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Know-How Exchange

Topic: SEO/SEM

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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.

Name Change And Seo Ranking PRO Member

Posted by ginad on 500 Points
We are getting ready to take on a merger strategy and will be creating a new company that essentially replaces our existing company. We will create a new brand, new name and new site. I want to make sure I have a real plan to get our ranking back in place after the change.

We have a ton of content on the original domain and have worked hard to maintain page 1 ranking on several key terms. The new brand will better reflect who we are today and will contain much of the same and similar content with a whole lot more added.

The original domain is old - like 15 plus years old.

Is it best to essentially duplicate content on the two sites with some minor changes to the look of the old site? Is it better to do a redirect from the old page(s) to the new page(s), let people know they are being redirected or is it better to do a general domain redirect?

I am totally paranoid about losing the established ranking and then having to fight to get back. I am thinking that I need to post content on both sites until new site gets up there and then start gradually reducing the posts on the old site.

I have not gotten satisfactory answers from my agency or others I've talked to. I don't mind extra work if we are able to keep our ranking.

  • Posted by Moriarty on Accepted
    Gina

    one of the very real problems with SEO is that you are at the mercy of a traffic source over which you have no control. Because that is coming through loud and clear.

    That is not to say that I am against SEO - what I am against is **relying on it**. Because paid advertising will give you that peace of mind that will then allow you to relax about your SEO problems. If this is the kind of unsatisfactory answer you got from others, then do please let us know.

    My position is always to have more than one traffic stream, and that means paid as well as organic traffic streams. You should have a very good idea of your customers and with a good SEO background an Adwords campaign would be very easy for you as much of it depends on meeting a good ad to a good landing page. The analytics and the rest you could pick up easily because the root of a good paid campaign is understanding your clients and their needs.

    The point is that with paid advertising of this kind, rankings and the age of the domain are far less relevant. What is more, ranking with SEO actually reinforces your Adwords campaign - and vice-versa.

    I hope this helps, please let me know what you think. Moriarty xx
  • Posted by ginad on Author
    Moriarty thanks for the note. I certainly understand that PAID needs to be part of the effort. I'm having challenges getting a comprehensive perspective.

    I know part of the strategy is paid, part is SEO and part is luck. I just can't get a comprehensive answer from the agency that makes sense to me.
  • Posted by Moriarty on Accepted
    Gina - thanks for the quick reply. The point of my argument is that paid advertising takes much of the luck out of the equation.

    What sort of "comprehensive" do you want ... this is a forum and I can't start writing theses! Well, not here at least. I can try to give you an oversight as much as I can, and the others will chip in too no doubt.

    To me the focus of anything you do must - MUST - be your customer. Focusing on them means everything else comes second. Whatever they like, you like. Not because you like it, it's because it's your job.

    Anyway, you ought to like some of what your best customers like. You must have the metrics tucked away somewhere so that you can find out who they are. Because focusing a paid campaign at them in particular will reduce your advertising costs *dramatically*.

    Getting more of your very best customers (and keeping them) will also reduce your stress levels. Are you beginning to get my drift? Not all advertising agencies realize the need to study your clients, and take the attitude that your advertising spend is just another deduction on your tax return. I know a few of them*! (*Not here, in Amsterdam and London).

    M xx
  • Posted by ginad on Author
    Thanks again for the comments Moriarty. I'm not looking for the perfect answer on this forum. I know the info is FREE. I'm trying to collect bits and pieces so I can create a comprehensive plan. I would love it if my agency did it, but they don't seem to be getting my drift.

    I think my real issue is that the agency itself doesn't do much content marketing as it is so they don't see the need from our perspective.

    We have spent a lot of time positioning ourselves as the experts in our industry and that needs to be maintained.

    Thanks again for the input.
    G
  • Posted by Moriarty on Accepted
    Just because this info is free doesn't mean it's poor quality!

    If you want an expert, the guys here are usually up to a free consultation - they don't need much asking!

    If you are the experts in your field, then it is imperative to know who finds you as "their" experts. The rest is costing you money for not much in the way of return on your investment.

    As to your agency, why keep them if they aren't standing to the mark? As mentioned, there are several experts right here. M xx

  • Posted by Peter (henna gaijin) on Accepted
    Back to your original question - here are two posts/articles on changing URLs and SEO that may be of interest:

    http://www.seologic.com/faq/url-redirect-script

    http://www.rainbodesign.com/seo-tips/changing-urls.php

    In short, it will affect your SEO, but you can limit the damage. But I think this is why M is promoting paid advertising, which wouldn't get affected. That said, I agree with you that it is worth some effort to keep your SEO as strong as possible. But you may lose top billing, at least for a while. One of the costs of a name change.
  • Posted by Moriarty on Accepted
    Peter - firstly, a thankyou for the links. I'm not so good at SEO on a global scale.

    You say "But I think this is why M is promoting paid advertising, which wouldn't get affected." - to be honest I promote paid advertising as part of a marketing plan that is far more general and therefore far more stable than relying on one source of traffic alone (as stated above). In my opinion organic online traffic is poor quality, and should be backed up by other sources that ensure you are hitting the right target.

    M
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
  • Posted by excellira on Accepted
    Thanks Gary for mentioning me-I appreciate it.

    @ginad:

    The downside of changing is that you have a mature domain that is 15 years old. But, unless the domain name is a descriptor vs a brand name, then you don't have much choice.

    A domain name change will likely create a period of ranking instability. The degree can vary. Though you could just as well experience a short-term boost in traffic. Perhaps then followed by a dip. Regardless, there will likely be instability. However, that does not mean that you will lose all your hard-earned momentum.

    To do so you'll need to take some precautions and implement implement 301 redirects from each old-page to each new page. This can be done in several ways but you'll want to avoid a typical domain redirect where all URLs point to the home page of the new domain.

    While there is some leakage, if done correctly, you will preserve most of the PageRank/link value of the backlinks pointing to your pages. A proper redirect will also notify search engines that the page has moved from the old domain to the new domain.

    Talk to your developer. There are some ways of making this process easier. One is to minimize the changes to the URL structure.

    For example, if your current URLs look like this:
    http://example.com/products/some-product-name.html

    Then the simplest approach is to change only the domain name such as:
    http://newdomain.com/products/some-product-name.html

    It's also easy to make bulk changes. So you could change the subdirectory from "products" to "catalog" for example.
    http://newdomain.com/catalog/some-product-name.html

    Changing file extensions is also very easy as it also is a bulk change. One redirect rule can change all the file extensions from .aspx to .html or even better, eliminate the file extension so that you have a URL such as:
    http://newdomain.com/catalog/some-product-name
    The advantage of this is that the URLs have portability as website technology changes. So if you're using PHP today, you can change to ASPX tomorrow and the URL won't change.

    The challenge comes when you change the entire URL structure and file name such as:
    http://newdomain.com/catalog/new-file-name.aspx
    Unless your content management system can handle these changes or your programmers can, then this can cause a lot of work. You could manually create redirects for each page. Not so easy to do if you have thousands of them though. In this case you can implement manual redirects on the top 20% of your URLs (If Pareto were around he'd say that they were generating 80% of your traffic:-). Again, the simplest approach is to maintain the current URL structure and then you're only making bulk changes to the domain and perhaps file extension, etc.

    So, there are a number of ways to preserve the site's momentum. Careful planning and coordination with your programmers to ensure that your URL structure is maintained and that they implement 301 redirects. Make sure they're 301s. Check headers with the HTTP Fox plugin for firefox. Double check it because 302 redirects-the default redirect if another type isn't specified-will absolutely destroy your site.

    I hope this helps.

    -Greg
  • Posted by ginad on Author
    Thanks so much to everyone for the comments. I now have the knowledge to put together a strong plan. THANK YOU!

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