Website migration refers to the changes in a website that can drastically affect its indexing and/or search engine visibility. Hence, website migration is a critical activity that should be carried out with caution. As obvious, when migrating a website, it is important to keep the SEO of the site in mind. Failing to do so can result in a significant drop in rankings and traffic. Website migration involves changes to the site’s structure, location, content, design, UX, and more.
To ensure a smooth website migration, this blog offers the dos and don’ts for website migration. Keeping these measures in mind is a good practice as that’ll allow your website to migrate with little to no issues.
SEO practices that you need to follow for site migration
Below are the good practices that you need to follow to ensure you can migrate your website in a hassle-free manner:
One of the most important things to do before migrating a website is to plan. This includes planning for any potential issues that may arise during the migration process. In addition, it is important to have a clear plan of action for what needs to be done once the migration is completed.
Sometimes, site migration may not be necessary. Always ask yourself this question, “Is the site migration required?” If you have a clear answer only then proceed with it. Otherwise, site migration is a complicated process that can badly hurt the rankings and traffic of a website.
But if you sure want to undertake site migration, make sure to have a clear plan, pre, during, and post-migration. Also, plan to do site migration in parts and not in one stroke.
Check your current site
It’s also important to check your current site for any errors or broken links. Fixing these issues before migrating can help avoid any problems during the migration process. From an SEO perspective, it is also important to make sure that your website remains optimized for search engines. Additionally, here are some of the tips you can follow for website SEO optimization.
Your current website benchmarks should be clearly defined. It’s easy to evaluate site migration when you maintain a record of your current website standards. Therefore, keep a note on metrics such as organic traffic, pages crawled, site structure, and speed so that these can be later compared after the site migration.
There are many factors that contribute to the SEO of a site and must be monitored through comparing data. When you have the previous ranking data with you, it becomes easier for you to check and resolve any issue if you get big deviations from the original data.
Use 301 redirects
Using 301 redirects ensures that any links or traffic to the old site are redirected to the new site. This will help minimize any potential lost traffic or SEO value and hence, redirects are a crucial part of website migration. 301 redirect is a powerful feature that’s available on most web hosting and CMS platforms. You can easily implement 301 redirects that will ensure the browsing experience is not hampered for the users.
However, the redirects should be implemented with great care. Redirects are more common than you think and now and then, the need for a redirect arises. During site migration, however, be extra cautious. For more information on redirects, you can click here.
Prepare a backup
Before migrating a website, it is important to make a backup of the site. This will help ensure that any data or files that are lost during the migration process can be easily recovered. If you use a WordPress website, then you can use the WP Migrate DB plugin to easily migrate your website data. In addition, if you don’t have a WP website, then you can take the complete backup from the C-panel of your website.
It’s essential to have a backup of a website when undergoing site migration. Moreover, it’s suggested to perform regular backups if you genuinely want to save on your work. Getting a website backup ensures that you have your website safe with you, in case, if site migration goes haywire.
Re-check robots.txt file
Robots.txt file is vital as it informs the search engines which URLs can it access on the website. Accurate information should be reflected in the file as it allows the user to hide or give access to parts of the website to the search engines. The Robots.txt file should be re-checked after website migration to ensure that any rules or directives that were set up for the old site are still in place. If not, then you may need to update the file to reflect the changes made during the migration process.
The changes for the new site should be reflected clearly in the robots.txt file. Any discrepancy in this step can prove to be disastrous leading to a loss of rankings and traffic.
SEO practices to avoid when migrating a website
Following are some of the SEO practices you need to keep away from when migrating a website:
Don’t change your domain name
If possible, try to avoid changing your domain name when migrating a website. This can lead to a drop in rankings and traffic as it can take some time for search engines to re-index the new site. In addition, it is important to make sure that all links to the old site are redirected to the new site. Otherwise, visitors may end up on a 404 page.
A domain name change is a major change that can have significant repercussions and therefore, at best should be strictly avoided.
Avoid making too many changes at once
When migrating a website, it is important to make a few changes initially. It might be tempting to get it done right away, but if some issues do arise, doing site migration in parts will help you find out the cause conveniently. You can right away fix the problem as you understand the cause of the source.
This will help you avoid any potential problems that may arise during the migration process. In addition, it is important to test each change before making it live. This will help ensure that the migration process goes smoothly. Hence, site migration consists of small, planned measures that lead to one big major change.
Don’t forget about redirects
When migrating a website, it is important to remember to set up redirects for both the old and new sites. Failing to do so can result in lost traffic and SEO value. Redirects should be set up for all pages on the site, including the home page. In addition, it is important to use the correct redirects (HTTP vs. HTTPS). It’s because both are different protocols and have varied impacts on SEO performance.
Stop neglecting your website content
One of the most important aspects of SEO is website content. Failing to update your website content after migrating a website can lead to a drop in rankings and traffic. In addition, the content of a website should never be changed during migration. It is always a good idea to back up the old content if you, later on, wish to re-add it. Moreover, it is essential to make sure that all content is optimized for search engines. You can check out the top 5 content marketing tactics in 2021 for this.
Lastly, website content should be updated regularly to keep the website visitors engaged. It should follow modern SEO trends and practices and above all, should be relevant and informative.
You can also read:
- Site Migration & SEO: Common Mistakes That Hurt Rankings
- A site migration SEO checklist: Don’t lose traffic
Website migration can be a challenging process, but following the professional dos and don’ts as listed above can help ensure a smooth migration. If you’re not familiar with the migration process, it’s better to hire a professional SEO company to help you with it. Here are some of the tips you can follow to hire an SEO company.
Doing the complete migration on your own without knowing the technical basics may become risky. It can cause your site to rank lower or even drop off the search engine result pages (SERP) permanently if something goes wrong. So, it is always better to be safe than sorry and take expert help for successful website migration if required. Else, closely follow the measures that are mentioned in this blog and that should make things easy for you before, during, and after the site migration.