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How to Migrate a Website Without Compromising SEO

website migration

Web designers recommend changing the design of the site every 2-3 years to meet web standards and design trends. Sometimes it will turn out to be light cosmetics. But in some cases, you'll have to pull off a site migration.

What is a site migration?

Website migration is the process by which a website is largely updated in terms of SEO. The design, usability, platform, hosting and structure are changing.

The end result of migrating a site is a clean, improved user experience, easier editing, and a lot of buns. However, the transfer of the site is a serious thing. If it is performed poorly, it can lead to errors in the code, negatively affect SEO and not go to clients.

Why might you need to migrate your website?

Here are the circumstances under which you will need a site migration instead of a simple redesign:

  • You need to move the site from one server to another.
  • You change the CMS platform on which your website runs.
  • You change the domain (URL).
  • You need to change the architecture of the site and it's not about aesthetics.

Migration usually takes about three weeks.

Website migration checklist

  1. Save all the text page by page.
  2. Save your URLs page by page.
  3. Save headings, meta descriptions, and HTML markup page by page.
  4. Build the site on a testing server.
  5. Select a date for the migration.
  6. Prepare to update your website's DNS settings.
  7. Launching.
  8. Crawl the new site.
  9. Identify and post missing content and eliminate duplicates.
  10. Check the linking.
  11. Make sure that you have installed yandex Metrics, Webmaster, Google Analytics and Google Search Console counters.
  12. Submit new sitemaps to the webmaster bars.
  13. Monitor the performance of the site.
  14. Conduct an audit of the site.
  15. Update your advertising platforms.
  16. Ask donors to update their backlinks.

Preliminary preparation for migration

1. Crawl your existing site

Website Crawler collects URLs and markup on your site, "looking" at them in the same way as Google. Crawling gives you a starting point for mapping URLs (more on that later) and a list to refer to in case something is lost during the migration. You can crawl your website yourself with a third-party tool like Screaming Frog.

2. Save all text

Sometimes entire pages and sections are lost during migration. Your archive in this case will come in handy. Take the time to research your analytics and figure out how visitors navigate the site. You will understand which pages are the most valuable. This will help in the redesign and design of the site architecture.

3. Map your URLs

If you're making major changes to the URLs on your site, you'll need redirects to direct Google and your site users from the old URLs to the new ones.

  • If the page no longer exists and you don't want your users to get a 404 error, redirect them to the page that took the place of the old page.
  • Improper redirects hurt SEO. A redirect tells search engines and visitors to your website that the page has changed, whether it has been deleted or no longer exists. He reports which new pages have replaced the old ones.
  • From an SEO perspective, you won't want to lose the backlinks and "authority" of the old page. The redirect tells Google which page to give weight to the old one now.

Create a spreadsheet with two columns: one for the old URL and one for the new URL. If you have a lot of pages, manual mapping probably won't work for you, so to save time, look for templates in your URLs that can be redirected in groups or sections.

4. Save titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup

» Site migration improves your organization. New pages should contain the same information as before. They may look different. You can update or rewrite the titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup, but you still need to make sure that each page contains the correct information.

5. Try the new build on a test server

Viewing layouts or testing in the locale will not give you a complete picture of the functionality of the new site. For a painless transition, conduct an online test drive before the official release.

6. Select the appropriate date for the migration

Everything is clear here. Everything should be ready by the date.

Migration Day

7. Prepare to Update Your Website's DNS Settings

If you move your site to a new server, part of the process will include "pointing" to the new site location. Coordinate your actions with your web/IT team and/or your hosting providers (new and old).

8. Launch

At the appointed moment, "turn the switch". You have nothing to worry about, you did everything right.

9. Crawl your new site

Once the new site is up and running, scan it to see all the jambs. It's time to fix the mistakes and make sure seo isn't affected.

10. Check if everything has been migrated and delete duplicates

Using the crawl report, see if you find any anomalies, including duplicate content or 404 errors and broken links. Look through the site again, look for problems.

11. Check forwarding

Now that your site has been migrated, you have a lot of new redirects on your hands. If redirects already exist, you may have redundant redirects. Here's what I mean: If you're already redirecting A to B, then a redirect from B to C could have been added during the migration. This creates a chain of redirects: from A to B and to C. Redirect chains can slow down your site and affect performance. You can avoid this circuit break by redirecting A to C and B to C.

12. Make sure that you have installed yandex Metrics, Webmaster, Google Analytics and Google Search Console counters

To avoid gaps in data and reporting, they should be run on the same day.

13. Mark the date in Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to make "annotations" of important dates or events. This can help you contextualize your data and measure performance before and after migration.

14. Update sitemaps

When everything is up and running, make sure your XML sitemap is error-free. Then you can send the sitemap to Google Search Console and Yandex Webmaster.

Post-migration

15. Monitor Performance

While temporary traffic drops are common after migration, you should still keep an eye on your analytics so you don't miss anything important that could affect performance.

16. Conduct an audit of the site

Sometimes third-party tools can find issues you didn't know about. The auditor of the SEMrush site copes well with such situations.

17. Update Your Advertising Platforms

If you have display ads or other platforms that may use older URLs, be sure to add fresh links.

18. Ask donors to update their backlinks

If your redirects have been implemented correctly, you will still be getting traffic and the weight of your backlinks. We recommend that you use the most recent URLs. With this in mind, reach out to site owners with your most valuable links to notify them of the change in URL links.

Moving a website can be a lengthy process, but it's not as difficult as people think. Once prepared, you can carry out a migration that will be successful and will not affect SEO.