Website migration is a complex process. Preserving all your SEO efforts when moving or changing a website can be complicated. Meanwhile, losing what you’ve done to rank high on SERPs is out of the question.
To migrate a website safely, you need to follow a few rules that help maintain the top-notch appearance and SEO functionality. Below you’ll find website migration information along with the checklist to help you achieve the best results.
Several types of website migration exist. All of them can hurt your SEO efforts unless performed correctly.
Whichever type of website migration you are facing, you need to follow general rules to keep your SEO strategy and structure intact.
In most cases, website migration is performed to improve the quality of your website and enhance traffic. However, the following problems can arise, causing a reverse effect.
Since the majority of your effort for SEO is spent on creating and optimizing content, it may cause many issues during migration. All your hard work can disappear in an instant due to a migration-related mistake.
That’s why it’s necessary to index all your content and images properly to keep track of what you have and migrate it correctly. Both new and migrated content should be reviewed and optimized for further efforts.
When you migrate your website, visitors may face the 404 error. The majority of them will leave without trying to figure out what went wrong. That’s why during migration, you need to check that all pages are intact while all redirects work properly.
Another problem during migration may involve website design. If you are adding pages, make sure they have an appearance consistent with the rest of the website and your brand. Otherwise, visitors may get confused and leave the page.
A problem with the domain migration is its speed. While you are dealing with all the issues, your website may be experiencing downtime. To make sure you don’t lose any clients along the way, you need to speed up the process.
When a company begins a website migration process, it needs to estimate the time, cost, and effort for it to be successful. With a limited budget, you may want to delay the migration in order to avoid downtime.
If you decide to proceed with the migration, make sure that you plan the budget with at least a 20% buffer.
Website migration can run for several weeks. To make sure everything goes as planned, you’d need to consult with UX and SEO professionals along the way. Without experienced consultants, there are many opportunities for errors.
Many mistakes can be made during a website migration. That’s vital it’s vital to follow the top best practices.
The migration process involves juggling a lot of data around. Vital pieces may be lost along the way. That’s why it’s vital to focus on proper backup. Save a copy of such important data as:
You can copy all the data and keep it intact with the assistance of such tools as Screaming Frog. It lets you save data on up to 500 pages free.
While performing the migration, it’s important to hide the staging site. Otherwise, Google will index it along with the new site, turning you into your own competitor. The search engine will then believe that the staging website is the original and index it instead of your new website.
Make sure to set up redirects on the staging website.
A sitemap is a map search engines use when crawling your website to index it. That’s why creating an XML for your new website is essential. Several tools exist to create a sitemap. Make sure to do it as soon as the new website is ready.
No matter how closely you follow top practices, after the migration is done, you need to check for SEO errors. You can take advantage of SEMRush’s site audit to catch anything that might have gone wrong in the process.
To maintain your SEO strategy during a website migration, you need to prepare for the process:
Make sure you are fully ready for website migration before starting. While you hope for the best, always prepare for the worst. You need to know how to deal with problems as they arise.
Before you start, it’s worth noting that even a properly conducted migration could lead to a decrease in traffic for a certain period of time. However, the problem is temporary and goes away quickly.
During a successful migration, your website will experience a minimal visibility loss for a few weeks. After that, the visibility will start gaining momentum.
Planning is the most important part of the entire migration process. You need to be crystal clear about your objective, expectations, and budget. During the planning stage, you need to review your assets and SEO efforts to see what needs to be preserved.
It’s also important to identify all risks related to the migration and set up a procedure for mitigating them.
Prepare all the tools you’ll need during migration:
Test the waters by starting small. Run a small test on a sub-domain or a sub-directory to make sure you have everything under control, and your team knows how to proceed. If anything goes wrong during the testing phase, it’s easy to correct.
Choose the right time and proceed with migration one step at a time. Your team should be ready to deal with the arising errors. Mistakes are bound to happen so besides the financial buffer, plan for a certain time buffer as well.
Once you complete the migration, you need to pay close attention to the way the new website works. Just because it shows good results from the start doesn’t mean Google won’t catch on to some problems later on.
In the first several months after migration, keep checking your backlinks, keyword rankings, and organic search traffic to catch any issues before they become serious problems.
Use this checklist to proceed with your next website migration
Before the migration:
During the migration:
After the migration:
Regardless of the type, website migration is a complicated process that requires in-depth IT team mobilization. By following the steps on our checklist closely, you can ensure a smooth migration and reap the benefits of a new website.