Risks and rewards of a rebrand - 5 tips to choosing the right domain and migrating successfully

Rebranding or redesigning your company’s online presence can be an exhilarating and exhausting venture. The move represents an exciting transition for your organisation, but the road to establishing your bright new future can be bumpy and full of detours.

A brand refresh enables you to capitalise on new opportunities and emerging trends, but it can be easy to get distracted with new technologies that might not be ready for mass consumption. Instead of taking a chance on an emoji domain name, for example, concentrate on finding a keyword-driven moniker that is sure to resonate with your site’s visitors, readers, and customers.

Whether you’re embarking on your rebrand because of a complicated merger with another organisation or it’s simply time for a fresh look, we’ve compiled a list of five recommendations and best practices for recasting your online existence. Our steps will direct you through the entire process, from identifying and registering a strong domain name to carrying your SEO power to your new web property.

1. Re-examine your brand’s online presence

Reinvigorating your brand is more than just a new logo. The process should kick off with a comprehensive examination of your identity and the visual elements used to communicate with your audience. Whether you’re just wanting to change your colour palette or the name of the company, take a step back and look at your entire online strategy.

For example, a new company name should be available as more than just a domain name - you’ll need to account for the various social media channels and profiles that will need to be configured. Think up some short, clever words that speak to the qualities for which you want to be known. Choose an option that resonates the most and is available on the largest platforms.

For your rebranding to have the best chance at success, you’ll need more than just a new name and logo. Look at analytics to see which parts of your website are the most successful and which could use some help. You might need to consider restructuring your navigation menus or switching to a more readable font, for example. 

Beyond your site design, look at your overall web performance; because rebranding doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) happen often, this is a fantastic opportunity to get everything just right. Review the performance and usability of the systems powering your website: Are you happy with your content management system? Is your hosting provider giving you the high-speed page loads, impenetrable security, and helpful, personal support you need?

Hosting a website yourself can be a daunting but fun challenge, but most experts won't recommend it. Even at a shared hosting level, some hosts offer scalable environments and up-to-date features to keep your brand’s website performing at its peak.

Tip

If you are you looking for flexible and affordable hosting, 1&1 next level hosting may have the solution you are looking for. 

2. Learn what makes a good domain name

You’ll have to live with your new domain name and branding for a long time, so why not make it count? Many web hosting basics guides agree on several domain strategies for choosing a timeless address for your website. Overall, a domain name should:

  • Match your brand name
  • Be pronounceable and easy to spell
  • Be a reasonable length
  • Not use hyphens
  • Use a relevant extension
  • Avoid trademark infringements
  • Include keywords when possible
  • Apply to your long-term vision

Your domain name will have a huge impact on brandability and click-through rate and it will heavily influence how your audience will not only talk about, but also find your organisation. None of these rules are set in stone or more important than the others, but they will allow you to apply a certain degree of flexibility when selecting what you think might be the perfect domain name.

3. Select the right domain extension

Even though hundreds of domain name extensions, or generic top-level domains (gTLDs), have been released to the masses in the last few years, most brands and organisations opt to stick with the tried-and-true core group of .com, .net, .org, .biz, and .info domains. Apart from the relevant non-profit connotations of a .org address, an available .com domain is almost always the way to go.

Companies that are targeting a specific geographical region might want to opt for a country code TLD, or ccTLD. In addition to the patriotic feelings inspired by visiting a country-specific URL, visitors appreciate how geographic domain extensions signal an expectation that a common language and currency will be used on the website.

New TLDs, called either new gTLDs or nTLDs, speak to a site’s specialty or purpose. Although the creative domain extensions, including .hotel, .club, and .shop present interesting and colorful backup options for businesses, more abstract nTLDs, such as .xyz, bring little context to the domain name.

4. Consider SEO when registering your new domain name

Search engine optimisation, or the practice of improving your website’s positioning and visibility in search results, involves more than 200 different factors. Many aspects of SEO are known and have been confirmed by the likes of Google, Bing, and Yahoo, but several contributors are deliberately kept under proprietary wraps. It is therefore paramount to keep SEO in mind when selecting your domain name.

Although there’s no SEO quality more powerful than strong, relevant, and useful content, a domain name that capitalises on both powerful branding and important keywords usually does quite well in rankings. Internet users are likely to recognise the connection between their search phrase and the URL, leading to a strong click-through rate and building the site’s popularity.

A domain name’s age and reputation can influence an organisation’s SEO and visibility, making rebranding somewhat more complicated. Established sites that have delivered high-quality content for an extended period of time have built up plenty of SEO street credibility in the eyes of most search engines. But luckily for business owners, you can apply your SEO prowess to your new domain.

5. Carefully transfer your site to preserve your traffic and rankings

Once your new-fangled brand, domain name, web design and social media profiles are set and ready to go, you may proudly present your new organisation to the world through all available channels. Don’t let your work go unnoticed!

However, you should not let your old website or brand go completely dormant. Before launching the new brand, set up 301 redirects to signal to users, browsers, and web crawlers that your content has been moved. When everything has been rerouted and tested, notify Google of the changes through the company’s Search Console, so that the new page can be crawled and indexed. 

Continue to track analytics to ensure your online presence hasn’t suffered from the redesign and monitor your rankings in order to rapidly and efficiently tackle potential issues. A temporary dip in rankings is a common phenomenon as search engine bots and customers might originally perceive your web project as a new company or experience. Patience will pay off, your ship should right itself in a matter of weeks.