Maintaining and Improving SEO During an M&A
Industry: Web Development, Marketing, Case Study
Type: Marketing Case Studies
- During their own website redesign, Flashpoint acquired two new businesses and needed to ensure the new sites could be integrated without sacrificing the SEO quality of any of their sites.
- To do this, we asked five critical questions that would inform our strategy and execution.
- We conducted a search performance audit to evaluate how well each of the sites were performing in search results.
- We performed a content audit to determine the value of content from the two new sites and whether it would be “kept, killed, or merged.”
- We measured and assessed the SEO of the site integrations and found early success in site traffic numbers and increased keyword value, including a 47% increase in ranking keywords.
Flashpoint’s core purpose is to help our customers take rapid, decisive actions to protect their assets and stakeholders.
Who Is Flashpoint?
Flashpoint is a risk intelligence company that helps organizations take rapid, decisive action to protect their assets and stakeholders. Flashpoint does this by:
- Building the highest-quality, most relevant data set
- Delivering intelligence via an easy-to-use SaaS platform
- Automating responses from the platform to stop threats quickly
- Supporting customers with a tech-driven, high-ROI service
The Challenge of SEO During an M&A
Amid a website redesign that was already underway with Beacon Digital Marketing, Flashpoint acquired two other companies: Risk Based Security (RBS) and EchoSec. We needed to consider how to integrate the web pages from the newly acquired companies into flashpoint.io in order to gain the important traffic and conversions fromRBS and EchoSec.
Now, this isn’t our first rodeo when it comes to M&A SEO. Whenever we approach merging a website after an acquisition, we consider these five critical questions:
- How do we identify the most valuable terms that the newly acquired site is ranking for?
- How do we maintain our top page ranks when merging content into the existing company's website?
- What happens if we’re merging and creating a totally new website from two older brands? How can we both maintain our traffic and keyword rankings?
- Under what circumstances and when should we retire the website of a company we acquired? What should we do with the domain name(s) of acquired companies and products that we no longer plan to use?
- How do we handle all the backlinks and mentions of the company or product we’ve acquired when we’ve changed the name or the destination of those pages?
These questions are daunting and tricky to answer. But we’ve learned how to approach them with a clear strategy. Here’s what it looked like for Flashpoint.
1. Search Performance Audit
A search performance audit is the foundation for any website merge. The audit tells you how well each page and piece of content is performing and which keywords have the most value for the sites.
- Crawl and gather data: Gather data to identify what our biggest losses/gains could be
- Ranking content: Identify the pages that are performing best at driving eyeballs
- Converting content: Identify the content that is converting high-quality leads
- Keyword rank and value: Identify the keywords and positions that are driving the most traffic
Download the Search Performance Audit Template here.
2. Content Audit
The purpose of the Content Audit is to evaluate each piece of content and determine how it fits into a new overarching content strategy. After evaluating the content based on different sets of criteria, we either Keep, Kill, or Merge the content.
- Keep: Already drives traffic, already ranking for target keyword, remains relevant in merged business
- Kill: Not driving traffic, not ranking for any keywords and/or will not be relevant in merged business
- Merge: Page already exists in target website for similar topic. Some traffic is received and ranks for target keywords.
Download the Content Audit Template here.
3. 301 Redirects
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that takes users (and search engines) to a new URL when the original page no longer exists. For SEO, especially during the acquisition of new websites, understanding when and how to implement 301 redirects is critical.
- Map 1-to-1 URLs: You should set up a 301 redirect for a page if it gets organic traffic OR ranks for a target KW OR there are backlinks to the page.
- Map remaining URLs to home or a category: All other pages that are not high priority for maintaining SEO keyword ranks, backlinks, or pages are not migrated 1-to-1. Instead, they can be redirected to the home page or a category page.
- Copy website for future reference: After you set up all the necessary redirects, you’ll want to no-index the whole website to keep it out of search results as well as potentially password-protect it. You may want to reference your content in the future, especially if you are not done migrating content, so it’s good to keep a copy just in case.
- Upload relative redirect file to CMS: When repointing an entire website, typically you’ll redirect the entire domain to your new location, and then the relative redirect map is uploaded to the new CMS.
Download the 301 Redirect Map Template here.
4. Measure and Assess
Here’s a look at the data — before and after the site migrations.
Risk Based Security
Keywords we cared most about:
- vulnerability intelligence/management
- risk-based vulnerability management
- vulnerability management tools/solution
- vulndb (product)
Keywords we cared most about:
- OSINT Tools
- OSINT strategy
5. Retire the Acquired Websites: Checklist
After pages were kept, killed, or merged, 301s had been implemented, and data was being collected and evaluated, it was time to determine the best course of action for the Risk Based Security and EchoSec sites. Here’s our process for deciding whether to keep an old website live or retire it.
6. Updating Backlinks
Backlinks play a pivotal role in conferring “domain authority” to any site, and it is part of Google’s algorithm to determine the order of search results. Once the content from the acquired sites was migrated, it was a perfect time to start this process.
- Identify the most valuable backlinks: Using ahrefs, identify potential backlinks to update
- Prioritize high domain authority site: Identify the high-domain authority sites first and assess the ease with which a link could be updated
- Outreach and track progress: Working from top to bottom on your list of high-domain authority and ease of effort, build an outreach plan to connect weekly with each site to ask for a link change
Download the Backlink Outreach Tracker Template here.
Ready to Merge Your Acquired Sites?
Maintaining SEO during an M&A is a critical process, and one that requires a thorough, tried-and-true process to achieve. If you have questions about merging websites during an M&A or are ready to get started with Beacon Digital’s SEO experts, drop us a line!