Netflix is a great example to look at two major SEO considerations of rebranding: migrating to a new domain and acquiring social media profiles.
Rebranding an organization is a major internal decision that requires extensive planning and research for effective execution. It's a decision that results in such a drastic change, that some granular level details can often go overlooked - such as the potential effects and impacts that the changes may have on SEO strategies. The recent announcement by Netflix that it is forming a separate company called Qwikster to handle physical DVD rentals while the Netflix brand will continue to operate the streaming portion is a perfect example to explore two major SEO considerations: migrating to a new domain and acquiring social media profiles.
Migrating to a Completely New Domain
Rebranding a company into two separate identities will in most cases warrant the need for a separate domain for each one's own marketing efforts and strategies. However, it's critical to understand exactly how this type of migration of content can and will affect SEO. An organization's SEO and online marketing teams must be a part of these discussions and should be bringing up the following punch-list of questions, potential pitfalls, and SEO planning efforts:
Acquiring Social Media Profiles
Social media has reached a point that nearly all companies understand the importance of having a presence on at least the mainstream channels such as Facebook and Twitter. It is vital to ensure that social media strategies are just as much a part of the rebranding discussions as SEO is.
With 200+ million users (according to Wikipedia), there is a strong chance that the name you want to use has already been taken on Twitter. As reported by TechCrunch (caution: strong language/imagery), this is a situation that Qwikster/Netflix will need to deal with as the account has already been taken, and its owner is publishing less than appropriate content that any company will not likely want to be associated with. It is against Twitter policies to buy accounts from its owners, so you may need to be prepared to go about this under the table or settle for using an alternate variation of the name. Regardless of which route you settle on for the name, you should take the appropriate steps toward getting the account officially verified by Twitter.
Some are speculating that the rebranding effort from Netflix is ultimately being done in order to push users away from using DVDs and moving more towards what they believe is the future with streaming. Some are even saying that they choose the name "poorly" on purpose to expedite that process, but that's another post for a different blog.
Has your organization been through a successful rebranding? If so, what other considerations did you find important to tackle from the beginning or wish that you had? Let us know your thoughts in the comments area below.
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Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.
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A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.
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