Sometimes, along with adopting new SEO strategies, businesses want to migrate their whole website. Although not always the top choice, there are a few reasons behind this:
- If a website is performing poorly and a revamp is easier, it might be best to do a website migration.
- If a business is changing its domain or website provider, website migration might be necessary.
- If a business is rebranding and the entire architecture of a website is needed, website migration is a great option.
Initial SEO migration steps
- Crawl the existing site. A crawl similar to Google’s will provide a site map of the URL as a source to refer to in case of hurdles.
- Take benchmark notes. In case data gets lost during SEO migration, first take note of the gathered data so far. Also, take this time to understand how visitors are navigating the current website to either mimic or change the navigation in the new website.
- Connect old URLs to new ones. In website migration, if original URLs aren’t provided with redirects to new ones, the page will display as a 404 error page, which doesn’t help visitors. SEO scores will take a hit if URLs lead to broken links. URLs can be confusing, especially if the website has a lot of pages. This is why it’s best to keep it organized in a spreadsheet and ensure every page leads somewhere relevant.
- Transfer all metadata. To maintain the same SEO values, transfer all titles, descriptions, image alt tags, and HTML markups so Google can read the same information and continue to rank it. Getting lazy and skipping the metadata on a few pages will hurt SEO strategies.
- Use a sandbox website planner. Before jumping into the website migration, know what the plan is by using a test website wireframe.
- Pick a good day for website migration. Ideally, the day SEO migration happens should be a slow day where most visitors aren’t active. This will ensure the lowest amount of disruption and confusion possible.
Website migration in action
- Update the DNS setting if applicable. For businesses redirecting the site to a new website provider, change the DNS setting.
- Redirect the URLs. With the URL mapping in place, it’s time to officially connect them and unpublish the old pages.
- Crawl the updated site. Run a crawl on the new website to make sure everything has changed the way it was expected to.
- Make edits. It’s likely, and normal, that the new website will require some changes to make everything work smoothly. Use the crawl report to address duplicate content, 404 pages, and broken links.
- Double check Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Make sure they’re running as they were before to gather all data and are reporting seamlessly. Then submit the sitemaps to Google Search Console so it can take its turn to crawl.
After the website migration
- Monitor performance. There may be a few dips or changes after SEO migration due to the short disruption. Keep an eye on data analytics following this to see if everything is running properly.
- Run SEO audits. Since the goal was to keep SEO value during the website migration, run an SEO audit to ensure it’s within the scope.
- Update other platforms using the old URLs. Social media and other accounts should now be directing visitors to the updated website.
- Update backlinks. If others have linked to the old website’s URLs, let them know what the new URL is so third parties aren’t directing visitors to 404 pages.