In the constantly evolving world of the Internet, it becomes necessary for businesses to overhaul their online presence and opt for site migration entirely sometimes. Most often, the reason behind site migration is to move to a more reliable, scalable, and secure hosting.
It’s very crucial to ensure that the migration is completed safely without any data or traffic loss. Because otherwise, you stand to lose years of domain authority and backlinking resources. It’s best to use technical SEO service providers like Growth Saloon to take care of the technical aspect of the migration.
However, there are still some things that you must know to avoid losing traffic in the process. In this article, we’ve listed essential steps outside of the actual migration to minimize traffic loss.
Begin By Testing Waters
If you have already decided to migrate, you have found more robust and reliable hosting. But that doesn’t ensure SEO optimization by default. Take a look at your existing domain’s impressions, clicks, click-through rate, and page position, among others in Google Search Console. Also, use Google Analytics to track total visitors, popular pages, activities, and more on your old website.
This baseline data of how your old website functioned will enable you to quantify the move by comparing results after the move. This will allow you to identify if the move is working or not and what should be done if the migration cannot match the old numbers.
Set Up a Blueprint for Your New Website
Website migration opens up the window to start from scratch and use the old website’s data from Search Console and Analytics to set up a structure that will boost the traffic. Use this opportunity to change the layout, like whether you want a logical hierarchy for the pages or want to move a small part of your site over.
Consult with a website SEO expert to get help designing an optimized structure for your new website. Additionally, get assistance from a UX professional to set up a cohesive website with a universal layout for all, including mobile users.
Next up, go through your existing website, identify pages that need to be moved, and note their URL. Now, you need to decide how and where these pages will be positioned on the new URL.
Stick to 301 Redirect Map
When you migrate from one server to another and change the website structure, it’s natural for old links to return a “Not Found” error. You can easily rectify this by putting redirects in place.
Redirects are pretty straightforward and require you to create a 301 redirect in the Robots.txt file. What this does is redirect any browser that visits the old link to the new address. This is crucial to retain the link equity and keyword ranking acquired over the year.
The 301 redirects send both users and search engine crawlers to the new address, which is ideal. The tech team or website service provider might often try to implement 302 redirects, which are easier to implement but are temporary.
A 301 redirect assures that all the keywords that the old page ranked for will be swapped to the new page. With 301 redirects, none of your old pages will return Error 404 when someone tries to access them; instead, they’ll get redirected to the new URL.
Ensure the Safety of Data by Backing up the Old Website
Ensure that you preserve the data of your old website in its existing state before migrating. Make a full backup of the current website and test it to ensure it captured the complete data. Go the extra mile and set up a staging website to check that the data works in real-time.
Once you are sure that you have a complete backup of the existing website, only proceed with the migration. This will help you roll back to the previous state in case of any issues or problems.
Migrate With Proper Tagging in Place
Once you have backed up your old website, you can migrate to the new domain but don’t publish the new website yet. After migration, Google Analytics to identify critical website visitor information by tagging. Annotate the migration date in GA for a handy before and after comparison.
Additionally, set up canonical tags in the HTML source of new pages. This will tell search engines about the authoritative version or older page. This is particularly helpful if you have duplicate pages on both old and new domains since it informs the search engines to list the new page.
Crawl and Recrawl Your New Website
You’re now ready to launch your new website to the public except for one last stage. Use an automated tool to crawl the new domain and do a page-by-page review to ensure there are no broken links anywhere. Repeat the process after the launch to be doubly sure.
Also, after the launch, continue monitoring the source of traffic and the visitor behavior on your website, including 404 errors. Use tools like GA, Search Console, and AHRefs to determine traffic, search engine ranking, and keyword placement of your new website. This will help you identify and rectify any problem in a timely fashion.