Creating a brand new organizational construction when merging two or extra companies is a sophisticated affair, but when your new enterprise goes to depend on its web site to drive gross sales, leads or viewers engagement, then defining a web site construction that preserves and builds upon the efficiency of any current web sites that the merging events personal ought to be a high precedence. With that in thoughts, making a sitemap that pulls on the strengths of the present web sites will assist to offer the brand new enterprise/model the preliminary visibility it wants in an effort to achieve success.
Through the years, I’ve managed many web site migrations, however prior to now 12 months, I’ve had the chance to handle the profitable migration of a merger of three totally different companies/web sites into one new web site. The truth is, I’ve been fortunate sufficient to efficiently handle this state of affairs twice prior to now 12 months and I’ve discovered loads within the course of. By cherry-picking probably the most useful pages to develop the sitemap, one undertaking resulted within the web site retaining almost 100% of the visitors the earlier domains have been getting (there was some loss the place earlier companies grew to become irrelevant and subsequently pages have been eliminated), and the opposite undertaking resulted within the web site growing visitors ranges post-migration. For what was primarily two solely new manufacturers, this gave them a hell of a head begin when getting into their respective markets.
Whereas the migration technique includes much more than simply structuring a sitemap, in terms of mergers it is a explicit space of significance, and it wants the suitable stage of research to make sure the migration is successful. Get this half proper and the brand new web site might be nicely on its technique to retaining and even bettering upon the efficiency of the merging websites.
What must you search for when structuring the brand new sitemap?
So, what precisely qualifies as a “useful” current web page, and which pages are we trying to retain? This may occasionally look totally different from web site to web site, however as a normal rule of thumb, I take a look at the next:
Visitors drivers. Pages which are already driving quite a lot of visitors to the prevailing web sites are clearly going to be essential, notably pages which are driving visitors that’s nonetheless related to the brand new enterprise’s providing. Even when the excessive traffic-driving pages are barely much less related (however not fully irrelevant) to the brand new enterprise’s providing, it is likely to be value conserving them to assist construct model consciousness within the early days. This received’t work for companies/merchandise which are now not supplied, however for loosely associated weblog subjects and so on. it may be model builder to maintain that visitors flowing by means of the positioning.
Convertors. Pages with a excessive variety of conversions/conversion price ought to be thought-about, so long as what customers have been changing for remains to be related to the brand new enterprise. These pages can preserve the gross sales/inquiries and so on. rolling in while the positioning builds its rankings/visibility up in different areas.
Rating pages. The brand new web site will doubtless have a goal key phrase record, however your present websites would possibly already be rating for a few of these key phrases. Discovering pages that rank for useful key phrases, whether or not they have excessive search volumes or not (perhaps they don’t drive quite a lot of visitors, however they entice the RIGHT visitors that converts) and whether or not they have excessive rankings or not (if a web page ranks place 36 for a goal key phrase, it may be developed and improved to rank higher, moderately than making an attempt to start out fully from scratch) might be an essential a part of the technique.
Pages with backlinks. Backlinks are an enormous a part of what strengthens a site over time, so if you happen to don’t deliver throughout pages which have backlinks, then the brand new web site might be lacking out on all of that potential authority-building goodness. This offers the brand new web site a shortcut to rapidly constructing a wholesome backlink profile.
Precedence web page supporters. Some pages might seem to don’t have any worth as they get no visitors, conversions, rankings or backlinks, however they is likely to be the supporting structure serving to to carry up the rankings of different pages. Related and high-quality content material which hyperlinks to precedence pages which are already rating ought to be retained the place doable to make sure the precedence web page’s rankings don’t crumble as a result of the structure has been deconstructed.
New enterprise providing/priorities. In fact, the sitemap must look to the longer term, and never simply to the previous, so any new choices or priorities for the newly fashioned enterprise will have to be thought-about throughout the sitemap, and pages will have to be constructed out throughout the proposed structure to cater for these new choices.
How do we discover these pages in an effort to add them to the sitemap?
So, now that we all know what we’re in search of, how are we going to go about discovering these pages? The next audit course of pulls collectively knowledge from a number of sources and analyses every web page on the prevailing websites to find whether or not any of them qualify as a “web page of worth” for the brand new web site as soon as the merger/migration is full.
1. Key phrase audit:
Pages of worth found: Rating pages and New enterprise providing/priorities
Instruments used: Semrush (or related device)
Step one is to conduct key phrase analysis primarily based on the providing of the brand new web site. At this level, we’re in search of related key phrases for each product, service and person intention, in addition to native variations of “ + [location]” if acceptable. If utilizing Semrush, you’ll be able to then add that key phrase record to a brand new rank monitoring undertaking, and add all three (or extra/much less, relying on the merger) current domains to that undertaking. That approach, you’ll be able to see which pages on which domains at the moment rank finest for every key phrase, as you would possibly discover that a couple of area ranks for a number of the goal key phrases. Decide the highest-ranking pages for every key phrase (you would possibly need to set a restrict for what’s an appropriate rating to try to retain, e.g., place 40 or higher) and add them to the sitemap if they appear like match for the brand new enterprise and will be optimized/improved going ahead. If the rating for a key phrase is simply too low, it is likely to be higher simply to start out from scratch when focusing on that specific key phrase.
2. Content material efficiency audit:
Pages of worth found: Visitors drivers and Convertors
Instruments used: Google Analytics (or related platform)
Subsequent is the content material efficiency audit, the place we glance to find pages which are driving visitors and/or conversions deemed useful to the enterprise going ahead. Most web site house owners might be eager to retain as a lot of their present visitors as doable, and so long as it’s nonetheless related, then excessive visitors/conversion driving pages ought to be saved.
Utilizing Google Analytics, filter by natural visitors and look again at a particular timeframe (I often take a look at the previous 12 months). Go to the Habits > Web site Content material > Touchdown Pages report and kind by “Periods” (descending). At this level, you should set a restrict for what number of natural touchdown classes a web page ought to have had prior to now 12 months to be deemed useful. This is likely to be a particular variety of classes or only a proportion of the visitors total. The restrict will fluctuate from web site to web site. Pull collectively a listing of all of the pages which are over that threshold and sense examine them to make sure they’re nonetheless related to the brand new enterprise providing.
Subsequent, you’ll filter that very same record by Purpose Completions or Income, relying on whether or not it’s an ecommerce web site or not. Once more, you’ll have to set a restrict as to what number of conversions / how a lot income is deemed useful, and preserve these pages which are driving a excessive variety of conversions. You may also take a look at pages with excessive conversion charges, however make sure that there may be sufficient visitors going to the web page to make an knowledgeable resolution about whether or not the conversion price is definitely good or not (e.g., one session at a 100% conversion price may very well be a fluke, however in case you have 1000’s of pages like this, it does add up, so once more, selections are made on a case by case foundation).
3. Content material structure audit:
Pages of worth found: Precedence web page supporters
Instruments used: Screaming Frog (or related)
At this level, you need to have an understanding of which pages are performing nicely on the web site, whether or not it’s by means of rankings, visitors or conversions, and also you also needs to know which pages/companies/merchandise are going to be a precedence going ahead for the enterprise.
Utilizing Screaming Frog, crawl every web site. You’ll then want to seek out the touchdown pages which are deemed a precedence by trying to find them within the “Search” field. Within the backside navigation menu, you’ll be able to then click on on “Inlinks.” This can present you the entire pages which are linking internally to the precedence web page and could also be supporting its success. Understand that in case your precedence web page is within the footer or fundamental navigation, each web page on the positioning will doubtless hyperlink to it, so this provides you an concept of the place that web page ought to sit inside your sitemap hierarchy.
Of explicit significance are any pages which are linking internally to the precedence web page utilizing keyword-optimized anchor textual content, however different inside hyperlinks could also be serving to too. At this level, you should look by means of the record of inside linking pages, determine which of them are nonetheless related, and preserve them within the sitemap if doable.
4. Backlink audit:
Pages of worth found: Pages with backlinks
Instruments used: Majestic search engine optimization (or related)
Subsequent, we have to try to retain any pages which have robust, authoritative backlinks pointing to them. One of the simplest ways to retain the worth from the backlink is to duplicate the web page on the brand new web site and redirect it appropriately. Later down the road you’ll be able to then contact the house owners of the positioning linking to that web page and ask them to replace it to the brand new area.
Utilizing Majestic search engine optimization, search every of your domains, and filter by “Root Area.” That approach, you’ll be able to see the entire backlinks throughout your web site. Then, head to the “Backlinks” tab and export the information (ideally, you’ll take a look at “All backlinks per area,” as this may present you in case you have a number of pages being linked to from a single area, however chances are you’ll hit a restrict on what number of you’ll be able to obtain, relying in your subscription). If there are lower than 5,000 backlinks in your web site, you’ll be able to go forward and export the information, however in case you have greater than this, you have to to create and obtain an Superior Report.
After getting exported your knowledge, you’ll be able to kind by “TargetURL,” which will provide you with an understanding of which pages have probably the most backlinks and are the next precedence to maintain. Majestic search engine optimization has “TrustFlow” and “CitationFlow” scores which will provide you with a sign of the standard of these backlinks. Relying on the dimensions/high quality of the backlink profile, chances are you’ll once more have to set a restrict on the amount/high quality of backlinks you need to retain and add these pages with excessive amount/high quality of backlinks to your sitemap.
5. Defining the data structure:
Now that you already know which historic pages maintain search engine optimization worth, you should outline the data structure in an effort to higher allow crawling and indexing of precedence pages. The most secure technique to migrate pages and retain their worth is to maintain URL constructions as they’re, however this almost certainly received’t be doable when bringing a number of websites collectively, so that you’ll want to contemplate two issues. One, is the priorities for the brand new enterprise, i.e., which pages are going to signify the primary providing, and two is the efficiency of any current pages on the outdated domains that signify these choices.
If one of many current websites is performing significantly better when it comes to rankings, visitors and conversions than the opposite websites, and you might be bringing throughout a number of pages from that area, it is smart to try to keep that URL construction, if doable, after which replicate that throughout any related pages coming from the opposite domains. Migrations do current a chance to enhance URL construction, however as beforehand talked about, the most secure guess is to take care of present constructions and never deepen the crawl depth/folder stage of precedence pages if doable.
Merely put, your high performers/precedence pages want to sit down on the high of the data structure, and keep as a lot of their present URL construction as doable. You possibly can visualize your new sitemap and data structure, and in addition guarantee you will have a spreadsheet that particulars the entire info you will have found throughout this audit course of for every web page so that you simply, your shopper or your boss can see the justification behind every web page.
Defining the sitemap/info structure utilizing any current knowledge is just one step within the migration course of, however it’s surely probably the most essential steps as it could possibly result in retained visitors, rankings, conversions and model presence within the SERPs. That doesn’t imply you’ll be able to then ignore the technical setup, touchdown web page design, content material optimization or any of the opposite elements that go right into a profitable migration, however for enterprise mergers, this is among the finest locations to start out.
Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor creator and never essentially Search Engine Land. Employees authors are listed right here.