HomeAdvisor spent a lot of money on its rebrand, and saw a sharp drop in traffic initially, but it has paid off.
A couple weeks ago Quebec announced a decision to opt-out of switching its web presence over to the new .quebec domain name, citing a price tag north of $10 million.
Just how much work goes into changing to a new brand and domain name?
One large company has gone through a domain change, and it provides a good case study for the costs — both in upfront money terms and lost business during the transition.
HomeAdvisor, a service that connects homeowners to contractors, estimates that it spent $5-$6 million to rebrand from its old name, ServiceMagic. That was both a branding change and domain name change, which involved changes to site design as well. Most of the costs were for existing personnel working on the switch.
These costs were just the beginning. The company also suffered through a big drop in business when it changed domain names: a 20% drop in leads.
Home Advisor CTO Brandon Ridenour said there were many sleepless nights after the company changed domain names.
“We projected a range of outcomes, and the loss of traffic was at the worse end of the spectrum,” he told Domain Name Wire.
The drop occurred despite painstaking preparation.
The domain change came with an overall rebranding. The company rolled out the site changes on the existing ServiceMagic.com domain first, to make sure to isolate what caused changes in its business results.
Then it made the change to the new HomeAdvisor.com domain name. That’s no small feat for a company with over 10 million URLs.
Both the company’s Search Engine Marketing (SEM, such as Google Adwords) and its SEO were hurt.
The SEM hit was likely due to the quality score attached to ServiceMagic.com compared to its new domain name. From an SEO perspective, it took a long time for all of its new URLs to be indexed and rank well.
But Ridenour said the rebranding was worth it, and its results have rebounded strongly since the initial drop:
- SEM rebounded 5 months after rebrand – 24% more clicks, 15% better click through rate and 5% more conversions.
- SEO rebounded a year after rebrand – 22% more traffic than prior to rebrand.
The better-than-before results are thanks to the better HomeAdvisor brand, which was the point of the change in the first place.
“We were focusing services on the home space, and wanted a brand and domain that was more descriptive of what we offered,” Ridenour said.
They also wanted a memorable brand so they could start advertising on TV.
After the brand change but before advertising on TV, the company noticed some increase in SEM clicks thanks to the more descriptive domain name. Once the TV ads starting running, it increased even more because people recognized the memorable brand.
HomeAdvisor had 20% year-over-year revenue growth in its most recent quarter. It has also seen a 50% increase in branded traffic (searches for HomeAdvisor as opposed to “plumber”).
In HomeAdvisor’s case, rebranding to a more descriptive name helped it grow its business significantly. The steep cost was worth it.