For a while a few years ago, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) looked to have fallen on the backburner of many businesses’ digital strategies. New online presences like Facebook and YouTube grabbed the limelight instead, by offering cheap well-targeted advertising options that delivered faster to-site web traffic.
Yet fast-forward to today, and the constant challenges of IOS upgrades, increasing Cost-per-click (CPC) prices on the major platforms, and ever-shifting laws around data compliance make SEO look pretty tempting again.
In fact, SEO can be a comparatively inexpensive way of curating your content so it can be found and rank well on the internet. Not to mention that it can have a cascading impact on the rest of your digital strategy and, ultimately, your business revenue.
However, the competition for ranking on keywords and topics relevant to businesses has become so competitive that what is known as ‘Acquisition SEO’ has become a strategy that – although extreme – is a way to acquire that coveted top spot in the rankings. This now makes it a legitimate and somewhat unusual tactic in the overall SEO toolbox.
What is Acquisition SEO?
In a nutshell, Acquisition SEO is the strategy of either acquiring domains, or actually acquiring a whole company principally for its website and page rankings.
Taking over the online presence of the acquired business is a strategic step that gives you options, including keeping the domain as a separate entity, or using it to bolster your own business’s SEO footprint and unlocking access to whole new consumer groups in large numbers.
When do you employ Acquisition SEO?
Once a business is acquired, the question should be asked as to whether you absorb the site into your current website, or leave it as two standalone sites. The answer to this will largely depend on the industry and the go-to-market strategy.
Deciding whether to keep the sites separate or merge them comes with a host of considerations that need to be taken into account. A key one is understanding whether the audiences are similar enough to cross over without attrition, as the last thing you want is to dilute the two audiences.
Sometimes the answer will clearly present itself, especially if you are a business acquiring another one that is an almost carbon copy of your current enterprise. In that case, this strategy would definitely be worth exploring as part of your new combined marketing activity.
For example, if you’re an IT provider, and you merge with another IT provider with a similar positioning and target market, then it’s time to integrate. However, this should still be done carefully, to ensure a smooth transition without losing audiences or diluting the brand.
What should you keep in mind when executing Acquisition SEO?
If you choose to proceed with this strategy, the acquisition should be actioned at the page level. In an ideal e-world, you need to ensure that the new page has the same page functionality as the old one, which can be tricky, especially for more significant and complex page acquisition projects.
As a guiding thought, it’s useful to keep Google’s mission statement in mind – ’Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ – when you start getting into the depths of functionality and ease of use.
Against this backdrop, the project to unite the two pages there should always be driven by the ambition of achieving a perfect blending of like-for-like keywords and intent.
This may not always be possible in every case, but the closer the team can come to meeting this target, the better the online experience for your key audiences, and the less likely you are to make mistakes that could impact those valuable page rankings.
The key challenge is to move from the old to the new in a way that keeps the presence useful and relevant for search audiences. In these instances, the role of SEO could be enhanced to support the project. For example, it could be used to educate or provide resources to help old site users make informed decisions regarding their next steps on the site.
In summary, while Acquisition SEO is a big step, there are times when it makes a lot of sense, especially if a new business area necessitates the need for new online presences and audiences, and something similar is already out there.
And while still a niche strategy, as competition in the online space becomes even more intense over the coming years, it’s likely that we could see companies with the appropriate resources explore this approach in greater depth, and devote serious resources to acquiring online presences that could be critical to their brands’ future prospects.