Website migration – How to do it the SEO way

Apr 15, 2022 by
Website migration – How to do it the SEO way

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do. Moving websites, on the other hand, shouldn’t be half as complicated. Right?

The internet is always evolving and so are businesses. Technologies shift, regulations change and strategies need to be adjusted to suit. So, it’s inevitable that, at some point, you’re going to want to completely overhaul your website. A site migration might be the cleanest and most future proof way of achieving this. But it’s also one of the most potentially dangerous challenges in digital marketing.

What is website migration?

Say your company acquired another company and you need to integrate their website into yours? Or say you have undertaken a complete rebrand and need a new site to match? Or, maybe Google has simply told you that your company needs to “get with the times” and migrate over to a more secure HTTPS domain. Either way, you’re going to need to take all of the files and content on one site and move it to another domain.

Or course, there are many levels of complexity when it comes to site migration. If, for example, you are switching CMS platforms or servers then there is a lot of technical wizardry to get into that we could never hope to cover in any real depth here. If you simply need to migrate from one domain to another though, we have you covered. It’s still not going to be a complete walk in the park though.

The risks of site migration

More often than not, a site migration is done to increase overall traffic by switching to a more reliable host, improving user experience, setting up international domains or all three. However, some issues can arise that will hurt your SEO.

Content errors such as broken redirects, duplicate content and more can hurt your ranking if it’s not all properly indexed. Website errors, meanwhile, can turn away more than 70% of all users while domain errors can completely sink your site. You shouldn’t have to worry about any of that as long as you follow the advice below though.

Steps to safe site migration 

Start small – Site migrations should never be rushed. Run a small test on a subdirectory or subdomain to ensure everyone and everything is ready first.

Upgrade – If the new site is no better than the old one the entire migration process is pointless. If you’re going to be going through the tiresome process of migrating, make sure the new site is faster, cleaner and more SEO-friendly

Tracking – Set up analysis to track your metrics before, during and after migration.

Redirection – Establish a thorough 301 redirect map so the search engine knows where your new site is. Otherwise, all the backlinks and good faith you’ve been building will be lost. This means taking every URL on your site and mapping it to a corresponding URL on the new site.

Let everyone know you’ve moved – People will have linked to your old site, bookmarked it and shared it to social media. They need to know that you’re moving, so get the word out any way you can. This is where your PR and social media team have a chance to shine.

Quality control – Once the site migration is complete, check that all of your pages are working the way they should and that everything looks right on desktop and mobile. You’ll also want to optimise your new or relevant content so it can be found again by search engines.