Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | January 21, 2019

Listing Management: What To Know Before Changing Your Business Name

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ve probably heard about the IHOP to IHOb name change debacle. After getting over the initial shock and losing the office poll on what the “b” stands for (Burgers… really?) we started thinking about how changing your business name would impact your local SEO and digital presence as a whole.

Changing your business name is a big deal especially when you’re as big as IHOP. Although IHOb’s name change is only temporary, we couldn’t help but think what it would take to change the names both offline and online of all 1,650 locations.

When it comes to changing your name there a lot of things you need to prepare for. Changing your name is not a simple task, especially when it comes to your brand’s online presence.

What a Name Change Means for your Digital Presence

You can’t change your business name without updating your domain name to reflect this change. Changing your domain is like moving a storefront. You wouldn’t want your customers to show up at your old location only to find you’ve moved, you’re going to lose customers. Changing your domain name is the same idea.

To protect your business from losing customers when updating your domain name you need to set up a permanent 301 redirect. This option will forward all traffic from your old domain to your new one. Back in 2010, ToysRUs made a $5.1 million mistake when they bought and forgot to set up a redirect from the old website to the new site. Because of this, their SEO plummeted and Google ended up re-indexing the site as a brand-new site. Learn from their mistake and set up a redirect before you launch your new site.

Don’t forget to update all your links when you change your domain. When I say all your links I mean ALL of them. If you transfer your existing site to your new domain every link on your site will need to be updated. Any promotional materials will also need to be updated before you redistribute them.

What a Name Change Means for your Google Listings

As leaders in listing management, we know just how important it is to have accurate listings for each of your business locations. Studies show 80% of customers lose trust in a business if they see inconsistent or inaccurate information. So if you plan on changing your business name you need to be prepared to change the name of each Google listing.

Vanessa, from our listing management team, warns that “changing your business name can result in Google unverifying your listing”. To avoid this, make sure you’ve changed the name across all of your storefront locations first. “Your [Google listing] should reflect your business’ real-world name. It should be consistent with your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online,” mentions Vanessa.

What a Name Change Means for Social and Other Listings

As you know, Google isn’t the only place your business is listed. You’ll need to make sure your name change is reflected across every site you’re on. Here’s a list of some sites you may be listed on:

  1. Search Engines: Google, Bing, Yahoo
  2. Business Listing Sites: YellowPages, Whitepages, Superpages
  3. Professional Service Sites: Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Home Advisor
  4. Customer Review Sites: Yelp, Tripadvisor, Foursquare, Better Business Bureau

You’ll also want to update your name on Social Media. For most platforms, you have a business name and a business handle or username (@mybusiness). Unlike your social media name, there can’t be duplicates of the same handle, this means you need to claim your handle before someone else takes it. Ideally, claiming these handles should be part of your preliminary research for changing your name.

You also need to take into consideration the effect of changing your name on social media may have on your employees or followers. Here’s how to change your name on some of the most popular social media platforms:

Facebook – Page name changes are only permitted once every 7 days and up to 3 days for additional review. They also may alert the people who like your Page know that the name’s been updated.

Twitter– Suggests you notify followers before the change so they know where to direct reply or message you.

LinkedIn – Supports small changes but recommends creating a new company page for total rebranding. A name change will affect the profiles of your listed employees.

Snapchat – Must create a new account if you want to change your username. Only display names can be changed.

Pinterest – Changing your username will change your Pinterest url.

What a Name Change Means for your SEO

After years of building up your SEO the last thing you want to do is start over from the ground up. There are a few things you can do to help with your new site’s SEO. Telling Google you’ve moved your site and setting up those 301 redirect links will help. Some other ways to boost your new site are to push out content, add guest blogs, utilize PPC campaigns and encourage everyone to share, share, share!

Building up your SEO takes time. On average, it takes a minimum of 6 months to see results. If you plan on changing your name, do yourself a favor and hire an SEO specialist to help with this transition.

What a Name Change Means for your Reviews

From our research, reviews won’t disappear if you change your business name. Most sites, will simply update the name and keep your reviews intact as long as the location and services stay the same. We haven’t seen anyone lose reviews over updating their listing name but it’s always a good idea to monitor your reviews for any changes.

On the other hand, you want to avoid creating duplicate listings, as this can cause you to have two separate listings with two separate sets of reviews. When you remove one of those listings, your reviews will be lost with it. To avoid losing reviews due to duplicates, update your listings as soon as possible.

You also may find that your name change can affect some of the content of your reviews. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to love the name change, and customers may express that in reviews and social media comments. Make sure you have a strategy in place for responding to negative reviews.

If you’re a larger company with 100’s of locations, changing your name means updating and monitoring all 5 areas listed above. That’s a lot to handle for 1 business location let alone hundreds. Using a tool like Chatmeter can help you manage multiple aspects of this process from within a single dashboard.

Want to see how it works? Sign up for a free demo today!