cybercriminals and get hacked.

Even though you don’t need to keep your inactive site up, you should never delete it once your new site is launched. Keep in mind that it may take servers a few days to identify your new IP address. Therefore, if you remove your old website immediately, chances are you’ll destroy all your hard work.

Google also takes time to find your new domain and index your pages. When discussing 301 redirects, Google’s John Muller stated that it may take Google 6 months or even a year to fully understand that your website has moved to a new domain.

I’d aim for at least a year, when it comes to keeping your 301 redirects in place.

4. Invest in user experiences

Attracting people to your new website is just half the job. The other half is getting them to stay there and convert. Today’s online searchers are more demanding; they’re tech-savvy and using multiple devices to access your site and consume your content. Logically, irrespective of the devices they use, they expect spotless user experiences.

Always make your site responsive; it’s important it looks and feels the same on all devices your visitors use. There are a number of tools that let you check whether your site is mobile-friendly, such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which will also give you tips on what to improve.

You should also improve your website speed. In their recent article, Online Marketing Gurus, an SEO Melbourne agency, highlights that businesses should:

  • Eliminate custom fonts
  • Compress image sizes
  • Minify code
  • Use asynchronous loading

Any aspect of your website, from its navigation to design needs to be in line with user expectations and encourage them to convert.

5. Promote your new site

Now that your new site has launched, you should spread the news about it.

Create a user-friendly landing page that will attract your audiences in the pre-launch phase. Use email marketing to target the right audiences and encourage them to visit your new site. Building high-quality links will also help you drive lots of new, qualified traffic. Finally, build a buzz on social networks.

Keep in mind that Facebook only gives you one opportunity to update your page name and URL, which is one of many reasons why you should think carefully about every move you make. When updating your brand information on Twitter, consider searching for unused IDs. If your desired ID is taken, why not reach out to its owner and ask them if they’d be willing to give it to you.

Final thoughts

I hope the idea of rebranding your website seems less tedious now. With these SEO tips, you’ll be able to make sure your rebrand doesn’t hurt your rankings, traffic, or user experience. Instead, this is an opportunity to boost your branded search performance, maintain your old rankings and secure new ones, and start ranking for new keywords. Remember there’s no uniform strategy, so always adapt your rebranding strategy to your company’s specific needs and preferences.

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Keith Coppersmith

Business Consultant

Keith is an Adelaide based business consultant with a degree in Media Management

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