#73 – How To Rebrand Without Losing Traffic

What you will learn

  • When to rebrand
  • How we grew content around that central piece
  • How we started collecting hundreds of leads from a single page
  • How to redirect your site while maintaining the same site structure
  • How to redirect your site while changing the URL and site structure

In today’s podcast we are talking about when the right time to rebrand is. We’ll also cover how to change domain without losing traffic and rankings.

Why Would It Make Sense To Rebrand?

To Gain Credibility

Before online marketers began to focus on authority sites, there were a lot of niche sites. Niche sites tend to focus on one idea or product. Think something along the lines of http://bestblendershightechreview.info/.

Note

Both http://bestblendershightechreview.info/ and https://www.applianceadventures.com are made up websites for demonstration purposes.

There was a time where a site like this was enough to make a couple of hundred or even a couple of thousand dollars a month. However, this site does not really have any credibility.

These single product sites are clearly focused on monetization rather than helping its users. This means that its users are unlikely to return to buy again from the site. Rebranding into an authority site would inspire trust from the user. This presents the opportunity to garner loyalty and repeat traffic.

On top of that, no-one wants to link to a site that clearly wants to sell you something right off the bat. It’s a lot easier to ask someone to link to or promote a site that helps people..

If You Have Exhausted Your Niche

If you are working in a very small niche, similar to Best Blenders, there will come a point where you run out of interesting keywords. By that, we don’t mean that there are no keywords left. We mean that the keywords you have left to target are beginning to offer less returns than the keywords you are already targeting. At the point where you have to put more work in for fewer returns, it makes sense to start looking to broaden your niche or diversify your strategy.

A great way to broaden your niche is for your current site to become a category of your new website.

In our example, we could take all the content from http://bestblendershightechreview.info/ and make this one of several categories in a new, broader site. The new site could be called https://www.applianceadventures.com. In addition to blenders, we could also cover other kitchen appliances such as juicers and coffee machines.

This is a great way to broaden your niche. If you have boxed yourself into a category which is too small, you can give yourself more options by doing this. And the good news is that you can transfer the authority (and link juice) to your new site.

If Your Niche Is Too Broad

In the same way that niche can be too narrow, at times it can also be too broad. For example, if you take on an ambitious project and find that the site is so large that it is difficult to keep up with all the content that needs to be produced.

You may even find that you are keeping up with the content but only a portion of the site is making money.

We often talk about the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, here on the podcast. This can be one of the best times to apply it.

Analyse your revenue to find out what categories are making money. Then you have a decision to make. If a category is not making any money, you might want to drop it. If a category is making money, then one option is to create an new website focusing solely on that category.

Just as we talked about taking an entire site and making it a single category within a larger site, it can also make sense to take a single category and make it an entire site itself.

Pros and Cons of Rebranding

  • Chose a Better Domain – You can drop an ugly domain name to start again with something memorable
  • Easier to Build Links – It is easier to build links to a site that helps people
  • Inspire Trust – An opportunity to inspire trust which can lead to repeat customers
  • Feels Like a Fresh Start – A chance to rebrand and reposition without starting from scratch
  • Salvage Your Work – An opportunity to pull successful content from a failed site and use it within the new model
  • Rankings Shakiness – Rankings can be shaky for the first couple of weeks or even months but almost always recovers if the redirect is done correctly
  • All or Nothing – If you start it you must commit and finish it otherwise the rebrand will end up hurting your site

How To Redirect Your Site Without Losing Rankings

The main factor that influences how easy it will be to redirect your site is whether or not you are keeping the site structure the same.

If you are keeping the site structure the same, the site can be redirected in as little as 30 minutes. However, if you are not keeping the same site structure, then it will take a lot more time and effort.

Regardless, we recommend performing the redirect(s) within your DNS because this will be a lot faster. One reason for this is that if the redirects are done within WordPress the pages will start to load before the redirect happens and this will slow everything down. There would also be more unnecessary hassle involved including:

  • Retaining your hosting package
  • Keeping the old WordPress install
  • Keeping the old WordPress install updated

Re-Directing the Site While Maintaining the Same Site Structure

The reason this is a lot easier is because we can use a wildcard 301 redirect.

A wildcard 301 redirect means that you can simply forward every single page to a new page with the same slug on the new domain.

So, if we take our ealier example: http://bestblendershightechreview.info/best-blender-for-milkshakes

Becomes: https://www.applianceadventures.com/best-blender-for-milkshakes

The wildcard 301 redirect prevents you from having to perform an individual 301 redirect for each page. This can be done in Cloudflare within the page rules.

To do this from end to end, all you need to do is:

  • Step 1) Duplicate your domain on the new domain
  • Step 2) Perform the wildcard 301 redirect in Cloudflare
  • Step 3) Use the change of address tool in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Step 4) Re-Submit a Sitemap for the new domain

Re-Directing the Site And Changing the Site Structure

This is a little bit more complicated and at this point we would really advise you to assess the pros and cons to decide whether this is the best use of your time. You are going to have to individually redirect every single page on the site, so make sure you have thought it through.

This could get messy so we recommend using a spreadsheet in Google Drive.

Firstly, in WordPress you can site your site not to be indexed by Google. Do this for the new website and then build the new site – copy the content over to the page you want it to be on.

Really, you want the new site in a position where it is ready to be launched but it is still in “no-index” state. Within your Google spreadsheet, map each page on the new site to its partner page on the old site. The within your DNS, create a redirect from each page on the old site to the partner page on the new site.

Pro Tip

The free version of Cloudflare only allows three different page rule redirects. This will not be enough if you are changing the site structure. At this point we would recommend moving your DNS to AWS (Amazon Web Services) to use Amazon Route 53 DNS which will give you a professional interface to manage all of the redirects.

The end to end process will look like this:

  1. Set new site not to be indexed by search engines in WordPress
  2. Create a Google Sheet listing all pages on the old site
  3. Map all the pages from the old site to their partner pages on the new site in the Google Sheet
  4. Build the new site
  5. Perform the individual redirects in your DNS
  6. Change settings in WordPress so that Search Engines can index your site
  7. Use the change of address tool in Google Webmaster Tools
  8. Re-Submit a Sitemap for the new domain

Resources: for Redirecting Your Site

Conclusion

It is a big decision to decide to go for a rebrand. One that needs to be thought through thoroughly. We have laid out the situations where we think it is the right thing to do and when we feel your time will be best spent elsewhere.

Just remember, in the past there have been scare stories about losing traffic after rebranding but Google has done a much better job with this over recent years. There are plenty of reasons to rebrand or not, do not be scared off rebranding by past scare stories if it is the right thing to do for your website.

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2 Comments

  1. Yeeeees! Thanks for this! I have a great site with over 100k uniques from google but absolutely terrible unbrandable name. So rebrending is a must. Actually I will probably buy an old domain with better domain authority…

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