How to mitigate SEO risk after a rebrand
Are you thinking of changing your brand name and domain name?
There are many reasons why a business may want a rebrand. However, a rebrand — as exciting as it is — is full of pitfalls and potential issues one must avoid.
One of the biggest and most common issues with a rebrand is the potential SEO loss. You risk losing internal link juice, backlinks, brand queries, and more.
However, with a few recommended practices, you can mitigate that risk significantly.
In this post, we share a few tips on how to minimise potential SEO loss during and after a rebrand.
1. Content preservation
Before we jump into the nitty-gritty technical details of mitigating SEO risk, it is a better idea to talk about content preservation.
Before you start the rebranding process, jump into your Google Analytics account and identify the best-performing content pages on your website. Identify your best-performing and most valuable pages so you can preserve them.
This audit is also important for when (and if) you decide to later make changes to your content, e.g., combine pages to create long-form SEO guides or to avoid keyword cannibalisation.
Content is a key pillar of SEO. Preserving well-optimised and high-performing content is important, as it can give you a much-needed head-start after the rebrand.
2. URL preservation
Similar to content preservation, it is also important to preserve your URLs as much as possible.
Note that if you are completely rebranding your business, including changing your business name, there will obviously be changes to URLs. However, keeping URLs as similar as possible can be beneficial.
Therefore, if possible, retain URL structure as best as you can. This practice can have three big benefits:
- Returning website visitors would feel more at ease because the URL structure would be familiar to them. This improves the website navigation experience.
- It can also help mitigate the risk by keeping several signals consolidated.
- Redirects can be made simpler — even with a single rewrite in the htaccess file.
3. Set up 301 redirects
During the rebrand, you will be doing a lot of redirection. This is an important part of the process — and an easy one to get wrong.
With redirects, you pass the page equity and link juice to a different URL. To ensure the best possible results, make sure to:
- Set up 301 redirects (permanent redirects)
- Set up redirects to the correct and relevant page
4. Custom 404 pages
After the rebrand, you will likely see an increase in 404 errors. It is common because there will be pages that you don’t intend to keep anymore.
One way is to redirect all those pages to the homepage, but we do not recommend it. It not only affects the user experience, but search engines may also see this behaviour as manipulative.
Therefore, we recommend analysing each page that you are about to discard and create relevant 301-redirects. For pages that don’t fit anywhere, it is best to create a custom 404 page with as many details as possible.
A custom 404 page gives you an opportunity to retain users with relevant and helpful links. Moreover, it also allows you to remind website visitors that you have just gone through a rebrand (by mentioning both the old and the new business name).
One of the most important things after a rebrand is to create signals for Google, notifying them of the rebrand and assisting them in making the connection between the two businesses.
This is extremely important because even after months, you will notice that people would still be searching for your old brand name.
These signals can be of two types:
- Internal Signals: Internal signals refer to changes done on your own website. This includes creating signals through content, internal links, internal citations and mentions, metadata changes, etc.
- External Signals: External signals, on the other hand, refer to the creation of relevant signals from external websites. This includes traditional marketing practices, external citations, backlinks, and press releases.
It is expected to see a drop in search visibility, keyword rankings, organic traffic, and organic MQLs after a rebrand. This happens especially if most of your organic traffic comes from branded queries.
Things usually improve after a few months. However, it can be costly for many businesses.
The tips we mentioned in this article can be used to mitigate the SEO risk associated with rebranding a business. The process of rebranding does not have to be overwhelming or overly complicated, but you do need a clear action plan to minimise the potential loss of organic traffic and MQLs.