Mergers and Acquisitions can pose some significant advantages for your firm, but don’t let your SEO suffer…
In accounting, mergers and acquisitions are quite common. In 2015 almost half of respondents to the Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey said they had considered growth via merger or acquisition. Whilst some of you may be considering a merge within the next few years, have you thought about how your online performance might be influenced?
How can Accounting firms prepare their website for a merger?
1. Take over the right website
Merging with another firm usually results in two or more websites being present at the time of the first discussion. When discussing which website will become the main site make sure it is the one performing best in search. Ask yourself these questions:
- Which site has the most links?
- Which site has the best content?
- Which site has the best rankings?
In any case of a merge, at least one company will lose their existing website. When this decision is made it is vital to start planning which pages you would like to move over to the new website. This may involve content but more importantly should involve ‘301 redirects’ which aim to tell search engines that a website’s content has permanently moved to a new location – that new location being your new website. If a case was made where two merging firms decide to create one new website, and lose both their existing ones, the same principle applies here.
Things to keep in mind when migrating your firm’s website
- Take note of keyword performance, ideally you want to keep your keywords performing as well as they are already, if not better.
- Consider your new audience and KPIs and ensure that any content (such as blog posts, news and articles) you decide to move over to the new site reflects your new business objectives.
- Evaluate inbound links to determine which ones you will need to inform and update that your website had changed.
2. Planning your website merger
Planning your website merger will be one of the most important parts of the process, make sure you take note of the list below to avoid a painful website merge:
- Identify the URLs which need to be redirected from the old site to the new site. It’s bad practice to redirect everything to the home page, so make sure each page is redirected to the newest relevant page. This will ensure any SEO value is passed on efficiently to minimise ranking fluctuations and/or loss.
- Add the new site to Google Search Console, or acquire the existing Google Search Console account if you are keeping an existing domain. This will help you monitor any problems.
- Identify inbound links through Google Search Console on the old website(s) to see if any important ones need to physically update your web address.
- Monitor performance of new website (or existing) using your everyday analytics tool, such as Google Analytics. This will help you identify any issues to do with traffic or usability.
Once you launch your migration, make sure you stay on top of things. Ensure someone if available to test that redirects are working and an updated sitemap is created ready to be submitted to Google and the other search engines so they realise your website has changed location.
3. Checks to make after the launch
You aren’t out of the woods yet, it could take a few weeks for some large sites to full finish a successful migration (with testing taking up most of that time), but there are some fundamental checks you could be doing:
- Submit an updated XML sitemap to Google and other search engines
- Check Google is indexing your site by performing a few searches
- Update any marketing or PR collateral (online and offline) to reflect the new website
- Update third party links noted from your prep before the launch. If your links aren’t updated the 301 redirects should minimise any issues.
- Monitor website performance over the new few weeks and months to make sure everything is performing as it should be – from usability through to search rankings.
Don’t let your merger harm your SEO
As with any road towards a successful site migration, be it an entirely new site or a simple merge, there will be some speed bumps. Hopefully with the right preparation problems will be minimal, but with the right planning they can be recovered from quickly.
Mergers are stressful enough, so if you’re contemplating a merger or acquisition with another accounting firm in the near future make sure you have some experts on board to help support your website plans whilst you can keep your focus on other important issues.