Migrating a website is a crucial phase that it can mark the future of a site's positioning in search engines. Whether it's changing hosting, updating your CMS, switching to HTTPS, or changing your site's architecture, each change can have significant impacts on SEO. This article aims to provide an in-depth guide based on BigFive's 10+ years of experience to successfully navigate through the complex website migration process while keeping your SEO ranking intact.
- 1. What is Website Migration?
- 2. Why is Migration Complex?
- 3. Pre-Migration Phase: Planning and Preparation
- 4. Migration Day
- 5. Post-Migration Phase: Monitoring and Optimization
- 6. Useful Tools for Migration
- 7. Conclusion
What is Website Migration?
Migrating a website is a delicate process that involves substantial changes, capable of profoundly influencing its online presence and visibilityAnd. Operations that fall into this scope include changing URLs, changing the content management system (CMS), upgrading to HTTPS security, restructuring the site architecture, and moving to a new domain.
These actions are not only technically demanding but also entail non-negligible SEO challenges, which they require expert management to maintain or improve rankings in search engines such as Google or Bing. In this context, the assistance of a web agency, such as BigFive, becomes not only advisable but often indispensable.
Relying on experts guarantees not only the correct technical execution of the migration process but also theadoption of SEO strategies aimed at not losing organic traffic, and at the same time improving the indexing of your site.
Why is Migration Complex?
Migration introduces the risk of losing the SEO "memory" accumulated over the years: Backlinks, URL history, and rankings can be compromised if the process is not carefully managed. The heart of the problem lies in maintaining or transferring these SEO signals from the old to the new URLs so that search engines can reconnect the migrated site to its previous authority and visibility.
Website Migration Phases
Pre-Migration Phase: Planning and Preparation
- Complete Analysis of the Current Site: It is a good idea to use tools like Screaming Frog to perform a detailed analysis of the current site, mapping every URL, image, and resource. This step is essential to have a clear vision of the existing structure and identify any errors that need to be corrected before migration.
- Development of a 301 Redirect Strategy: 301 redirects are vital to maintaining SEO, as they tell search engines that a URL has been permanently moved. Prepare a precise redirect map, connecting each old URL to its new correspondent on the migrated site, preferably in a 1 to 1 manner.
If you also need to change the name of the site's domain, make sure you have set the necessary rules in the httaccess file of the old domain, so that it points to the new address.
- Optimization of the Sitemap and the Robots.txt File: Make sure the current site's sitemap is up to date and that the Robots.txt file is not blocking access to crucial resources. These elements must be suitable and compatible with the new site.
- Complete Backup of the Site: Before any migration operation, it is crucial to have a complete backup of the site. This allows you to restore the original state in case of problems during the migration.
- Registration of the New Domain or the new sitemap on Google Search Console: Configure the new domain on Google Search Console to immediately monitor the health of the migrated site and send the updated sitemap so that it is promptly indexed.
- Migration During Low Traffic Hours: It is advisable to proceed with the migration at times of low traffic. It is therefore advisable to analyze the site statistics to choose a time that minimizes the impact on visitors.
- Implementation of 301 Redirects: Apply 301 redirects according to the prepared map, ensuring that each old URL correctly points to its new correspondent.
WordPress plugins such as Yoast or Rank Math offer the possibility of importing lists of URLs containing the old and new paths directly from csv files.
- Instant Verification: After implementing redirects, immediately verify that they work as expected to avoid 404 errors.
In the case of WordPress sites we suggest using plugins that monitor for possible 404 errors (this functionality is already included in RankMath Pro)
Post-Migration Phase: Monitoring and Optimization
- Active Monitoring: Use Google Search Console and other analytics tools to carefully monitor traffic, error rates, and keyword rankings. It is essential to quickly identify any problems in order to intervene promptly.
- Updating Backlinks: Where possible, update existing backlinks on other sites to point directly to new URLs, reducing reliance on redirects and transferring SEO value directly to new pages.
- Creating Quality Content: After a migration, it's a great strategy to strengthen your site with new, high-quality content. This not only helps stabilize rankings but can also improve the site's overall visibility.
Useful Tools for Migration
- Google Search Console: Indispensable for monitoring the health of the site and identifying indexing or crawling problems.
- Screaming Frog: A website crawling tool that allows you to carry out a detailed analysis of the current structure of the site.
- DNS Checker: To monitor DNS propagation, if you are moving the site to a new hosting
- HTTP Status and Redirect Checker: Online tools or specific plugins to verify the effectiveness of the implemented redirects.
- Rank Math And YOAST the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress
Migrating a website, although complex, can be successfully managed through meticulous planning, strategic implementation, and careful post-migration monitoring. You need to know the tools and techniques to tackle the migration process while maintaining and, potentially, improving your SEO positioning. The ultimate goal is to ensure a smooth transition for search engines and users, while preserving the SEO value accumulated over time.
Do you want to redo your site without risking losing your SEO positioning?
Contact BigFive for a safe and professional migration.