Business mergers, as well as consolidation of office space and store locations, are fairly common in today’s economic climate as business owners look for ways to recoup losses from the pandemic. As these changes that place, it’s important to remember that your business websites may also need to merge and consolidate as well to help alleviate confusion for your customers, colleagues, and partners. And just like packing up physical boxes and moving them, merging your websites also requires active preparation, condensing, and moving things around with a solid strategy in mind. What content should you keep, eliminate, or update? How can you keep your current Google ranking? To answer these questions and more, we’ve put together a handy guide to help your website maintain organic performance while undergoing the merging process.
Organization is Key
It may seem overwhelming, but a website migration can be highly successful if you begin by organizing your existing landing pages and determining what should stay, what should go, and what should be modified. Because your websites are merging, chances are good that some of the information will be either repetitive or out of date. You should ask yourself—is this information going to help drive business or build brand awareness? If not, it should probably go. If you find yourself saying “maybe,” then consider revising the current content so it can be more useful in driving traffic through your site. Think about the big picture of your website goals to help guide your decision-making process.
Give Your Old Sitemap a Makeover
Your sitemap may not be the most critical part of merging your websites – but trust us when we say it’s still essential! Sitemaps give search engine robots (Google!) a directory of a website, which allows them to index the website pages more accurately depending on the content in relation to the user’s search query. The better your sitemap, the better your SEO ranking and organic traffic.
So how do you know what content is worth keeping on a sitemap? Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the page have a history of high traffic (and are these services going to continue to be offered)?
- Do the current pages offer high numbers of conversions/conversion rates?
- Are the pages already highly ranking in keywords (even if there’s not a lot of traffic)?
- Do your pages have great backlinks, and therefore an established authority with search engines?
- Does the content support the future business priorities and offerings?
If you answered “yes” to these things, then you’ve got some solid web pages to work with and should keep them. Even if the pages aren’t gaining a lot of traffic, be sure to note if they are supporting those high-priority pages in any way. Traffic isn’t the only indicator of useful content, so looking at the sitemap with the big picture in mind is key.
Audit and Analyze
Now that you know what to look for with your existing website content, it’s time to comb through your pages, keywords, and backlinks to determine if the performance indicates future value. There are a variety of tools you can use to do this. For in-depth keyword research, consider tools like SEMrush, Moz, and Google Search Console; these tools will help you determine where your keywords stand with SEO.
And now, look at the content. Really look at it. Naturally, you’ll want to keep pages that retain high organic traffic. You can see these numbers by looking at your Google Analytics—a good rule of thumb is to look at the traffic and conversions over the last year, and then to set a benchmark number for what you consider valuable. This will help you make informed decisions about what content to move to the new website. Also, take a look at the content architecture or the hierarchical organization of your website pages such as homepages, subdirectories, breadcrumbs, contextual internal links, and navigation links. For simple websites, use a free tool such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl your pages; this tool will give you interactive visual insights into your SEO and page structure to help you improve overall SEO health.
Don’t Burn Your Backlinks!
Lastly, let’s talk about your authority. Backlink authority, that is. Backlinks are links on other websites that lead back to your site and show that your content is trustworthy and valuable. The last thing you want to do is delete that content! Instead, you can replicate that content and then redirect it accordingly to your new website/page. You can use Semrush, Majestic SEO, or Google Search Console to audit your backlinks and set benchmarks just as you did with your keywords and content.
Ready to Tackle The Merging Process? Remember these things:
If you’ve got a great handle on your sitemap and you know what keywords, content, and structure you’d like to move to the new site, then you’re ready to define the information architecture of your new website. Tread carefully, because you’ll want to make sure that your high-ranking keywords and pages retain as much of the original URL structure as possible. This will help migrate everything smoothly and help your site maintain organic performance without deepening the crawl depths or making your content drop in the Google ranking. Don’t forget to set up custom 404 redirects to your old pages to encourage visitors to update their bookmarks (and of course, test these to make sure they work!).
If you think your website is in great shape, and you’re ready to merge everything into one fresh, new sitemap, go ahead and submit it to Google.
Feeling Lost? Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out to Experts
Merging multiple websites without losing your organic performance can seem overwhelming, complicated, and perhaps more time-consuming than you can handle. That’s okay! Give the experts at SeoTuners a call. We can help you navigate (or just take the wheel and steer) the often-complex process of website mergers and help ensure that you don’t lose any traffic in the process. Call for a free SEO consultation at (877) 736-1112 or drop us a line via the contact form. We’re here to help!