How To Migrate Your Website Without Hurting Your SEO Share

Author Carrie Chambers

Posted Feb 26, 2023

Reads 9.9K

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If you're planning to migrate your website to a new domain, you need to do it in an efficient way that won't hurt your SEO share. Domain migration SEO efficient way is the key to ensuring that your website retains its rankings and traffic after the move. According to Moz, poorly migrated websites can experience a significant drop in traffic and ranking, along with a month-long recovery period.

The average traffic loss for a website migration is around 20%, but with proper planning and execution, you can minimize this number. The recovery time also depends on how well you prepare for the migration process and how quickly you fix any issues that arise. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into website migration and provide tips on how to minimize the SEO hit of moving your site.

While some loss in rankings and traffic is inevitable during a website migration, there are steps you can take to ensure a steady increase in both numbers lets avoid significant harm to your business. By following best practices and being mindful of potential issues throughout the migration process, you can minimize the impact on your SEO share and maintain a strong online presence.

Discover the Meaning and Importance of Website Migration

The term website migration refers to the process of transferring a website from one domain name to another, or from one hosting provider to another. In the broadest terms, it means moving your digital entity from one place to another. Website migration is an important aspect of website management that can have significant implications for search engine visibility and overall online presence.

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Website migration can impact search engine visibility in both positive and negative ways. If done correctly, a website migration can lead to improved search engine rankings by ensuring that your site is properly configured for optimal performance on search engines. However, if not done properly, a website migration can cause major problems with search engine visibility and user experience – potentially resulting in lost traffic and revenue. Therefore, it’s important to approach website migration with caution and ensure that you are following best practices for a successful transition.

Web host change

When you decide to change web hosts, keep in mind that servers changing means your website will have a new IP address. This is important for search engines, as they track websites via their IP addresses. Therefore, it's crucial to make the transition as smooth as possible to avoid losing traffic and affecting your SEO rankings. To ensure your website stays online during this process, consider seeking assistance from an expert support team who can help minimize significant downtime.

Evaluating Success: The Vital Phase 5 Post-launch Review

After completing the domain migration SEO efficient way, it's time to evaluate your success. This is where the vital phase 5 post-launch review comes in. This phase is where you conduct in-depth checks on every aspect of your website and its performance. It's important not to skip this step as it can directly impact your site's performance.

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The main difference between this phase and the previous phase 3 pre-launch testing section is that this evaluation takes a closer look at areas things like search console features, testing tasks, and other tools don't underestimate. You'll need to put in greater detail and effort; you'll want to take full advantage of everything available to ensure that your site performs well.

By taking this extra step, you can identify any potential issues or glitches that may have been missed during previous phases. These evaluations will help you pinpoint areas that require further attention, giving you a clearer understanding of what needs improvement. Ultimately, a successful post-launch review ensures that your website runs smoothly and provides a seamless user experience for all visitors.

1. Check crawl stats and server logs

Checking crawl stats and server logs is crucial when it comes to domain migration SEO. This will help you identify any crawl issues that may be negatively affecting Googlebot's ability to crawl your site's pages. You can access this information through Google's Search Console.

By looking at the average number of crawl errors, you can determine whether there are any inefficiencies in your tools or processes that need to be addressed. Additionally, combining crawls with server log data will allow you to highlight pages that search engines may not be able to access easily, such as internally orphaned pages or low-value pages that are heavily internally linked. Overall, checking crawl stats and server logs is an essential step in ensuring a successful domain migration launch date.

2. Other useful Search Console features

Search Console features worth checking include blocked resources, structured data errors, mobile usability errors, and HTML improvements. In addition to these, international targeting is another critical feature that helps you optimize your website for different locations and languages. You can use the hreflang tag to indicate which language and region your pages target. However, it's important to keep a close eye on the hreflang reported errors in case they're causing duplicate content issues.

Pro tip: Another useful feature is URL parameters, which allows you to tell Google how to handle different parameters in your URLs. If not configured properly, these parameters can create duplicate content issues or negatively impact crawl efficiency. Therefore, it's recommended to review them frequently and take urgent remedial action if needed. Overall, Search Console is an invaluable tool for website owners who want to improve their online presence and SEO efforts.

How to Ensure a Smooth Site Migration Process

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Site migration process is a complex task that requires careful planning and execution. There are main essential phases that need to be followed, and each of them is equally important for the migrations success. The first step is to conduct a thorough website audit and identify all the existing problems. Then, create a detailed plan that includes timeline, responsibilities, and contingency plans in case of any issues. It's also important to communicate with all the stakeholders involved in the project and keep them updated on the progress. Finally, test the new site thoroughly before making it live to ensure that everything is working as expected. While varying extents of difficulty may arise during the migration process, following these steps can help ensure a smooth transition for your website.

Prepare the project plan

Preparing a project plan is a crucial part of site migrations. It involves the collaboration of several professionals such as an SEO consultant, UX consultant, content editor, and web developer. During the planning phase, each required activity should be analyzed in great detail to ensure flawless project management. Redirect mapping is equally important during this stage to guarantee that all expected delivery dates are fulfilled due to easily span complex projects. It's important to note that the anticipated launch date should also be taken into account when creating the project plan. The goal is to avoid launching ahead of a peak period or when things don't align perfectly. Site migrations can be challenging but with proper project planning, it's possible to have an efficient and successful migration while minimizing any negative impact on your website's SEO.

Is Your Website Migration Killing Your Search Rankings?

Website migration is a process of moving your website from one hosting service to another or changing its design and structure. The reasons for website migration can vary, from international domains moving to a more reliable host to changing web design or switching platforms. However, website migration can have a significant impact on your search rankings if not done correctly.

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One of the main risks associated with website migration is losing your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. When you migrate your website, you risk losing valuable SEO data that was built up over time. This can result in a drop in rankings, which can be devastating for your business. Therefore, it's crucial to plan and execute the migration process carefully to minimize the negative impact on SEO.

While website migration can pose several challenges, it also presents opportunities to improve user experiences and enhance your SEO strategies. Therefore, it's essential to work with experienced professionals who understand the intricacies of website migration and SEO. With proper planning and execution, you can reap the benefits of migrating your website while minimizing negative impacts on search rankings.

Preparing for Launch: Enter Phase Two

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Now that you have completed the initial phase of your domain migration, it's time to move on to phase two. This is where your information architects come in handy as they will provide feedback on your site's SEO requirements. It's also important to test everything on a staging environment before going live with the new site. By doing this, you can ensure that everything is working properly and avoid any potential issues during launch.

1. How to identify the top performing pages

Identifying the top performing pages on your website is crucial to ensuring a successful site migration. Once you've identified these pages, you can focus on maintaining their rankings and link equity during the transition process. To begin, take a look at your legacy site's top performing pages by analyzing 12 months of analytics data and 90 days of search console data.

Your legacy site consists of a large number of indexable pages, but it's important to identify the most relevant pages that generate organic visits and convert revenue. Look for pages with a high conversion rate and good number of referring domains linking to them. Additionally, make sure to check for any 404 pages or pages that aren't properly redirected during the migration process as they can negatively impact your sites rankings. Identifying these important pages will save you time, resource and technical constraints while ensuring a successful site migration.

2. Redirects preparation

Redirects implementation is one of the crucial activities during site migration. When legacy sites URLs cease to exist and aren't correctly redirected, websites rankings simply tank. That's why it's extremely important from an SEO point of view that redirects are set up properly. Search engines need to discover new URLs quicker and users need to find pages that no longer exist. If ranking signals are negatively affected by poorly implemented redirects, the consequences can be catastrophic for users who may encounter 404s or irrelevant pages that don't match their intent, causing bounce rates and conversion rates to be negatively affected as well.

To prevent such catastrophic events, it's important to use 301 permanent redirects since search engines pass ranking signals through them. Google claims that 302 redirects pass PageRank and indexing, but not all ranking signals, so they should be used only for temporary redirects. Live permanently? Use a 301 redirect! However, beware: if a URL isn't identical, ranking signals won't follow through and ranking drops could occur resulting in organic search visibility loss since search engines will no longer consider the site's pages relevant.

Redirect mapping requires great attention from experienced SEOs especially when dealing with large sites where manually mapping all legacy site pages is practically impossible. A massive time-saver is introducing common attributes such as page titles, H1 headings or unique page identifiers (e.g., product codes/SKUs). But even then incorrect mapping can happen leading to broken redirects, redirect chains or redirect loops which can result in instant traffic conversion killers.

Pro tip: start working on redirect mapping well before the migration date as this process takes time! Make sure existing redirects are considered and create a redirect mapping spreadsheet where each legacy URL appears next to its corresponding new site URL while checking for potential redirect chains or loops. Finally, implement standard redirect rules such as automatically redirecting non-www URLs to their www equivalent or HTTP requests being automatically redirected to their HTTPS version.

Key Things to Watch Out for When Migrating Your Website

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Site migration is always a tricky process, and even the most experienced professionals can run into issues. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the common themes and typical site migration disasters you should watch out for. From ensuring proper redirects are in place to testing all functionality before going live, there are several key areas you need to focus on during a successful site migration.

Discover the Various Kinds of Site Migration Methods

Site migration types are essential to understand, especially when you're moving your website to a new domain or URL. Google's documentation covers migrations and offers guidance on how to handle site moves. Whether it's a small business website or an enterprise-level site, understanding the different types of site migration methods can make the transition smoother.

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The first type is a domain migration, which involves moving your site from one domain location to another. This type of migration can be tricky because search engines have already indexed your old domain, so you'll need to redirect all your URLs to your new site location. The second type is a URL structure change, which involves altering the URLs on your website. This type of migration can help improve SEO because you can create cleaner and more relevant URLs for users and search engines.

Finally, there's a platform change that involves moving your entire website from one platform to another. For instance, you may be using Joomla but now want to switch to WordPress. This type of migration requires careful planning and execution because you don't want to lose any valuable data or content during the process. Regardless of what kind of site moves you choose to make, keep in mind that each one will require different strategies and techniques for success.

Other types of migrations

Aside from domain migration, there are several other types of site migrations that can impact a site's organic search visibility depending on the changes made. Re-platforming migrations rarely result in a big impact, but major content changes such as content rewrites, content consolidation or content pruning can have a big impact on SEO. Changes to sites' taxonomy and navigation, internal linking and user journeys may also affect SEO. In addition, sites' mobile setup moving towards enabling app indexing or building an AMP site or PWA website may require partial site migrations or even a complete website revamp which may include significant media code. Hybrid migration types that combine some elements of two or more migration types can also be used if time increases from a resources perspective.

How to do a website migration without losing search rankings

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Plan ahead for a successful website migration without losing search rankings. It's important to take the time to map out your current site structure and identify any potential issues that may arise during the migration process. Make sure to properly redirect all URLs and update any internal links within your new site. Additionally, it's crucial to inform Google of your domain change through Search Console and monitor your search rankings closely after the migration.

1. Determine if migration is really necessary

Before considering a website migration, it is important to determine if it is really necessary. The pros outweigh the cons when it comes to website migration, but steady planning and a solid migration strategy are necessary to avoid constant problems.

One reason for website migration could be if your current web host isn't performing optimally and causing frustration for your users. Another reason could be if you aren't running https on your site and want to improve security. However, if your site experiences steady traffic growth and you have great support from your current web host, a website migration may not be necessary at this time. It's important to weigh the benefits against the potential risks before deciding on a website migration.

2. Create a website migration strategy

Creating a website migration strategy is essential if you want to move your website from one domain to another or completely redesign it without losing its search rankings. Whether you are simply changing web hosts or switching to a new website protocol for enhanced security, the migration process needs to be planned out carefully so that your website migration can complete seamlessly. Mass delete of web pages that aren't relevant anymore can harm your pages rank as well as gaining traffic.

To begin with, you need to create 301 redirects for all the web pages on your old domain and make sure they redirect to their corresponding pages on the new domain. This is important because 301 redirects ensure that when a visitor clicks on an old link, they are directed to the new URL without any issues. Also, take into account user experience works well during this transition period so users can easily find what they are looking for and fall back if the migration fails.

Additionally, plan out your website site navigation in advance so that it makes sense and is easy to use after the migration. Having a contingency plan in place is vital because if something goes wrong during the migration process, you could end up losing lots of data and important information. It's also essential to have XML sitemaps and robotstxt files set up correctly so that search engines can crawl and index your new website properly.

Overall, creating a solid website migration strategy will ensure that your online home remains intact even after undergoing significant changes. By taking into account user happiness and having a robust contingency plan in place, you can easily transition from one domain or design to another without affecting search rankings or losing vital information saved in web pages that dont provide value anymore.

3. Carry out the migration process

Carrying out the migration process for your website can be a daunting task, but it is crucial to ensure that your search rankings on search engines won't take a hit. To begin, make sure that your robotstxt file and xml sitemaps are up-to-date with the new domain. If you block Google or other search engines from crawling your website, then they won't be able to see your content and indexable pages.

Create a blank test website on the new domain to ensure that everything is working correctly before going live. Make sure that all of your websites' robotstxt files aren't blocking search engines' ability to crawl and index your pages. Also, don't forget to check if the css and javascript files are loading quickly without any server issues. Finally, redirecting correctly from your old domain to the new one will ensure that visitors alike will be able to find popular pages without any problems.

4. Monitor your migrated website

One of the most important things to keep in mind after a website migration is to continue monitoring your website regularly. This means checking if your web pages are properly crawled and if there are any issues that might be impacting your website's performance, such as wrong unexpectedly traffic appearing or slow loading times. To ensure optimal speeds and web page performances, it's crucial to run regular tests using tools like Google's Lighthouse tool, which provides detailed reports on how mobile and desktop versions of your website are doing.

Another great tool for monitoring your migrated website is the Search Console. This automated open-source platform helps you keep track of different metrics related to your website's SEO efficiency, including crawl errors, indexing status, and search traffic data. By staying on top of these metrics and regularly monitoring them, you can make sure that your website remains operating at its best possible capacity after a domain migration. So don't forget to stay vigilant and keep checking in on your site's performance even after the migration process is complete!

5. Don’t use duplicate content

Don't Use Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can be a major problem for your website's SEO. When you migrate your domain, it's important to make sure that you're not replicating any content from your old site to your new one. This can harm your search rankings and prevent you from achieving the visibility and traffic that you need.

To avoid duplicate content issues during domain migration, make sure that all of the content on your new site is original and unique. You should also use 301 redirects to ensure that any URLs on your old site are redirected to the appropriate pages on your new site. This will help to maintain the integrity of your search rankings and ensure that you don't lose any valuable traffic or visibility in the process.

6. Update internal links

When it comes to domain migration SEO, updating internal links is an important step. Internal links refer to hyperlinks that connect one page of a website to another page within the same website. These links help users navigate your site and they also impact your page rank. Therefore, it's crucial to make sure your internal links are updated with the new domain name in the website code.

Updating internal links may seem like a bother, but it's necessary for maintaining good SEO practices. You can update these links using html tags or by utilizing plugins if you're using a content management system (CMS). It's also important to make sure any redirects are set up correctly, so that visitors can still access old pages and search engines won't penalize you for broken links. Taking the time to update your internal links will ultimately benefit your website's performance and help maintain its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

7. Find and remove broken pages

One crucial step in domain migration SEO is finding and removing broken pages. Broken pages, also known as 404 errors, can negatively impact your search rankings and sense bringing forward a negative image of your company. It's essential to avoid removing pages that still have value or could be redirected to relevant content.

When it comes to broken pages, it's not just about traditional 404 errors - soft 404 errors are also important to consider. Soft 404 errors occur when a page returns a "page not found" message but still has content on it. These types of errors can result in a large amount of confusion for users and search engines alike. Taking the time to identify and remove broken pages from your website will help improve your overall SEO efforts and ensure a seamless transition during domain migration.

Discover the Essentials of Site Migration

Site migration refers to the process of moving a website from one location or platform to another. This term is broadly used among SEO professionals and website owners when their site undergoes substantial changes in terms of location, platform, structure, content or design. Despite Googles documentation on-site migrations not covering it in great depth, site migration is an essential aspect that cannot be ignored as it can result in significant traffic and revenue loss.

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To a large extent, search engine ranking signals are affected by site migration. As such, it is crucial for businesses to have a successful recovery plan in place to minimize any negative impact on their online presence. The affected business should perform an audit of its current site before migrating and ensure that redirects are put in place to redirect users and search engines from old pages to new ones. By following these steps, businesses will be able to mitigate risks and ensure that their site migration goes smoothly without any hiccups.

Site migration examples

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This section discusses examples of successful and unsuccessful site migrations. Site migration is a complex process that involves moving your website from one domain to another. If it's not done correctly, it can result in suffering significant losses. Some examples of unsuccessful site migrations include losing traffic, lower search engine rankings, and broken links. However, there are also success stories of site migration where companies were able to retain their traffic and even gain more visitors after the migration process.

1. Debunking the “expected traffic drop” myth

One of the most pervasive myths in site migration is the "expected traffic drop." This widespread theory claims that a domain migration will always lead to a de facto traffic and revenue loss. However, this assertion holds true only in specific cases.

In fact, an established domain that decides to migrate to a revamped website can enjoy significant growth instead of losses. The key here is to follow best practices for SEO during the site migration process. By taking care of technical issues, redirecting all URLs properly, and updating your content for optimization, you can make sure that your site stays healthy throughout the single step of site migration.

2. Examples of unsuccessful site migrations

The graph illustrates how a big UK retailer botched their site migration, resulting in a significant impact on their organic search visibility. The poor planning of the migration possibly caused the poor site migration that took 6 months to fully recover. During this long period, the visibility graph showed high volatility, and the https switchover resulted in Google discovering duplicate content, which negatively affected updates in search results.

Another example of an unsuccessful site migration was when a big UK retailer failed to redirect all of their old URLs to new ones during the migration. This mistake caused significant drops in organic search traffic and rankings, and it took them over 6 months to fully recover. It is important to plan every aspect of a site migration carefully and thoroughly, including redirecting old URLs to new ones, as any mistakes can have a lasting impact on visibility and rankings.

3. Examples of successful site migrations

Successful site migration largely depends on the site migration type and strategy planning. There are two main site migration types: https site migration and complete site overhaul. A successful site migration shows minimal visibility loss and significant improvements in sites' page loading times.

One example of a successful site migration is when a company migrated from HTTP to HTTPS. The strategy planning involved testing phases to ensure that all major technical obstacles were fully addressed before the launch date. The launch date was pushed back a few times due to some minor issues, but it was worth it as the site did not drop in organic visibility; in fact, it started growing after the visibility report showed that there was a visibility growth.

Another example of a successful site migration is when a company did a complex migration involving an improved site taxonomy, updated URL structure, lots of landing pages, and preserving link equity. It took time leaving major changes until last because making multiple positive changes at one time isn't ideal. Equally important is general introducing where if done wrong, you'll struggle with your SEO for years to come. Despite the complexity of this project, there was no visible loss in organic visibility thanks to careful planning and execution.

Phase 3: Pre-launch testing

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Now that the technical components of your domain migration have been fully implemented, it's time to start testing. This early stage is crucial in identifying any user journey issues, wireframes design content-related issues, and content inconsistencies on both desktop and mobile site. Redirects, canonical tags, and xml sitemaps should also be thoroughly checked to avoid any earlier issues affecting SEO. Skipping this stage isn't cost-effective as significant delays and poor testing can have disastrous consequences on UX performance. Take the time required to test all building blocks of your new site to ensure a successful launch and minimal impact on SEO.

1. Making sure search engines cannot access the staging/test site

Preventing search engines from accessing your test site is crucial to ensure that your SEO efforts are not negatively impacted. One way to do this is by setting up specific whitelisted IP addresses or IP restrictions, which will allow only whitelisted users to easily access the test site. Another option is password protection, which involves creating a login screen for the test site. However, both of these methods have their downsides depending on how they are implemented.

The main advantage of using IP restrictions or password-protected websites is that it can easily end any unexpected issues caused by third-party applications or crawler clicks when you're logged in. You can also prevent search engines from crawling and indexing test sites' pages by adding disallowed URLs to the test site's robots.txt file. If you don't take these precautions, search engines may accidentally index test URLs and include them in Google's search results, causing severe de-indexing issues that I've encountered numerous times in my career as an SEO specialist. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend blocking search engines from accessing your live site but always make sure that your robotstxt file moves with you during domain migration.

2. Meta data & copy review

Meta data and copy review are crucial components of domain migration SEO. When you're re-platforming your website, it's important to ensure that all your pages make use of properly optimized page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and other elements that can impact your site's rankings. This is especially true if you've created new pages or are changing the URLs of existing ones.

Remember that default values for these elements may not be sufficient for your needs, so take the time to review and update them as needed. Additionally, don't target keywords too aggressively in your meta data or copy - this can have a negative impact on your site's rankings. Finally, be sure to review any missing copy or user-generated content such as user reviews or comments to ensure that they are still relevant and accurate after the migration. By paying attention to these details, you can help ensure a successful transition and maintain or improve your site's search engine visibility.

3. Internal linking review

Internal linking is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy, and it becomes even more crucial when performing a domain migration. During this process, internal links play a pivotal role in ensuring that your new site retains the traffic and rankings of your old one. To accomplish this, you must ensure that all internal links on your sites copy over correctly to the new domain.

A flawless internal linking scheme involves auditing every single link on your old site to make sure they are working correctly before moving them to the new one. This includes checking header/footer links, main/secondary navigation, body content links, pagination links, horizontal links related to articles or similar products, vertical links such as breadcrumb navigation, cross-site links, and international sites. By reviewing the entire site including links found on each page, you can identify potential issues and fix them before launching the new site.

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to migrate a website?

Migrating a website can be a complex process that involves careful planning and execution to ensure that everything is transferred correctly. The difficulty of the migration will depend on factors such as the size and complexity of the site, as well as the platform being used for the migration.

How long does it take to migrate a website?

The time it takes to migrate a website depends on factors such as the size of the site, complexity of its functionality, and the amount of data being transferred. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.

What do you need to know about a migration?

A migration involves moving data from one system to another. It is important to plan and test the migration thoroughly to minimize downtime, data loss, and other potential issues.

What are the myths surrounding Seo migration?

Some common myths surrounding SEO migration include the belief that it will negatively impact search rankings, that it can be done quickly and easily, or that it doesn't require a professional. In reality, proper planning and execution by an experienced SEO team can lead to improved results.

How does a website migration affect Seo?

Website migration can significantly impact SEO, as it involves changes to the website's structure, URLs, and content. However, with proper planning and execution, a website migration can result in improved SEO performance.

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Carrie Chambers

Writer at Exgenex

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Carrie Chambers is a seasoned blogger with years of experience in writing about a variety of topics. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and insights with others, and her writing style is engaging, informative and thought-provoking. Carrie's blog covers a wide range of subjects, from travel and lifestyle to health and wellness.

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