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Website Migration - How Not to Lose Traffic

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Written by Flying Saucer Studio

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When you’re contemplating a website redesign, the idea of migrating your existing blog and search engine cred can leave you sweating at inopportune moments. When it’s done wrong, it can lead to a loss of traffic and revenue, but when it’s done right? You can upgrade your website’s design and user experience while keeping your hard-earned optimization.

We know a successful website migration involves planning ahead and various post-launch tests. It might seem intimidating, but the good news is, we’re experts at it!

Here are some things that we’d like you to know:

 

Pre-Migration 

Don’t be overwhelmed if there are hundreds of pages on your website. 

Once the redesign is finished, we will prioritize the pages with a high number of traffic, authority, and conversions. We use tools like Google Analytics to find pages with the highest organic traffic. 


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If a landing page is primarily used to convert customers, we can conduct A/B tests and usability tests before we make any moves - just to make sure everything is as it should be before going live.  

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Don’t forget to keep a list of URLs of your current site so you can keep checking in to make sure the post-migration continues to be successful in the future!

 

URL redirecting

The URL of the landing page should ideally be the same one used on the previous website. We do this because it transfers the link juice (aka ranking power), authority and keyword rankings to the new page.  Presto-change-o - everything moved with you.

Something to consider though? If the URL isn’t optimized for search engines to easily find your content, it’s time for a change. Search engines prefer human-readable URLs because visitors will know what to expect when they click the link. Here's the difference between an unformatted vs. optimized URL from Moz:
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That being said - we’ll make recommendations if we feel like some of your links could be performing better for you.

BONUS: For more information on URL redirecting - check out these handy tips and tools

 

Post-migration

At this stage, we know that the website migration has happened smoothly - because we’ve been in touch all the way through the process, walking with you as we make the transition. Once the process is done, there’s a lot of important things that we check, just to make sure everything is top-notch: 

  • Make sure any redirects are working
  • Notifying search engines if there’s been a domain change
  • Crawl your website through to identify any errors
    • 404 pages
    • Crawl restrictions
    • Faulty redirects
    • Canonical implementations
    • 500 Internal Server Errors. 
  • Crawl the list of URLs we saved during the pre-migration and check if the redirects in old pages match up to the new page

Once the website has launched, we keep existing XML sitemaps online for a few weeks. This trick enables Google to index the 301 redirects which lead to the new URLs. After some time, we replace the sitemap with an updated version. 

 

Going forward

Hold on, I know you thought you were done here, but the migration process isn’t over yet! We’re still making sure we have no broken links, crawl errors, and changes in performance. We’re also checking to see if there are any HTML changes we can make that might improve on your existing traffic - the more traffic, the better, right? 

We like to try site searches through Google (i.e. site:example.com) to find out how the website was indexed and if the old URLs are still in place. We look for any drastic changes in metrics like conversion rate, bounce rates, and social shares. 

So, there you have it, folks! This is our basic process for migrating a website, and especially blog content, to your newly redesigned website. I think we can all appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into making sure that your site remains optimized and you don’t lose any of your precious search engine ranking. We know that some of you might feel comfortable doing this on your own (Godspeed!), but if this was the concern you had that stopped you from pulling the trigger on that redesign of your dreams - feel free to schedule a quick call. We’ve got you.

 

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Article written by Monique Danao

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