Tips on How to Do Website Migration Right

what do you need to know about website migration SEO

Website migration for SEO can be complicated, but it offers many benefits. These include improving website speed, reducing downtime during the migration process, and improving website SEO rankings. Though it may be challenging for some, this process can be much easier by following a few key steps.

It’s no surprise that site migrations are part of any enterprise’s natural progression. Migration is necessary because companies are always going through brand changes, transitioning to the cloud, or wanting to easily expand their site.

Although this process may seem straightforward at first glance, one mishap can lead to a number of SEO problems. These problems can include:

  • 404 errors
  • Drop in rankings
  • Loss of content

Before proceeding with this task, web admins should use a site crawler to take an inventory of all pages on their site. Doing so will give them a complete list of pages to refer to once the migration has been completed and help validate that everything has been migrated accordingly.

After completing the list, site owners can proceed with the migration process. Listed below are 10 steps for a successful site transition:

1. Set Up Hosting, DNS, CDN, Mail

There is a lot going on in migrations, and many different things could go wrong. Therefore, one must first create a backup of the site and database. This way, if things don’t go right during the migration, it’s easy to restore the site from the backup. It’s also ideal to create a staging site in order to test the migration first before going live. This will help minimise any potential errors that might occur.

Proceed with the following steps once the staging of the site has been completed:

  • Create a hosting environment and transfer all files.
  • Set up the DNS information.
  • Change the CDN information
  • Change the mail settings.

Ensure these initial steps are completed before implementing redirects.

2. Set Up a Redirects List

Internally, the team must have a list of redirects in order to create new ones and keep track of the existing ones. This will help make sure that all existing redirects are properly placed on the new website.

If there aren’t a lot of redirects and domains only need to be changed, then only one redirect will be necessary.

3. Examine the structure of SEO

Once SEO configurations have been set in place, the next thing to do is check that the migration has been successful. This means making sure that all the content from the old site has been migrated over to the new one. This can be done by doing a content audit.

A content audit involves going through all the content on both sites and comparing them to see if anything is missing. These are areas worth checking:

  • Alt text
  • Canonical tags
  • Crawlability
  • Custom URL
  • Hreflang
  • Internal links
  • Mobile setup
  • Pagination
  • txt
  • Sitemaps
  • Structured data
  • URL structure

By reviewing a site’s SEO structure, site owners can ensure a successful migration. Creating lists of content and checking them multiple times is the key to success.

4. Run Benchmarks

Benchmarks will inform site owners about their migration’s progress and technical performance. Reviewing the following data will offer a clearer picture of how a site is performing:

  • Crawl errors
  • Page indexing rates
  • Page load speed
  • Keyword rankings

These benchmarks will serve as a useful reference for site owners over the coming weeks. If a website’s speed is slow or starts to lose rankings, site owners can use these benchmarks to help identify the issue.

With these data on hand, they have something to show their clients that can highlight the success of the benchmark. This is an important metric for any business and should be included in any marketing strategy.

5. Examine Key Site Pages

Key site pages are critical since they generate revenue. Analyse these pages first to ensure they’re running properly. Even with a ton of pages on the list, focus on the top 5% and go through them one by one. This will help ensure that the website is running as smoothly as possible.

These are pages that:

  • Have good keyword rankings
  • Make the most revenue

When working on a website’s analytics, site owners should keep a close eye on their most popular pages. This will help identify areas that may need improvement and help guide future content strategy. By understanding which pages are most popular, site owners can ensure that their content is meeting user needs and delivering the desired results.

6. Rerun Site Crawlers for Comparison

Rerunning site crawlers will be beneficial at this stage in order to compare the old and new data collected. The objective is to check for the following:

  • Broken site links (404 errors)
  • Meta descriptions
  • Meta titles
  • Redirects

Comparing metadata is crucial to ensure a successful content migration. Oftentimes, metadata can be lost during the process – especially when changing content management systems. This is usually due to the new system trying to pull data from a database column or table that doesn’t exist.

7. Audit the Site

Next would be performing a site audit – this is where some of the data collected in the previous step can be used. The audit should cover aspects such as:

  • Internal links
  • Noindex/index information
  • Redirects
  • Server response times

It would also be helpful to create a robots.txt file, set up canonical tags, and make sure that key pages are running smoothly.

8. Configure the Search Console and Webmaster Tools

When switching domains, adding the site to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools is a must. One should also request for the site to be indexed and submit XML sitemaps for good measure.

To set up the change of address on Google Search Console, go to Settings (Gear icon) > Change of address. Verification of ownership for both domains is required before submitting the change of address.

9. Conduct Usability Tests

One site migration aspect that is often overlooked is its usability. A site may maintain its rankings but lose revenue if usability drops. To combat this, key areas of the site should be tested for mobile and desktop devices. By continuing to test these areas, a website can keep its original rankings and prevent any potential loss in revenue.

Assess these areas to confirm that they’re all working accordingly:

  • Full checkout process
  • Downloadable content
  • Forms
  • Mailing lists
  • Live chat function
  • Navigation

It’s important to keep an eye on the website’s features to ensure that everything is running smoothly. When issues arise, they need to be addressed appropriately.

10. Track Analytics Data and Clean up when Necessary

Finally, keep in mind that this process takes time, and it’s important to look into data from Google Search Console for any errors or warnings.

Moreover, reviewing a page’s keyword rankings and analytics is essential.

It’s critical to examine one’s highest traffic-generating pages to see if there’s been any traffic loss in the process.

When significant loss in traffic or rankings has been noted, make sure to look for key issues, including:

  • Improper redirects
  • Slow load times
  • Lost internal links
  • Missing meta tags

It would also be useful to monitor Google Search Console’s Coverage tab for any critical errors or warnings that might pop up. By looking over these one by one and rectifying them, one can ensure that their website is in excellent working order and avoid any potential difficulties.

Perform Website Migrations with Expert Help

Migrating a website can be a daunting task since there are many things to think about and consider. However, with the right approach, it can be done relatively easily. The website migration SEO experts here at position1seo.co.uk can help you make sure your website retains its ranking and traffic after the migration.

We will ensure that your site is ready for the process with a comprehensive website SEO checklist for subdomain to main domain migration. Not only that, but we can also monitor your website’s progress during and after the migration to ensure that there is no loss in rankings or traffic.

Our experts have successfully migrated many websites for our clients over the years, so you can rest assured that we have the right experience and expertise for the job. If you are considering migrating your website, contact us today for a free consultation. We will be happy to discuss your options with you and help you plan a successful migration.

If you’re looking for the best website SEO solutions, contact Position1SEO today and find out how we can help you. You may reach us by calling 0141 404 7515 or emailing jason@position1seo.com.

what do you need to know about website migration SEO min
Author: Jason Ferry
Jason Ferry is an SEO specialist based in the United Kingdom. Taking pride in his many years of experience in the search engine optimisation industry, he has honed his skills in various digital marketing processes. From keyword marketing, website auditing, and link building campaigns, to social media monitoring, he is well-versed in all of them. Jason Ferry’s excellent skills in SEO, combined with his vast experience, makes him one of the best professionals to work with in the industry today. Not only does he guarantee outstanding output for everyone he works with, but also values a deep relationship with them as well.

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