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Enterprise-Level Migrations: A Guide (100,000+ URLs)

Moving an enterprise website is no easy task.

Hundreds of thousands of URLs and years’ worth of SEO equity are at stake.

You need a strong redirect strategy in order to pull it off without losing traffic.

You may transfer a corporate website without losing visitors or search engine rankings if you take the proper steps.

You may secure business continuity with regard to organic performance in the short, medium, and long terms if you maintain organization, use tools to expand, and pay attention to details.

Aside from the technical aspects of migration, an enterprise migration, more often than not, comes with the added pressures of:

  • Strong levels of C-level/VP-level attention and communications.
  • Multiple project teams and stakeholders making SEO-impacting decisions.
  • SEO pros needing to be involved in “non-traditional” SEO calls and planning meetings.

In a large site migration, there is also the increased potential for something known as “migration lag.”

Migration Lag: What Is It?
The term “migration lag” describes the period of time following the introduction of a new website during which traffic and rankings decline as search engines recognize and index the new site.
This lag can extend for months for large commercial sites with hundreds of thousands of URLs.

Before the new site goes live, you need to have a strong redirect plan in place to reduce migration lag. This implies:

  • Prioritizing redirects for high-traffic and high-value pages. Focus on redirecting pages that drive the most traffic and revenue first.
  • Using wildcards to redirect categories of pages. For example, redirect /product/* to /new-site/all-products/.
  • Including URL parameters in redirects. Make sure redirects pass on any query parameters, like /product/123?color=red to /new-site/product/123?color=red.
  • Breaking redirect chains. If a page has been redirected multiple times, point the final redirect to the new destination URL.
  • Redirecting backlinks. Find all links pointing to the old site and set up redirects so they point to the proper new pages. This preserves the link equity you’ve built up.
  • Accounting for recent redirects. If you’ve done any redirects in the past six months, set up new redirects to point those pages to the proper new URLs.

With technical SEO savvy and patience, you can navigate an enterprise website migration with minimal traffic and rankings loss.

Stay on top of your redirects and keep optimizing and reacting to your data and Google’s ever-changing search engine results pages (SERPs), and search traffic will return to normal.

Specifying The Migration Plan
It’s time to plan how you want to handle the migration after you’ve audited your current site and redirects.

How easy or difficult this shift will be for both your users and search engines will depend on the approach you develop right now.

Define Goals

What do you want to achieve with this migration? Are you aiming to consolidate domains, move to a new content management system (CMS), restructure content, or a combination?

Be very clear about your goals so you can create the best strategy.

Prioritize Redirects

With hundreds of thousands of URLs, you’ll need to determine which redirects are most critical to implement first. Focus initially on:

  • Your most important pages (home page, product pages, etc.).
  • Pages that generate significant traffic.
  • Pages with strong backlink profiles.

Once the high-priority redirects are handled, work your way down from there. Don’t worry about redirecting every single URL right away.

Content On The Map And URL Structure
Choose how you want your material to be reorganized or restructured on the new website.

List the existing URLs that will be redirected to the various new locations. When possible, group related information together and combine it.

The new information architecture ought to be simple to use and intuitive.

Return Path Types
Use 301 permanent redirects for the majority of redirects.

Temporary 302 redirects may be necessary in some circumstances, particularly if the page’s content is still being transferred.

Backlinks

Make a list of any pages with strong backlink profiles and ensure they are redirected properly. Reach out to webmasters linking to those pages and let them know the new URL.

This helps to preserve the SEO value built up over time.

With careful planning and strategic prioritizing, you can migrate an enterprise website and put the necessary redirects in place without (too much) chaos. But go slowly; this is not a task to rush!

Think through each step and check your work along the way.

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