How to Successfully Migrate a Website Without Harming SEO [Checklist]

An outdated web site will not characterize your model nicely.

Internet design consultants advocate a website redesign each 2-3 years to maintain up with net requirements and design tendencies. This will usually be achieved with a easy facelift or re-skin. Nonetheless, in some circumstances, you could be up in opposition to a website migration.

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The top results of a website migration could embody a cleaner interface, a brand new or improved person expertise, a better enhancing expertise, and extra. Nonetheless, the selection emigrate your web site shouldn’t be taken frivolously. If executed poorly, you possibly can find yourself with standing code errors, negatively impacted search engine marketing efficiency, and even irritated web site guests.

Why would possibly you migrate an internet site?

Listed below are the circumstances during which you would possibly want a website migration over a easy redesign:

  • You want to transfer your website’s location from one server to a different.
  • You might be altering the CMS platform your website operates on.
  • You might be altering your area identify or URLs.
  • You want to make main modifications to your website’s structure (not simply aesthetics).

Web site migrations might be accomplished by yourself or professionally. (For instance, HubSpot offers migration services to clients switching to HubSpot’s CMS.)

When you’re contemplating an internet site migration, remember that you need to depart your self time to arrange and execute. Migration specialists often take about three weeks, so plan accordingly. Now, let’s get into the main points of migrating an internet site.

Pre-Migration

1. Crawl the prevailing website.

A web site crawler retrieves the URLs and markup in your website, “seeing” this data equally to how Google would.

Performing a crawl provides you a place to begin on your URL mapping (extra on that later) in addition to an inventory to seek advice from in case one thing will get misplaced in translation. You possibly can crawl your web site your self with a third-party software resembling Screaming Frog.

2. Report your benchmarks.

In some circumstances, analytics knowledge can get erased throughout a website migration, and this historic benchmarks might be useful, so it is best to retain it.

You must also take the time to evaluate your analytics and guarantee you know the way guests presently navigate the location and which pages are your most respected. This context might help inform your redesign and website structure choices.

3. Map your URLs.

When you’re making main modifications to the URLs in your website, you will want redirections in place to information Google and your web site customers out of your previous URLs to your new URLs. 

  • From a usability standpoint, if a web page now not exists, you don’t need your customers to get a 404 standing code error. As a substitute, they need to be guided to the web page that has taken the previous web page’s place. 
  • Improper redirects can imply a giant hit in opposition to your search engine marketing. They inform search engines like google and guests of your web site {that a} web page has modified, whether or not it has been eliminated, or now not exists. In addition they inform search engines like google what new pages have changed previous ones.
  • From an search engine marketing perspective, you do not wish to lose all the historical past, backlinks, and (in essence) “authority” that the previous web page constructed up. A redirect tells Google the place to attribute these indicators as a substitute. 

To get redirects carried out, you need to first strategize by mapping your URLs. This entails constructing a spreadsheet with two columns: one for the previous URL and one for the corresponding new URL. 

Do not be involved if there aren’t “excellent” replacements for each piece of content material. Simply do the perfect you’ll be able to to direct your customers based mostly on their unique intent.

In case you have tons of pages, guide mapping in all probability is not within the playing cards for you, so to avoid wasting time, search for patterns in your URLs that may be redirected in teams or sections.

Present redirects must be migrated as nicely. Attempt to preserve as many current redirects as doable to minimize the workload, and ensure your URLs are mapped earlier than you take a look at redirects, to be sure you have backups in the event you lose them.

For extra data on the way to replace URLs, check out this article.

4. Ensure you’re retaining titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup.

Recall that web site migrations assist with web site group. As such, pages must be uniform and include the identical data as they did earlier than. For example, if the HubSpot Advertising and marketing Weblog underwent a website migration, the content material and descriptions for every weblog submit can be the identical, simply look totally different.

You possibly can all the time replace or rewrite titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup, however you need to nonetheless be certain that every web page contains the correct data. 

5. Check out the brand new construct on a take a look at server (aka sandbox).

Seeing mockups or testing in a neighborhood setting won’t offer you a full image of the brand new website’s performance and implementation. For a seamless transition, take it on-line for a take a look at drive earlier than the official migration.

6. Select the proper date for the migration.

Hiccups will occur it doesn’t matter what, however you’ll be able to decrease them by avoiding peak hours.

Day of Migration

7. Put together to replace your website’s DNS settings.

When you’re transferring your website to a brand new server, a part of the method will embody “pointing” to the location’s new location. Coordinate along with your net/IT staff and/or your internet hosting suppliers (new and previous) to perform this.

8. Launch.

Arrange your forwarding redirects, unpublish, and implement.

If DNS modifications have been concerned, the location could also be down momentarily.

When you’re not switching servers or platforms, the migration must be almost instantaneous.

9. Crawl the brand new website.

As soon as the brand new website is dwell, you are able to do a crawl to see if it has been migrated the way you anticipated it to. One factor you wish to search for is correct indexability and crawlability.

10. Determine and resolve lacking and duplicate content material.

Utilizing the crawl report, see in the event you discover any anomalies, together with duplicate content material or 404 errors and damaged hyperlinks. As well as, you need to click on across the new website and search for points.

11. Examine for redirect chains.

Now that your website has been migrated, you may have a whole lot of new redirects in your arms. If redirects already existed, chains could have been created.

This is what I imply:

When you have been already redirecting A to B, your migration could have added a redirect from B to C.

This creates a sequence of redirects: A to B to C.

Redirect chains can sluggish your website down and affect efficiency. You possibly can keep away from this by breaking the chains, redirecting A to C and B to C.

12. Guarantee Google Analytics and Google Search Console are carried out.

To keep away from any gaps in knowledge and reporting, these must be up and operating the identical day.

13. Mark the date in Analytics.

Google Analytics permits you to make “Annotations” of necessary dates or occasions. This might help you contextualize the info and measure efficiency pre-and post-migration (except you opted for a brand new Analytics setup).

14. Submit sitemaps.

As soon as all the things is up and operating, guarantee your XML website map has no errors. Then, you’ll be able to submit the sitemap in Google Search Console to ask Google to crawl the brand new implementation.

Submit-Migration

15. Monitor efficiency.

Whereas short-term dips in visitors are frequent after a migration, you need to nonetheless be maintaining a pulse in your analytics to make sure nothing massive was missed that may very well be affecting efficiency.

16. Run website audits.

Generally, third-party instruments can discover points you did not find out about. SEMrush’s site auditor is superb in conditions like this.

17. Replace your platforms.

In case you have adverts operating or different platforms which may be utilizing previous URLs, remember to add recent hyperlinks.

18. Have publishers replace backlinks.

In case your redirects have been carried out accurately, you’ll still get traffic and authority from your backlinks. Nonetheless, it is nonetheless finest follow to make use of the freshest URLs doable. With that in thoughts, attain out to the publishers of your highest worth hyperlinks to inform them of the swap.

Web site migration generally is a prolonged course of, nevertheless it’s not inconceivable. With preparation, you’ll be able to have a migration that is profitable and pleasant along with your current search engine marketing efforts. 

Editor’s observe: This submit was initially printed in December 2019 and has been up to date for comprehensiveness.

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