Website Migration SEO Checklist
A website migration to a new domain is a hazardous event, that can have a profound impact on your SEO results. As all the site URLs will change, all your incoming links will cease to drive traffic to your site, as well as pass “linkjuice”. A temporary dip in SEO-results is normal, but failing to head the following SEO tactics can prove disastrous!
Website migration SEO checklist
- Make sure Google Webmaster Tools is implemented and verified. The sooner, the better!
- Create an XML sitemap of the old website. There’s plenty of free tools available, such as XML Sitemaps or Xenu.
- Create an XML sitemap of the new website
- Add both the old AND the new XML sitemaps to Google Webmaster Tools
- Create decent 404-pages (including links to well-frequented pages and a call-to-action)
- Update conversion trackers (if any)
- Update URls in running campaigns and AdWords (NOTE: AdWords only allows for one root domain in a campaign, so you either have to change the URLs after go-live, or copy and modify the existing campaigns and pausing the old ones (so you won’t lose any campaign data)
- Is it impossible, for any reason, to redirect all old URls to new ones, at least ensure that all pages that receive organic traffic and/or referral traffic are being redirected. You can create lists of these landing URLs from your web analytics.
- Check whether the analytics software is implemented and working properly (NOTE: feel free to cretae a test-only profile or segment, to keep testing data from polluting your analytics data).
Checklist after website migration
- Check the redirects using the site-command on Google (e.g. site:oldsite.com)
- Check your new site for defective links (using Xenu or the W3C Link checker).
- Check Google Webmaster Tools often (NOTE: it takes a few days for Google Webmaster Tools to show results)
- Check the crawl statistics for errors
- Check the HTTP-status codes for errors
- Check the server logs for errors (404, 500, etc.)
- Use 301-redirects to solve all errors you have ancounterd
- Remove the XML sitemap of the old website after a month.
Stress, stress, stress
I can’t stress this enough: a website migration can pose a HUGE risk. If your website is highly dependend on organic traffic, and you’re not sure how to handle the migration exactly, we advise to get help from a SEO-professional to oversee the process. Make sure you’re on top of any errors and fix them as soon as possible.
Update: If you want to learn more about SEO for a website migration, here’s some advice, directly from Google.
Good luck migrating your website!
Has this article been helpful to you? If so, please share and spread the knowledge!