Change is inevitable for everyone – even for brands. As your business grows, you realise that you need a fresh image, reflecting your current market position and values. Some companies merge together and change their names and logos. In other situations, you only want to touch up on your brand fonts and colours. Whatever the reason and method, it is important to plan and execute the change so that you will keep SEO after rebranding your website.
After all, you worked very hard to rank for your chosen keywords on the search results page and win the trust of your clients and of Google. It would be absolutely dramatic to leave all that behind and start from square one all over again. Happily, this is not the case. Keep reading and find out how to rebrand without losing SEO.
A Website Rebrand Requires Professional Assistance
Let us start with a critical piece of advice: while doing SEO on your own, with our assistance, is possible, rebranding and migrating a website is not DIY work. You may lose valuable pages which made up for most of your SEO equity. Many other things can go wrong.
Plus, some of the work needed to rebrand without affecting SEO is of a technical nature. Thus, you should definitely hire a developer to help you with this work. If your rebranding process includes a website redesign and unless you have a natural talent for design, you should also work with a graphic designer to recreate your site and create the new brand image of your business.
Key Steps to Take to Keep SEO after Rebranding a Company Website
In order to preserve SEO equity, follow these helpful tips:
1. Set Up 301 Redirects
This is one of the simplest ways to rebrand without affecting SEO if you do not make major changes to the website structure. A 301 redirect is a code that will redirect a visitor automatically from old web pages to new landing pages.
However, you must expect your search engine ranking to drop for a little while. Google and other search engines do not automatically approve 301 redirects. Be patient, and in a short time you will see that your keywords return to its usual rank values.
2. Keep Content with a High SEO Equity
Cornerstone content must be kept at all costs. Even if you change the brand name and the logo of the company, you can adapt your most valuable content pieces and keep them.
We are talking about original research, authoritative long form articles and other pages that have a lot of backlinks. You must keep SEO from these sources.
After all, you can edit the brand name, update the content with new keywords and get a freshly rebranded page with the same high value content for visitors.
3. Create Custom 404 Pages
As part of the rebranding, you will give up some website pages. These are usually pages for discontinued products or services. Do not let your customers be faced with a basic 404 – Page Not Found message.
Instead, to keep SEO as well as your customers after your site’s rebrand, create custom 404 pages. You can use anything from humour to a neutral and informative tone of voice. Most importantly, do not forget to add links to similar products or services and to the home page of the site. Thus, visitors have the option to try a new product or start their own search for something on your new website.
4. Try to Keep the Same Site Structure
We already talked about 301 redirects working best on the same site structure. However, there are more reasons to keep it after a rebranding. Many companies lost a lot of SEO equity when they made too many changes to their site.
Plus, customers who are already familiar with your site will be confused by a completely new look and navigational menu. Many of them may give up trying to find what they need and will look for another company to buy products and services.
5. Notify Google of the Changes
In order to rebrand without losing SEO value, make sure that you inform Google that you changed your site. Depending on the extent of the changes, you may have to upload a new XML sitemap with your site’s important pages to the Google Search Console and inform them that you changed the domain name.
6. Keep the Same Domain Name
Although you can update a domain name in Google Search Console, it is highly recommended not to change it. Despite all your efforts, you will lose a lot of SEO value if your site has a new domain name. And if possible, retaining your URL structures and content placement can mitigate potential risks and keep your redirects simpler.
Unless your brand name changes completely, it is recommended to keep the existing domain name even after the rebranding.
Helpful Tips for Successful Rebranding with Minimal Impact on SEO
You must balance the need to rebrand with the importance of keeping SEO value. The fact is that even small changes can have a big impact on the image of a brand and the customers’ perception.
Thus, consider the following:
1. Update Photos on the Site
Changing the visuals on a website makes a huge difference. Just imagine any room in your house with different pictures on the walls. It looks like a brand new room. The same thing happens with a website.
Actually, rebranding is a great opportunity to replace stock photos with original images that truly represent your business. At this point, you can afford hiring a photographer and a designer to create custom visuals for your site.
2. Touch Up the Logo – But Not too Much
The logo plays a crucial role in the relationship between a brand and its customers. There are very well known cases where a brand suffered a severe backlash from loyal customers who hated a new logo. So much so that the respective brands returned to the old logo, despite the significant expenses to create and implement a new one.
You can keep your website’s SEO and make your clients happy if you make some slight changes to your logo, without modifying it too much. An example of a successful logo update is Coca-Cola. The last significant change to its design was made in 1891. All the other touch-ups are extremely subtle and maintain the same consistent colour, font and overall design.
3. Promote the Rebranding Using All the Communication Channels
Last but not least, you can avoid killing your SEO and keep your loyal clients if you inform them of the change ahead of time.
You have so many options:
- Posting a continuous notification on your site (with a countdown with added effect)
- Publishing a press release
- Sending email notifications to subscribers
- Creating social media posts
- Writing a blog post for sites whose target audience can learn and relate to your brand
- Post launch activities such as updating your directory listings to reflect your new website address, phone numbers, etc.
To reinforce the change, post the old and new logo or brand name side by side for a period of time. This will allow your clients to become familiar with the new brand image. And when they see the new website, they will know that it is still the same company they buy from.