Do you think migrating a website without losing your organic traffic is an easy task?
Website migration is not as straightforward an approach as it seems so. It cannot be completed in an afternoon or hastily put together a day or two before launch, particularly regarding SEO.
When a website is migrated, most marketers and technical SEO experts in India neglect to think about how search engines will respond and what the move will mean for continued organic performance.
But before we chalk out the website migration SEO Checklist, let us first understand what SEO migration strategy is all about.
What Is Site Migration All About?
It is an event where a website experiences significant changes in areas that might significantly impact search engine visibility. These changes include the site's location, platform, structure, content, design, or user experience (UX).
However, you must remember that on-site migrations aren't thoroughly covered in Google's documentation. The SEO marketing agency often downplays that they frequently cause significant traffic and revenue losses. These losses can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on how badly they affect search engine ranking signals and how long the affected company may take to implement a successful recovery strategy.
But How Does Site Migration Affect SEO?
Theoretically, it sounds quite easy to launch a new site and transfer your laborious efforts with just one click. But regrettably, Google operates somewhat differently. Site Migration can cost you a lot if you do not do it properly.
Why might an HTTPS migration result in a drop in organic traffic?
The answer is pretty simple. Google requires time to analyze the change, crawl the new website, and update its index after migration. By re-evaluating the many search engine ranking factors, including technical, on-page, and off-page SEO; it effectively evaluates your website as if it were a brand-new website.
The truth is that website migration is a complicated task, especially if your website is undergoing several significant changes. You need to take care of a series of factors starting from links that reroute to nowhere, changes to URL structure to problems with image compression, and changes to site performance. The positioning, platform, architecture, content, design, and user experience of your site all modify how Google crawls and indexes it. This directly has an impact on your site's organic exposure.
Is There A Need To Migrate Websites Without Losing SEO?
Hell YES! A site migration is a significant job, but it goes much more smoothly when you have a defined plan with dates and task ownership. The secret to a successful website SEO migration plan is taking precautions to protect your SEO. It's a complete nightmare scrambling to address problems and pinpoint their origins after launch while juggling the demands brought on by a drop in traffic, rankings, and performance.
In addition to dealing with website problems, you'll also have to address stakeholder inquiries. Furthermore, these issues might waste time and money in the long run. So, you need to have a roadmap to ensure the success of your migration which includes the following:
- Planning and setting up everything correctly
- Ensuring that everything runs without a hitch on launch day
- Keeping track of any problems that emerge following the site migration
When Should You conduct SEO For Site Migrations?
In the situations listed below, you have to take into account starting an official site migration:
Top-Level Site Changes
Changing hosting companies and server locations is sometimes required when moving a website to an entirely new domain. Another top-level shift is when the entire site switches from subdirectories to subdomains. Subdirectory links may become invalid and broken due to this, as most of your pages' URL paths will often change. In such cases, the coding approach enables Google to pre-load your pages so that mobile users may access them virtually quickly. AMP, however, can affect how search engines access and index your sites because it necessitates significant alterations to your on-page code.
Making significant modifications to the website's core structure is an example of a site migration SEO plan. This also entails altering the URL structure or combining many existing domains into a single one. Such modifications must utilize 301 redirects to point the old URLs to the new ones permanently. Without these redirects, you risk losing your SEO ranking since search engines will view these sites as broken once the new site structure is up, and they will no longer function.
The term "website migration" refers to modifications of any kind. This includes rebranding your website or making design changes. This is due to the possibility that crucial on-page SEO components may be accidentally lost during the makeover. Altering the typeface can unintentionally remove the header tags, or replacing on-page pictures in bulk might cause someone to forget to provide alt text. A site's SEO may occasionally suffer due to UX improvements that make the site simpler to use. A new interactive component that appears to be user-friendly might have been built so that Google cannot see what is inside it.
In essence, website migration is any modification that puts the entire site in danger of losing its SEO. That’s why it is always recommended to work under the guidance of a professional SEO consultant company.
Checklist For Website Migration - To Safeguard Traffic!
Right from pre-launch to post-launch, you must set out a clear roadmap and have all required stakeholders on board and prepared to perform their respective roles. You risk seeing significant traffic, and ranking drops after launch if none of the site migration team's duties is completed with SEO in mind.
Following the steps will ensure that your site migration goes well since it is a big deal.
WEBSITE MIGRATION SEO CHECKLIST: PRE-LAUNCH PHASE
1. Prepare Your Migration Roadmap With A Live Date
Lack of rigorous preparation is the most remarkable and frequent error individuals make while moving a website. Underestimating the complexity of the task and the level of knowledge needed is another frequent cause of failure. It is best if you can arrive early. You will need as much time as you can get. Even the smallest migrations don't always go exactly as planned. Don't undervalue the size of some of the bigger initiatives or how they could develop.
- Specify the goals: Determine your motivation for moving and the deadline.
- Calculate the time frame: Frame your checklist to set up milestones.
- Get support: Your team must have experts in content, UX, SEO, and webmaster engineering.
2. Involve All Internal Stakeholders As Early As Possible
The entire SEO marketing agency is often involved in website transfer. Every department is likely to enter input on how it's carried out:
- SEO professionals
- Marketing Automation
- Content Creators and marketers
- Data Scientists
- Web designers
- DevOps UX experts
It is crucial to incorporate important players from these areas early in the process. This will assist you in winning their support for the impending adjustments. Secondly, it allows everyone to point up any potential implementation difficulties in advance. Avoiding last-minute surprises will help migrations run as smoothly as possible by increasing awareness early on.
3. Note Metrics And Benchmarks
To assess the impact of the migration, you need to have an overview of the existing site performance before you start. The following metrics are essential to pay attention to with the help of a professional SEO services company:
- Organic Traffic: How many people access your website using search engines? What is the breakdown of this traffic amongst the various pages?
- Organic rank: Which pages, and in what SERP position, are ranked for your target keywords?
- Pages crawled: The number of pages that search engines visit when browsing your website.
- Indexable URLs: How many indexable URLs are there?
- Site structure: How many clicks are required to access the site's farthest-reaching page? Exist any orphan pages that are not referenced by any internal links?
- Site speed: How soon do pages load and interact on a site?
Your post-migration site will use these metrics as a benchmark for comparison. Significant deviations from the criteria above indicate a potential problem that has to be fixed.
4. Check DNS TTL Values
Another move in the pre-website migration checklist is to go through the DNS TTL values professionally. If you're relocating your website to a new server, you must modify your DNS settings to refer to the new IP address. To avoid speed degradation, coordinate this with your IT staff and have them plan the DNS change outside of your busiest times.
5. Map And Implement Your 301 Redirects
This makes it possible to ensure that internal links, in case you missed them, and old website URLs correctly redirect to their new URLs. Before implementing, you should crawl this map to ensure no redirects are broken and again after launch to confirm that everything redirects correctly. Before you create a redirect file, place an emphasis on CMS site migration and SEO by consulting your CMS and web developer carefully as the file format is entirely reliant on their preferences.
WEBSITE MIGRATION SEO CHECKLIST: MIGRATION DAY
1. Build A Content Inventory
Just before the launch, create a complete inventory of your current content, including pages, papers, file types, and other content assets with the help of an SEO migration agency. Make backup copies of each one if possible. If any material is lost during the transfer process, you may readily identify it if you have a content inventory in place. Knowing which files were rendered unavailable due to the modification will enable you to address the situation promptly, ideally before any serious harm is done. If you've created backups, uploading the missing files to the new website will be easier.
2. Investigate Your Site’s URLs And Backlink Profile
As one of the website migration best practices, investigate the links from other sources to your sites that might suddenly start pointing to an invalid URL. If visitors click on links from these other websites and see 404 errors, they will consequently lose the beneficial SEO signals. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the backlink profile for your website to prevent this. Incoming links may be redirected to your page’s updated, functional versions. It is still preferable to turn external links to an alternate actively working page rather than having them lead to a broken one, even if your migration results in the complete deletion of specific sites.
3. Update Canonical Links
You can wind up numerous copies of the same page during a website migration SEO service. Search engines like Google find it more challenging to choose which pages to rank when the page has duplicate content. Make sure canonical links are present when necessary to prevent this. Using a canonical tag, you can tell Google which of your sites with related information is the primary version. When deciding how to rank a page, Google will often respect this tag and give the canonical URL priority. To maintain your SEO rank, mark your new, post-migration pages as canonical.
4. Do A Web Accessibility Check
The accessibility of a website to individuals with impairments may change after a redesign. For instance, a novel custom typeface or color scheme may appear cutting edge. Still, it might damage your image for digital inclusivity by making some customers unable to access particular material. Thus, it is a good idea to review your website's accessibility anytime you make significant design or UX changes. This is particularly true if you're entering a new market and must adhere to its accessibility requirements by partnering with the best SEO services company.
WEBSITE MIGRATION SEO CHECKLIST: POST-LAUNCH PHASE
1. Keep An Eye On Your Crawlability And Indexability
Check the crawl statistics in the Search Console using the best SEO consulting services to verify that Google is indexing the new site's pages. The average number of pages Googlebot crawls daily tends to increase as it comes across new pages. However, if you fail to see a surge around the launch date, something could impair Googlebot's ability to crawl the website. They combine crawls with server log data and identify the pages search engines do not crawl, pages that are not connected internally, and low-value pages that are highly internally linked.
Update Analytics Code And Tags
Before you open the site to the public, install Google Analytics on the new domain and get it operating. As per the website migration seo checklist for website migration, it's crucial to keep an eye out for any changes in traffic since you don't want to have any missing data.
Update And Submit A New XML Sitemap
It aids in the discovery and scanning of your pages by search engines like Google so that they may be indexed. Test your sitemap to ensure that it accurately includes your pages and that no critical pages are omitted from the summary.
If appropriate, create the robots.txt file to be posted on the new domain version when the site is launched, repeating the old directives to refer to your new URLs, if necessary.
2. Test Website Speed
Once the new website is operational, test its loading speed as a part of the SEO migration service to ensure that the pages load quickly enough on desktop and mobile devices. Comparing the new site’s performance to the old site is crucial since speed is a ranking factor across devices and sluggish sites lose users and customers. You should act quickly if the new site's page load times seem longer; otherwise, your site's traffic and conversion rates will surely suffer.
3. Report On Your Benchmark Metrics
The final step in the site migration best practices is to refer back to the metrics you gathered throughout the preparation stage (see step three). Now that the new site has web analytics data, you may compare it to the old one. What do the updated metrics' numbers look like? Are these consistent with your assumptions and hunches? If not, you can quickly determine what went wrong using your benchmarks. Your initial hypotheses could still be accurate, but a technical problem must be resolved.
You'll be able to continuously monitor the advantages of this modification moving ahead.
You can successfully transfer SEO to a new website with extensive study, planning, implementation, and measurement. It is not a simple or quick operation to maintain and improve your organic exposure. But you can achieve your dream goal of website migration seamlessly with the help of a professional SEO services company. You'll get the most exposure from your website migration SEO plan if you take adequate time to complete the above activities.