10 Site Migration Best Practices

Migrating a website can be a daunting task. But with these 10 best practices, you can make sure your site transition is as smooth as possible.

A site migration is a big undertaking. And if not done correctly, it can result in lost traffic, rankings, and revenue.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, we’ve put together a list of 10 site migration best practices. By following these best practices, you can ensure a smooth transition to your new site with minimal disruption to your business.

1. Determine what pages to redirect

When you’re migrating a website, there are bound to be some changes. Maybe the site structure is changing, or you’re consolidating content. Either way, it’s important to take inventory of the old URLs and map them to the new ones.

This process is called URL mapping, and it’s essential for two reasons.

1. It ensures that visitors to your old site will be able to find your new site.
2. It helps preserve your search engine rankings.

If you don’t properly map your URLs, you could lose traffic and sales. So, how do you determine which pages to redirect?

There are a few factors to consider:

– The page’s ranking in search engines
– The page’s traffic levels
– The page’s conversion rate

Generally speaking, you’ll want to redirect pages that are ranking well in search engines and getting a lot of traffic. These are the pages that are most likely to bring you traffic and sales.

You’ll also want to redirect pages with a high conversion rate. Even if a page isn’t getting a lot of traffic, if it’s converting well, you don’t want to lose that.

Of course, you can’t redirect every single page. That would be too time-consuming and expensive. So, you’ll need to prioritize. Start with the most important pages and work your way down.

2. Create a site migration plan

A site migration plan helps you to:
– Define the scope of your project
– Set clear objectives
– Identify risks and potential issues
– Create a timeline
– Assign tasks and responsibilities
– Track progress

Without a site migration plan, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the details and lose sight of the big picture. By taking the time to create a plan, you can ensure that your site migration goes smoothly and that your new site is successful.

3. Use 301 redirects

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. When you migrate your site, any URLs that have changed need to be redirected to their new location. This ensures that users (and search engines) are directed to the correct page, and that any link equity or PageRank is passed on to the new page.

If you don’t use 301 redirects when migrating your site, users will end up on 404 pages, which is not only bad for the user experience, but can also hurt your SEO.

To set up 301 redirects, you’ll need access to your server’s .htaccess file (for Apache servers) or web.config file (for IIS servers). If you’re not comfortable editing these files, you can also ask your web developer or hosting company to help you set up the redirects.

4. Keep your URLs as short and simple as possible

Long, complicated URLs are not only difficult for users to remember, but they’re also a nightmare for search engines. Not only do long URLs tend to get truncated in the search results, but they can also be a sign of a low-quality site.

On the other hand, short, simple URLs are much easier for both users and search engines to understand, making them more likely to result in clicks and higher rankings.

So, when migrating your site, make sure to take the time to simplify your URLs. It’s worth it in the long run!

5. Don’t change URL structures unless you have to

If you change your URL structure, it’s going to break all of your existing links. Any link that points to your old website is now going to result in a 404 error. That means any link from another website, any link from social media, any link from an email campaign, anything. All of those links are now broken.

Not only does this hurt your SEO because search engines rely on those links to help determine your website’s authority, but it also hurts your users. If they click on a link and it results in a 404 error, they’re going to have a bad experience on your website.

So unless you absolutely have to change your URL structure, don’t do it. If you do need to change it, make sure you redirect all of your old URLs to your new ones so that you don’t lose any traffic or SEO value.

6. Update internal links

If you’re changing your domain name, all of your internal links will be broken. That means that any page on your old site that links to another page on your old site will no longer work.

To fix this, you need to update all of your internal links to point to the new domain name. If you don’t do this, visitors will land on 404 pages when they try to click through your site.

Updating internal links can be a lot of work, but it’s essential for a successful site migration.

7. Monitor traffic, rankings, and indexing during the transition

If you don’t monitor your traffic, rankings, and indexing during a site migration, you won’t be able to tell if something goes wrong. For example, if your traffic drops suddenly, it could be because you didn’t redirect your old pages properly. Or, if your rankings drop, it could be because you didn’t update your sitemap.

Monitoring your traffic, rankings, and indexing will also help you identify any issues so you can fix them quickly. This way, you can avoid any long-term damage to your website’s traffic and SEO.

8. Test everything before launch

A site migration is a big undertaking, and there are a lot of moving parts. You need to make sure that all of your content has been migrated over correctly, that your URLs have been redirected properly, and that your site is still accessible and functioning the way it should be.

The best way to do this is to launch a test site that is an exact replica of your live site. This way, you can test the migration process and ensure that everything is working correctly before making the switch.

Once you’re confident that the migration has been successful, then you can launch your new site and start reaping the benefits.

9. Communicate with Google about your site migration

If you don’t communicate with Google about your site migration, they may think that your old website is still active and index the old version of your website. This can cause a lot of problems, such as:

– You could lose rankings for your important keywords
– You could lose traffic to your website
– You could lose sales or leads from your website

To avoid these problems, it’s important to communicate with Google about your site migration before, during, and after the migration. You can do this by using the change of address tool in Google Search Console.

10. Be patient

When you first launch your new site, it’s going to take some time for Google to re-crawl and re-index all of your pages. This can take weeks, or even months in some cases.

During this time, your traffic will likely dip as your old pages are de-indexed and your new pages are slowly indexed. But don’t panic! This is normal. Just be patient and keep an eye on your traffic and rankings over time. They will eventually recover.

Additionally, during this time, it’s important to monitor your 404 errors and redirects carefully. Make sure all of your old pages are properly redirected to your new pages. If not, you could lose traffic and search engine visibility.


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