The Journey to Rebrand Website without Losing Organic Traffic: A Mini Guide

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Rebranding- Digiturnal
Rebranding is common for businesses to thrive in the competitive digital market today. This strategy is aiding businesses to look fresh, innovative, and relevant to their target audience. However, the biggest myth among owners is that SEO only needs to be done in the beginning and everything will fall into place. Well, the reality is far from it! Rebranding your website is a mammoth step that will have ripple effects on the organic traffic - the SEO. For instance, if you are changing the domain name of your website, say, from xyztech.com to xyz.com, then you’re practically shaking the once-steady domain metrics important for Google to determine rankings. So, you’ve not everything and you can effectively manage the negative effects of domain change - rebranding- without affecting the organic traffic to your website.

How to prevent your business from losing its organic traffic after the rebranding process?

Step 1: Prepare a list of pages from the old website

Redesigning is a major aspect of rebranding. When you redesign your website, initially, you need to download the URL structure of your website. This will eventually affect the URL structure, thus making it important to backup all the data from the existing website in order to mitigate risks and protect your website from losing its ranking. There are numerous plugins available in the market to fix the URL structure. For instance, there are many WordPress plugins to find and fix broken links.

Step 2: Create a temporary URL

Never make the mistake of redesigning your website on the existing URL. The best way to redesign your website is creating a temporary URL and using it for as long as you are making the changes. Switch the domains once the designing is accomplished. A WordPress web development company or your hosting service provider can help you make the transition smooth. Now check your website thoroughly and test its functionality to avoid any bugging issues in the performance after the launch. We should not forget, it is an exhausting process and should be done with meticulous planning and execution.

Step 3: Setup 301 redirects for your website

SEO bots love 301 redirects. It is one of the best ways to ensure an amazing user experience and keep the search engines satisfied, especially if you’ve rebranded. You have to redirect the users clicking from the old URL to new URL. It means every page of xyz.com that has been redesigned should get the same organic traffic as its older version on xyztech.com. Using 301 redirects let Google know that the URL has been shifted to the new domain, this users will not be directed to a non-existing page—404 error. For WordPress websites, there is a separate plugin for redirection as you can see in the below image: Alternatively, you can use .htaccess file for manual redirection. However, there is a catch if you want to redirect
  • only specific files
  • old domain to new domain
  • to new www. domain
  • to non-www. domain
  • files with certain extension

Step 4: Ready to Go

All set? Now it's time for all that hard work you’ve done to bring you better outcomes. Implement these simple steps:
  1. Upload the .htaccess file you’ve created in Step 3 to the old domain hosting. The results will be immediate, and it’s always better to cross-verify if you’re directed to the URLs on the new website.
  2. Then, lift the Robots.txt command on the new site that’s barring it from search engines.
However, keep in mind one thing, DNS often takes a few days to update a new site, so don't be in a rush to remove your old site from the web. There are repercussions of taking down your site too soon, directing to a host of 404 errors and diverting the traffic towards your competitors.

Step 5: Update Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics

Google must know that you're moving your website to the new domain. Google Webmaster Tools have a convenient feature for “change of address”. Just navigate to the old site and click on the right top of your screen: Once you let Google know which site you’re shifting to, you’ll have to follow the process of verification to complete the stage. What more you can examine?
  • Site health such as crawling errors, blocked URLs, etc.
  • Site traffic that gives a picture of the user activity.
  • Site optimization such as new sitemap, keywords, HTML improvement suggestions.
Not to mention, visit Google Search Console (GSC), and change the status of your website to “Fetch as Google” under Crawl. Enter the new website link and click on ‘Fetch And Render’. If all goes well, your website will be crawlable now. The next step,
  • Click on the menu
  • Navigate to “URL Inspection”
  • Enter the URL
Google will determine if the URL has been indexed and confront you with a ‘Request Indexing’ option. Click on it and you’re done.

Step 6: Update your directory list

Now it’s time to update your web directory list with the accurate contact information of your redesigned website. To simplify the process, you can prepare a spreadsheet as per the image below and update your directory list in less time. One of the most powerful local ranking factors is the flexibility of your business NAP , which means Name, Address, and Phone number – across the local, territorial, and industry business directories. Some of the web directories that still hold SEO value for local businesses are Google My Business, Yahoo, Bing Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages, HotFrog and many more.

Step 7: Do link outreach for better ranking

Similar to updating local directories, this part of the process is time-consuming. Link outreach retrieves all the backlinks directed to your old site or mentions your old domain name. The first step is searching for all the websites where you have mentioned your old company's name or added a link to it. Luckily, various tools can help you such as Ahrefs, Moz’s Open Site Explorer, and Majestic. Here's an image representing the Ahrefs method of searching the website.

Step 8: Give signals to the search engine to connect the old brand name with the new one

The search engines will ultimately figure out the link between your old and new company names, but you can give them signals for better clarity. Here are ways to do so:
  • Add unique title tags and meta descriptions
  • Add a custom 404 page
  • Update social media account handles and/or descriptions
  • Publishing high-quality content for guest posting

Step 9: Promote your rebranded website

Well, now you're all set to announce and promote your rebranded website. So, how do you do it?
  • Email announcement: Send emails to your existing customers about the new launch.
  • Press release: A press release can help you connect with new customers looking for better services.
  • Social Media: Update your business profile on different social media channels and share the news with your followers.
  • PPC: You can also run a Google Ads campaign to promote your new website and get top-quality leads.
Entrusting an experienced IT company in Qatar can help you navigate the anomalies that come along with rebranding websites without losing on what your old website has earned—organic traffic.

Step 10: Post rebranding assessment

Rebranding may be completed in a few months —if we take the long shot— but it may take at least three months to gauge if your website is coming back on track. Hence, keep an eye on the following parameters to ensure website performance:
  • Directory listing
  • Determine crawl errors and 404
  • Organic traffic and keyword rankings
  • The outcome of link outreach

In conclusion

Although you put in all your efforts for a smooth rebranding of your website, some troubles are evitable. Maybe there's a coding error or Google is unable to crawl your website, or any other back-end issue. Thus, keeping a track of every single step for business owners is too far-fetched. Partnering with Digiturnal can make the entire journey a lot systematic and simpler. We are a team of SEO and web professionals that have years of experience in successfully handling such projects. We are just one call away, talk to our experts today and get started.

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