Website migration is a potential nightmare for SEO professionals.
Search engine optimisation specialists use the term 'site migration' to describe any event where a website undergoes changes that can significantly affect search engine visibility – typically changes to the site's location, platform, structure, content, design, or UX.
While updating your website frequently is good practice, a mishandled site migration can result in traffic loss, index problems and ultimately revenue loss, especially if your business is dependent on organic search rankings.
So here are a few things to consider when planning a site migration:
Involve developers early
- Are you changing your domain, subfolder, email domain or top-level domain?
- Will you need to re-platform?
- How will you update your robots.txt, shopping feed or sitemap?
Even if you are technically minded, it pays to speak to your dev team early if you are making a decision to migrate. As the architects of the website, your developer can not only explain the process step by step but help you ask the right questions before the big event.
From highlighting unknown risks to finding creative workarounds, the early involvement of web developers is crucial to the smooth running of a migration project.
Build a checklist
Did you ever hear the adage "those who fail to plan, plan to fail"?
Instead of simply pushing the button and hoping for the best it pays to build out a technical checklist for any website migration project.
A good place to start is to crawl your existing website and conduct a technical SEO audit. You can then repeat the process following the site migration to check elements including canonical URLs, 301 redirects and pagination.
Check top pages and rankings
It is also a good idea to record your top performing pages and keyword rankings before migration. That way you can check back on indexation, rank changes, page load speeds and status codes in the days that follow a migration event.
Having this information to hand not only puts you in a position to confirm the success of the project but also helps to quickly identify and troubleshoot unexpected issues before they damage your organic traffic.
Perhaps you have spotted an unexpected page speed issue or a fault with 301 redirects? Identifying these issues early means your dev team can troubleshoot the problem before it impacts rankings, organic traffic and ultimately revenue.
Don't forget to follow up
Just like moving home, the process doesn't finish until you have unpacked all the boxes.
For those re-platforming, you'll want to ensure everyone is familiar with the new CMS, including your e-commerce, marketing, sales and creative teams. So, if you have a retained agency, you may wish to organise a formal training day to get everyone up to speed/
Even if your migration is relatively straightforward, you'll still need to update email addresses, marketing collateral and even business cards - so don't forget to complete all of these smaller admin tasks to ensure the best result.
Follow these basic steps, and you'll be sure to find site migration smooth and hassle free.
As someone who recently completed a successful site migration with Just, I'm happy to recommend Chris, Jim and the wider team for exactly this type of work.
To discuss a site migration programme, please contact Martin Bailey on 01732 779087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.