Merging Businesses? Think Before Merging Websites

Written by Nick Stamoulis

While some small business owners may prefer to remain a “small business”, for most business owners the goal is to grow the business over time. There are many ways to grow a business and one of them is the opportunity to merge with another business. Mergers often make sense from a business perspective. Two established companies that offer something similar or related join forces to create an even stronger company that is able to offer even more to their clients and customers. There are plenty of things to consider when a merger occurs, but don’t forget about what will become of the business websites. Two separate companies with two separate websites are now becoming one entity, which means that only one website is needed going forward. If a larger organization is buying a smaller company, it’s likely that the brand/company name of the larger organization will remain intact, along with their website. So you should simply re-direct the website of the smaller company right? Not so fast.

If a business is worth buying it means that they have an established brand, which means that people will still be searching for the brand and typing the website into their browser. Once the merger happens, essentially that business no longer exists. So what do you do with the website? Re-directing it over to where the company now resides makes sense, but from an SEO perspective you really need to take certain things into account to make sure that it’s the right decision.

By re-directing an entire site over to another site, it means that all of the link history of that site will now become connected to the site that it is being re-directed to. In the complex world of SEO today, this presents a tricky situation. First of all, the search engines want to see a site grow inbound links at a natural rate. If the site has thousands upon thousands of links, it means that by re-directing, those thousands upon thousands of links are now pointing to the main site, and it’s happening in a very short time period. You don’t want to raise any red flags with the search engines.

The other thing to take into consideration is the quality of the inbound links pointing to the site. It’s worthwhile to conduct a full link audit before hitting the button to re-direct everything over. You want to make sure that the link portfolio of that site is OK. What kinds of links do they have? A few bad links are OK but pretty quickly into an audit you’ll be able to tell whether the site ever engaged in poor linking practices like buying spammy links or participating in unrelated link exchanges. It’s possible that these links didn’t catch up with the site yet, but they will, especially since Google continues to roll out additional Penguin algorithm updates that target these sorts of links. Some sites survived the first few updates, but with each subsequent update it’s only a matter of time until they get hit.

When businesses merge, it doesn’t mean that the sites should automatically merge. You need to consider whether the site is going to potentially help or hinder your online marketing efforts.

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