Mueller Provides Tips For Site Migration
Google’s John Mueller gave businesses and webmasters some useful tips on website SEO migration. His insights provided the SEO community with ways to minimise disruptions and maintain their website SEO ranking while they migrate their website.
In a Google SEO Office Hours episode, someone asked John Mueller about migrating a website that acquired another site. They were thinking of merging the two sites and changing the domain name, and so they asked Mueller if he had any advice to give. In response, Mueller gave two tips on handling site migration.
Track all individual URLs
Firstly, he suggested tracking all the individual links of the current websites before proceeding with the migration. This provides them with a clear map of the previous links and where they should be in the future.
Doing so allows website owners to ensure that they have setup redirects properly. They can make a list out of their old URLs and later upload them to useful SEO tools. Some tools like Screaming Frog can find links that have a 404 Error Response Code. Aside from that, they can also determine which links have a 301 redirect to new URLs.
Migrate Internal Linking
The second tip that he provided is one of the most crucial factors of website migrations. Mueller discussed the internal linking structure, which can be revealed by conducting a full site crawl. The information that comes from this process can be extracted and transferred onto a spreadsheet.
Generally, a site’s old content is often merged with existing content. In such cases, the internal linking structure of the webpage will be preserved as long as there are no new pages added.
The key to a successful transition is to have the redirected content be redirected to similar webpages. This will make the old page redirect to the new page that’s substantially similar.
But if the old page could not find a new page to redirect to, then it is not suggested for webmasters to redirect the said page to the homepage, or else, Google will treat it as a soft 404. Therefore, it is best for them to leave the page as a 404 (not found) or 410 (gone). Both codes tell search engines and browsers that the page does not exist.
According to Mueller’s tweet, most website owners make a mistake by redirecting URLs but forgetting several things like setting the rel canonical or setting the links in the footer or the navigation. Therefore, doing internal linking properly can help make website SEO migration go much smoother.
It is important for businesses and webmasters to make their site migrations a success as failing to do so would cause them a significant drop in rankings. Sometimes, Google and other search engines have to figure out where a website should rank after it migrates. However, all would usually turn out well provided that the old links are redirected to other links that are substantially the same.
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