How to change a brand online

How to change a brand online

Recently I had the displeasure of watching a company change their web address and update their content in what can be best described as a complete failure. With some hoopla they announced the new website on Facebook. Now here’s where things went downhill.

  •  The shop button on FB went to a deadlink. (yup. It did)
  • The web address on the FB page didn’t match the new web address. (yup. Seriously)
  •  None of the other social media sites reflected the change of address. Pinterest. Instagram. LinkedIn. Twitter. (Five days later and nada.) 
  • The new site’s contact page didn’t work. (like, how can people contact the company!)
  • The SSL was gone from the new page. (hence some 404 errors lurking now)
  • The company’s own digital agency didn’t change the links on their own website. In fact, they linked their own client to a dead link! (seriously. No, I am not making this up)
  • There was more. I am still discovering things as I write this.
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 I have seen some pretty basic screwups, and have been the author of some myself. 

Watching this one was like watching a trainwreck in slow motion, compounded by the fact that the company hired an outside digital agency. Not only did the agency make a mess of this, but they didn’t even update their own website to reflect the changes. So, here’s a simple checklist for anyone wanting to change their web address:

  1.  Pick a time when no one is looking. This is key. Choose a time when traffic to your site is historically low. Yip. It might be 3am for you, but populating new domains never goes well. RedBull to the rescue. (and CBD)
  2. Set up a staging server. Put the website up on a staging server or password protected URL and have your team do a thorough quality check of the functions. Also, copy and paste all off the content from the site to word and check for spelling erros. (see!)
  3. Have a third party Q/A the site. Ok. The website might make sense to you, but does it make sense to your audience? Do all of the features work? Will a purchase go through?
  4. Make a list of every social media platform that you use. When you pull the trigger and launch, all of your corporate social media about sections must reflect the new web address. Consistency is paramount.
  5. LinkedIn. Make sure all of your team’s biographies reflect the new website. It’s the finer details like this that make the difference.
  6. Whois. Make sure that you update your domain ownership. Why? Well, many people don’t trust what the read on the internet, so your new domain name should be associated with a trusted source and contact information. 
  7. Suppliers and partners. Make sure all of your partners and suppliers know to change their websites if they feature your company. A good way to check this is to monitor your backlinks. 
  8. Press. Here’s the tricky one. If you have had a lot of press and news, chances are that they have linked your old web address to the article. There is no way around this one. The best solution is to put a landing page on the old website notifying users of the new domain. A five second auto direct is a good option.
  9. DMOZ. Well it’s gone.  I am sad. But you can still manually list your website on search engines. Google discontinued their URL submission tool in July 2018. Now, the only way to submit your website is by adding your sitemap in Search Console. Bing did the same and you have to use your console tools. By submitting to Bing, your site will automatically be submitted to Yahoo. Also, make sure your domain URL is embedded in the code of your front page through your sitemap. (WordPress has an app for this)   PS –  Does your website have an audience in China? You should also submit to Baidu which offers site submission only in Chinese through Baidu Webmaster Tools account. Oh. You need a China based phone number too. 
  10. Content. Well that’s another chapter. Just make sure you have the basics. WordPress has some good tools to make sure your website will rank well on SEO.
  11. Launch. Okay. Do it! And let the world know. Use all of your social media platforms to announce the new URL, and post that URL!!! (It will help move the old web address down on SEO)

 Thanks for reading this!

Branding is more than a logo. It’s an experience©. Patrick Smyth