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Will Brexit Affect SEO?

It was always going to be a tough job to extricate the UK from the EU and as Brexit deadlines come and go, so it is proving to be. But how will Brexit affect SEO?

I don’t think it will have too big an impact, however, there are some obvious issues, such as TLDs that you need to deal with. Think domains that end with things like .eu, .it, etc.

That’s because many of those top-level domains are location specific and being outside the EU will mean UK businesses can no longer associate themselves with that location.

Last year the European Commission confirmed that following Brexit, British citizens and businesses will no longer be able to register or renew .eu domain names and reserves the right to revoke .eu domain names without giving UK citizens or organisations the right to appeal their decision.

The Commission warned stakeholders of the following effects:

  • UK undertakings and UK residents will no longer be able to register new .eu domain names post-Brexit;
  • The Registry will be entitled to revoke .eu domain names registered in the name of UK undertakings and residents. The Registry may revoke a domain name of its own initiative and without any extrajudicial conflict settlement;
  • It will no longer be possible to invoke UK rights, such as UK trademarks, against bad faith registrations of .eu domain names;
  • Agreements between Registrars and registrants must be changed if they are currently governed by UK law or designate a UK court or dispute resolution body.”

.eu is probably the most obvious one, however, one of the top-level domains that won’t be able to be registered and renewed when the UK leaves the EU is .it. .it is currently used by thousands of UK companies, many of whom operate in the IT industry.

If Brexit happens with a deal there will be a transition period, however, if it doesn’t – and all bets are off at the moment – then businesses with problem TLDs may need to take action sooner rather than later.

That means registering a new domain – either a generic one, such as .com or a UK-based one such as .co.uk and then submitting a domain change request with Google and creating forwards from the existing domain.

There is the potential knock-on the  impact that you’re old domain will at some point in the future no longer point to your new domain because you won’t be able to renew it, so the best advice is to renew your EU based domains now for as long as you can, that will give you a grace period to transfer as much of the link equity and trust signals to the new domain. You could do this for many years before you won’t be able to renew. Just bear in mind that it can be taken away from you, so probably best not to continue using it as your primary domain.

At some point, there will be something like 300,000 domains leaving the UK and heading back to businesses in the EU. We can anticipate there will be a land grab of businesses looking for domains to increase their own domain authority and for those businesses looking who covet your brand. So make sure you’ve got your Europe-wide trademarks in place as well to protect your position.

The other thing to consider is the impact of Brexit on the UK as a whole. There will likely be more calls for the separation of the UK from its constituent parts. If this were to happen it’s conceivable that the UK could come to an end and we could revert back to the four nations. But that’s a whole different can of worms!

I think it will also offer the opportunity to find new keywords, new messages and new stories and whilst some businesses will find Brexit difficult, I’m confident those businesses with a focus on SEO and content marketing will have a great chance to grow out of the results of Brexit.

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