Search Engine Optimization November 7th, 2018
Rebranding is the process any business, regardless of its size and influence, needs to go through. Almost any brand you can think of, from Apple to Uber has rebranded at least once. And, that’s fine. However, there are a few popular misconceptions I always come across when reading about rebranding. First, refurbishing your brand doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on what you’ve done so far. On the contrary, it usually means establishing something better and greater on the foundation you’ve already built.
Second, rebranding doesn’t mean failure. Businesses rebrand for numerous reasons; when they outgrow their initial goals, values, and messages, when their name doesn’t reflect their brand identity anymore, or when they decide to expand to new markets.
Finally, rebranding isn’t all about picking a catchy new name your target customers love. In the hyperconnected era we live in, if you don’t have a well-optimized site, you don’t exist. Therefore, when building a brand, you need to consider your online presence, too. If you’ve already had a well-working site and you’re now planning on moving it to the new domain, you need to keep your SEO in mind. When not planned and implemented properly, domain migrations and website redesign may cause a significant brand-related traffic and rankings loss.
This is why you need to make your rebranding strategy SEO-friendly. Here are a few things that you may encounter when rebranding, and advice on how you should approach them.
Changing your brand name is totally fine. There are numerous famous corporations that did exactly the same, including:
These are common changes. As your brand grows, your products evolve, your niche expands, and your target audience changes. And, if your brand name doesn’t reflect its main values, ideas, and mission anymore, you need to change it.
Still, this is one of the most radical decisions you may make, as it may hurt your overall brand awareness and loyalty, as well as your position on Google. This is why you need to execute it wisely.
When changing a company name, you need to give it a related domain name. There are a few rules you should keep in mind:
Now, you need to ensure your migration to the new domain won’t endanger your SEO efforts. If someone clicks on the link leading to your old site, they can be simply redirected to your new one. But, when a user googles your previous name, they won’t find anything. One of the simplest ways to resolve this problem and help Google understand the connection between your old and new website is to create a page on your new domain that would be dedicated to your old brand. You could use it to tell a story of your brand development and show how your brand has changed over time. This is a great way to boost your new site’s visibility and, at the same time, engage your target audience. Sure, this landing page should link to your new home page and vice versa.
Changing the name of your product works in a similar way. You should make sure your old and new product pages link to each other and include relevant explanations. They should be helpful not only from an SEO viewpoint but also from your customers’ perspective. Your product pages need to explain why you decided to change the product name and when.
Apart from the issue of redirection mentioned above, there is also the problem with your anchor text in your backlinks. Simply put, even when you redirect the traffic to your new site, your anchor text on the sites you’ve built links on will remain the same. For example, if the anchor text contains your old brand or product name, this may hurt your SEO efforts. So, what to do?
Even though this process is not that complicated, it is extremely time-consuming. Namely, you need to audit your backlink profile and check which links contain old names in their anchor text. There are numerous backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer, and Monitor Backlinks that may help you out. The next step is, unsurprisingly, reaching out to each blogger individually and asking them to make the changes needed. You could even invest some time in contacting them before your rebranding strategy takes place.
A solid rebranding strategy is not all about changing your company or product name. It stands for reinventing your brand identity and building a recognizable brand that stands out. And, in the online world, such changes always begin with your site.
Your site is your online ID. It tells your customers who you are, how professional you are, and what your biggest dreams, missions, ideas, and core values are. This is why its design needs to be impeccable. Here are a few practices that will serve as a nice foundation for building a user- and search engine-friendly website.
Two seconds. This is how much your visitors will wait for your site to load. And, it doesn’t, they will leave it immediately. High bounce rates and poor engagement rates will clearly show Google that your site is not user-friendly. Not to mention that page speed is itself one of the most significant ranking factors, especially now, after Google’s recent Speed Update.
Some of the most effective ways to boost your website speed are:
We’re living in the mobile-first era, where the number of mobile users is rising impressively fast. Precisely because of that, Google’s main aim is to make mobile users’ experience smoother. This is why they’ve introduced the mobile-first index earlier this year. In short, the search engine is now indexing the mobile version of your site when ranking it, not the desktop one.
Another significant trend that has skyrocketed the importance of mobile-friendly website design is voice search, which revolves around providing authoritative answers extremely fast. Therefore, to rank high in the SERPs, your new site needs to be highly responsive and mobile friendly.
When migrating to your new domain, you need to pay special attention to URL redirection. Namely, if you fail to guide your visitors from your old domain to the new one, you will ruin their experience with annoying 404 error messages. Not to mention their impact on your rankings and the mess they cause to your backlinks and internal link structure.
This is why you need to crawl your current site carefully to get a full list of its pages. Then, you need to map your previous URLs to the new ones and get 301 redirects to lead your visitors and search engines to your new site. This way, your pages will retain their authority and rankings.
Before your site goes live, you need to assess its performance. Your goal is to detect any problems that may affect your SEO efforts, such as missing meta tags or broken links, and eliminate them on time. If all elements of your sites are in order, you should add a new sitemap to your robots.txt file. All you need to do is submit it to have it crawled by Google once again and you’re golden.
Once your site is up and running, make sure you keep track of your key performance indicators regularly, including:
Comparing your new site’s performance to your old site’s one is important because it shows you the effects of your rebranding strategy. At first, you will see major fluctuations in terms of your rankings, website traffic, page authority, and indexed pages. It’s critical you keep tracking your KPIs to make sure they’ve gotten stable over time. This way, you will be able to see what practices work or don’t work for you and tailor your further SEO actions to them.
As you can see from these examples, the process of rebranding goes far beyond choosing an awesome company name. Your goal is to build a solid brand identity that aligns with your company’s values and, at the same time, keep your rankings high. Precisely because of that, you shouldn’t consider migrating to the new domain and refurbishing your site a waste of time and resources. Build a solid and SEO-friendly rebranding strategy, plan your every step carefully, and start reaping the benefits of your rebranding efforts.
Any additional tips on rebranding? Let us know in the comments below!