Every now and again, a website needs to be moved to another URL. There are many different reasons for making this decision, such as switching to https, going international or rebranding, just to name a few.
When you move your website, be prepared to do some work on it, to make sure your SEO doesn’t plummet badly. After all, if your old links get emptied out with the content appearing elsewhere, there is potential for double damage.
One is that your old link juice will run dry overnight, and the other is that the search engine will go and quickly tag your entire website as duplicate content, because the exact same content was already indexed under different URLs.
And those are only two of the problems that we as a Toronto web design firm have had to help our clients with after they’d gone for a URL change without the necessary preparation.
To save you the damage, aggravation and time loss that inevitably follows a poorly coordinated website migration, our SEO team has composed this list of website transition tips for you. They are divided into three main guiding principles that should keep your move as smooth and safe as possible.
- Plan everything. Create a sitemap, list of keywords you rank for, what assets you have on your website and essentially all things you want to keep when you migrate. Make a special emphasis on the URLs you target in PPC campaigns. Not redirecting those will lose you a LOT of money on clicks and by damaging your quality score.
- Take it Slow. Taking care to note every detail during the move is one of the most important website transition tips. Every redirect that doesn’t work, every broken link or inaccessible content, is losing you money and traffic. Make sure your 301 redirects are applied to every single one of your old URLs, including subdomains. The good news is that there’s no need to do it all manually. You can use crawlers for that. Block external crawlers until you are done migrating the website, by the way. It’s a testing environment until you launch it, and should not be ranked yet. Once you’re done migrating, remove the forbid tags and inform Google about the change of address, then submit the sitemap of the new domain to Google via the Search Console.
- Monitor the Migration. The rule is that if you keep an eye on everything, try to notice every detail and take every precaution, you will still get some problems in the course of a website migration. Our reputation as a strong Toronto web design firm with a team of experienced web developers indicates that some problems will creep up on you no matter how good you are or how hard you try. But you can minimize them. And then catch them one at a time. If you do this efficiently and quickly, the damage can be avoided. You do that by monitoring your site closely following a migration. For example, if you monitor and fix 404 errors quickly enough, you will beat Google to it, and prevent it listing them in Search Console. Crawl your old URLs weekly to see the redirects are all working, and that no other errors spring up on you. Monitor indexation of your old and new domains, to see that the ranking of the old website declines and the new one’s increases. Only when the old domain stops getting indexed at all is when you can stop monitoring the redirects.
Finally, update Search Console, Analytics, My Business Listings and every other classified list and social media page out there that’s still sending traffic your way. You want to keep that juice flowing.
We hope this migration checklist will help your move go safer and smoother. If you wish to be absolutely sure that it does, we strongly recommend you hire a Toronto web design firm that has done hundreds of those before. We can ensure your website transition works for you.