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5 Practices to Ensure a Successful Website Migration

Recently, a few of our clients have chosen to migrate their website to a new WordPress design or to a completely different CMS. This can be a tricky process with very little room for error, and many companies have seen a large fall in traffic and lost SEO value due to a messy migration.

This SEO Migration Checklist will help to make your transition a smooth one, and limit your loss of traffic during the move.

Crawl your old site.

It is vital to understand your current URL structure and fix any current issues you have so that they’re not transferred over to the new site. Understanding your current site structure will also make it easier to match redirects as you become more familiar with the site layout, and it can also help you to understand what is functioning well and what could be improved upon.

 Analyse your Inbound Links.

This is an essential part in maintaining traffic levels after the move. Find out which sites are linking to your current domain and directing traffic your way using tools such as the Moz Open Site Explorer. Sites with a high domain and page authority which point to one of your pages means that it will likely lead you to have more traffic. To capitalise on this, you should ensure that there is an optimised and relevant version of the landing page on the new site.

When you come to do your redirects, it is also vital that these links in particular have been correctly redirected. You might also find some links which have been flagged as spam, that have a low domain score or that aren’t relevant to your business. This is a great time to contact the site owners and get these removed, as they can negatively impact your own site in the eyes on search engines.

Come up with a Redirection Plan.

This is by far the most vital part of maintaining your website’s search rankings and traffic. Redirecting links from your old site to your new site allows you to keep most of your link equity, meaning that you will be less likely to drop significantly in rankings. Often, companies will choose to upgrade to https at the same time as their site migration. Https is a more advanced version of http and is designed to make your website more secure. This is preferred by Google, and it has even started to penalise the rankings of sites which haven’t yet upgraded. It is best to combine both the site migration and the https transfer into one process as it means less disruption to your traffic overall.

If you decide to upgrade to https or change your domain name, then every link on your site will need to be changed. The easiest way to upload your redirects is to crawl your old site, add all of the URLs to an Excel CSV file and match them with the most relevant new page. Any links which will be the same when the new site goes live should be deleted from this list before you upload them.

Invest Time in Google AdWords and Analytics.

You should consider updating the destination URLs on your paid adverts so that they won’t need to be redirected. Although AdWords can handle redirects for the same domain, it is good practice to do this. You should also use Google AdWords and Analytics to consider what content has been working most effectively and which pages are seeing the most success. This can help you to determine which pages are the most authoritative and should be kept/optimised on the new site, and which should either be scrapped or rewritten.

Timing is Everything. 

Many businesses have peak times for online sales. To ensure that the business is less likely to lose potential conversions, companies should plan ahead to ensure that the website migration process won’t coincide with their busiest and most successful months. It is important to note that even a smooth transition can take a significant amount of time to regain its traction.

Need some help?

The Zelst team are experts in making sure that the website migration process is as smooth as possible, and we have an experienced and friendly team who would love to help or offer advice. Contact us today for more information.