Migrating a website to a new URL is no easy task, especially when it comes to SEO. Site migration can quickly affect website performance and SEO marketing results in a negative fashion. Think long and hard about migrating, weighing the advantages against the disadvantages before you make a move. If migration is still the best option, make it as seamless as possible with the SEO help checklist below.
1. Set Up A Test Site
Migrating a website can be a massive undertaking. Even more importantly, it can take some time to get all the bugs worked out so the site operates the way it should. Working with a sandbox site to test the migration process and correct problems in advance will save time, effort, and SEO in the long run.
2. Crawl Your URL Both Before and After
Make sure to crawl your old website to list all URLs and save this crawl for later. Inspect the current list of pages, fix any errors noted, and identify orphan pages, previous redirects, and links to 404 pages. All of these should be manually updated to link to the new website and 404 pages.
After the migration, crawl your new website and check for the same while also comparing the two lists. This is to identify any areas where you may need SEO help to ensure the URLs show up correctly on the new site.
3. Monitor Analytics, Traffic, and Pagerank Before and After
Monitor the analytics on the old site to track traffic and performance. Also monitor pagerank for target keywords. Begin doing this as soon as the new site goes live to detect any issues that could affect your SEO marketing and reduce your pagerank.
4. Make A URL Map
Generate a spreadsheet of every old URL and which new URL it should link to. Use the spreadsheet as a map to guide you through the migration process. This will help to ensure your URL structure is identical so that Google recognizes the site as being the same. The search algorithm may view the site as a brand new one if too many old pages are dropped or the site URL changes, so keep this in mind.
5. Optimize While Migrating
Migration is the best time to view a complete list of how and where web pages link and optimize the site to improve SEO. Resolve duplicate content problems, self-canonicalize all new pages, and identify removed pages. Lnk the old ones to a 404.
6. Update All Internal Site Links
As tedious as it may be, manually update internal links to the right pages on the new site. Leaving them pointed to the old site to go through a redirect back to the new site can slow down page load times and negatively impact your SEO marketing.
7. Update PPC and Other Platforms
After updating internal website links, don't forget to do this everywhere else. Update links from any PPC ads that are running and on all social media pages, business directories, and anyplace else you have placed a link to your website. Contact other site owners who have your website linked and ask them to update as well.
8. Put Up A Custom 404 Page
Just in case, put up a custom 404 page with links back to the main site as soon as you begin the migration. Users who reach a dead page while you are still working out the little bugs will be acknowledged and guided back to the main website.
9. Manage Sitemaps and Page Indexing with Google Console
Get all the SEO help you can with Google Search Console. Make sure it is set up properly to recognize the new domain. Then load your new sitemap into the console, keeping the old one in there as well. After ensuring all redirects, links, and canonicalization are accurate, submit both sitemaps for indexing so both the new pages and redirects from the old ones will be indexed faster.
10. Keep The Old Domain
Although you are no longer using it, keep the old domain so that you have control of it. Even though your individual pages are redirected to the new site, these links could be lost over time. Maintaining the old domain is an essential redirect backup for your site so it continues to run smoothly and maintain your pagerank.
A successful website migration must be carefully planned in order to retain SEO results and pagerank. To achieve this, the plan must make SEO marketing and preserving page performance a priority. The important SEO help steps above will help ensure this is exactly what you do!