Website migration is a necessary solution to various challenges, though it also carries inherent risks.
The range of potential issues is broad, from a decline in search engine rankings to the unfortunate loss of specific website components. This can be quite a painful experience. Armed with courage and technical proficiency, you’re prepared to tackle the task. Website migrations constitute a natural phase in the evolution of organizations.
Companies might opt for migration as they undergo rebranding, transition to cloud-based infrastructure for scalability, or various other reasons. The apparent simplicity of migration, in theory, a single misjudgment can trigger SEO complications, including:
- 404 errors
- Lost rankings
- Missing content
With your checklist in hand, you’re ready to proceed. In this article, we’ll encompass steps to ensure a rejoicing website migration.
Let’s have a look below!
Establish Hosting, DNS, CDN, and Email
The migration process involves multiple components in motion. Begin by creating a backup of both your site and its database. This precaution will prove invaluable if any issues arise, enabling you to restore your site from the backup. It’s advisable also to develop a staging site for testing the migration, which helps minimize initial challenges that might arise during the transition.
Upon concluding the staging site phase, proceed to:
- Set up your hosting environment and migrate all files.
- Configure DNS information.
- Adjust CDN settings.
- Modify mail parameters.
Execute these prior tasks before advancing to the next stage, which involves implementing redirects.
Compile a Redirect List
Internally, you and your team should compile a comprehensive list of redirects, differentiating between those that need to be newly established and those that already exist. This compiled list will serve as a reference point to ensure the proper implementation of all pre-existing redirects on your new site.
Fortuitously, if your redirect requirements are minimal and you’re undergoing a domain change, a single redirect might suffice to reroute the entire site.
Review SEO Framework
Establish the requisite SEO specifications. Thoroughly analyze the following elements to ensure the seamless success of the migration:
- Custom URL
- Alt test
- Canonical tags
- Internal links
- Structured data
- URL structure
- Mobile setup
Review the current SEO structure of your existing site, enabling you to verify its integrity once the migration concludes. The crux of a successful site migration hinges on the meticulous creation and multiple rounds of review for these checklists.
Performance benchmarks are poised to yield substantial insights about your migration and website. From a technical perspective, the ensuing data warrants close examination:
- Page loading speed
- Rate of page indexing
- Incidences of crawl errors
- Keyword rankings
These benchmarks will be repeatedly referenced over the upcoming weeks. Should you identify sluggish page speed or a decline in rankings, you must delve deeper into your site’s details to isolate the underlying issues.
This data also serves as tangible evidence for your clients, if applicable, showcasing the accomplishments achieved through these benchmarks.
Evaluate Key Site Pages
Your critical site pages, which are significant in generating revenue, should precede your focus. Scrutinize these pages to ensure their seamless functionality. Even if your site comprises an extensive array of over a thousand pages, prioritize the top 5% and methodically review them.
These pages typically exhibit the following characteristics:
- High keyword rankings
- Prime revenue generation
While progressing through the subsequent steps, maintain vigilant monitoring of these pages based on your analytics findings.
Re-run Site Crawlers to Compare
At this juncture, re-running your web crawler is prudent. Most of the intricate tasks have been tackled, and it’s now opportune to juxtapose the crawl data from your old site with the new one. The objective is to scrutinize the following aspects:
- Broken links leading to 404 errors
- Meta titles
- Meta descriptions
Comparing metadata is pivotal to verifying the seamless migration of all relevant information. Occasionally, metadata can be inadvertently omitted during migration, particularly if a change in content management systems prompts an attempt to fetch data from a non-existent database column or table.
Perform a Comprehensive Site Audit
After these steps, thorough audits become imperative, with some data gathered from the preceding stage particularly useful. Your audit endeavors should encompass the scrutiny of the following aspects:
- Effectiveness of redirects
- The integrity of internal links
- Responsiveness of server timings
- Noindex and index directives
- Additionally, establish your robots.txt file, configure canonical tags, and verify the optimal functionality of crucial pages.
The list goes on! Effectively executing website migrations demands a considerable amount of careful attention and time. While supplementary steps might be integrated into the above list to streamline the migration process further, these steps serve as a solid foundational framework to build.
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