SEO Site Migration Best Practices w/ Free Checklist

Your next site is ready or is in the works. It’s going to be amazing!

The customers are excited at the proofs that you’ve shared during development and they are ready.

You push the “go live” button and WHOOSH! all that old content is gone and your new shiny site is live.

Surely nothing bad will happen…

A few days go by, and your client calls you. “We haven’t seen the same number of phone calls and visits to our new site – Is everything ok?” – The Client asks anxiously.

If this has happened to you, then you know how crucial it is to do your site migrations carefully and not to lose any old traffic.

We’d love to help you with your next site migration by sharing some SEO best Practices for site migrations. In this resource post, we are going to describe each of these functions and why they impact your site migration and your site traffic.

Here’s a roundup of SEO Migration Best Practices:

On-Site Activities:

    1. Staging Sites– Remember to do all your development work on a staging site or a subdomain. (Bonus: Don’t make the same mistake that I did. Make sure the client does not have access to the staging site or you could have too many hands on a delicate, new staging site)
    2. Migration Timing– Ask your client if they are entering their busy season or if there are any launches happening soon. If the timing isn’t good for a new site, get a different date.
    3. Pre-launch Site Crawl– Using your Screaming Frog tool, you can save all of your current URLs to a .CSV document. Save this document on your hard drive and in the cloud – we will need it later.
    4. Get Current Engagement Metrics– How many users are visiting the site per day/week/month in Google Analytics? Make a mental note of this traffic.
    5. Are URLs changing? Be ready– If you have discussed Content changes with client, make note of URLs that are changing/being updated.
    6. Internal Links– If your URLs are changing, be prepared to change the internal linking of your site.
    7. Content Updates and Upgrades– This is a great time to discuss a content refresh on any existing pages.
    8. 301 all pages from Old Site– If your URLs aren’t chaning using a plugin or HTAccess to 301 those now, non-existant pages to their new counterparts.

Post Launch:

    1. Analytics and Google Tag Manager– It’s time to add those GA and GTM tags back to your site and make sure your goals are firing. Test your traffic and conversions in the Real Time tab in Google Analyltics
    2. Google Search Console– Make sure Google Search Console is still validated after the launch- it’s going to provide helpful data post launch!
    3. PPC Landing Pages – (if applicable)– If you have a PPC campaign running, check the URLs of your landing pages in Google Ads. If those pages present a 404 error, your ads will be dissaproved and will stop running
    4. Check for page indexing– You can use the site command and Google Search Console to check for indexing.
    5. Look for 404s and check your 301’s– Screaming Frog will help you here again. Crawl your new site after going live.
    6. Schema Apply– Don’t forget your Schema Microdata!
    7. Robots.txt Check– Making sure the Google Bots can see your site is crucial. Don’t wall off those helpful spiders.
    8. SSL setup-HTTPS is a ranking factor. Get an SSL on your new site.
    9. Site Speed Audit– Site Speed matters. Make sure your new site is ready to provide your users a snappy, beautiful site.
    10. Mobile Friendliness Audit– Check for any CSS or display issues. Is your new site responsive?

Off-site Activities:

  1. If domain changed – Reach out to old link providers– If your most powerful links are going to be pointing at an old domain, reaching out to those sources and getting this corrected can prevent Organic Traffic loss.
  2. Reduce Redirect Chains– These will really slow you down. Learn if you are having these using Google Page Speed Insights.

We hope that this helpful resource will save you some time and stress on your next site migration! If you want to see how this plays with Google Analytics data, we’ve done this and created our Site Migration Case Study.

Do you need help with some or all of these SEO migration tasks?

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