SEO Agency Guides: Website Migration Checklist

website migration checklist

SEO Agency Guides: Website Migration Checklist

Ask any SEO agency and they’ll tell you that website migration is a fine art. But, it also requires a lot of preparation and careful execution. We’ve put together an essential SEO website migration checklist to help you through redesigning or moving your website over to a more user-friendly one.

London SEO Agency Essential website migration checklist

What’s the Scope of Your Project?

This is the first question you should answer for the benefit of your website developers.

Give them clearly defined objectives and don’t forget to ask each team/unit for their insights. Each team would be well aware of their unique risks during the process.

How to Pick a Timeline for Initiating Migration?

When selecting the optimal time to carry out a website migration you need to carefully think about the timing to ensure minimal impact to your business trading. For example, if you are in the retail business, don’t pick the busiest time of the year like Christmas or festive seasons to change your website. Or for an account or physical shop you’ll want to make the switch on a weekend of late at night. You need to plan carefully or you could seriously undermine your fundamental objective, which would be to attract more customers.

How Do You Know When the Best Time to Migrate Your Website Would Be?

Use your historical data to set a time frame for website migration. Secondly, aim for a buffer of 20% or more resources than you initially budgeted for, in order to deal with unexpected delays. And create a backup of your old site. It is easy to lose files in transition.

Keep Structural Changes to Your Page Titles and SEO Minimum (Unless You’re Carrying Out a Complete Overhaul)

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need a complete overhaul of your website, unless it is absolutely necessary. You’d be better off keeping creation of new pages, URL naming conventions and inserting keywords to a minimum. This’ll help you minimize the impact on overall ranking following migration. But, if you are planning to make a rather lot of changes to the website, schedule these one at a time or plan it out carefully.

How Do You Retain Traffic After Migrating a Website?

Focus on core traffic driving pages. First of all, crawl the old site to identify indexable pages. Afterwards, single out those pages that attract organic visits, generate revenue and have a decent number of backlinks. Make sure that these pages continue to drive traffic. This’ll help you maintain your organic rankings  without experiencing any negative fluctuations. Always transfer metadata. Even if you make significant content or structural changes, it is important to transfer metadata. In case any of the high-traffic driving pages cease after restructuring, place a redirect so as not to lose the chain of traffic.

What to Do Before Launching Your New Site?

You need to review the entire site before going live.

Let us look at this step by step.

  • Ensure that search engine spiders can crawl all facets of your new website which means that your content gets indexed correctly
  • Make sure that your robots.txt does not exclude any of the vital pages or scripts
  • Setup your canonical tags correctly
  • Check contact forms, conversion codes and thank you pages to make sure that tracking works
  • Verify title tags and meta descriptions
  • Check for duplicate content and resolve those issues 

You are likely to encounter formatting issues with your new website. Go through each and every page type and correct formatting errors.

Make use of this opportunity to ensure that you get high speed scores. Your users will experience faster navigation.

How to Use Redirects

First, identify pages that will cease to be or change. Design a map of the most suitable page to which you can drive traffic. In the absence of an equivalent page, redirect traffic to the parent category page. You can use Google Analytics and software that tracks keywords to identify your old site’s top performing pages.

Effective Tags and Tracking

Successful marketing campaigns use multiple forms of tracking. Don’t remove tracking codes or else you’ll lose key data. It is not enough to incorporate Google Analytics tracking codes into your new site. You should also retain phone call tracking codes. This may be tricky as they are not as straightforward. In addition, redirect and tag the PPC ads that you are running to new pages. Make sure that you remove no-follow, no-index tags from the website building stage before you go live.

How to Get Internal Linking Right

Internal links are the linchpin of your site. A good strategy would be to retain as many internal links as possible in the same way in the new website. This way, search engines will find the pages familiar when indexing happens. It is important to incorporate internal links naturally and sensibly.

Why is It Important to Check Site Speed?

Like we said before, site migration is a great opportunity to fast-track site loading for your users. But, more importantly, loading speed across desktops and mobiles affect your rankings. Test your newly developed website thoroughly and bear in mind that third party resources and scripts may impact your site’s speed. Iron out necessary changes to get your pages loading as fast as possible.

How to Monitor Performance of the New Site?

You’ll need to track metrics including traffic, SERP ranking, keyword rankings, backlinks etc over the course of weeks and months to figure out the success rate of the new site. You should ideally keep an eye on these things on a weekly basis. Keep track of organic traffic coming to the old site at least for 6 months. You should see traffic to the old site drop gradually as the new site takes over.