5 things to know about website migration
Last modified: 2019/05/13 | Approximate reading time 5 mins
A website can do a lot for a business, and if yours hasn’t been working wonders, it may be time to rethink some of your strategies while you update branding, design, and content. If you’re well-versed in the world of online marketing, you may be familiar with the term site migration. This is used by SEO industry-professionals to express when a website has undergone major changes- this can include the site's location, structure, platform, UX and so on.
Site migration will have a huge impact on various factors including traffic and revenue loss in some cases. Of course, as with all marketing strategies, avoiding these downfalls can happen with a thorough recovery plan. We’ve got all the important details about website migration below so read on!
Here are 5 things to know about website migration
1- The sandbox effect
After the launch of a website, search engines will tread carefully when approaching this newcomer. This unofficial period is often referred to as the sandbox effect, and a website migration may experience the same repercussions. What’s happening during this period is that search engines are making sure that your website is legitimate. Undergoing large-scale updates and changes can be treated with mistrust and this will make it hard for your website to gain traction.
It’s likely that your website will not be an exception to the rule, so it’s crucial to be prepared for this difficult period in which Google will take the time to reindex your site. Strategically, we’d suggest avoiding any serious link building during this period. On top of this, making significant or huge changes will have a much bigger impact on the way your website is treated.
Regardless, the first thing to do to remedy this unavoidable situation is to submit your newly updated site to Google for reindexing. Be certain that your migration proceeds in a well-thought-out manner and your recovery time should be fairly quick. After this period, you may find your site in a different ranking. Further, bear in mind that migrating your website to a new domain will cause you to lose both your track record as well as your link equality.
Obviously, refreshed design and content will be much easier for search engines to process, but again, even small-scale changes will be met with mistrust. To stay on top of things, set some rank tracking tools and check in with these every few days.
2- Content archiving
It’s possible that you’re considering doing away with all old content in order to make room for the new. However, proceed with caution and make careful decisions when determining whether or not to get rid of old blog posts and articles. This is especially true if your website rests in a niche marketplace. Even if some of your older posts no longer feel relevant, they still offer context to your website, brand and so on. Old blog posts can be an excellent way to continue to drive traffic to your website, even during the migration process.
If you are set in getting rid of the bulk of your old content, we’d recommend a content audit which can flush out what’s redundant. Again, try and keep niche content whenever possible and always consider the user first and foremost. Hopefully, your new website will be crafted with user-experience as the most important aspect and thus new menus, information architecture, migrated service and landing pages need to be clear.
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3- Strategic planning
As we’ve mentioned, strategically planning your website migration is essential to the success of this project. This is not something that should not be rushed, and knowing exactly what your website will be undergoing will allow things to happen seamlessly. There are certain things to look over to help you strategically plan this project, and they are as follows:
Analytics: It’s crucial for you to know all about your traffic, including what it looks like, your most popular pages as well as the important keywords in relation to your site ranking. Understanding the ins and outs of your traffic allows for insight regarding the optimal time to perform your migration.
Website backup: Errors could be in abundance when it comes to performing your site migration. In the case of your new website failing or not working immediately, you’ll need to be able to fall back onto your old website.
Mapping your new site: As we mentioned, your new site should be mapped with the visitor in mind. Site navigation is crucial to whether or not a user will return. Before migrating your entire website, create a site map and make sure to test it with someone. This way, you can get feedback about your site layout before you move everything over. We’d also recommend mapping out your old site so things can be moved easily from one to the other.
Crawl your old site: Finally, before moving things from A to B, we’d suggest crawling your old site to be certain that all your vital information has been saved. XML sitemaps and robots.txt files should be saved as well, as they might be necessary when configuring your new site.
4- Design matters
In many cases, a business may choose to migrate their website to keep up with current web design trends. When creating any website, valuable and useful content should always be a number one goal and this needs to be balanced with a positive user experience. The design of your new website won’t directly affect the migration process but will play a role in your engagement metrics as well as your brand equity.
Web design matters, but don’t overbudget for this part of your new website. Avoid over-engineering, and keep things neat, tidy and uncomplicated. Design affects bounce rate and dwell time, so take these aspects into consideration during the migration.
During the planning process of your site migration, we’d say it’s important to invest in good UX and well-known usability conventions. There are plenty of different ways to review and improve the design of your site, and you may even decide to work with an outsourced development team. If you’re interested in knowing more about outsourcing web design, check out our article "Why hire an agency to create a website?"
5- Update internal links
Your new website needs to work as quickly and as smoothly as possible from the get-go. If you did everything right in the planning phases of your migration, then your link redirects should be updated. Internal links are HTML tags in the code of your website that allow you, or the user, to jump from page to page. If these aren’t working correctly, site navigation will be impossible. Update these internal links with new URLs as soon as you can, as these links will play a major role in lowering your page ranking as well as completely slowing down your server.