Rebrands are one of those non-trivial business decisions that usually require not only content but also design, including structural web changes or migrations.
It is critical to take SEO into consideration during rebrands to avoid brand related rankings and traffic loss and any potential negative influence on “non-branded” queries rankings targeted by the impacted pages.
Besides following general web migration SEO best practices, during a rebrand, it’s specifically critical to:
- Keep the relevance towards the old brand (as well as products, services or business non-branded queries) while also becoming relevant to the new one.
- Avoid losing the link popularity of the well-established brand-related pages that won’t be part of the site anymore.
There are a few different ways to achieve this based on the type of rebranding if it is happening to the company name or a specific line of products.
1. Company Name Rebrand
Let’s start with the likely most common one: the generic company name rebrand.
Changing the name of a company is the most “drastic” rebranding scenario.
The site will likely need to migrate to a new domain. This change is usually accompanied by a new website design that reflects the new brand.
What steps can you follow to minimize the impact here?
In this case it will be fundamental to 301-redirect every URL of the old domain to their new domain destination, taking into consideration these pages’ former “natural” relevance toward the old brand that was included in the domain name that will be now something else.
Let’s say, if it was called “X” and the domain was x.com and will now to be called “Y”, it should then be moved toward y.com.
The home page usually ends up ranking for most of the queries related to the company brand name (as will the about us page, although it has less impact from a business perspective).
However, in a new domain, the home page will usually lose the relevance toward the old brand as it will now feature the new brand information.
It will be then necessary to:
- Create a new page in the new domain about the old brand (www.y.com/x), which will serve as a “bridge” page to target and rank for the old branded queries. This page will also help to explain the company’s rebranding details and will link to the home page by referring to the new brand, with a link using a relevant anchor text for it.
- The home page (and ideally all internal pages) should also add an explanatory text (at least for a while) explaining about the rebrand, and linking to the old brand page (with a relevant anchor text) that was created to explain further.
By doing this, as can be seen in the following graphic, although the home page won’t be able to “retain” the old brand rankings – as it won’t be relevant towards it anymore – it will help to refer the new page that will be created to target them, in a way that makes sense and also helps from a business perspective.