If you rebrand and change domains, have a solid SEO plan in place first

rebranding domain name

When we first started Bold Metrics back in 2012, we weren’t called Bold Metrics, we were called Fashion Metric. As time went on we realized we had picked a brand name that wasn’t a great fit for us. Our company uses machine learning to predict body measurements, we didn’t focus on fashion, we don’t go to fashion shows, and honestly, nobody on our team really knows much about fashion, our focus is data and metrics.

Companies that use us find that we provide data they’ve never had access to before, it’s incredibly useful for them and helps them do, well, bold new things in their business. The problem was, when someone heard our name, they immediately thought, “ah – your company must help people find clothes that look good on them,” or something similar. We would get confused with fashion marketplaces or fashion technology companies that helped people mix and match outfits.

Additionally, our data can be used in the healthcare space, the sporting space, and places like entertainment and gaming, none of which associate themselves with fashion. We knew we had to change our name, which also meant changing our domain name, and with that came some key steps to make sure we didn’t ruin our SEO along the way.

Last week Search Engine Journal wrote a great article about key considerations companies should be when rebranding and changing domain names. At a high-level the four areas they highlight are:

  1. Generate signals beforehand
  2. Retain the URL structure
  3. Use content to accommodate previous brand searches
  4. Generate new signals

Now I know what you’re asking, what the heck do they mean by “signals” – here’s a good excerpt from the article to shed a bit more light on this concept specifically:

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve come across when companies go through a rebrand and domain name change is that they look at traffic and ranking “KPIs”.

They don’t generate new signals for the new domain and brand through link building, digital PR, or traditional marketing.

Rather, they see organic as a channel in a silo.

When putting together the redirect lists, you will identify high importance links, potentially with branded anchors or commercial anchors pointing to the old domain.

These can still be outreach targets to try and have the link updated, but these efforts are not a substitute for fresh signals being put into the mix.

(Source – Search Engine Journal)

While the article covers four key considerations, there are of course, a lot more than four. Before doing your rebrand you want to make sure the name you chose isn’t confusingly similar to another company. The last thing you want to do is announce a name change and have someone do a Google search for the new name only to find another company.

Additionally, you want to make sure that when you’re buying the new domain name for your brand )which will probably be owned by someone else) that it wasn’t used for something bad in the past. Buying a domain name that was used to run a scam a year ago means you could inherit both bad links and angry people who instantly will confuse you with the scammers.

Last but not least, you don’t want to completely change your website at the same time you rebrand. Current and potential clients that are used to seeing your website will be pretty confused if your name changes and your website looks completely different. Additionally, it’s a lot easier to retain your URL structure and make sure your SEO juice stays in place with the same site (of course with your updated logo and name everywhere) than with a brand new site.

And yes, there’s even more things to consider, if you want to share some tips you know feel free to in the comment section below. The point here is, rebranding means a lot more than just picking a new name and buying the domain. You have to carefully plan everything to make sure you still get credit for all the hard work you put into building the SEO juice in the past because you really don’t want to have to do that all over again.

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