Discover the necessary procedures for a smooth website move. Make the transfer easy with our professional advice. ideal for companies of all sizes.
Your website, which acts as the internet entrance to your company, is your most significant digital asset.
However, the worth of your site is another factor in why website migrations can be so difficult.
You should adhere to a migration strategy that reduces the possibility of data loss, performance drops, and website downtime whether you’re moving your site to a new domain, hosting platform, or content management system (CMS).
That is the reason we wrote this article. Here, we’ll go over the nine essential actions you need to do to ensure the success of your website migration.
But let’s first quickly go over what we mean when we talk about website migration.
What Is A Website Migration?
Any big modification to your website that could have a negative effect on how well it performs in search engines is referred to as a website migration.
Typical illustrations include:
Changing to a different domain.
Replacing your CMS.
Your information architecture must be restructured.
Altering the URL scheme.
HTTP to HTTPS conversion.
Redesigning the look of your website.
There are a number of reasons why you could decide to migrate your website. For instance, you might want to increase website security, modernize your brand image, or boost user experience.
Whatever the cause, to properly upgrade your site without endangering SEO rankings, traffic, and revenue, you’ll need to adhere to a strict migration method.
Now let’s discuss that.
The Website Migration Process (9-Step Checklist)
1. Plan Carefully
A flawless website move requires careful planning, just like any multifaceted project.
Make careful you work out the following issues before you start development:
Project scope: How much of the site will the migration effect, and what are your aims for it?
The migration team’s duties are as follows:
The project’s leader? An internal SEO team or a contracted SEO firm? Establish a project management structure if you’re handling the project internally so that everyone can keep track of their assigned duties.
Managing expectations from stakeholders
How will the project affect the other departments? Explain what you need from them and why performance will probably suffer temporarily.
Set your launch date and timelines: Your new site should ideally go live when site traffic is at its lowest and your team has enough capacity to rapidly address any unanticipated difficulties.
2. Consult Your SEO Team
Your developers will need to understand key SEO requirements to minimize the migration’s impact on SEO performance.
Your SEO team should address issues such as:
- URL structure.
- Internal linking.
- Canonical tags.
- Mobile responsiveness.
- Structured data.
3. Define Benchmarks And Set Up Tracking
The following stage is to create a thorough analysis of your site’s current performance so that you have something to measure your new site against.
It’s a good idea to back up your current site at this time in case you need to restore it later on.
You should gather benchmark information for the following:
- Organic traffic.
- Keyword rankings.
- Site speed.
- Crawled pages.
- Crawl errors.
- Indexed pages.
- Indexing rates.
In addition to benchmarking, this is a good opportunity to confirm that your rank-monitoring tool is tracking all of your target keywords.
4. Set Up A Testing Environment
It’s best to create your website in a secure testing environment so you can check its functionality before going live.
Of course, you’ll need to restrict access to the testing environment and stop search engines from quickly indexing your new pages.
You may accomplish this by putting the noindex directive on your new URLs, generating a robot.txt file to restrict search engines like Google, and putting password protection in place.
5. Conduct A Content Inventory
It’s time to create a detailed overview of all of your current pages and content.
You can determine if anything is lost during the move using a content inventory. Additionally, compiling a list of URLs will highlight any flaws that need fixing (such as broken links or undesirable redirects) before the migration.
To compile a thorough inventory of your pages and content assets, you can combine several techniques, such as:
using a site crawler to extract all of your URLs.
page data download from your CMS.
Google Search Console URL exporting.
When compiling your list of URLs, remember to select your most valuable pages.
Important content, high traffic, high conversion rates, high ranks, and quality backlinks are all characteristics of high-value pages. Knowing which pages to prioritize throughout the migration is made possible by gathering this data.
Last but not least, now is the time to make sure that any additional pages and categories you intend to include on your new website will fit inside the framework of your current site. If not, you might want to reevaluate the structure of your website.
6. Create A Redirect Map
The following step is to utilize your list of URLs to decide which pages should be transferred to the new site, which ones can be merged, and which ones can be removed entirely.
Start with the pages that you determined to be the most crucial in the previous stage.
Every page you move to the new site needs to have a 301 redirect put in place. Your URLs should direct visitors to the new site’s most pertinent page.
Do not reroute outdated URLs to your new homepage. This might lead to soft 404 errors, which would reduce the value of all links and hurt your rankings.
Instead, either construct a new page or just remove your old URL if you are unable to find a suitable new page to connect to.
Share a list of your new URLs with the rest of your marketing team once you’ve finished your redirect map so they can update their campaign links whenever the new website goes live.
7. Run Pre-launch Checks
You must do a number of tests in your testing environment before deploying your new site to make sure it performs as planned.
Work with your SEO team to ensure that components like the following adhere to the necessary criteria:
- XML sitemap.
- txt file.
- URL structure.
- Canonical URLs.
- Structured data.
- Status codes.
- Internal linking.
- Title tags, header tags, meta descriptions.
- Body content.
8. Launch And Promote Your New Site
Once your new site has been extensively evaluated, it’s finally time to carry out the migration!
You must remove any user and search engine restrictions you put in place during the development stage once your site goes live.
Keep in mind that the migration should be implemented as soon as possible. During the migration, your site will momentarily be offline; therefore, limiting downtime will lessen the effect on traffic and sales.
Planning PPC advertisements to coincide with the site launch is another smart move. This can assist promote your new website and compensate for any short-term drops in organic traffic you may incur.
9. Keep an eye on your new website and make any necessary changes.
You must keep a tight eye on your new site once it is operational to ensure everything is operating as it should.
Working closely with your SEO team once more, you should examine your site’s important components, such as your new robot.txt file, XML sitemap, redirects, usability, and analytics.
Additionally, it’s important to monitor how your website is doing in comparison to the standards you set for your previous website. It’s normal to notice a temporary decline in performance, but as the weeks pass, your traffic and rankings should start to return to normal.
If your KPIs don’t improve as expected, you’ll need to troubleshoot the causes. These could include things like:
- Pages on your old site still being indexed.
- Slow load times.
- Bad redirects.
- Missing internal links.
Your Google Search Console dashboard will alert you to any errors and warnings, helping you diagnose and fix critical issues.
Moving a website might be a challenging task.
Your chances of success will be increased if you do the aforementioned actions, which will enable you to plan, carry out, and keep an eye on your migration while lowering the risks involved.