Changing a company name can be a massive step in any organisation. A whole host of activities must be meticulously carried out to ensure all stakeholders are happy with this new identity. Something that is often overlooked when changing a company name is the implications for your digital marketing efforts.
Simply changing a website domain name can have a disastrous effect on SEO. This can however be largely avoided by following these steps to migrate your search engine rankings as quickly as possible.
1) Set up permanent (“301”) redirects
Setting up permanent redirect between every page on your old domain and a corresponding page on the new domain is critical. Often people just set up a redirect to their new homepage but this is not enough!
2) Use Canonical URLs
Matt Cutts (the Google guru) explains that canonicalization is the process of picking the best URL when there are several choices, and it usually refers to home pages. So, use a 301 redirect from http://newsite.com to http://www.newsite.com to make sure that all of your URLS are pointing to the same place so that Google knows which URL is the most important one.
3) Create optimised links from your old website to your new website
If you still own/control your old domain, it is worth creating optimised links from pages on the old domain to pages on the new domain. This will ensure that anyone that has previously bookmarked your site or come across an existing Social Media link will not see a ‘Page Not Found’ message.
4) Keep existing links
Inbound links is the juice that fuels SEO! It is tough task building up quality links and you want to ensure you keep them.
Identify the most important links on your website using HubSpot Link Grader. Once these have been identified contact these sites and ask that they update their links to your new website page. Take this opportunity to make sure that the link text itself is optimised and point it to a specific target page within your new web estate.
5) Update Links
It is likely that when you embarked on your initial link building strategy you submitted your website to a host of directories. Go back and update all of these directory links to reflect the new website address.
You also need to ensure that all links within your social media profiles are updated.
6) Get new links!
Your new website is a perfect opportunity to acquire new links. Announce the new website to influencers within your space, to the press and to industry blogs. You should also consider issuing an optimised press release as this is a great way to acquire inbound links.
These steps will certainly get you on the right path to maintaining your rankings. You must however be prepared for a dip in the rankings even if you follow every step to the letter. This dip will be temporary but it is difficult to say whether this will be for a few days or a few months. So follow these key steps and start creating remarkable content to acquire even more inbound links and watch your rankings rocket!