A lot of work goes into rebranding and choosing a new company name that encompasses everything you offer and clearly and succinctly communicates with your target audience. But all too often, companies have this happen within a series of meetings to hash out names, colors, style guides and press releases, yet forget  to involve their digital marketing teams in the process. 

When SEO isn’t involved in rebranding, we often see these regrettable results:

  • The community’s website is harder to find after a rebrand.
  • There is a large drop in organic, direct and referral traffic. 
  • There is a  drop in leads that takes 6-12 months to bring up to pre-rebrand benchmarks.

How to Rebrand a Company For Search Engine and Lead Success

SEO has a place in all 3 stages of rebranding and renaming:

  • In the early stage, SEO will vet names for any search association or discoverability issues.
  • In the middle stage,  SEO will start putting together a road map to make sure you don’t lose domain authority or brand awareness.
  • In the final stage, SEO will make sure people can find you after the name change and have a good user experience.

By involving your SEO team in these 3 stages, you’ll ensure a minimal loss of traffic and leads with a rebranding and the smoothest experience for people already familiar with your brand. 

Early Stage: SEO Makes Sure You Don’t Pick the Wrong Name

That’s right, we’re here to make sure you don’t pick the wrong name. If you come up with a new company name, we can research how people would search that name and what associations that name has. Here’s how that played out across 3 rebranding campaigns just in the first half of 2022 alone:

Early Stage Case Study: Picked a Name That Brought Up Correctional Facility Mentions

A senior living community was looking to rebrand and brought in the Attane SEO team on the 2 final contenders for the new name. We found that the community picked a name that shared a name with a correctional facility about 20 miles away,  which meant when people search for their senior living community, the correctional facility would also show up in search results. Because the community brought the SEO team in early, they were able to nix this name suggestion before they put in time and money for creative branding. 

Mid-Stage Case Study: Chose a Name Similar to a Company that Targets the Same Market

A senior living community picked a name and had gone through most of the rebranding. The SEO team was notified of the upcoming name change, and the team brought up issues immediately. 

There was a home health agency in the same state, but in a different city, that had a nearly identical name. The home health agency had been around for many years and had a strong search presence. After weighing our findings, the community ultimately decided to pick a different name so they wouldn’t have to compete for brand awareness with a home health agency.  

After the Rebrand Case Study: Rankings and Discoverability Tanked After Changing Name to Mention “Lake”

A community with lake access picked a simple name, in the format of regional name + lake.  After they changed their name, they found their organic positions dropped significantly.  Worried, they came to the SEO team asking us to investigate. 

We found that by choosing a simple format of  regional name + lake, they now have to compete with Google bringing up all the local county lakes in search results before bringing up their senior living community. 

Since this happened after the rebrand, the community is having to deal with lower discoverability than they had with a past name, and the only way to resolve it would be to change their name again. 

Middle Stage: SEO Makes Sure You Don’t Lose Domain Authority and Brand Awareness

Domain authority is a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). Domain authority scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater likelihood of ranking. A brand-new domain will have a domain score of 0, and a longtime, major  website like Amazon will have a domain score near 98. 

Senior living benchmarks:

  • The domain authority benchmark for non-system senior living communities is 20. 
  • Senior living communities that invest in content and SEO surpass this benchmark. 

Changing a Name, Changing a Domain

With a name change often comes a domain (URL) change. When you change a domain, you’re starting back at 0 with your domain authority. Your SEO team can set up 301 redirects from your old domain to your new one so that Google shares the domain authority of your old domain to your brand-new domain. 

  • 301 redirects: When you move, you tell the post office to forward your mail to a new address. This is the same thing, but it’s from your old website address to your new website address.

An SEO team will also set up individual page-level redirects to ensure a good user experience for anyone who has saved an old email or bookmarked a page. We’ll make sure that even if they have an outdated URL on your old domain saved, they’ll be redirected to the content they were expecting. 

Preparing a Brand Awareness Road Map 

In the mid-stage of a rebrand, your SEO team can build a road map to maintaining brand awareness and branded traffic after a name change. We’ll provide a list of things our team needs to change a name on a local listing (the verification process is complex these days). We’ll also provide a plan for where we should have mentions of the old brand name after the rebrand, including meta descriptions, local listings posts, in key content areas such as the About page, and more. 

Final Stage: SEO Makes Sure People Can Find You After the Name Change

In the final stage, your SEO team will work to implement everything listed in the brand awareness road map as soon as the rebrand is launched.

Examples of post-launch rebrand work:

  • Changing meta descriptions to contain phrases such as “X, formerly Y, offers your dream retirement lifestyle…” so that people searching for the old brand name still find you.
  • Preparing  your local listings with new names in descriptions and posts, and walking you through the complex processes of verifying a name change in Google Business Profiles
  • Updating all the many directories with your current information, from often overlooked directories like Apple Maps and TomTom to niche market directories for senior living and senior care