Acquiring another business is a major achievement for any company. To preserve existing search equity and avoid suffering from any drop in search engine ranking during the transition, businesses should follow these steps.
1. Keep Existing Domains and Phone Numbers Active
Keeping the existing web domain and telephone numbers active will make it easier for you to claim the listing on popular directories like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Bing. Keep paying the hosting bill, even if you plan to use your original business’ domain.
The same goes with telephone numbers. Keeping the NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistent during the acquisition will help you avoid a drop in search engine rankings.
2. Get Access to the Google Listing
As part of the acquisition, have the previous business owner assign you as the Primary Owner of the business’ Google listing. He or she can do this by signing into Google My Business, opening the location, clicking “Users,” selecting a User to transfer ownership to, and then selecting a new “Primary Owner.” Primary ownership should be transferred immediately, and you will then be able to access the business listing from your own Google My Business dashboard.
If the previous business owner has logins for the business on platforms like Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, and Bing, then save that information and update those listings, as well.
3. Update the NAP on Aggregator Platforms
With the Google listing in your control, it’s time to start updating your business’ NAP information with the main business aggregators. Visit Factual, Infogroup, and Neustar Localeze individually to update your business’ information. Note that Foursquare syndicates data to many other platforms, such as Snapchat and Airbnb, and so can be considered an aggregator as well.
4. Keep the Google My Business Page Active
Deactivating a store’s Google My Business page, or marking the location as closed, is a major mistake that can cause your search engine rankings to plummet. Even if you are changing the name of the business in the acquisition, you should still keep listings active with the old brand name until the transition, since that’s what customers will be searching for. Rather than immediately marking the business as closed, update the brand’s description to include its new name or location.
This same advice goes for any old business citation pages. Don’t deactivate your business’ citation pages or mark locations as closed while you wait for the companies that supply those directories with their data to update their listing information. It can take 90 days the data from aggregators to make it to online directories. While you wait, visit the most popular directories individually and update the listing descriptions with the business’ new name.
5. A Note on Rebranding
Google has special rules for companies who change their own names or acquire another company and change its name to that of the parent brand. The rules state that if a company’s staff and service offering is different, then a new listing is best. If the only change is the business name and website URL, then you can keep the existing listing. From an SEO perspective, the existing listing carries a degree of prominence and authority that you should try to preserve, if possible.
If you’re short on time, a company like Brandify can help streamline this process with automated tools for local listings management.