When a Domain Name Change Spells SEO Disaster

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, it turns out.

Econsultancy recently shared the story of a rebrand gone wrong, when logo and brand identity platform Looka saw an 80% drop in organic Google search traffic after changing its domain name.

The company expected a 20 to 30% drop in organic traffic as a result of the domain switch from logojoy.com to looka.com, and prepared for a three to six month recovery period.

Instead it saw organic traffic drop by a whopping 80%, a huge problem given that organic traffic had accounted for half of the company’s revenue.

The botched rebrand has forced the company to lay off 80% of its employees as it struggles to recover lost ground.

How to avoid a Looka-like experience:

  • Think worst case scenario. You can’t predict how a rebrand will affect your company’s search presence. What worked for one company, may not work for yours. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
  • Take small steps. Looka’s rebrand was quite expansive. It didn’t just change its name; it expanded its service and changed its web content to reflect the changes at the same time.
  • Test the water. Use surveys and focus groups to gauge the response to your proposed changes. Rushing into a rebrand like Looka’s could be counterproductive.

In its guide to changing domain names, Google warns:

“If you combine a site move with a redesign of the site’s content and URL structure in the new location, you will probably see traffic loss as Google might need to relearn and reassess the individual pages.”

A cautionary tale for any company contemplating a rebrand.