Why Rebranding Is Bad For Your Online Business

With the new year upon us, we as content creators and generally creative people start to get a little twitchy. It usually starts with a some inspiration: a friend that just finished an amazing site makeover, a gorgeous color palette or new fun font, or just a general want to reshift and refocus in the year to come.

In January we set goals, make lists, and fastidiously fill out planners and editorial calendars. We organize our desks, color code our bookmark tabs, pretend we are going to stick to new, productive strict schedules.

This year is going to be AMAZING!!! I’m going to change ALL THE THINGS! Including my domain!!!!!

Annnd STOP.

Here, friends, I am going to pause and give you a doughnut. Because what I say next might burst your new year, new you bubble.

Rebranding is bad for your business.

I’ll tell you how I know.

I personally work with all the publishers at Mediavine that work through a rebrand. I have handled 60 publishers that have gone through the process over the last 14 or so months. And while some may have seen success (those are no doubt the instances you have read about in groups and while chatting with friends), the success stories are for sure the exception and not the rule.

But I don’t feel like my name fits me anymore!

I know, I know. If you started with a site called ilovehotdogs.com and now you are vegan, you have to do what’s right for your business. But it’s really important to remember that you are running backwards as far as your existing content goes. You’ve spent the life of your blog giving clout and weight to the domain you have.

If you suddenly have a new domain you go back to being the new kid on the block.


A post shared by New Kids On The Block (@nkotb) on

Google doesn’t love redirects. In fact, if you go digging through the endless resources of the internets you will find that the only kind of redirect that we know won’t hurt your Google ranking [as long as it’s handled correctly] is the redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.

There’s lots of guesstimating on best practices, but even Moz states that all redirects carry a degree of SEO risk.

What about my ads?!

Advertising adds a whole new layer to your redirect complications.

On the ad side of things, we have to re-apply to all our partners on your behalf all over again. It’s like having a brand new application. In addition, we have a couple of really great partners that need a domain to be at least a year old to bid. Sometimes that can be appealed, but sometimes it can’t be, and there are really no guarantees about how that will go.

This is a screenshot of a publisher’s dashboard on either side of a rebrand. You can see what happened to the traffic and RPM before and after rebranding. This site was on a steady rise and then everything dropped off sharply and has yet to recover.

Because here’s the thing; when you change URLs you are changing your unique identifier on the internet. All of your search traffic and posts and great content are tied to the URL you have, not the one you want.

My friend saw rebrand success!!!

I won’t dispute the edge cases. What I will say is that the part you don’t see is all the money spent on SEO help and design/developer work. All the time devoted to re-marketing and revitalizing the new brand. It takes A LONG TIME. And success is not guaranteed.

And just like with any comparisons from site to site, you don’t ever really have all the facts. Your friend might have delved into keyword research, rewritten old posts, updated alt tags, or pulled all the good details from our awesome SEO checklist! 

What I’m saying is, it’s almost always best to work with what you’ve got.

If your URL is ilovehotdogs.com and now you’re vegan, slap a photo of a dachshund somewhere and tell your story. Explain why you loved hot dogs and now you are all about kale. Know that your story, your talent, your skill, and your creativity are all more relevant to your readers than your URL or your blog name.

Blogs are special because they cover all kinds of ground. They let you teach and share. They give you the opportunity to tell a story that lends authenticity and above all CONNECTS. That’s the benefit that you have when you work in this space. Use it to your advantage.

3 thoughts on “Why Rebranding Is Bad For Your Online Business”

  1. Katie says:

    You might want to clarify that you are referring to “rebranding” in the sense of only switching your domain. “Rebranding” to many, including bloggers & designers, can refer to redesigning the logo or website.

    In my opinion, it would be more accurate is saying “Why Changing Your Site Name/Domain is Bad For Your Business”.

    1. Jenny Guy says:

      Thanks for the comment Katie and for reading!
      You’re absolutely correct in that we are referring to changing a site domain. We are ALL about redesigns and are looking forward to a blog post on that in the coming weeks.

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