There are so many reasons why you should merge your websites together. First of all, when it comes to consistency in branding, your job is a lot easier when you only have to send a single message through a single channel. Second, in the present-day where every single website has the support of various social media accounts and pages, having two websites means that you have to double this support as well. Finally, when running two separate websites, you need to come up with the original content twice instead of once and a failure to do so means that you are walking dangerously close to creating duplicate content. Still, how does one merge websites without ruining their brand’s SEO rank? Let’s find out!
Take care of pre-existing penalties
The first thing you have to do when you decide to merge websites is to make sure that there are no existing penalties on either of the domains. Needless to say, you need to do this for both websites, in order not to have the site that results from them suffer. First, you need to find out whether the penalty was algorithmic or caused by a manual action. To do this, you need to go to the Google Webmaster Tools and see if there are any notifications there. As for the algorithmic penalty, you should check the change history by following Google officials through various channels including their own website. Either way, the first step in removing penalties lies in learning why you were penalized.
Next thing you need to do is identify bad backlinks. Start by checking whether any of these websites are penalized by Google. Apart from this, you also need to make sure that you aren’t linking to websites that are using duplicate content. Also, it is only logical that you should avoid websites unrelated to your niche, seeing as how they will also harm the reputation of your domain. Finally, websites with thin content or hidden texts are also to be avoided, for obvious reasons.
Once you know with 100 percent certainty that a link is hurting your website, you want to try and request that it is taken down. Keep in mind that it is quite easy to get on the wrong foot with a webmaster when it comes to such an issue, so make sure to form your request in a form of an appeal, rather than demand. In a situation where your link is still not removed, it might be for the best to simply disavow the entire domain. This too isn’t nearly as complicated as it may sound.
The next thing you need to do is take a step-by-step approach when merging your websites. First of all, make sure to create a sitemap of the old side. Then, it’s time to deal with things like meta and titles for the new website. It is here that you need to think about the design of the new site, especially if you plan to do some re-branding along the way. If that is the case, it might also be the right time to start thinking about new logo design or even reinvent the color pallet of your site.
Once you have this out of your way you need to set up the new domain and take it live, as well as register and verify it in Google Webmaster Tools. As soon as this is dealt with, you can test the redirects and then 301 redirect the old domain to the new one. Now, comes one of the most important parts – the indexing. In order for this to be done quickly and seamlessly, you need to submit the old sitemap (something we’ve discussed at the beginning of this section) to the search engines. Finally, you can wrap this up with a complete change of address.
At last, we come to the very reason why you’ve been doing this in the first place – merging content from both websites into a single (new) one. The safest way to pull this off is with a scanning tool, seeing as how this will ensure that you don’t miss out an URL on your old site. Unfortunately, even this doesn’t have to be 100 percent reliable, due to the fact that some URLs may be blocked from the scan. To avoid this, simply pull all of your URLs from the content management system.
Your next step is to divide these URLs and the best way to do so is to arrange them into four separate categories. In the first category, you place all the essential content (this one is self-explanatory). In the second category, you place all the content that is no longer generating links or traffic. Needless to say, this second category can be dropped altogether. In the third group, you place all the content that brings organic traffic. Here, we’re talking about content that brings social shares or has a lot of backlinks. The fourth category can be labeled as random. Here, it all comes down to your own, subjective judgment of the situation.
As we stated in the introduction, merging websites brings a lot of advantages, however, pulling this off in the right way is far from simple. A mistake in your 301 redirecting might result in a loss of domain authority, which can set you back by quite a bit. Nevertheless, you cannot let the fear govern you. Instead, you need to focus on doing this the right way around, thus doing a great service to your business as a whole.