Launching a new website is hard. Launching a new brand with that new website can be downright madness.
Just ask Moz. Or iAcquire. Apparently, 2013 is the year of the marketing agency rebrand, and I’m happy to announce we’re part of that list, too: Last week, 352 Media Group became 352.
Those 2½ months spent building our new website and our new brand were the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. They were also the most rewarding, and despite my incessant cursing, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Why? Because look at the old site:
Whenever you launch a site, everyone just sees the design change, but rarely do you see the behind the scenes – and I’m not just talking about design iterations, although there were probably 13 of those – work that goes into a new website. We’re assuming you’ve already redid your keyword and market research.
That’s A Lot of Redirects
Thankfully, the domain didn’t change, but the URL structure did change to directory style. I used Ruth Burr’s template for domain migrations, but made some tweaks.
First, pull every single URL that’s on your root domain. I used both Screaming Frog and our database to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Drop into Excel and start analyzing what’s going where on your new site.
We work in agile web development, which accounts for short sprints of work (in our case, two weeks at a time) when at the end we’d be able to launch full functionally pieces of our website. Think of it like building a house one room completely at a time.
Because this bad boy needed to be up before mid-July, the planned to launch with the Slim Fast version of our sitemap: A lot of pages weren’t going to exist yet, but they would soon. That meant a lot of pages of our existing site weren’t going to move yet, but they would.
So, in addition to the 301s and 404s, I added a section of what was going to be in Phase II to make our support departments’ lives a little easier. I think it worked.
I admit it: I didn’t remember to install the analytics code on our new site until 24 hours before the site launched. *Facepalm*.
Seriously: Don’t forget it, but also, don’t settle for the basic version. There is so much more that you can see with a little customization, and you need to think about what makes most sense for you. For us, there were three big ones:
- Enhanced in-page to see where people were clicking.
- Page scrolling to see how far down people were going on our pages.
- Event tracking to see how people interacted with our video.
- Event tracking to see how often people clicked on our contact information.
If your URLs are changing, so will your sitemaps. Don’t forget to generate a new XML sitemap and resubmit me that GWT to speed up indexation of your new site. We went the multiple XML sitemap approach, one of our main site and one for our blog.
Holy Crap: We Aren’t No. 1 For Our Name
That’s every SEO professional’s nightmare. We’re living that right now. We decided to change our name in January. In May, we took a match to our old site and started over from scratch. Around June, someone finally said “Hey, I wonder where we’ll be ranked with our new brand name.”