Rebranding your company or website to something new and exciting can spark massive growth and success. Once you construct your new identity, get your new domain, develop your new site and take it live, your new identity is born!
But what about your old identity?
Many businesses falter when rebranding to a new domain. They may wonder why their fresh new identity and site isn’t booming like they hoped. An unsuccessful rebranding can be due to mishandling of the old domain.
Let’s first look at one mistake that you should avoid:
Do not simply take the old site down and do nothing with the old domain.
The old domain is often something that gets ignored in the rebranding process. Doing so can not only eliminate any benefits the old domain could give the new brand, but can also cause issues that impede the new brand’s success.
Why You Should Do Something With Your Old Domain
- There is traffic still going to it. Those visitors need to know your new web home.
- There are links still going to it. If the domain goes unused, those links would soon be removed.
- If the new domain is fresh, it may need the boost from the old established name for SEO.
- The domain may still have asset value which can be reduced if it doesn’t load anything.
- If the domain expires, you lose it as an asset and any benefits it could have provided.
Now that it’s clear you should do something with the domain, what are your options?
Redirecting the Old Domain to the New Domain
What is commonly done with the old domain is a domain redirection to the new site. This primarily ensures the traffic to the old domain reaches the new site, but can also benefit the new site in other ways.
The most common choice of redirection due to search engine preference is the 301 redirect. We will cover how best to implement a redirect in another article.
Why You Should Redirect
- If same site structure: You can easily send traffic to the same page on the new domain/site.
- If different site structure: You can easily send traffic only to the new home page, which ensures no 404 errors.
- The new domain receives all pagerank “juice” the old domain contains. (if 301 redirect)
- Search engine rankings of the old site become the new site upon index update. (if 301 redirect)
- The old domain retains most of its asset value.
Note that depending on what keywords you’re ranking for and the kind of domain you’re redirecting to, this may result in lower clickthrough rate on your search results. The domain should be of a consistent style with the rankings – such as exact match or similar keyword domain for keyword searches, or a matching personal name domain for personal name searches. Higher clickthrough rate on search results means more relevant in Google’s eyes which will help you stay highly ranked.
Selling the Old Domain
Another thing to consider is to put the old domain up for sale. We recommend doing this only after sufficient redirect time to ensure lowest traffic loss. After all, that traffic will likely be worth more to you than a potential buyer if it is targeted to your business.
Why You May Consider Selling the Domain
- If it’s a high quality domain, it may fetch a higher price than its asset value to you.
- Money received from a sale can be reinvested in the new brand and help it grow.
Continuing Operation of the Old Site Alongside the New Site
Are there cases when you may simply want to keep the old site too? Yes! You may have been focused on rebranding when there are other options that can improve your business that can involve utilizing two brands.
What Having Two Brands Up and Running Can Accomplish
- Targeting: You can target two markets differing by cost, type of service, demographic of customer, etc.
- SEO: This allows for two primary keyword targets as well as different styles of longtails.
- Survivor: Simultaneously test two different business models and the top performer can then become your focus.
- Customers/clients who would be lost in a rebrand can be retained at the old brand.
As you can see, there are a few options to consider with your old domain. We would generally recommend redirecting it to your new domain, but you should consider the other options as well and determine what will benefit your company the most.