With the start of a new year, one of my clients decided to take the opportunity to start fresh and rebrand his company. While that’s a great move for energizing his business, it takes the wind out of the sails of the digital marketing efforts we’ve done on his behalf for the previous year. A new business name may be a fresh start, but it also means a new domain name and resetting the digital marketing clock to zero.
Captain Picard here can set phasers to stun, but if a client comes to you with a rebranding request, you will probably feel that your link building and other online marketing have just been torpedoed. After months (or years) of earning links and climbing rankings, it can be devastating to lose those links and ads to a rebranding.
To simplify, imagine you have a great relationship with the barista at your local coffee shop. You come in on a regular basis and always order the same thing. You both reach the level where the barista knows to make your order around the time you walk in and it’s ready when you get to the counter. And you can trust they will make you a great coffee every time. However, what happens if your regular barista is gone and someone new is there? You hope for the same great service, but you won’t know that until you build up a relationship again.
Google is the same way. No matter how good the new site is, you’ll have to refight the battle for Google recognition until the new site can prove credibility and authority. So what’s a stalwart digital marketer to do?
It’s always best to keep a positive attitude and this rebranding is a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate your digital marketing efforts and make sure the new site is optimized better versus the last site. Here are some steps you can take to make sure the transition goes smoothly:
- Set up 301 redirects from the old site to the new domain. This will achieve three things:
- Keep all the visitors and leads coming to your business
- Have Google recognize this is your new page and index it
- Helps transfer any link juice from links you’ve acquired
- Analyze your backlinks with tools like Open Site Explorer to verify you have quality backlinks to the new website’s page.
- Inform all of your client’s partners/vendors/etc of the new site and rebrand so they can change everything on their end and ensure they keep promoting you.
- Submit a fresh sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools to ensure the crawlers come to the right place. Google Webmaster Tools’ support is a great resource to get you started on creating a site map.
- Set up Google Analytics for the new site or transfer to the new domain. Simply update your Google Analytics’ tracking code to the new domain and have all visits from the old domain redirect to the new one through 301s.
From here, if you’ve done a great job with your digital marketing efforts, you’ll just have to wait around three to six months for your rankings to re-establish themselves and pat yourself on the back as the new site rises to that top search result for your audience.