A rebranding strategy often involves radical changes to a brand's logo, name, image, and advertising themes with the intention of developing a new identity in the minds of consumers. Rebranding is common when a company wants to differentiate from competitors, eliminate negative image, or enter into a new market, but it can be a very risky marketing procedure that should be handled carefully. When rebranding a company, there are often very large changes to the website, and the last thing you want to do is to drop in rankings because of these changes.
Check out our SEO Checklist for a Website Redesign for more techniques on this topic. In the two years since that checklist was posted, we’ve discovered ten more SEO mistakes you will need to look out for. By understanding these common SEO mistakes in a website redesign, you can preserve rankings and domain authority.
The most dangerous mistake a company can make while rebranding is not creating an SEO plan before the website redesign.
For example, in some cases the domain name does not need to change. If your brand name is not changing, then do not change your domain name. Most rebranding efforts do include a change in domain name, but if it is not entirely necessary, then the preservation of domain name will be very helpful to maintaining rankings.
If your brand name is changing, involve SEO research in the naming process. Are there any search or social media obstacles, like a brand with the same or similar name that already has a strong online presence? The name should be unique to the point where it is not competing with an established brand with the same name, but also not so unique that it is not relevant to the topic.
Another strategy in preparing for a website redesign is retaining the most popular content. Find the highest-performing pages, and retain as much as possible. Either don’t change these pages at all, or only make small changes. The pages can be measured on Google Search Console for clicks and impressions, and the pages with the largest clicks and impressions should be preserved as much as possible. These high-performing pages will be the entry point that many people discover your new brand.
There are a number of planning steps before a website redesign, often specific to your brand, so the only sure way to plan successfully is to partner with an SEO company.
2. Block new site (while developing)
The dev site should be blocked so it is not crawled or found in the robots.txt file. This is a relatively simple and quick procedure that will ensure Google does not mistake the rebranded site as duplicate content from your old site.
3. URL Redirects
Redirects should be the first SEO technique executed after the rebranded site has been developed. Every page on the old site should have a corresponding page on the new site, otherwise users will be lead to 404 pages and never make it to your new site.
4. Update Google Search Console and Analytics
To begin tagging and measuring the site, Google Search Console and Google Analytics should be updated. Our recommendation is to create a new property with your new domain. The historical data will still be accessible, but keeping the new domain and old domain separate will make analysis much simpler moving forward.
5. Acknowledge Brand Change
While creating content for the rabranded site, you should clearly state that changes have been made to your brand. Important places to mention your rebranding include.
- Meta description
- About Us
- 404 page of old site
6. Schema tagging
After the pages have been revised, created and redirected, apply schema tagging to the HTML. This will help clarify to Google, in detail, the name of your company and all relevant information. Visit schema.org to apply all relevant structured markup categories to help Google understand your new site.
7. Local SEO
Besides your own site, there are many places on the internet where your brand is mentioned. Ensure that each listing site has updated your new name so that Google will not get conflicting content once your rebranded site goes live. Our post on local SEO describes the importance of this process and special techniques in greater detail.
Some of the major 3rd-party listing sites include:
Additional local listing sites include, but are not limited to:
8. Contact top external links
A large element of search value on a website, arguably the most important ranking factor, is external linking. Links coming from sites with high relevance and domain authority is a crucial element of your rankings, and when a page is moved, the power, or “link-juice” may be devalued. A 301 redirect will ensure that the links will still work, but updating the link on those sites will preserve the value completely.
Since external links are organically created and out of your control, the best practice for restoring these links is to reach out to all the sites that link to you and tell them that the link has been changed. This is not a science, so the message should be sincere and authentic to the point where the other company will feel compelled to help you.
9. Keep the old site up
As a general rule of thumb in SEO, a rebranded site may take 3 to 7 days to be crawled and recognized on search. In order to keep from disappearing off of the internet in that time, the old site should remain functioning for at least that time period. There is a larger discussion on whether the old site should remain up or be taken down in the long run, but for now keep the old site up until the rebranded domain is being recognized on Google.
So the rebranded site is live, every page has a redirect and all local SEO has been updated. It may feel like the hard work is finally over, but that is often not the case. You should be monitoring your page every day to ensure that everything is working properly. Every day, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Are the redirects all working correctly?
- Is Search Console and Google Analytics reporting data for your new page?
- Has the title and meta description been updated on the SERP?
- Has your brand name been updated on all the local pages? This process may take weeks before the updates have been made.
- Have the external-linking sites contacted you or updated your link?
This is a monitoring process that should be conducted every day for weeks after the rebranded site is live. This is exactly when Google and all third-party sites need to comprehend the change that has been made, and you should pay careful attention to how they are receiving your changes. By correcting these common SEO mistakes in your rebranding strategy, you should have a smooth and successful website redesign.