Considering a rebrand?
You’re probably aware that it will be no easy feat. On top of the soul searching, repositioning, creative, legal headaches and everything else that’s involved, you’re going to have Google to reckon with and consider as well.
So much of the work we do in marketing is based on building brand recognition and online visibility – and when not done properly, transitioning to a new name and domain can put that all at risk.
Where it can all go horribly wrong (digitally)
Usually, the conversation about a rebrand starts within the marketing department or with the company’s preferred graphic designer or branding strategist. The marketing department and graphic designer are typically focused on the aesthetics of the rebrand – what the logo will look like, what the colours will be, how the staff photos will be shot etc. A branding strategist/advisor takes this a step further and dives deeper into ‘why’ a rebrand should occur.
These conversations and the decisions made from these interactions are critical in the rebranding process for sure, but something that is often forgotten in the process (or left until the end) is how a rebrand can affect a company’s online visibility and revenue.
It can take years to build up authority with Google and other search engines for your website’s domain name so that you appear high in search results. Over time, as you drive more traffic to your website, generate Google reviews, publish great content and apply SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), you can be rewarded with higher rankings on those search engines as your website becomes more authoritative. And this can translate into a significant uplift in traffic from search engines as well as sustained business opportunities i.e. leads.
Take this real estate business for example and the volume of traffic they receive on a monthly basis:
When a company is looking to rebrand, sometimes that also means they need (or want) to change the domain name associated with their website. And typically, the web developer or IT team aren’t advised of this until all of the new branding assets have been developed and the new brand is ready to go live…
“Ok… We’re ready to go live with the new brand. Can you change our logo on our website and switch over to our new domain name please?”
But here’s the thing… changing your domain name can completely wipe out your presence on search engines, fast. Authority on search engines, such as Google, is tied to your domain name, not your website. So by changing your domain name, you are essentially resetting your domain authority to zero – which can result in a significant decline in your rankings and ultimately your traffic and revenue from search engines.
There are ways to limit the negative impacts of a domain name change during a rebrand but these processes are complex and should only be done, or at least advised, by a reputable digital marketing advisor. There are also many important processes following the launch of a new domain name that your website and digital marketing team will need to be across to ensure that any drop in rankings is contained and that your new domain name can start to climb back up the rankings as quickly as possible for all of the relevant search phrases.
It’s not as easy as simply swapping your domain name over and hoping for the best. Doing so will very likely result in a significant drop in website traffic and (most importantly) revenue. You wouldn’t ask your website developer to design your new logo. And so you shouldn’t expect your graphic designer or branding strategist to know the ins and outs of Google’s latest ranking algorithms and to advise you accordingly.
So what should you do if you’re thinking about rebranding and changing your domain name in the process?
Firstly, consult with your digital marketing advisor at the beginning of the rebranding process, not at the end. They will be a critical part of the success of your new brand and it will pay to get their advice regarding your online presence before you invest time and money on all the visual stuff to make sure your online presence is not impacted.
Secondly, if possible, consider keeping your existing domain name and setting up master redirects FROM the new domain name TO the old domain name.
For example, (new domain name) abcrealestate.com.au/property redirects to (old domain name) xyzrealestate.com.au/property.
Under this arrangement, you can still use your new domain name in all of your marketing collateral but redirect all links to the relevant pages on your existing domain name. This will ensure you can still use your new domain name but keep your presence on Google intact. Setting up these ‘master’ redirects is a relatively quick and easy job for any reputable web developer.
Although, there may be some circumstances where the old domain name just doesn’t align with the new brand and needs to be changed. In this instance, it pays to seek advice from your digital marketing advisor and SEO team from the outset.
Despite the mountain of work required by all parties involved, the rebranding process can, and should, be a fun and exciting time for your business. It’s a fresh start, a clean new look and something everyone in the business can be proud of – not to mention the potential attraction from a recruitment perspective.
But if you’re thinking of changing your domain name as part of the process, it pays to seek professional advice very early on to avoid a decline in your online presence and, potentially, a significant loss in revenue.