How to do a major rebrand and keep your website’s SEO rankings

As many of you may know we recently rebranded mooo.com.au to 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.

 

So as the head of SEO I was tasked with planning and managing the “SEO” transition from mooo to tinyme. In a nutt shell I successfully (with a lot of sweat) recovered all our SEO rankings in 8 days after the major domain name transition.

 

The first 3 days after the transition our rankings dropped from page 1s to page 7s, which was quite bad seeing as most people don’t browse past the 1st page of search engine results. So as you can imagine it was a very stressful couple of days for me.

 

So I would like to share the steps I took in doing the transition, so anyone thinking of doing a rebrand in the future will have something to refer to. But before you start this process remember to benchmark your current rankings so you have something to refer to after the transition.

 

Step 1

Before you switch your site over, generate an xml site map of your current site.

 

Step 2

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.

 

Step 3

Using 301 redirects (permanent redirects) make sure every URL from your current domain is redirected to your new domain. This is usually done in the server.

 

Step 4

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.

 

Step 5

Revise your robots.txt file to make sure you disallow all pages and folders you do not want crawled by the search engines.

 

Step 6

Go to your Google Webmaster Tools account and add your new domain, then go onto the Bing Webmaster Center and do the same.

 

Step 7

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.

 

Step 8

With your current xml site map, do a site submission to Google & Bing. This is to tell the search engines to crawl your current site to find all the new redirects.

 

Step 9

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.

 

Step 10

Once your site has been fully transitioned, use Xenu’s Link Sleuth to monitor your new site for broken links. And if you find any broken links, hurry and fix them ASAP.

 

In conclusion, once all this is done remember to keep closely monitor your site over the next couple months and keep up your normal SEO activities.

 

Also keep in mind your rankings will drop initially, no doubt about it, but they should return in a matter of days/weeks. (that’s if there aren’t any other issues with your site)

 

Doing an SEO site transition was definitely one of the biggest and most important projects ive handled and thankfully it all went well. So if you have this task at hand, be very systematic and thorough. And I wish you the best of luck with it!

What It Takes To Become an Effective Link Builder

Good link builders are a special hybrid of SEOs. There are a lot of good SEOs in the industry, but effectively building links is very different from just keyword research, copywriting, or technical analysis. I’ve been thinking alot about what makes a good and effective link builder.

Whether you’re an SEO expert looking to improve your own skills or a marketing manager looking to hire a new link builder, here are the characteristics of a good and effective link builder.

Internet Culture

SEO is one of the few industries where my history as an awesome video game player, an epic geared raiding Wizard, forum admin and hacker supreme became a marketable skill.

I’m an awesome marketer online, not because I have  marketing training, but because I understand online communities properly.

A link builder should read Reddit daily, keep on top of memes, , use StumbleUpon,read Hacker News , and engage on Twitter. They should follow analysis on these communities.

Internet Culture

Real creativity is one of the things that is difficult, maybe impossible, to teach. It can be encouraged through culture, because everyone has a level of creative genius, but creativity is something I would hire for.

Sea, especially link building, is moving closer to being inbound marketing, which is starting to become difficult to distinguish from pure traditional marketing. Creativity is a driver of holistic marketing strategies.

The Search engine optimisation creative process can also be inspired.

At Digital Online Strategy, we have a structures in place which help inspire creativity. It’s important to establish boundaries and kinds of thinking that help creativity. Having the ability the stop,  drink a beer, and invest full mental power allows your brain to free itself up creativity.

Analytical Skills

But creativity isn’t enough for an effective link-builder. Technical skills are also a requirement. Digital online strategy carries resident math, computer science, and computer engineering majors. Before leaving college to pursue a career in SEO, I was studying computer engineering and worked at Vanderbilt where I did pharmacology research and development.

A good link builder should have an understanding of data analysis to conduct competitive link analysis, to dig deep into a website’s information, to perform research, and to bring insights out of large sets of crazy information.

This also includes good skills on using the right tools, such as Excel, and Google Analytics.

Good analytical skills allow a link builder to do 2 things really well:

  1. Readily scale processes by evaluating data effectively.
  2. Recognise changes & trends, which can be reapplied to your digital marketing efforts.

Technical Skills

Although a not so technical link builder can build links through the process of content creation, business development, PR and outreach; they don’t have the ability to develop products or agile tools without leaning on another team.

Technical Skills a Link Builder need to Have

  • Knowledge of (X)HTML/CSS
  • Understanding of at least one modern programming language (no need to code, but hack at least)
  • Knowing how to build agile tools in Google Docs
  • Knowing how to upload files via FTP
  • Knowing how to execute 301 redirects using .htaccess and how to develop robots.txt files
  • Knowledge of sufficient coding skills to “get” tools like Firebug

Sociable Geek

A link builder is not the same as a technical SEO, and must be a social geek. The SEO who loves crawl analysis may absolutely hate talking to people. A link builder must be happy talking and engaging with complete strangers about links.

I do believe being sociable is a skill you can learn. By nature, I’m very introverted, so I find people describing me as a “ personable search marketer” a bit odd. I have improved my skills as a link builder by constantly presenting, facing clients all the time, going to networking events, and talking to strangers on the tram.

Sales Experience

Very few job experiences taught me more about link-building than the 3 months I worked in-house as an internet marketing intern and was placed into the sales department. I worked on a 15 person cold calling sales team and was exposed to their culture during my time working with them.

Recommended Sales Reading for Link Builders

Ingenuity

By ingenuity, I mean something totally different from just creativity.

Ingenuity is intellectual hustle.

Ingenuity allows link builder to develop well thought out, systematic & clever solutions. Ingenuity is seen in careers like developers, scientists, artists, engineers and musicians.

Ingenuity also leads to agile toolsscrapers, and custom search engines. Link building ingenuity leads to building great indexes of the internet & also scalable link building tools. Effective link builders are willing to intellectually hustle to get a solution.

Hustle

A link builder isn’t just putting links on websites, they are building businesses. They’re creating the difference between a good business and its competition. As a link-builder, you should always be bringing hustle to your work all the time. A link builder with hustle can dominate big brands and companies with huge budgets by simply outworking them all.