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Website Migration: Everything Website Owners Should Know




What is a website migration?

Website migration is the process of moving a website from one hosting platform or server to another. It involves transferring all the website’s files, data, and content to a new location while ensuring that the website’s functionality, performance, and search engine rankings are not negatively affected during the process.

Website migration can be initiated for various reasons, such as upgrading to a better hosting platform, redesigning the website, or changing domain names.

Website migration is a complicated process

Website migration is a complicated process

How does Website Migration impact SEO?

Website migration can have a significant impact on SEO, as it involves changes to the site’s structure, content, and URL structure. These changes can affect search engine rankings, traffic, and overall online visibility.

Broken links or 404 errors can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings, as search engines penalize sites with broken links.

To avoid this, redirect old URLs to new ones using 301 redirects. This tells search engines that the content has moved permanently and ensures that the site’s rankings are maintained.

Changes to the site’s structure and content can also impact SEO. If the site’s content or structure changes significantly, it can cause search engines to reevaluate the site’s relevance to certain keywords or topics. This can result in changes to search engine rankings, traffic, and visibility.

To avoid these issues, you need to conduct thorough keyword research to ensure that the site’s content and structure remain relevant. It is also important to maintain the site’s existing content and structure as much as possible to avoid significant changes that could negatively impact SEO.

Another potential setback of website migration on SEO is the loss of backlinks and authority. Backlinks are links from other sites to yours and they are crucial for search engine rankings. If the site’s URL structure changes significantly, it can result in the loss of backlinks and authority.

To avoid this, maintain the site’s existing backlinks and redirect old URLs to new ones using 301 redirects. This ensures that the site’s backlinks and authority are maintained, and thus search engine rankings are not negatively impacted.

Website migration has major SEO implications

Website migration has major SEO implications

Site Migration checklist

A website migration is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution to avoid any negative impact on website performance and user experience.

A comprehensive SEO site migration checklist should include items such as backup of the existing website, a new hosting provider, domain name transfer, DNS update, content migration, testing, and SEO optimization. Additionally, it is essential to communicate with stakeholders and users about the migration process to minimize disruption.

Before the website migration: Planning stage

At the beginning, it will be establishing your objectives and gaining support from your company. 

The planning stage is crucial in ensuring that all aspects of the migration are accounted for, including plans to address potential issues. Thorough testing and quality assurance at each stage of the process are also essential to ensure that the site functions properly and meets the necessary requirements.

Establish a precise project scope and migration goals

Defining a clear project scope and migration goals helps ensure that the website migration process stays on track and achieves the desired outcomes.

This involves deciding the objectives of the migration, such as improving website performance, updating the design, or moving to a new hosting provider. The scope of the project should also be defined, which can include details such as the timeline, budget, and specific tasks that need to be completed.

Include all the internal stakeholders as soon as you can

Involving all internal stakeholders as early as possible in the website migration process helps ensure that everyone is aware of what is happening and able to provide valuable input.

Internal stakeholders can be anyone who is responsible for or impacted by the website, such as the website owners, developers, designers, content creators, and marketing teams.

Website migration planning is the first stage

Website migration planning is the first stage

Make a summary of the metrics and benchmarks

Creating a summary of the current website metrics and benchmarks is essential for tracking the success of the website migration.

This involves documenting key performance indicators (KPIs) such as website traffic, bounce rates, conversion rates, and other metrics that are relevant to the objectives of the migration. Benchmarking the current website performance against industry standards or competitor sites can also provide useful insights.

Set a migration deadline

Setting a website migration deadline is essential for ensuring that the project stays on track and is completed in a timely manner.

The migration deadline should take into account the scope of the project, the complexity of the website, and the resources available. It is also important to factor in some contingency time to deal with unforeseen issues that may arise during the migration process.

Website migration: A phase of development 

This may be done to improve website performance, security, or functionality. It involves several steps such as planning, content inventory, URL and backlink review, and testing accessibility. These ensure a seamless transition and maintain the website’s search engine rankings and user experience.

Create a content inventory

Creating a content inventory means documenting all of the website’s content, such as web pages, blog posts, images, videos, and other media. This can be done using a spreadsheet or other tool to list each piece of content and its corresponding URL, along with meta descriptions, page titles, and keywords.

A content inventory can help ensure that all content is migrated correctly and identify any outdated or redundant content that can be removed during the website migration process.

View the URLs and backlink profile for your website

Checking the URLs and backlink profile of the website involves reviewing all the pages on the site and ensuring that all links are correct and up to date. This includes internal links as well as external links pointing to other websites.

It is also important to review the website’s backlink profile and identify any high-quality backlinks that should be retained during the migration process. This information is essential for the redirection strategy and ensures that the website retains its search engine rankings and visibility after the migration.

Executing the plan is the next step of website migration

Executing the plan is the next step of website migration

Update canonical links

Canonical links indicate the preferred version of a webpage when multiple versions of the same content exist, either through duplicate content or different URLs.

Updating the canonical links during a website migration helps ensure that search engines correctly index the website and avoid any duplicate content penalties. Review all pages on the website and ensure that the canonical links are updated accordingly to reflect the new URLs and content.

Check the website’s accessibility

Ensuring that the website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is essential for compliance with web accessibility standards and for providing an optimal user experience.

This involves reviewing the website’s code and design to ensure that it meets accessibility guidelines. It can also be beneficial to test the website with accessibility tools and real users to identify and address any issues that may arise.

After the website migration: The phase of monitoring and reporting

The phase of monitoring and reporting is a critical step in a SEO migration plan. This phase involves closely monitoring the website after the migration has taken place and reporting any issues or discrepancies that may arise.

During the monitoring phase, the website should be checked for any broken links, missing images, or other issues that may have occurred during the migration. It is important to test all functionality on the site, including forms, checkout processes, and any other interactive features.

In addition to monitoring the website for functionality issues, the site’s traffic and user behavior are not any less significant. This can help identify any changes in user behavior or traffic patterns that may have occurred after the migration.

Update robots.txt file

When migrating a website, update your robots.txt file to ensure search engines can crawl your site properly. A robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which pages or sections of your website they are allowed to crawl and which they should ignore. Reviewing and updating your robots.txt file before and after migration can help you avoid any potential indexing issues.

Browse your website to find mistakes

Before and after migrating your website, thoroughly browse and review your site for any errors or issues. This can include broken links, missing images, slow-loading pages, or any other issues that could negatively impact your site’s user experience. Fixing these issues can help ensure a smoother transition and better user experience post-migration.

Monitor your website after migration

Monitor your website after migration

XML sitemap review and submission

An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website that you want search engines to index. Review your XML sitemap before migrating to ensure it includes all the necessary pages and URLs. Once you have verified your XML sitemap, you can submit it to search engines to ensure they index all the pages on your site.

Report on your benchmark metrics

After migrating your website, measure and report on your benchmark metrics to ensure your site is performing optimally. These metrics can include website traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, page load speed, and other key performance indicators.

By tracking these metrics before and after migration, you can identify any areas that need improvement and make necessary adjustments to optimize your site’s performance.

Read more: Website architecture is what decides how you organize information on your sites.

Final Thoughts

Website migration is a complex process that requires careful planning, preparation, and execution. The decision to migrate a website should be made with a clear understanding of the reasons for the migration, such as improving user experience, upgrading the platform, etc.

With proper planning, testing, and monitoring, website migration can lead to a more effective and successful online presence for businesses. It is advised to work with experienced professionals to ensure that the migration is executed correctly and meets the intended objectives.

On Digitals can provide you with valuable help for a website migration or any SEO needs with excellent SEO services. Contact On Digitals and let us help you grow your online presence.

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