As a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist, I often sit down with businesses undergoing a rebranding process. While rebranding is typically approached from a design and identity standpoint, there’s a critical component that often gets overlooked: SEO. The intersection of branding and search engine visibility can be complex, yet it is essential to ensure a smooth transition and maintain online performance.
This article aims to guide business owners through the intricate steps of preserving their SEO value during a rebrand.
Why Should SEO Be A Concern During A Rebrand?
Rebranding isn’t merely changing your company’s logo or name. It’s a transformation of your brand identity.
With Google being the main gateway for customers to find businesses online, ensuring your new brand is well-represented and easily discoverable is crucial. Remember, Google, and other search engines, reflect the shifts and changes in the real world but online, including rebrands.
When businesses rebrand, they often make changes to their website structure, content, and domain. Google’s crawlers, which previously indexed your old brand details, need to be reoriented to recognise your new brand identity without losing the SEO value you’ve built over time.
In the next few sections, I’ll be running through some core steps and considerations for your rebrand.
Rebranding doesn’t just touch the surface aesthetics; it delves deep into the very infrastructure of your online presence. One of the core elements in this process is the technical aspect of your website. From sourcing a new domain to transferring website data, every step has its unique SEO considerations.
1. Sourcing a New Domain
Choosing a new domain is the digital equivalent of picking a new address for your business. It should resonate with your brand, be easy to recall, and optimise for SEO.
- Keyword Relevance: If possible, include keywords related to your business in the domain. It not only boosts SEO but also reinforces brand identity.
- Domain History: Ensure the domain wasn’t previously used for spammy activities, as it can impact your site’s SEO reputation.
- SSL Certificate: Acquire an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate for the new domain. HTTPS is an SEO ranking factor and essential for user trust.
2. Rebranding the Website
Your website’s design, content and UX need to reflect your brand’s evolved identity. Often times with a rebrand, businesses will repurpose their existing website rather than create a brand new one (it’s worth chatting with a web developer if you’re not sure about this stage). While the aesthetics play a crucial role, under-the-hood technicalities shouldn’t be overlooked. Consider:
- Swapping Out Old Branding: Ensure there are no remnants of old branding – the old logo, old business name, and old messaging/colouring.
- URL Structures: Maintain consistency with the old site. If changes are necessary, ensure proper 301 redirects.
- Internal Linking: Update internal links to reflect any changes in URL structures.
3. Domain Migration
Migrating to a new domain is like moving home. You need to ensure nothing valuable gets left behind, and the new place feels just like home (or even better!). Migration is a bit of a trigger word for SEOs as we’ve all experienced the negative consequences of a poorly done migration. Years of hard work can easily be lost at this point. Ensure you’re collaborating with a web developer and SEO whilst considering:
- URL 301 Redirects: Map old URLs to the new ones. It ensures visitors and search engines are directed to the correct pages, preserving SEO value.
- Domain Redirect: Ensure the old domain redirects correctly to the new.
- Google Search Console: Use the “Change of Address” tool to inform Google about your domain change. This assists in a smoother transition in search rankings.
- Robots.txt and Sitemaps: Update the robots.txt file if necessary and submit the new sitemap for the domain. Ensure that the new website and domain are crawlable.
- Avoid Duplicate Content: Ensure your old site is not accessible to avoid content duplication, which can harm SEO.
- Monitor for 404 Errors: Regularly check for any broken links or pages that didn’t transfer correctly and fix them immediately.
- Schedule on a Monday-Wednesday: Don’t do a website migration on a Friday afternoon..
Online Presence Technicals
When businesses embark on a rebranding journey, the change is not just limited to the website. The brand’s identity echoes across the vast expanse of the digital realm. Let’s break down a few core areas that businesses need to consider simultaneously along with website changes with a rebrand.
1. Social Media
Your social channels are the frontline of your brand’s interactions with its audience. They must mirror the new brand identity. Considerations:
- Username/Handle: Update to reflect the new brand name, ensuring consistency across platforms.
- Profile & Cover Photos: Incorporate the new logos, colour schemes, and any other brand elements.
- Bio/Description: Modify the content to echo the updated brand voice and messaging.
- Pinned Posts: If you have any important posts pinned (like product launches or announcements), consider updating or replacing them to reflect the rebrand.
Whilst 301 redirected backlinks still provide a relationship between other websites and yours, the signal isn’t considered equal to a successful 2XX response. The anchor text and the contextual relevance of the backlink also may reflect your old branding too. Considerations:
- Audit & Outreach: Conduct a backlink audit to identify all sites linking to your old domain. Reach out to them, requesting an update to your new domain.
- Branded Anchor Text: If sites use branded anchor text, ensure they update this to your new brand name.
3. Online Directories & Listings
From the Google Business Profile to industry-specific directories, your brand is listed in many corners of the digital world. Considerations:
- Directory Details: Update company name, logo, description, and any other relevant information.
- Contact Information: Ensure phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses are consistent with what’s on your rebranded website.
- Reviews & Responses: If possible, inform your audience about the rebrand in response to reviews. It can be a simple note acknowledging the rebrand and assuring continued quality.
4. Email Communications
While it’s off-site, your email communication must not be overlooked, especially if it carries your brand’s name and logo. Considerations:
- Email Address: If it contains your brand name or old domain, consider updating it and redirecting your old inbox to new. Inform your contacts about the change.
- Signatures & Templates: Update email templates, signatures, and newsletters with the new branding elements.
How Do I Inform Google About My Rebranding?
Utilise Google Search Console! This platform isn’t just for monitoring your website’s performance but also for communicating significant changes to Google.
As mentioned earlier, ensure your new domain is added to Google Search Console. Use the “Change of Address” tool to notify Google about your site’s migration. This can expedite the re-crawling and re-indexing processes, ensuring a smoother transition.
After you’ve communicated the rebranding, patience is key. Google operates on complex algorithms and vast datasets, so updates aren’t instantaneous.
While it’s variable, many businesses observe noticeable changes in 180 days. However, the complete transition might take longer, depending on the size and complexity of your website. Regularly monitor the platform for insights on how Google is processing the new domain and any associated changes.
How Do I Maintain SEO Performance Post Rebrand?
After the technical legwork of a rebrand, the journey isn’t over. It shifts to a phase of continuous adaptation, monitoring, and refinement. This iterative process ensures that the rebranding endeavour translates into a digital identity that resonates with both search engines and the target audience. Let’s run through some key areas:
Continuous Monitoring with GSC and GA
Leverage Google Search Console for search-specific insights: monitor page rankings and check for crawl errors. Google Analytics, on the other hand, offers a comprehensive view of user engagement. Watch for metrics like bounce rate and session duration to gauge user reception to the rebranded content.
Traffic and Rankings
Your organic traffic and keyword rankings serve as vital indicators of SEO health post-rebrand. Regularly track these metrics using tools like Google Search Console or paid tools (eg. Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc.). Minor fluctuations can be typical after a rebrand, but prolonged dips need investigation.
Content Strategy Revamp
Your content should reflect the new brand’s ethos, values, and tone. Whether it’s a blog post, product description, or an ‘About Us’ page, the narrative should be consistent with the rebranded identity.
Perform a content audit by going through existing content. Identify pieces that are outdated or misaligned with the new branding. Update or archive them based on relevance.
A rebrand might open avenues for fresh content topics. Maybe there are new products, services, or values that your brand now wants to highlight.
Unraveling the World of Rebranding and SEO
Rebranding is a monumental step for any business, reflecting growth, evolution, or a shift in vision. However, in this digital age, every step of a rebrand should be intertwined with a solid SEO strategy.
At 5 Twelve, we understand the nuances of rebranding from an SEO perspective. We pride ourselves on ensuring businesses don’t just transform but thrive in their new identities online. If you’re considering a rebrand or have questions about your online presence during such a transition, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today.