Site migration is a term used to define the process when your site goes through a number of considerable changes in various areas like site structure, coding, UX and other areas that have a precise effect on the SEO. While many website owners are generally aware of the term site migration, not everyone really knows the exact impact of site migration and they have some preconceived notions. This article will discuss some specific aspects of site migration and also try to dispel some wrong notions:
Site migration is not a magic wand
Many people have the notion that site migration can quickly boost their SEO rankings or at least it could remove the penalties. This is not true. Google will not remove any penalties instantly just because you have now opted for site migration. Similarly if any quick SEO miracles could have been performed just by site migration process then every other low ranking site would have opted for migration instead of spending so many resources and such a long time for implementing various SEO strategies.
- The truth is that SEO comprises of several factors and getting an instant boost in your ranking just with the help of site migration is a far-fetched dream.
- However, that does not mean that site migration is a futile exercise from SEO point of view. For instance, if the reason behind site migration is, say, HTTPS or rebranding then it can certainly help you to gain SEO benefits if you do the things the right way.
Take tentative steps
Migration is not a quick or light process. There are many technical activities involved and any small mistake might have long term effects. So it is always advisable to take small, measured steps.
- Ideally you should avoid making any big changes at once. Testing is almost mandatory if you don’t want to be sorry later.
- Utilizing a test server allows you to confirm that the things will run in the expected manner without any hassles and there won’t be any technical glitches or operational issues.
- Likewise you should directly test each redirect to ensure that you won’t encounter any unpleasant surprise.
The 301 redirect map is one of the most vital factors to consider during the entire site migration journey. It helps you to inform the search engines about the new address of our site and thus they need to follow the new address instruction. It helps you to retain the beneficial juice you have extracted so far from your previous SEO endeavours like keyword ranking etc.
- If your 301 redirects are not planned properly it will not function in the desired manner and you risk losing all the SEO benefits you have accrued so far from your previous efforts.
- Once you have matched the URL structure of old and new pages you then need to save it on your computer in a friendly format like a spreadsheet. These documents can be utilized while applying 301 permanent redirects on your previous pages.
- This helps in proper redirection from old pages to their new versions and can be of immense help to the audience as well as search engine bots.
- Avoid 302 redirects! While the ease of implementation could make the 302 temporary redirect look a better option, they fail to communicate the right message to the Search engines and would just tell them that it is only the traffic that you want to land at the new page as a temporary arrangement, while the links and rankings will continue going to the older version of your web pages.
- You know that it is not true and communicating wrong things to search engine will harm your site rankings with deep impact.
- In this way your new web page will be devoid of the keywords associated with the older version of your pages
- Having a well-streamlined and neat URL mapping also prevents you from a host of other page errors like 404 not found, 302 or any other error/message with a negative impact. So confirm and reconfirm that each an every URL should be 301 redirect to the new URL
Inform your regular audience
While a large part of 301 redirects is technical in nature you also need to keep a close eye on the branding impact of the redirections. You need to spread the word via all the popular and relevant platforms that you have started a process to move to a new site.
- Your link plays a vital role in the social media activities by your regular audience or subscribers. You certainly don’t want them to continue sharing your old link.
- Apart from spreading the message on the social media you should also include a message on your old site that you would soon move to the new website. While the old links still work when you apply 301 redirect their impact could be affected and it can also confuse the audience
- The promotion campaigns and a coming soon landing pages can send the clear message to the audience that you have a strict process of validation to a new URL.
- Effective communication and coming soon messages will not only help you prevent the situation of confusion but will also build a favourable ground.
Don’t go for site migration during peak season
Just like you cannot afford to keep your supermarket closed for renovation from 23rd to 25th December, in the same manner it is not recommendable to go for site migration during the period when your business experiences major traffic or high amount of sales.
- The time taken by the process and resolving any unexpected issues can prevent you from doing online business when you expect the biggest returns. It is not the wise thing to do, to say the least.
- The right time to go for the site migration is when the business is calm and you get a low amount of traffic or orders.