How To Migrate Your Website
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 “link juice”. A temporary dip in SEO-results is normal, but failing to heed 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 create 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 encountered
- 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!
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