Digital Marketing

How to do seo website migration without losing traffic

SEO website migration – what is it?

Work on very good websites never stops. Websites aren’t just the result of web development; just like most products, they need to be promoted and marketed. This is the reason companies partially or completely renew their websites after a few years regularly. It is known as website migration. 

If the website development isn’t executed properly, companies can lose almost 80% of their organic traffic.

Fortunately, implementation of a properly planned and well conducted website migration indicates that the website can retain its SEO profile and value. This will help businesses grow eventually. Let us now find out more about it.

SEO migration for websites – what is it?

What is website migration? In this process, professionals move the whole site (or a few pages) to a new domain, or a new content management system (CMS). 

SEO migration takes place when the accumulated SEO value is moved with care and is carefully considered to help websites maintain their ranking. It goes way beyond any conventional redirects and a few plugins. A successful seo website migration takes into consideration all sources, and avoids search engines from giving a negative reaction to the structural changes done in a website. 

It is different from website migration.

What is website migration?

In all honesty, there isn’t any sole formula which can be used for measuring the necessity of SEO migration. Each website is different and it also faces specific and unique challenges. Meaning, a website built using HTML is not the same as one built on either WordPress or Wix. Multiple kinds of SEO migrations exist.

website migration

In the following circumstances, SEO migration becomes a necessity:

  • A major structural or technical set of changes (such as a new CMS, changing the URL’s structure, Transitioning from HTTP to HTTPS and implementing new technology).
  • A new website or platform being launched.
  • Merger of various domains.
  • Takeover of a certain domain name.
  • Either a new brand name or a new domain name.

Any of the above situations requires a deep risk analysis. When professionals talk about it, they refer to implementation of major changes to the website which can affect its visibility in search engines. It can be due to a back-end thing, a front-end thing or due to content.

Which factors should SEO professionals pay attention to when migrating website SEO factors?

Numerous factors are involved in this process. Hence a lot may go wrong with SEO migration of a website. Nonetheless, let’s explore the common ones:

SEO professionals should be careful with widgets and other technical things

Migrated pages should resemble the old website’s pages so the rankings can be maintained. Hence, paying attention to JavaScript frameworks like React is key as some interactions can be only accessible under their own URL. Hence it is fundamental for search engines to easily read the content.

Keeping an eye on core web vitals

High resolution images, cool widgets, video and other things that make the content attractive demand a lot of attention. In terms of Google’s core web vitals, three metrics that connect page speed to User Experience (UX) indicate that anything having a negative impact on the website’s loading time hurts the site’s rankings. 

Taking in consideration the Google crawl budget

Google has a crawl budget for each site i.e the number of URLs Google can index, and wants to index. With large websites, crawl budgets need to be carefully managed so Google can index the site’s most important pages for SEO purposes. Any SEO migration which ignores this tactic risks a monumental loss of search traffic on the conversion pages.

Paying close attention to mergers, acquisitions and any resulting name changes

Google is often not able to determine whether or not a migrated domain name was purchased solely for SEO value, or is an actual case of mergers and acquisition (and the resulting name change). Any SEO tactic which was not executed properly would count as a black hat SEO tactic.

To avoid this, the right steps of the right activity need to be conducted in the right sequence. In short a poorly managed migration can cause a domain reset. This means websites lose all their accumulated potential for search traffic and ranking.

One of the most worrisome examples in this regard is Dutch department store V&D’s poorly executed migration in 2015. The store tried to restart as a new site but was unable to meet requirements for domain name continuation set forth by Google, especially for new platforms. Three years later, the website did recover the old traffic level despite the SEO efforts put at maximum.

In spite of the errors happening, can the website’s structure be saved?

There is a saying about prevention always being better than the cure. A lot of businesses conduct website and SEO migrations but they do so with care. SEO should be considered when companies consider transitioning to a new domain, website or a CMS. Good results may suddenly lead to non-existent pages and content that once performed best could not be found on the new site.

Common errors often found in a SEO migration

Dutch departmental store chain V&Ds example is not an exception. A lot of companies often take the aid of digital agencies once they have experienced negative consequences. The following errors are common in SEO migration.

  • Poorly defined tactics with ambiguous objectives and requirements.
  • Implementation of changes in many areas simultaneously.
  • Lack of a proper budget and needed resources.
  • Lack of time for proper migration and testing.
  • Lack of a proper analysis prior to migration as top-performing content doesn’t migrate properly.

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