With just hours to go until the results are in, you might want to start making contingency plans for your website and web-based business. Whilst there will likely be huge economic and logistical implications for most business owners in Scotland, there are some very important things you should consider which relate directly to your website. A few of these are outlined below;
If your website is on a .co.uk domain, you will need to be thinking about moving this to either a .com or .scot domain so that your business is properly represented. Moving to another domain has several implications. You will need to ensure that you 301 redirect any traffic from your old domain, to your new one, which will help to ensure that you do not lose your positions in Google for relevant keywords. You will also need to make the necessary changes to your website so that it can properly function on the new domain. .scot domains can be purchased for around £20 per year, and changing the domain of a website will likely cost between £200 and £500 depending on your platform.
If your brand name is an important asset to your business, you will want to think about the implications of someone taking the .co.uk version of your website, in particular a competitor. The rules for owning a .co.uk domain are different for foreign companies than they are for UK companies, and rights can also be affected by the company being registered in the UK as Limited. As yet the position on foreign business registration is unclear, but the protection of your .co.uk domain should be paramount and contingencies should be considered.
At the moment, Google delivers results based on the geographic position of the user (the searcher). The segmentation of this also involves any defined geographic borders. As yet it is unclear how Google’s search algorithms will disseminate a UK search over a Scottish search, but it is possible that cross border results will be filtered somewhat. If a significant portion of your business comes from Google searches in the UK, you will want to keep an extremely close eye on your traffic, and your search positions.
Currency & Tax
Westminster has been somewhat cagey about a new Scotland retaining the British pound. If you own a website trading in GBP, you will need to reconfigure for a new Scottish pound (or equivalent). As the new currency is as yet unknown, there are no eCommerce platforms supporting it. When the time comes, you will need to consider upgrading your eCommerce platform to one that does support the new currency when available. You will also need to configure your cart to employ any new TAX rules which may apply to both local and cross-border trading. For those exporting to mainland Europe, you will need to reconfigure tax rules if Scotland is not part of the EU.
Whilst it could be some time before the above apply, it is worth thinking about now. In particular you should think early about the registration of a .scot domain in order to migrate your website. We would also advise on keeping your ecommerce website up-to-date, so that you are ahead of the game when and if you need to switch currency and tax rules.
We would be interested to hear any other concerns that website owners have in relation to Scottish independence.