Best Practices for Website Consolidation
There is no one-size-fits-all (or “canned”) methodology to knit together the fabric of many domains and accomplish the best website architecture for your business. Every case is unique, and as such, should be approached carefully and with thought.
This is how we work at Vital to solve these problems for our clients, taking current assets, budget and timeline all into consideration. Sometimes this means redesigning or rebuilding a website, and other times it has meant building a portal page.
For two recent examples, let’s look at how Vital worked to create successful brand and website architecture for Chinburg Properties and Copley Consulting Group—in each instance, marrying sub-brands cohesively to their parent company.
Mini Case Study: Chinburg Properties
Based in Newmarket, NH, Chinburg came to Vital in early 2013 with two separate business identities, one as a real estate firm and the other as a full-scale developer and builder. In one bucket, Chinburg’s portfolio featured handsomely restored mill buildings, each with its own brand identity and logo, and in another bucket was the recognized building company Chinburg Builders.
As a result of their fractured brand, Chinburg Builders was not benefiting from the brand equity of the mill properties or management and vice versa. And the same problem also existed online.
Vital responded to the challenge by rearranging Chinburg’s brand architecture to maximize brand equity. Fist a new parent company name was born—Chinburg Properties—to carefully fuse the real estate and builder sectors of the business; then each of the seven mill properties were aptly branded to reside under Chinburg’s management division without detracting from each mill’s historically recognized logo (check out the full case study); and finally, Chinburg’s primary website was redesigned to bring all eight existing services and properties under one domain.
The website consolidation was complete on Sept. 1, 2013, and provided an environment where these brands could work together to increase traffic and make SEO efforts more lucrative. This resulted in a near 300% increase in traffic compared to the same timeline one year prior (denoted by the orange line below), as well as a near 100% increase in traffic compared to just one week prior (noted as you follow the blue line from Aug. into Sept).
Specifically, Chinburg was averaging around 200 visits per week in Sept. 2012, and 500 visits per week pre-Sept. 2013. But in response to the consolidation, traffic skyrocketed to just under 1,000 visits per week and has remained impressive since.
Check out the Google Analytics below:
Mini Case Study: Copley Consulting Group
Copley came to Vital as a 25-year-old consulting brand. When we met Copley, they specialized in enterprise solutions powered by Infor. So we built them a website and represented this important partnership within it. But months later, Copley seized the opportunity to capture more market presence when they learned IBM wanted to enter a partnership, too.
The issue became: How could Copley serve up two separate solutions? Copley suggested two unique URLs—in other words, building another site all together that would boast their IBM solution but not detract from the existing Infor relationship. And they thought each should provide the same functionality.
Vital challenged this logic and recommended migrating the two solutions under one portal page to prevent user segmentation, improve link efficiencies and increase overall site traffic. Doing so would allow the consumer to choose which sub-brand to redirect to, and this redirected URL would continue to exist under the same parent URL so Google could value each visit in the parent company’s favor.
Now completed, Copley’s portal page drives users to “choose your solution,” and allows toggling between each, as shown (and circled in red) in the images below:
For Copley, this solution is appropriate because the company holds competing sub-brands that they wanted to give equal credit to without losing Google’s approval. When this defined space was created, neither Copley’s site functionality nor the individual brand value (look and feel) of either solution was compromised.
This solution is often also relied on by businesses with unrelated (or loosely related) sub-brands, such as Unitil, Still, portal pages are not always the answer, but they are worth investigating because they can be a quicker fix.
Ultimately, SEO and SEO strategy is a complex process, structured around detailed linking and tagging tactics, focused social media approaches, well-executed conversion stratagems, and dedicated distribution (email, blogs, press releases, etc.). The fruits of this labor can take a long while to harvest. But for companies with complex sub-brand architectures there are other gratifying “best practices” to follow first to elevate user experiences, increase search engine rankings and improve the success of every SEO effort they put forth thereafter—and of course, stay current for years to come. But like we said, every situation is distinct, so make sure you go through the motions with the right professionals.
Whether you are starting out as a single brand, or have multiple, diverse holdings that you would like to bring under one parent brand/website, the design, development and branding team at Vital can help. We will assess your needs, refine your brand architecture and create a website that will heighten your brand profile and equity. Talk to us today about your website needs!