Website Migration

Site migration is often needed when a website moves from one environment to another, or if the domain name for the site changes. During this process, it is vital that there is as little negative impact for search engines and users as possible.

 

To achieve a successful migration, you need an agency that can help you plan, and specialists that you can rely on to make the process as smooth as possible.

 

To find out more about our website migration services, please read on below or contact us to discuss your needs with a friendly member of our digital marketing team.

 

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Why use a website migration agency?

A lot can go wrong if a website migration is handled poorly, and fixing any issues is likely to be time consuming and result in unnecessary expense, potential loss of revenue, and potential organic ranking impacts. The best way to avoid this possibility is to let experienced specialists handle the task for you.

The biggest mistake made when migrating a site is assuming it will be a straightforward project that requires planning. No migration is ever straightforward, no matter how simple they may seem. Never underestimate a migration, and always watch out for project scale.

Our team of site migration experts are experienced in many types of migration processes. For more information on these processes.

Domain name changes

Perhaps the most common form of migration, domain name changes can happen for a variety of reasons. If you choose to rebrand your business and your old domain name no longer suits your updated brand image, it can be all too tempting to buy a new domain and simply apply it to your site.

However, any change to your domain (however small) changes the URL structure, which means this will need to be applied across every page of your site and take into account the internal linking and backlink profile of your current site. This process is also applicable when absorbing one website into another (be it a company acquisition or merging local sites into a single international site).

Forgetting to take these factors into account can prevent search engine spiders from being able to crawl your site effectively, cut off vital backlinks from being associated with your site, affect how highly your keywords rank and result in a decrease in organic traffic.

Moving from HTTP to HTTPS

As soon as Google announced that serving websites through HTTPS would be a minor ranking factor, it became apparent that handling this transition would be hugely important for site owners. While your domain name technically remains unchanged, the prefix http:// will change to https://.

Migrating to HTTPS is really important for your site’s security. With Chrome (and other browsers) now flagging when a connection is unsecure, there has never been a more important time to implement it.

This simple change means that any internal links that are present within your page content will need to be updated (unrealistic on a larger site) or 301 redirects put in place to ensure that your site doesn’t contain any mixed content.

Migrating to a different CMS

With the advent of well-known Content Management Systems such as WordPress, web designers and site owners are tending to move away from custom built, hard coded websites that can be difficult to manage and apply technical upgrades to (such as changes in PHP versions).

While it can be tempting to completely scrap the old solution and start afresh, it’s easy to forget that your existing content will have already built up SEO value that could be lost, and that hard coded websites often use URL extensions that aren’t needed by the new CMS.

Our specialists will often work across disciplines (such as website development and SEO) to ensure that the existing content of your site and technical SEO is taken into consideration before the migration takes place.

Website migration SEO considerations

Very few websites fall into only one of the categories outlined above, with most migration projects requiring elements of each type to complete successfully. That’s why our site migration SEO experts consider each migration based on a number of factors:

Complexity of the migration:

Each migration is different, just as each website can have unique issues. By planning thoroughly, we can assess the complexity of the migration. We may potentially recommend moving the website section by section rather than all at once.

For example, you may want to migrate to a new domain name, but also redesign your entire site structure. While you are there, you may want to switch hosting providers too. This is complex, and not the recommended approach. Make changes one step at a time, monitor the effects, and then continue.

Content quality:

What is the quality of your existing site content? Can it be repurposed for the new site? Is it still relevant to the services offered? Can it be repurposed in some way? These are all necessary questions to consider when it comes to SEO migrations.

If a new server move is also on the cards as part of your migration, we will make sure everything is in place and you have everything you need to change your DNS settings.

Redirects:

Redirects are where the majority of migrations go wrong, which is why planning is so important at this stage. Redirect everything (provided it is relevant). If content is being copied over to the new site, redirects are straightforward with 1:1 redirecting.

However, any blogs or content pieces not being copied will still need to point somewhere. We look at where redirects can still be made, and if any services no longer exist, then we 410 those pages where possible.

Previous Site migrations:

This stems from redirects. Some sites have been redirected before, or had redirects implemented when content has been removed or updated. These all need to be taken into account.

Older URLs that used to point to the current site will also need to be redirected to the new site. Otherwise, you can end up with a list of redirect chains where a page redirects 3 or more times until it gets to its final destination.

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The three areas of migration

Rather than looking at the migration as one project, it is far simpler to break it down into three stages:

  • Technical
  • On-site
  • Post migration

Technical

As well as creating redirects, you’ll need to consider that format that you need them to be in as different servers will accept the information in different ways. While you are doing this, also look to update and canonical tags that exist, any hreflang tags sitting on the site, the internal links, image alt tags and anything in between.

On Page

Are there any content changes that need to be made? Perhaps there was a lot of duplicate content on the old site that can be redirected to a single page on the new site. Is any content being removed and, if so, has the impact of that removal been considered?

Meta titles and meta descriptions may need to be addressed as well. We would never recommend overhauling every single one during a migration, but we would recommend creating any for pages that don’t have them as well as amending any brand changes that may be required.

Post Migration

Once your migration is complete, monitor everything. Monitor server logs, the deindexation of the old site and index of the new one using Google Search Console. Keep an eye on Google Analytics and monitor organic traffic to make sure that it is growing as expected.

Finally, run a redirect report to confirm they are all functioning as expected and no redirect loops or chains have appeared.

Are you considering a website migration? Contact us today to speak to a friendly member of our digital marketing team and find out how we can help.

Website Migration FAQs

What are the long-term effects of a poor migration process?

A poor migration process can result in a multitude of errors, with varying consequences. Technical errors that occur can mean that search engines aren’t able to index your pages or content effectively, which can result in loss of rankings. In worst case scenarios, you can end up losing your xml sitemap, which means that it will take much longer for crawlers to index your site.

In any scenario, the outcome is usually lost rank, which can take time and expense to fix. In the worst-case scenario, a poor migration can have serious implications for revenue.

We know that industry jargon can sometimes be tricky to understand. For the ultimate list of A-Z industry terms, check out our Digital Marketing Glossary.

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