How to do a major rebrand and keep your website’s SEO rankings

As many of you may know we recently rebranded mooo.com.au to tinyme.com.au. The reason for the rebrand was quite simple, we were expanding overseas and did not have a mooo.com or mooo.co.uk.

 

So as the head of SEO I was tasked with planning and managing the “SEO” transition from mooo to tinyme. In a nutt shell I successfully (with a lot of sweat) recovered all our SEO rankings in 8 days after the major domain name transition.

 

The first 3 days after the transition our rankings dropped from page 1s to page 7s, which was quite bad seeing as most people don’t browse past the 1st page of search engine results. So as you can imagine it was a very stressful couple of days for me.

 

So I would like to share the steps I took in doing the transition, so anyone thinking of doing a rebrand in the future will have something to refer to. But before you start this process remember to benchmark your current rankings so you have something to refer to after the transition.

 

Step 1

Before you switch your site over, generate an xml site map of your current site.

 

Step 2

Identify all the external links that are going to your current website URL. This is to help you identify links which you can manually change to your new domain URL.

 

Step 3

Using 301 redirects (permanent redirects) make sure every URL from your current domain is redirected to your new domain. This is usually done in the server.

 

Step 4

Using your list of external links to your site, and if possible, contact the site owners who have existing links to your site, and get them to change the links to your new site URL. Its always better to have a direct link to your new site rather than a redirect.

 

Step 5

Revise your robots.txt file to make sure you disallow all pages and folders you do not want crawled by the search engines.

 

Step 6

Go to your Google Webmaster Tools account and add your new domain, then go onto the Bing Webmaster Center and do the same.

 

Step 7

In your current site Google Webmaster Tools site profile, fill out the Change of Address form to tell Google that you have moved to a new site URL.

 

Step 8

With your current xml site map, do a site submission to Google & Bing. This is to tell the search engines to crawl your current site to find all the new redirects.

 

Step 9

Write a post in the Google Groups Webmaster Central forum indicating your move, why it’s being done, and how you hope Google will recognise the domain name transition as legitimate.

 

Step 10

Once your site has been fully transitioned, use Xenu’s Link Sleuth to monitor your new site for broken links. And if you find any broken links, hurry and fix them ASAP.

 

In conclusion, once all this is done remember to keep closely monitor your site over the next couple months and keep up your normal SEO activities.

 

Also keep in mind your rankings will drop initially, no doubt about it, but they should return in a matter of days/weeks. (that’s if there aren’t any other issues with your site)

 

Doing an SEO site transition was definitely one of the biggest and most important projects ive handled and thankfully it all went well. So if you have this task at hand, be very systematic and thorough. And I wish you the best of luck with it!


5 Responses

  1. marketing says:

    Can I just say what a relief to uncover someone that really knows
    what they’re discussing over the internet. You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people need to look at this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular given that you definitely possess the gift.

  2. Adam says:

    Hi Ben,
    I am being tasked with this very task. Your post looks to be very helpful, and I will use it as a template.

    What process did you use to benchmark your site before you did the rebrand? Did you literally just Google your biggest key words and note your site’s rank? Or is there something more in depth I could be doing for that?

    Where there any other reserouces you used to learn about rebranding and SEO? Ie any other articles written?

    Lastly, where there any steps you would do differently now?

    Thanks in advance!

    Adam

  3. stickers says:

    This is the only time I’ve been to your website. Thanks for sharing more information.

  4. Ben Liau says:

    Hi Adam,

    I used an SEO ranking tool, to benchmark all of my highest valued keywords. i did this at a few intervals before i did the site transition.

    There werent many resources on the web, i actually consulted with a few experts in SEO and got their best advice on how to proceed.

    My biggest tip would be to make sure the 301 redirects are done properly. if they are dont wrong, it could mean very bad things for your site.

    Hope that helps.

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