At some point or the other, businesses need to migrate their websites. Are you in that phase too? Wondering what to do and how to do it? Don’t worry! Just read on our guide for steps to follow when migrating websites. Growth is an inevitable part of a running business. And as a business grows and expands, its requirements also change. For an E-commerce organization, these changes might translate into the need for migrating their website.
There could be a number of reasons for migrating a website. It could be due to:
#Change in site’s structure, navigation, or design
#New CMS and framework
#Movement from HTTP to HTTPS
#Change in domain name
#Addition of a mobile version
#Movement to a new server… and so on
So, when you need to migrate your website, you need to. It is unavoidable. However, even a small slip can ruin your web traffic and search ranking. But in any case, website migration is an indispensable part of website development. Therefore, one needs to be very careful with it.
That being said, it is important to make sure that you migrate your website without harming its traffic and rankings. For that, you need to follow the steps given below.
How to Migrate Your Website Step-by-Step
1. Pre-website migration preparation
Before you get to the migration part, it is first important to sport a few things out. So, make sure to do the following pre-website migration preparation:
#Save ALL the data
Saving all the data from the original site is very important. It includes all data like MySQL and WP-Content files, a list of indexed pages, title tags and meta description, canonical tags, and so on.
#Inform users in advance about website migration
No matter how cautious and careful you are, there can still be glitches due to website migration. Hence, it is best to inform your website users in advance.
#Don’t migrate the whole site at once
Website migration is already very tricky. There is also so much risk involved. Hence, it is best to migrate the website in parts and test it first. This will help you make sure that in case of any hiccups, your whole website won’t have to suffer.
#It’s better not to mix different types of migration at once
When migrating your website, it is best to do one thing at a time. Let’s say you want to change your hosting, domain name, and site architecture. Instead of doing all this at once, you should do them all separately step-by-step. You should don’t try to do all this at once.
#Set up tracking
Before you start with website migration, it is important to set up some mechanism for tracking the performance of your website pre, during, and post-migration. For example, you can use BrightEdge to set up a ‘migration’ dashboard. It will allow you to track your website’s performance and will help you know how migration is affecting it.
#Make sure the new site is better
Website migration is done for a number of reasons. In any case, our focus is to get a better site. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your new website is at least better than the old one. It should be Search Engine Optimization – friendly, faster, and cleaner than your old website.
#Migrate in the least traffic hour
Now this one is more of a tip. You should watch during what time of the day your website receives the least traffic. And then, you should make sure the website migration takes place during that time only. This will help in making sure that your website’s SEO gets hurt the least.
2. Keep search engines from crawling your staging website
Many web developers tend to miss this point while migrating their websites. When you migrate your website, it is important to make sure that search engines can’t crawl your staging website.
If you don’t do that, customers searching for your business would land on your staging site instead of the new one. This will apparently harm your image. Moreover, Google might see your staging site as the original one and index it instead of the new one. This will harm your business in the long run and you will lose your website. Therefore, make sure to start with hiding your website from search engine crawlers.
3. Set up redirects
The next important step is to set up redirects on your staging website. You can easily set up redirects for your WordPress website by using either Yoast or Redirects.
You can also make these redirects with the help of the .htaccess file. However, this is quite risky. If you make even a small mistake in your .htaccess file, it can have serious implications.
4. Setting up XML sitemap
A sitemap is a list of webpages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them within a domain. It tells search engines which pages and files you consider important and gives other valuable information.
WordPress users can save their time by simply using Yoast plugin for creating a sitemap. And for the other users, they can use Screaming Frog for the same.
5. Launching the new website
After having followed all the points mentioned above, you’d be ready to launch your new site. Taking care of these points will help you make sure that your SEO doesn’t suffer.
When launching your website, there are certain important things you need to do to ensure it works well:
#Update indexability settings
This a common SEO mistake in website development. Developers forget to update the indexability settings. As a result, their newly migrated website’s SEO suffers. Therefore, it is important to update Robots.txt in order to remove “Disallow: /”
You’d also need to change Meta Robots setting from “noindex, nofollow” to “index, follow”
This will help make sure that Google can index your new website.
6. Scan for SEO issues
Once you have migrated your website, it is important to scan for SEO issues so as to make sure that your website’s traffic and ranking don’t suffer.
Watch out for the following errors:
#Broken links (both internal and external)
Make sure to scan for these errors and fix them immediately to make sure that your rankings don’t drop.
Website migration is a crucial part of website development. Sooner or later, E-commerce organizations have to take this path. However, it can very likely harm your SEO. Therefore, you need to make sure that you migrate your website in a way that its SEO ranking and web traffic are maintained.
With the help of the guide above, you can do just that. Or for the best results, there is always a top-notch web services company to help you out!