How to update your client’s SEO strategy when their business changes

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Are you working with a client who’s changing their business direction right now and needs new copy and content? Are they adding new services or changing their branding? Maybe your client is starting a new business and needs your help with content and marketing?

SEO is probably the last thing on your client’s mind right now but if they’re making website changes it’s something they’ll need to think about. And if they update their SEO strategy now, by the time the economy starts to improve your client will be in a better position to be found online by their ideal clients and customers!

I’ve written this blog for you so that your content or marketing decisions for your client have a positive impact on SEO. 

SEO change neon sign

How to update an SEO strategy when your client’s business changes

The best way to read this guide

I cover a lot in this blog, but you won’t need to read everything.

I’ve split the blog into sections for each type of business change. Find the type of business change that best relates to your client, then scroll down the blog until you find the relevant section. 

How is your client’s business changing?

Which of these describes what your client is doing to their business right now? Pick one and scroll down until you find the relevant section relating to the business change.

  1. Adding new products/services to the existing business 
  2. Removing existing products or services in the current business
  3. Starting a second business
  4. Changing the current business (eg a new niche, a new brand)
  5. Closing a business and starting a new one

1. Adding new products/services to the existing business

If your client is adding new products or services to their existing business, their website needs to be updated to reflect these new offerings. 

Technical SEO: Website structure

Before you add new pages, have a look at the existing website structure. I’d recommend following the existing website architecture (or layout) to keep the website uniform and make it easier for customers to find the new information. 

For example, if each product is on a separate page, create a new page for the new product or service. If the products or services are grouped together in categories, follow the same with the new product or service.

On-page SEO: Keyword research and on-page optimisation

For a new page, perform keyword research to find relevant keywords to use in the page copy. 

From the keywords you find, pick one primary keyword that best describes the new product and gives your client a reasonable chance of ranking for the keyword in Google. Use this primary keyword in the page title, meta description, in at least one H2 heading and throughout the copy where it fits naturally. If the page contains images that directly relate to the keyword, you can use the primary keyword in the alt text. 

Link to other relevant pages on the website using internal links.

Want an easier way to remember all of this? Get my free On-page SEO Checklist by signing up to my weekly email list.

I’ve also written a blog all about on-page SEO.

Off-page SEO: Building backlinks and website authority

Off-page SEO is all the things you do to improve SEO that don’t directly involve the website, such as content marketing and other promotional activities in your business.

Your client should be actively promoting their new products and services and trying to build backlinks to the website. If your client is working with a marketing consultant or agency, this is something they can help them with.

Local SEO for new products and services

If your client has a Google My Business listing, the listing should be updated with the new products and services information, photos and a post.

2. Removing existing products and services from the business

If there’s a product or service your client no longer offers, their website will need to be updated and these products and services removed. Customers don’t want to have their heart set on something that no longer exists.

Technical SEO: Removing old content

Before you “Marie Kondo” your client’s website and send pages to the trash, think about the impact on your client’s SEO. Yep, deleting content creates some extra headaches for a website.

Deleted pages can still be indexed on Google. Google can send users to the deleted pages but instead of seeing the old page, the user will come across an error which is known as a 404 error. This tells the user the page no longer exists and the user leaves the website.

Deleting a page also gets rid of any link juice the website might’ve received from another website. Link juice is like superpowers that a web page receives from another website. It’s another website’s “tick of approval” for your client’s website. Google loves this.

To get around these issues, I’d recommend not deleting the page but doing what’s called a “301-redirect”. What this does is tell Google that if a user tries to visit an old page, it should resend the user to a new page instead. Usually the new page would be the Home page or another relevant page on the website.

A 301-redirect helps the website not lose link juice as well as provide a better user experience. 

On-page SEO: Changing internal links

Any pages that link to the deleted page should link to other relevant pages that still exist. That way, you’re directing users to another page they’d be interested in reading. This keeps them on the website longer.

If you don’t change internal links, the user will be redirected to the Home page. This isn’t a bad thing, but you’ve lost an opportunity to have them read more content.

Local SEO: Remove any references to the old product or service

If your client has a Google My Business listing, they’ll need to remove any references to the old product or service, which includes in the listing itself and any posts your client has published on GMB.

Social media tip

Let your client know to remove the old website information from their social media profiles. It’s ok if they forget since the old URL will redirect, but it’s better to promote a live page on social media than one that no longer exists.

3. Starting an additional business

A new website should be built for the additional business.  If your client insists on using their existing website for the additional business, here’s why I wouldn’t recommend doing this:

-Potential customers will be confused seeing two different businesses on the same website.

-Adding a new business to an existing website doesn’t guarantee that the website will rank for keywords relating to the new business. The new business will find it harder to rank for relevant keywords because Google views the original business and its topics as the focus of the website. 

-Other websites will be less inclined to link to the new business content on the existing website, especially if the two businesses are quite distinct.

It’s messy and it doesn’t make sense to have two businesses sharing the same website. 

Ok, now we’ve established that, what do you need to remember for SEO when your client has multiple businesses?

Personal branded keywords: your client’s name on multiple websites

If both business brands are closely connected to your client’s name, then one website may outrank the other for branded keywords. 

For example, Jane is a well-known businesswoman with two businesses. Both websites mention her name. If a potential customer searches for her name in Google, one website may show up higher than the other. 

This might confuse users who are searching for Jane’s dog walking business but end up on her digital marketing website instead. What can you do to help prevent this? This one is a little difficult to prevent. Hopefully the user will keep scrolling Google until they find the right business. You could update her About page to include a note that she also runs another business, with a link to the other website.

Local SEO: Create a new Google My Business listing

Yes you can have more than one Google My Business listing even if you’re operating two businesses out of the same physical location.

But, Google does have strict guidelines which are covered in this great article by Moz. If the guidelines aren’t followed, your client could be penalized by Google and have its listing removed. The main point is to have two distinct business names.

One you’ve considered the personal branding and local SEO issues, you can go ahead and apply the normal SEO rules for a brand new website. You’ll need to do keyword research to find new keywords your client will want to rank for. For a time-saving and professional option, I offer keyword research services to copywriters and content writers. Contact me for more information.

Need some help figuring out on-page SEO? I’ve written a blog about it here, or you can print off a simple on-page SEO checklist.

door sign change

4. Changing the the current business

Did you know that before I was known as the “SEO Sleuth” I called myself a “Digital Marketing Sleuth” and offered other services too such as Pinterest audits and affiliate marketing coaching?

After I changed my business and niched, I kept the existing website because it was based on my personal name, changed the branding and removed the old pages and irrelevant blogs.

If your client isn’t just removing some products and services but is changing their business direction or branding, should they start a brand new website or use the existing one?

Are they keeping their current business name or creating a new one? When using your personal name as your business name, it’s a lot easier to transition from one business to another and you can use the same website domain. But if they’re using a different business name, it’s better to create a brand new website with the business name as the domain name.

If your client decides to use their existing website, they’ll need to create new pages for their new products and services. If they have old blogs, they can either leave them as is or remove them by doing a 301-redirect to their home page.

Content strategist Sandra Muller made some content changes after deciding to rebrand her business. Here is the approach she took:

“I recently audited my website following a branding exercise and found some old blog posts that didn’t fit with my overall brand strategy. These posts were more personal stories about living the life of a digital nomad. But now that phase of my life is over, it no longer fits with my future business direction.

I used the WordPress Import/Export plugin to export the digital nomad category of posts I wanted to move to a different website where I host a more personal blog. I also used a plugin to export the comments, as some of my posts had dozens of comments and I didn’t want to lose these during the move.

After I imported and published the posts, I set the original posts on my business site to draft mode and used a redirection plug-in to redirect each post to the corresponding post on my other site, passing that small amount of SEO link juice on and ensuring visitors don’t get the dreaded ‘404 page not found’ error message.”

neon open sign

5. Closing a business and starting a new one

Right now there are many businesses that have decided to close down. If this has happened to your client’s business and they’re going to start a new business, they have a couple of website and SEO options.

Start a brand new website with a new domain

This is a common approach most people take. They’re starting a brand new business with a new name, new identity and different services.

You might have content from their old website that you could use on the new website. There are SEO tasks you need to complete when doing this (more about this later).

The pros for this:

-A fresh start with new content and a new SEO strategy means you’ll start on the right foot

-You can choose a domain name that best reflects your new business

-It’s easier to write new copy than to try and edit existing copy to reflect your new business needs

The cons for this:

-You won’t have much website traffic to begin with

-It can take a few years to build a decent level of authority for a new website

-You need to spend time and money marketing your new website

Use the existing website

If your business name is the same as your actual name (like mine), then you might be thinking about using your existing website rather than starting a new one from scratch.

The pros for this:

-Existing website already has content

-Existing website already has authority. It’s a lot of work and effort to build authority for a brand new website

-Existing website will already be ranking for keywords and getting organic traffic

The cons for this:

-Your client’s audience could become confuse with the new direction

-The website keyword rankings and traffic could drop

-Google may not understand the new website changes

-The existing content may no longer be suitable for the new business

-There’s a lot of work involved in rewriting copy, removing content and restructuring existing pages. 

What to do with an old website?

Did you know that your client can sell their old website on a marketplace such as Empire Flippers? They can sell their old website with the content, or they can just sell their domain. There are businesses looking for websites to buy that already have authority, rankings and traffic. Of course, your client won’t want to do this if they’ve used their personal name as the domain name!

If your client sells the old website, then they can’t reuse any old content on their new website. But if they’re not selling the old site, you can copy and paste old content onto the new website.

What to do with the new website

Here’s a list of some SEO tasks that will need to be completed for the new website:

-Make sure the website is mobile responsive

-Make sure the website architecture/structure is clear and makes sense

-Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console

-Create and submit a sitemap

-Create new pages and posts

-Perform keyword research and optimise the pages and posts with the best relevant keywords

-Include contact information to help with local SEO

-Include an about page to help with Google’s E.A.T. factor (expertise, authority, trustworthiness)

-Start promoting the content and building backlinks to the website (ideally via marketing and promotional activities)

One final word

If you’re a copywriter or content writer, then you may not have much say in the direction your client takes with their business website. But by knowing the impacts of these changes on website performance and SEO, you can create a better content strategy that will help your client grow and convert website traffic into leads and sales.

Some of the changes I’ve suggested in this blog should be done by a web developer or your client’s marketing team. If you’re an SEO copywriter who is tech-savvy, you could even offer to do it yourself and expand the services you offer your clients.

If your client needs new copy and content, outsource the keyword research to me so that you know the exact keywords to use to help your client perform better in Google. Business changes mean new keyword opportunities to search for!

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Nat Alleblas- SEO Sleuth: helping copywriters, marketers and web developers with their SEO needs. When she's not slaying SEO, Nat can be found with her head buried in a book or is smashing out a spin class. But not at the same time. Loves eggplant lasagna.

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