[guest post by Cindy Parker]
While this can be a great idea in terms of marketing appeal and connecting with a larger demographic, the fact of the matter is that the logistics involved with such a paradigm shift can be daunting. Another major concern is how rebranding will potentially impact your current search engine optimization campaign. In order to avoid any potential headaches and stumbling blocks along the way, we will examine some of the steps which should always be involved in order to protect the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.
Before beginning, be sure that a few key metrics have been properly addressed. Make certain that both Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics have been properly updated. Verify that hosting to the new and the old website can be accessed. It is also wise to block public access to the new site until all technical aspects such as coding and beta testing have been satisfactorily completed.
You should also add an extra level of redundancy (such as a backup in cloud storage) in the event that any unexpected problems occur. Examine and benchmark the KPIs which are relevant to your operations. Examples here can include:
- Inbound traffic
- Online brand citations
- Keyword rankings and relevance
Finally, make certain that all 301 redirects from the present site are linked to relevant pages on the new portal. This is critical in terms of search engine algorithms and (ultimately) SERP rankings.
Deployment and updates
Once you are confident that all of these steps have been properly addressed, it is time to physically deploy the new website. Besides addressing 301 redirects, it is wise to enter a handful of old URLs into the address bar to ensure that they link to updated content. This is once again why it is important to keep the existing site active for some time; it may take the Domain Name Servers a while to update. If the previous site is removed, 404 messages could occur and this will only serve to confuse the audience.
Assuming that all has gone well, access Google Webmaster Tools and utilise the change of address option. This same action should be taken within Google Analytics. Both sites should be immediately informed that your address has changed. They they will otherwise be examining the wrong data sets.
Linking new and old sites
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, it is recommended that you take a few extra steps to guarantee that the correct linking takes place. Some examples of how this can be accomplished include:
- Modifying meta descriptions and title tags.
- Updating the footer of the old website.
- Updating social media accounts and other public access forums.
It is also prudent to change the information found within the “about us” page, as this can help to limit any additional confusion for those who still navigate to the old portal.
Local buzz is obviously important in terms of proper SEO. So, all directory listings will likewise need to be updated. These citations are critical to make sure that your efforts are not in vain. Names, addresses (both physical and email) and phone numbers should all be modified. While this may be somewhat tedious, it is key to streamlining the transition. Using a spreadsheet will help to limit any confusion.
This is the same principle that was mentioned in the last section. Any powerful links (determined by Google Analytics) which pointed to your old website need to be updated to reflect the new URL. Online instruments such as Majestic and Open Site Explorer can simplify this process.
Marketing and promotions
It is now important to focus upon traditional digital marketing and SEO techniques. These are meant just as much for the search engine as they are intended to reach out to the public. A handful of excellent suggestions to employ are:
- Press releases
- White papers
- Automated customer emails
- Social media updates
- PPC changes incorporating the new website and/or business
Although these may appear to be common sense, leveraging each option is actually just as critical as the technical transition itself.
Monitor directory listings and links to make certain that they are updated, as this can take a bit of time. Finally, employ traditional analytical tools to gauge metrics such as traffic, ranking and keyword relevance. It is likely that these will change slightly after the transition and staying on top of such concepts can help you to make the appropriate modifications when the time is right.
** About the Author: Cindy Parker is a professional writer and content specialist. She loves to write about small businesses, education and languages. Currently, she works for Learn to trade, a currency trading education company based in Australia.