Recently, Mooo.com.au performed a complete rebranding exercise, relaunching as tinyme.com.au. Marketing Manager Ben Liau provides some hints on how this was done without losing SEO value.
As many of you may know mooo.com.au has recently undergone a rebranding excursive, metamorphosing into tinyme.com.au. The reason for the rebrand was quite simple, we were expanding overseas and did not have a mooo.com or mooo.co.uk URL.
As the head of SEO I was tasked with planning and managing the “SEO” transition from mooo to tinyme.
In a nutshell, I successfully (with a lot of sweat) recovered all our SEO rankings within eight days of the major domain name transition.
The first three days after the transition our rankings dropped from page one to page seven, which was quite bad (seeing as most people don’t browse past the 1st page of search engine results). You can imagine it was a very stressful couple of days for me.
Today I would like to share the steps that I followed in performing the transition, so that anyone thinking of doing a similar rebrand in the future will have something to refer to.
However, before you start this process remember to benchmark your current rankings so you have something to refer to after the transition.
Before you switch your site over, generate an XML site map of your current site.
Identify all the external links that are going to your current website URL. This is to help you identify links which you can manually change to your new domain URL.
Using 301 redirects (permanent redirects) make sure every URL from your current domain is redirected to your new domain. This is usually done within the server.
Using your list of external links to your site, and if possible, contact the site owners who have existing links to your site, and get them to change the links to your new site URL. Its always better to have a direct link to your new site rather than a redirect.
Revise your ‘robots.txt’ file to make sure you disallow all pages and folders you do not want crawled by search engines.
In your current site Google Webmaster Tools site profile, fill out the Change of Address form to tell Google that you have moved to a new site URL.
Write a post in the Google Groups Webmaster Central forum indicating your move, why it’s being done, and how you hope Google will recognise the domain name transition as legitimate.
Once your site has been fully transitioned, use Xenu’s Link Sleuth to monitor your new site for broken links. If you find any broken links, hurry and fix them ASAP.
Once all this is done, remember to keep closely monitoring your site over the next couple months and stay on top of your normal SEO activities.
Also, keep in mind that your rankings will drop initially, no doubt about it, but they should return in a matter of days/weeks (so long as there aren’t any other issues with your site).
Doing an SEO site transition was definitely one of the biggest and most important projects that I have handled, but thankfully it all went well. So if you have this task at hand, be very systematic and thorough. And, finally, I wish you the best of luck with it!