As the name suggests, website migration is simply the moving of a website from one particular domain to a new one or from HTTP to HTTPS. It could even root deep down to migration of the CMS platform, servers, subdomains, etc. While usually, businesses migrate their websites during rebranding, there are many cases where website migration had to be done to simply upgrade or eliminate any technical obstacle. Moving international sites, changing mobile set-up, upgrading platforms, performing a content overhaul, changing site hierarchy, or changing the way a website looks and feels are some other types of website migration that can be commonly seen in the World Wide Web. Depending on the type of migration, it could either be a site move with URL change or a site move without URL change.
Common Reasons That Cause SEO Disasters
Although website migration is a positive step towards upgrading the online branding and presence, the fear of losing the ranking or wiping off all the SEO efforts during migration stops many. One of the main ways to avoid any SEO disaster during a website migration is to know the common reasons that lead to the disaster. Here are some of them:
- Negligence During Testing
- No Professional SEO Consultation
- Unclear Objection & Strategy
- Slow Bug Fixing
- Under-estimating The Resource Requirements
- Migrating During High-Traffic
Things To Keep In Mind To Avoid SEO Disaster
While the reasons give above are some of the main things that lead to most of the SEO disasters, there are a number of things that the businesses can keep in mind to avoid these disasters. By avoiding these things, one cannot just ensure safe and successful migration of the website but also retain their traffic and aim for further growth after the migration.
- Track Down Everything In Inventory The first thing that anyone, who is performing website migration, should keep in mind is to track down each and every asset in their web inventory. Identifying the trends and metrics of each and every page, link, content, etc., would help in understanding what you can take on after migration and what you need to discard. The metrics you can check include page loading speed, organic search traffic, links, indexed pages, keywords used on each page, SERP rank, etc. Moreover, analyzing each page and studying their metrics would also help you know where the bug actually is and fix it at the soonest.
- Audit For All Bugs Once the site has been analyzed, it is time to perform in-depth auditing of the old website. One can either use online tools for site auditing or do a manual audit to identify any errors or bugs along with the things that can be retained during migration. Some of the main things that can be kept in mind while auditing the site are the missing/duplicate HTML tags, missing/duplicate page titles, missing/duplicate meta descriptions, canonical tags, image ALT tags, site speed, URL structure, etc.
- Draft Your Sitemap Strategy A sitemap strategy is one of the most important things to include in your new site to ensure each and every page of the site is reindexed by the search engine bots. The pages should be easily accessible by the web crawlers and a sitemap strategy for the new site would simplify that. The sitemap strategy should be successfully submitted to search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., to ensure they are able to index every URL (old as well as new URLs) and the content on them for ranking.
- Seek Professional Assistance Many of the businesses tend to undervalue the importance of getting professional assistance during website migration. This could be one of the biggest reasons behind the SEO disaster faced during website migration. While migrating a site, it is indispensable to hire a professional SEO company in India and also seek professional consultation of a UX and CRO expert. This would help in maintaining the SEO ranking as well as the conversion, and user-experience on the site while testing and also after it has been successfully launched. Professional consultation on matters of SEO, UX, CRO, etc., can help you know what the consequences of any change in the site structure, design elements, SEO elements, etc., can have.
- Check The Traffic Flow Another thing to keep in mind during site migration is the traffic flow during that time of the year. You wouldn't want to migrate your website during peak traffic season and lose all that traffic. Analyze the previous performance data of your website to know when your target audience is most active. Make sure to avoid that period to ensure your website migration does not come in the way of your conversions.
- Noindex The Site Under-Design Before launching the site, it is important to noindex the testing site that is not yet fully ready search engine crawlers. Many times, web crawlers tend to crawl through a testing site and index the pages. But as the site is only testing, during the site launch later, the content would be deemed duplicate by the same crawlers as it has already been indexed. So, to ensure that your content efforts do not go in vain, make sure to noindex your entire testing website so that it only get indexed by Google after it has been officially launched on the World Wide Web.
- Analyze & Match Up The Data Another thing to do is to crawl the test site thoroughly before launching it online and analyzing each and every element on it. The data on the test site should be matched with the data on the old site to ensure that no priority pages or high-ranking pages are missed out. Match up the elements with the HTML tags, page titles, meta description tags, image ALT tags etc., to ensure that nothing important is missed out during the migration.
And that's not all; one needs to make sure that all the redirects in the website are working properly so that the user is redirected to your new site without any issue. Fix out any 404 pages and ensure that all the 301 redirects from the old site to the new site are working. Once you have taken care of all these things, you will be all set to migrate your website while retaining your online traffic and even expecting growth in your rankings and search visibility on various search engines.