You’ve come to the right place if you’re considering a rebranding of your website but are concerned that you’ll lose all of the search engine optimisation (SEO) value you’ve worked so hard to create and maintain. Rebuilding your business might be a daunting process, and if done incorrectly, it may have a significant impact on the performance of your website. Fortunately, there are several things you can do proactively before, during, and after the rebrand to protect and even enhance the SEO value of your current website.
Rebrand or Relocate?
There are some instances where a rebrand is more complicated than others, for example, there are different steps you might want to take depending on if you alter your business name or URL entirely, or simply alter the design and structure of the site with the same domain. The more alterations you make in the rebranding process, the more things you need to keep in mind as you go through this process.
1. Audit Your Existing Pages
The SEO value of your website is tied up in the individual pages as well as the site’s overall structure. However, there are external variables to consider as well. To determine what SEO value your site currently has and what should be maintained, you must thoroughly audit your present URLs for high-value content, backlinks, and current rankings.
You can use tools like Google Search Console (GSC) to access the following reports on your site:
- Performance: how well your domain is performing
- Sitemap: how Google is indexing your site and which pages are currently indexed
- Mobile Usability: identify any mobile usability issues per page
- Links: websites linking to your domain
For helpful tips on getting to most out of your GSC account, check out: How to Use Search Console for SEO
Note: If you’re changing the name of your company during the rebranding process, keep an eye out for any mentions of your old business name, as backlinks may be missing.
All Current URLs
Even if you aren’t changing the site’s structure during a rebrand or redesign, you should be aware of all of your current URLs. This will allow you to create the most effective redirects and guarantee that every URL is accounted for. You may also use this time to decide whether any URLs are worth keeping.
If you’re looking for a fun way to add some variety to your content marketing strategy, then using a keyword-rich domain name is an excellent option. Creating unique title tags and meta descriptions helps Google understand the potential of your page, thus it ranks pages that have these in the top 10 results for queries about similar topics.
Backlinks and Citations
Backlinks are one of the most essential SEO principles to keep throughout the rebrand. Backlinks, on the other hand, aren’t always beneficial to your site’s SEO. In certain situations, backlinks might be considered harmful or manipulative by search engines. Low-quality domains that provide a backlink can do more harm to your new website than you might realise, and they should be properly disavowed before it goes live. Disavowing informs search engines that you don’t accept the backlinks from a certain domain, allowing them to be discounted.
When it comes to high-quality backlinks, you’ll want to keep track of the sites they’re linking to so you can make sure those URLs are properly redirected when the old site is shut down.
If you’re going through a major rebranding process that entails multiple modifications to your site’s content, you’ll want to find out which keywords are bringing in the most traffic and how those terms are linked to specific pages.
You may find high-value keywords in a hurry using tools like SEMrush. While many of your website’s SEO elements will pass through redirects, keywords can only be maintained if they are properly utilised throughout the rebranded website content and meta tags.
Prioritise keywords by determining the ones your website ranks for in the first 20 spots and bringing in at least a little monthly traffic. This audit also allows you to find keywords that are being neglected or aren’t ranking at all on your current site, which might be targeted more aggressively during a rebrand.
2. Preserve Valuable SEO Content
After you’ve identified your site’s highest SEO value pages, use that information to determine the content that is contributing to your rankings. Along with keywords and backlinks, content is still one of Google search engine crawlers’ most important factors. High-quality material that continues to accurately represent your company should be kept as long as possible. You certainly have the freedom to make structural modifications to the page layout and change the sentences as needed, but the overall topic and high-volume keywords must be maintained and integrated into heading tags and important SEO components.
Inbound link baiters are notorious for altering or deleting crucial content, which can result in a broken redirect process. Preserving material is particularly essential when making structural or layout changes to separate pages across the site, as demonstrated by the preceding example. If you’re combining sites, make sure to add relevant keywords or elements related to each one for the redirect. If Google determines that a redirected page is not connected to the intended target page, it may generate a 404 error. This will negate the purpose of your redirect and any SEO value it endowed.
3. Redesign on Staging or Temporary URL
You should never undertake a total website makeover on your current site. This frequently results in perplexity for your users and long-term difficulties. The ideal option is to develop the new website on a staging portal or with a temporary URL. After you’ve finished your new website, you may add the pages to your main website’s domain and use redirects.
Even if you are unsure how to redesign a staging platform or host a temporary URL, you may always call on the expertise of a professional developer or seek the help of a hosting service.
4. Set up 301 Redirects
Setting up 301 redirects is the most crucial step in the rebranding and redesign process, but it’s also one of the simplest to mess up! The redirect is what will take all existing SEO equity from the old site and hand it over to the new one, but you must make sure that they are done correctly and lead to relevant target pages.
The greater the number of modifications you make to your site’s overall structure, the more difficult it will be to set up redirects.
No Change to Structure
If you’re just changing the domain name and not the URL structure, your redirect procedure will be a lot easier. You can create a wildcard redirect that takes all of the URLs and sends them to the new domain while maintaining the same structure.
Altered Site Structure
It’ll be a little more difficult to arrange your redirects if you took the redesign as an opportunity to strengthen your total site structure. In many situations, you’ll probably have to create redirects on a per-page basis. While this may appear time-consuming and laborious, it can help avoid issues like chains and loops.
Custom 404 Page
If there are pages you don’t want to keep on the new site and no other page with comparable or relevant content exists, it’s best not to redirect it at all. Many people make the error of redirecting all of those pages to the homepage of the new website. This is a form of keyword stuffing that has been banned by search engines and typically results in both webpages being deleted from the index.
5. Notify Google of Changes
After you’ve finished your website and its live, you’ll want to notify search engines, particularly Google. Google Search Console is the ideal location to notify Google of any updates. You’ll need to submit an updated sitemap.xml file if you made any modifications, as well as inform them about your domain name change.
XML Sitemap Update
The XML sitemap aids search engine crawlers in finding your more essential website pages. You should have a list of all the URLs on the new site from the redirect procedure. Only the most essential pages that should be indexed are required, however not every URL needs to be included in the XML sitemap file. After you’ve completed your list.
Changing your website’s domain to something else can trigger a redirect in Google search results. To ensure that the search engine displays only your new site, you must notify it of the change. It does NOT apply if you are going from http to https or www to non-www; rather, it applies if you’re moving from example.com to example.
6. Post Launch Actions
In addition to updating your Google Search Console XML sitemap file, you should take a few additional measures as soon after launching your site as possible.
Update Directory Listings
Local residents and visitors can discover your site via local search engine results pages (SERPs). Listings in directories are a must, especially for small businesses. If you update the domain or company name of your website, you will need to make sure that all of your company citation information is updated across various directories. This procedure may take some time, but it’s also an excellent chance to update and improve all of your existing company listings.
Link Update Outreach
Contacting the domains that are linked to your site and request them to change the link URL is one method of Google Update outreach. Even though you’ve set the appropriate redirects and those redirected URLs are going to a working new URL, both your site and theirs should reduce how often users see a redirect from your site to their site.
Promote Your Redesign
Promoting your new website is a fantastic method to get more traffic and increase overall exposure. This is especially crucial if you’ve made significant modifications to the look of your site or company name.
You should reach out to those who are already familiar with your company via social media, email newsletters, and press releases to inform them about the changes. You may also use PPC advertising to notify customers looking for your old brand about the modifications by targeting your old brand name in the ad.
The more information and content you release about the modifications to your organisation and website, the faster Google and visitors will comprehend them and make required search changes to ensure that your new brand is readily accessible.
7. Monitor Your Analytics
Even after all of your hard work up front, problems and errors will inevitably emerge following the release. Continue to monitor the performance of your website and make necessary modifications as needed.
Crawl Errors and 404s
You’ve done your homework, but if Google eliminates any of the redirects or your sites aren’t properly indexed, you’ll need to find and repair them as soon as possible. To keep your URLs current and accessible, use Google Search Console to track down and fix all crawling problems.
Traffic and Rankings
While a rebrand is usually associated with a loss in traffic and ranks immediately following the update of search engines’ databases, if you witness a significant decline in visitors or rankings, you should delve deeper to discover what’s wrong. However, as time goes on, your rankings are likely to improve gradually.
The website rebranding process does not need to be intimidating or difficult. As long as you remember the following guidelines while proceeding, your new website should retain all of the SEO value you’ve worked so hard for.