Redirects for Mergers and Acquisitions

Ron KestingRon Kesting
Ron Kesting

Is your company acquiring or merging with another company soon? Congratulations! Just as when you have to move physical offices, you will provide a forwarding address for your new office, right? Well just like mail needs to be forwarded when you move, your website needs to be forwarded to the new “merged” website. This technological forwarding is called a redirect. Take a look at many of the things you will need to consider when choosing where and how to redirect your current web pages.

Options for Redirecting Domains

Before deciding what information and how you will redirect said information, you need to choose where this information will be redirected. Consider which company in the merger or acquisition is giving up their domain. Typically, if a small company is acquired or merges with a much larger company, then their domain can be transferred to the larger company’s domain to optimize SEO. Redirecting from the lesser known domain to the greater known domain also avoids user confusion from a brand perspective.

If two companies of equal size are merging, one of two options can occur. During negotiations, it should be determined whose domain will become the acting domain. Everything would be redirected to whichever domain you agree on just like was mentioned above. However, if the companies can’t come to an agreement on whose domain to use, then it could be best to choose a completely new domain and redirect both companies’ current domains to the new agreed upon domain.

People connected

Here are a few other things to look at when choosing which domain should be the primary domain:

  • SEO Rankings: Whose website is currently getting more traffic and performing better in SEO metrics? You want to drive as much traffic as possible to your websites, so the natural choice would be choosing the company with greater SEO results (if there is a large difference).
  • Domain Authority: Domain authority is a score you receive out of 100 to determine how much authority your domain has. It takes into account over 40 metrics to determine your “authority score”. For example, if Google with a DA score of 100 acquired Yahoo with a DA score of 79, Google would be the best option to redirect to. Check how much authority your domain has here.
  • Target Market: Consider whether both companies share the same target market? The size and active involvement of your target markets should play a huge role in determining what domain to go with. If you don’t share the same target market, this is when it gets tricky. Ideally, you want to keep both target markets and this would most likely happen through creating a whole new domain that attracts and keeps the current target markets of both companies.
  • Social Media Activity: Maybe your company has less domain authority, but a larger social media presence than who you’re merging with. Consider the impact changing your domain may have. How much does your social media presence drive sales? If you do have to change your domain with a large social media presence, it might be a good idea to hire some rebranding experts!

Most importantly, it’s necessary to stay consistent as a brand. It will mean changing a lot, but hopefully some of these ideas can help you know what to consider when going through a brand update (due to a merger or acquisition).

Best Practices for Redirects

Now that you’ve decided on a place to redirect users to, let’s take a look at some best practices for redirects. Good planning is essential! Start by considering as many possibilities as you can in regards to where you will need to redirect your users. This includes taking every bit of information someone can find on your current website, and determining if it will have a place on the new website, and where that place is.

Use 301 Redirects

A 301 Redirect is a permanent redirect for your users. If they Google your company and the old website shows up, it will redirect it to the new one. The same thing will happen if they manually enter your previous URL. It will be automatically redirected to whatever new URL you are using.

301 Redirects are also great to use because they keep up with SEO. A 301 redirect will correctly signal to search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo that your content has moved. These search engines will remember that and SEO updates accordingly.

Detour ahead

Don’t Just Redirect to the New Home Page

It is vital that not everything from your previous site redirects to the homepage of the new site. Let’s look at an example. If your current photography website has a pricing page explaining all things having to do with pricing, redirecting to the home page of another website isn’t helpful for your users. If your photography services were acquired by a larger group of photographers or a company, make sure your old pricing page redirects to pricing information on the new website.

There are a lot of moving pieces when you’re setting up redirects, which is why it can be helpful to have multiple people make a pass at testing and revising your each redirect. You’ll want to plan and test carefully, especially if you’re manually setting up each one. However, there is an easier way to make this all happen without having to do it all manually.

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