Today your business requires an modern websites with fresh and upto date content to win prospective customers from search. This means your website needs an update or Migration every few years.
When website replatforming, refresh happen without considering SEO principles & best practices for brands , their websites are left as that nobody can find.
So to help webmasters deal these consequences effectively, I have kept together a list of SEO website migration strategies. These can help business grow, reach every milestone and win online.
Do You Think Website Migration as an Easy Task?
In general Website Migration is not a easy task, it requires larger effort from multiple stack holders i.e. involvement of developers/programmers to write a code, content/copy writers to draft fresh content or update retiring content, UX experts to refine user experience, Designers for designing right look and feel, CMS experts for supporting replatforming and marketers for providing SEO website migration strategies to ensure success full relaunch of your website .
Why Websites Loose Rankings after Refresh or Relaunch?
Relaunch or making changes to webpages on the site changes website URLs, content & Keyword mapping strategies etc. These new changes will result in loosing rankings for discontinued pages, along with traffic, audience and also create poor experience for users accessing these discontinued webpages from various source. All these result in diminishing SEO authority, website have established till date.
Website Visibility, Rankings Get Hit through Relaunch or Website Migration
If relaunch happens without baking in SEO best practices will hit your websites visibility and rankings. Consider an example, lets say you are running an SEO Consulting Agency. On your website you have site audit service page, recently you have decided to update the page as “Technical SEO Consultant” and the actual address of this page changes. Suddenly, every blogger, directory linking to site audit service page on your site is now sending its readers to a broken link. This bad experience will diminish your website authority in the eyes of Google, result loosing rankings along with traffic.
Additionally after relaunch as we neither configured nor reported new website changes to the Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Bing webmaster tools and other website performance monitoring tools, they dont know about your website changes. This mistake, will loose all the traffic, potential sales, and other web analytics information of your old website that has helped you determine most popular pages that drive more sales, visits, and subscribers till date. Hence you also loose the the insights for keeping your search updated aswell.
How SEO Website Migration Strategies Work and Help your Brands?
An SEO website migration strategy will help to ensure your new website is baked including all SEO principles and best practices through development process and let every user searched for old website content is navigated to relavant new experience page to provide better solution for their problems than that of earlier experience. These strategies also help site owners restore old website site authority, web site analytics data through which you can make all necessary upgrades for placing your brand where your audience are, when they require assistance and drive in traffic & digital conversions.
What are those SEO Website Migration Strategies Business Need to Consider When Refreshing their Websites?
Know when & how to start implementing website migration?
Website Migrations are happen when businesses decides to make either of these changes i.e., domain name, rebranding, upgrade HTTP to HTTPs protocol, merge multiple domains to one, target international audience, introducing new language locals, replatforming or moving to new CMS, consolidating page content, merging multiple pages, changing subdomain to directory, changing URL structure, hierarchy changes, navigation changes and multiple other reasons.
Once site owner decided to go for migration, He/She needed to create an Inventory of all indexable webpages, top performing pages using XML sitemap, crawled data, Analytics landing page data (consider 12month traffic, performance data) as sources. Also build an baseline report with keywords rankings, SEO KPIs metrics to compare performance of website Pre & Post launch.
Finalize the New Website Webpage URLs & Build Redirection Map
After implementing all the recommendation on the new website provided by all stack holders, considering business requirements and fullfilled the goal of Website migration, its time to finalize URLs, navigation path and hirarchy or taxonomy. Firstly, get all the required in puts i.e. target keywords for each webpage, confirmed URL best practices etc. Then map each webpage with its target keyword following confirmed URL best practices to create unique URL. Finally we have all the final URLs of the new website which are approved by site owner. Ensure none of the final URLs are non indexable, blocked by robots.txt file, redirecting , broken and canonicalized URLs.
After finalizing everything properly map each old URL to its relavant final new URL. If no relavant URL found then redirect to its relavant parent category. Implement rule based redirections for urls
- without “/” to with “/” i.e. www.example.com/category to www.example.com/category/
- without “www” to with “www” i.e. https://example.com/ to https://www.example.com/
- http version to https version i.e. http://www.example.com/ to https://www.example.com
- uppercase version URLs to its relevant lowercase version URLs i.e. www.example.com/Category/ to www.example.com/category/
Finally the low quality or retired pages, orphan pages, outdated content pages with less or 0 traffic are forced to write 404 error code at server level to slowly remove these legacy urls from search index.
Along with indexable URLs, we also have existing redirect URLs. To amend the impact of legacy URL redirections replace destination URLs, with relavant new website URLs.
Configure Webmaster Tools, Analytics to Report New Website Changes and Retaine the Old Web Analytics Data
After implementing keyword mapping, redirection mapping, we need to let monitoring tools know our websites changes, so to update website search data as required based on trends, insights, customer behaviour etc. We can either use Google Tag Manager to update triggers or independently configure GSC, GA, Bing webmaster, facebook pixel, Adobe analytics and other search monitoring tools using best implementation methods.
Finally Map your Analytics to Properly Track Users Engagements on your Website.
Properly implement web analytics mapping by implementing tracking configuration which provide critical information about how your visitors interact with you, contact you, and make purchases on your websites. For this reason, you must implement GA to map out all tracking codes, events, goal objectives, and reports—and make sure they’re all updated to align with the new site.
What are the Next Steps?
Know Dos and Don’ts of Website Migration.
Implementation of effective website migration can be a big problem for any sitowners, since the process requires handling of multiple tasks, involvement of multiple stack holders . Often webmasters/site owners igonores or pushback SEO optimization tasks during website development due to limitation of skills, resources or not knowing it’s importance. This putting brands at risk of loosing established site authority, traffic and rankings.
So to migate the risk or consequences, involve an SEO expert either from internal team or hire an SEO Consultant with experience in identifying and rectifying critical SEO issues during website migration. This includes assessing current state of website to document seo information of each page, leverage it draft a perfect SEO website migration strategy, ensuring no valube information is lost or no traffic drop.