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I have a client that launched a webstore a while back and for example, lets say he sold apples on it and the domain was called www.fruit.com

The webstore is not doing so well so he has decided to do a whole website rebrand, and change his product focus to selling oranges instead of apples. The thing is that he likes the domain www.fruit.com and wants to keep that.

My question is what will that mean for all of the SEO that was previously done for the original www.fruits.com that sold apples. There are many external links pointing to www.fruits.com to satisfy their "apple" needs, but now he is selling oranges. Is this a problem that will eventually go away as new links focusing on "oranges" start to proliferate the internet?

Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated.

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2 Answers 2

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The nice this is that since they stayed with 'fruit.com', all the credibility that site has gained stays with it. If it was changed to say 'oranges.com' they would be starting from scratch.

It is important however to redirect all of the old page urls to a new destination (if they don't exist anymore). ie. about_apples.html is now about_oranges.html

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I can't see how re-directing an entire site due to a product change is suitable or realistic. Where would you re-direct "granny-smith-apples.html" to? Wouldn't a suitably written 404 page be more appropriate? –  MrG Nov 18 '10 at 9:57
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Thanks for the answer. The site credibility is definitely an advantage over getting a new domain. So you don't think the fact that Google has www.fruit.com associated with "apples" will be difficult for the new orange vendor to establish himself as an "orange" seller? –  justinl Nov 18 '10 at 12:11
    
@MrG A 404 page for all the old pages would show search engines that all those pages no longer exist which could impact the sites overall ranking. A better approach would be to have a 301 redirect to either a corresponding page or a landing page explaining 'we no longer sell apples, here's what we do now ...'. This way no pages appear to search engines as defunct and they also know to index the new page as well. –  RDL Nov 18 '10 at 15:03
    
Redirecting indexed URLs to completely unrelated pages is just bad web citizenship. The proper behavior would be to return a 410 to indicate that the page has been removed. On the 410 page you can discuss your business change, but trying to capture PR from unrelated links is like buying expired domains to capture their PR. If Google doesn't already penalize this type of PR-misdirection, they will in the future. –  Lèse majesté Nov 18 '10 at 17:01

It won't be a matter of changing "apples" to "oranges" and suddenly ranking well. You will need to repeat some of the work you did already to rank for oranges instead of apples.

But having an established domain with a close theme is a great headstart. It will be much easier than associating a new domain with oranges from scratch.

I would agree with RDL and recommend using 301 Redirects where appropriate. It won't be appropriate in all cases but it's best to try and keep value of in-links (otherwise you are pretty much starting from scratch).

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