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SEO Best Practices When Rebranding Your Website

Rebrands are one of those non-triv­ial busi­ness deci­sions that usu­al­ly require not only con­tent but also design, includ­ing struc­tur­al web changes or migra­tions.

It is crit­i­cal to take SEO into con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing rebrands to avoid brand relat­ed rank­ings and traf­fic loss and any poten­tial neg­a­tive influ­ence on “non-brand­ed” queries rank­ings tar­get­ed by the impact­ed pages.

Besides fol­low­ing gen­er­al web migra­tion SEO best prac­tices, dur­ing a rebrand, it’s specif­i­cal­ly crit­i­cal to:

  • Keep the rel­e­vance towards the old brand (as well as prod­ucts, ser­vices or busi­ness non-brand­ed queries) while also becom­ing rel­e­vant to the new one.
  • Avoid los­ing the link pop­u­lar­i­ty of the well-estab­lished brand-relat­ed pages that won’t be part of the site any­more.

There are a few dif­fer­ent ways to achieve this based on the type of rebrand­ing if it is hap­pen­ing to the com­pa­ny name or a spe­cif­ic line of prod­ucts.

1. Company Name Rebrand

Let’s start with the like­ly most com­mon one: the gener­ic com­pa­ny name rebrand.

Chang­ing the name of a com­pa­ny is the most “dras­tic” rebrand­ing sce­nario.

The site will like­ly need to migrate to a new domain. This change is usu­al­ly accom­pa­nied by a new web­site design that reflects the new brand.

What steps can you follow to minimize the impact here?

In this case it will be fun­da­men­tal to 301-redi­rect every URL of the old domain to their new domain des­ti­na­tion, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion these pages’ for­mer “nat­ur­al” rel­e­vance toward the old brand that was includ­ed in the domain name that will be now some­thing else.

Let’s say, if it was called “X” and the domain was x.com and will now to be called “Y”, it should then be moved toward y.com.

The home page usu­al­ly ends up rank­ing for most of the queries relat­ed to the com­pa­ny brand name (as will the about us page, although it has less impact from a busi­ness per­spec­tive).

How­ev­er, in a new domain, the home page will usu­al­ly lose the rel­e­vance toward the old brand as it will now fea­ture the new brand infor­ma­tion.

It will be then nec­es­sary to:

  • Cre­ate a new page in the new domain about the old brand (www.y.com/x), which will serve as a “bridge” page to tar­get and rank for the old brand­ed queries. This page will also help to explain the company’s rebrand­ing details and will link to the home page by refer­ring to the new brand, with a link using a rel­e­vant anchor text for it.
  • The home page (and ide­al­ly all inter­nal pages) should also add an explana­to­ry text (at least for a while) explain­ing about the rebrand, and link­ing to the old brand page (with a rel­e­vant anchor text) that was cre­at­ed to explain fur­ther.

By doing this, as can be seen in the fol­low­ing graph­ic, although the home page won’t be able to “retain” the old brand rank­ings – as it won’t be rel­e­vant towards it any­more – it will help to refer the new page that will be cre­at­ed to tar­get them, in a way that makes sense and also helps from a busi­ness per­spec­tive.

Addi­tion­al­ly, it’s always a good idea to revise the Google Search Con­sole Search Ana­lyt­ics report or exter­nal data sources by using tools like SEM­rush or Ahrefs.

This needs to be done in order to ver­i­fy which oth­er pages besides the home page (or about us page) might be also rank­ing for oth­er types of brand­ed queries (e.g., more gran­u­lar, with “old brand + prod­uct name”) for which the new page about the old brand might not be rel­e­vant enough, and if so, to also tar­get them with addi­tion­al new pages that should be inte­grat­ed in a sim­i­lar way and should also ful­fill a busi­ness role.

2. Product Name Rebrand

Although prod­ucts or prod­uct line rebrands are usu­al­ly far less dras­tic than com­pa­ny names, they are not nec­es­sar­i­ly less impor­tant rebrand­ing sce­nar­ios.

Despite not requir­ing, in most cas­es, a full domain migra­tion and affect­ing a low­er num­ber of more gran­u­lar pages, prod­uct name rebrands usu­al­ly involve some of the most impor­tant pages on the site from a con­ver­sion and ulti­mate­ly, ROI per­spec­tive, and there­fore, need­ing impor­tant atten­tion and sup­port.

Prod­uct rebrands will also like­ly need dif­fer­ent types of solu­tions in order to min­i­mize a poten­tial neg­a­tive impact while try­ing to make the most out of the already well-estab­lished prod­ucts pages, depend­ing on how the new brand name will dif­fer from the old one. These are a few of the most com­mon ones:

2.1. Product Rebrand with No Name Overlay

When the new name is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent and won’t include the old one (for exam­ple, chang­ing a prod­uct called “Yel­low” to “Red” in the “X” com­pa­ny), you can then “lever­age” the old prod­uct page (x.com/yellow) to be kept and start serv­ing as a “bridge” page that will explain about the rebrand, keep­ing the rel­e­vance and rank­ings for the old brand­ed queries like: “Yel­low”, “X Yel­low”, etc. while link­ing to the new prod­uct page that should be cre­at­ed.

At the same time, a new prod­uct page for the new brand (x.com/red) should then be cre­at­ed. It is this one that will tar­get the new brand­ed queries for which it will be rel­e­vant.

This new prod­uct page should also be inter­nal­ly linked from the site nav­i­ga­tion, instead of the old one, so links should be updat­ed.

Addi­tion­al­ly, an explana­to­ry text should be also added in this page at the begin­ning, to inform about the brand change and link to the “bridge”, old prod­uct page for more infor­ma­tion, with a rel­e­vant anchor text.

2.2. Product Rebrand with Low Name Overlay

When the new name over­lays with the old one (for exam­ple, chang­ing a prod­uct called “Yel­low Blue” to “Yel­low Red” in the “X” com­pa­ny), you can then also lever­age the old prod­uct page to help direct­ly estab­lish the new one much more quick­ly.

It will help make the most out of the name coin­ci­dence, as the new brand­ed queries to tar­get will include some of the old terms, and this is the page where ulti­mate­ly, you will now be offer­ing the prod­uct to sell.

To do this, it will be nec­es­sary to:

  • 301-redi­rect the old prod­uct page (www.x.com/yellow-blue) to the new one (www.x.com/yellow-red), using the old estab­lished page’s pop­u­lar­i­ty to ben­e­fit the new one will also keep some of its brand rel­e­vance. Inter­nal links should be also updat­ed accord­ing­ly to go now to the new page. This new page should also include a text explain­ing about the rebrand at the start, from where it should link to the “bridge” page – with a rel­e­vant anchor text – that will be enabled to tar­get the spe­cif­ic old brand queries.
  • Since the new prod­uct page will keep only part of the old brand rel­e­vance, it is then also impor­tant to enable a “bridge” page (www.x.com/blue) that will specif­i­cal­ly tar­get only the old brand queries. This page should be linked from the new prod­uct page with an explana­to­ry text using the old brand as anchor text, and link back fol­low­ing the same log­ic, refer­ring also the users to the new prod­uct page so they can ful­fill their goal and buy it.

2.3. Product Rebrand with High Name Overlay

When the new prod­uct name not only over­lays but com­plete­ly includes the old one (for exam­ple, chang­ing a prod­uct called “Yel­low” to “Yel­low B” (adding only the B in the name) in the “X” com­pa­ny), you have more flex­i­bil­i­ty and choose between a cou­ple of alter­na­tives:

Keep­ing the Old Prod­uct URL

You can keep the old prod­uct page (www.x.com/yellow) to now tar­get not only the old but also the new brand­ed prod­uct names for which it will be rel­e­vant: “Yel­low” and “Yel­low B”.

The ben­e­fit of this option is that by not need­ing to be moved, it will direct­ly keep the old prod­uct URL brand­ed queries rank­ings, as well as the already exist­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty.

You only have to expand its con­tent to also include the new brand name terms, so the page can also become rel­e­vant to them, as well as adding an explana­to­ry text inform­ing about the change.

Addi­tion­al­ly, in this case, you won’t need to update any inter­nal links as the new prod­uct brand URL will be the same.

The con is the that new prod­uct page URL won’t ful­ly include the new prod­uct brand name, although when assess­ing the impact of this it could be min­i­mized if the rest of the con­tent areas and ele­ments are now well tar­get­ed to the new brand too, con­sid­er­ing that the ben­e­fit is to be able to keep all of the for­mer page rank­ings and pop­u­lar­i­ty.

In most cas­es, this will be the best option with min­i­mum changes for well-estab­lished prod­ucts pages, with a high­er vol­ume of exter­nal links, for which chang­ing the URL to add an addi­tion­al term wouldn’t com­pen­sate.

Mov­ing the Old Prod­uct URL to a New One

In instances like this one, you would need to 301-redi­rect the old prod­uct page (www.x.com/yellow) to a new prod­uct URL (www.x.com/yellow-b) to also include the new brand term in the URL (which is the only con of the pre­vi­ous and most straight­for­ward alter­na­tive), so the new URL will be as rel­e­vant as pos­si­ble to both, old and new prod­ucts brands.

In this case, you’ll also need to:

  • Update inter­nal links to go to the new brand page URL.
  • Expand its con­tent so it is also rel­e­vant to the new brand.
  • Include the explana­to­ry text to inform about the change.

These should be accom­plished in order for the new prod­uct page URL to be seen. A struc­tur­al change will be need­ed for the ben­e­fit of hav­ing the full new name of the brand in the URL.

This will be the best alter­na­tive, in most cas­es, for prod­ucts pages that were not that well estab­lished in the past, with min­i­mal links, for which adding the full name to the URL to become more rel­e­vant to the new prod­uct brand, will be more ben­e­fi­cial.

Conclusion

By fol­low­ing the pre­vi­ous SEO best prac­tices for some of the most com­mon rebrand­ing sce­nar­ios, a rebrand shouldn’t mean that you need to lose your organ­ic search rank­ings and traf­fic loss, but an oppor­tu­ni­ty to start:

Tar­get­ing new brand-relat­ed terms and queries that you might not have been ranked as well before.
Secur­ing your old brand rank­ings and estab­lish­ing new ones.
Grow­ing your brand­ed organ­ic search per­for­mance.

Last but not least, if for some rea­son your SEO rec­om­men­da­tions for the rebrand­ing process are not fol­lowed and the site ends up los­ing its organ­ic search traf­fic in the process despite your efforts, check out this post I wrote a while ago about recov­er­ing your organ­ic search traf­fic from a migra­tion gone wrong.

SOURCE

By | 2018-01-18T12:53:13+00:00 January 19th, 2018|Industry News|Comments Off on SEO Best Practices When Rebranding Your Website