KPMG drops .com and moves to home.kpmg (part 1 of 2)
By Tony Kirsch – Head of Professional Services, Neustar
This is the first of two excerpts from of our exclusive interview with KPMG as they discuss their successful move from kpmg.com to their own dotbrand top-level domain at home.kpmg for their global web presence.
A full copy of the interview is available in our April .brands Industry Report.
In this first piece, we get the background on KPMGs digital platforms and understand the SEO impact of the move to home.kpmg from KPMG’s Senior Digital Transformation Manager, Domenic Torani who speaks with Tony Kirsch.
Tony Kirsch: To set the scene for our readers Domenic, could you provide us with a bit of perspective on what the old landscape was with KPMG’s digital footprint, and what you had in place before you began this initiative?
Domenic Torani: Firstly, when we look at our central kpmg.com domain, it’s important to note that is has traditionally been KPMG’s first point of entry to the web and due to the size of our organization, it has lot of eyes on it.
One of our key advantages as an organization is that we operate in over 150 different countries and as result, we have different member firm sites, different member firm digital assets that operate in their own spectrum of the World Wide Web.
Granted we’re not a B2C firm like many other .brand owners, but we’re still B2B and we have a huge global outreach with a website that has millions of pages.
Tony Kirsch: OK, so how does the previous domain and content hosting strategy work for you guys?
Domenic Torani: Each of our member firms internationally has their own Country Code Domain that they use to promote their local activities – for example kpmg.co.uk – but all of our content is hosted under one central domain which was previously kpmg.com and after the migration, is now home.kpmg.
This requires us to have a complex series of redirects so that a user visiting kpmg.co.uk would have traditionally actually end up performing their activity on kpmg.com/uk and so on.
Tony Kirsch: So what was the background with .kpmg? What was the original plan for it and how has it been managed across the organization?
Domenic Torani: We really just wanted to break what I call the “handcuffs” of the .com domain and .kpmg gave us the impetus to do that.
To be clear, we were really focused on carving out our public facing content from kpmg.com and moving it to home.kpmg to make a better global experience for our community within this specific part of the projects. All of our internal background ITS infrastructure and things like that still operating on KPMG.com and time will tell if we do that slowly, or perhaps find it’s working just fine for us in that way.
Tony Kirsch: You mentioned the “handcuffs” of the .com single domain. What does that mean specifically and how does that manifest in an organization the size of yours?
Domenic Torani: This is really one of the cruxes of really why we feel so confident with our move to home.kpmg and why we made this decision at the end of the day and still have support from the different groups in our organization.
Due to the oversight we have over the global kpmg.com domain and its traffic, we’re fortunate that we have that visibility into the reality of our customer engagement. Customers in North America and many other places see the kpmg.com as their ability to access the US site, in their eyes that’s their first answer.
However, we communicate with over 150 different member firm nations at any given point in time and this statement is not true of everyone globally. For example, the member firms in different countries will type in their own Country Code Domain before they will type .com.
Tony Kirsch: Ok, the big topic for many of our readers – let’s talk SEO and what was your experience when migrating to home.kpmg.
Domenic Torani: When we think of search engines, it’s important to realize that they have their own respective algorithms that are changing by the day. They may have guidelines, but they will never tell you exactly what you need to do. You have kind of this foggy guideline of how you should have your sites configured so that you are taking advantage of SEO.
But by setting yourself up with all the safety nets and the proper configurations, you can easily prop back up to where you were in your overall SEO ranking very quickly and even improve in many areas.
We’re already at that point, and we’ve actually exceeded where we were before in terms of our SEO.
But to do that, it requires having the proper configurations in place, ensuring that you have the safety nets, proper redirects and changes to your current platform or current web presence SEO that even makes it better than what it was.
Tony Kirsch: Do you have any views on why your SEO is better with home.kpmg than what it was with kpmg.com? Is it related to that point you made about the older pages having legacy SEO practices versus the new best practices or something else?
Domenic Torani: I couldn’t say necessarily that this was specifically because we changed top-level domains, because we’ve installed best practices for our CMS. 301 redirects are huge proponent to this ensuring that proper SERP, considering the new algorithm, logic that now Google is putting out there. So, that’s part of the pre-SEO work.
What I could say is that I know we’ve been giving attention to areas of the site that we may have not focused on before and we’re achieving a level of digital maturity that has been built with experience and as part of this project, we’ve become even more knowledgeable.
Our hope is that one day, people will know about home.kpmg or something.kpmg and will navigate using the browser organically rather than searches. But until then you obviously have to ensure that you’re still doing your SEO due diligence, ensuring that you still have the proper catch rules for redirects to still catch all the different permutations of possible customer behaviour.