13-Point Website Migration Checklist for SEO
Migrating any site should never be taken lightly. You have to be aware that your ranking on search engines could take a major hit if you aren’t careful. Even the smallest issues can make things worse for your site.
With all the requirements you have to fulfill, it may not seem like SEO is a priority. However, if you are a marketer or anyone who would like to maintain visibility, you need to think about it carefully.
There are things you can do during your website migration to help ensure that your site’s ranking will not be affected in any way.
Here is a simple checklist of things to remember:
Ensure your SEO agency knows about it
One of the first things you should do for SEO is to notify your agency. If you have an internal team or you outsource, let them know in time. They will be able to offer you the onsite and offsite support that you’ll need to optimize the site.
If you use an agency, give them access to the staging site at least a few weeks before it is complete. That way, they can identify any issues or errors in good time.
Check the URL structure carefully
Crawl your current site and compile a full list of URLs. You will then need to map out the best URL structure for your site which should be optimized for SEO. You should note that you may experience a temporary drop in ranking when you restructure your URLs.
One good reason is that search engines will have to index the site again. If the URL structure is not properly designed, you could permanently damage your ranking.
Remember the 301 redirect
The 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that sends people to a new URL when they click on the old link. Although there are many other redirect types, this is one of the most efficient for SEO. It is able to pass over 90% of its ranking power to the new link.
Use alt tags, meta titles and descriptions. Even though there are tools to auto-generate metadata, it is best that you create it manually. Take time and research words that can help boost your site’s ranking.
Check the internal linking
Once you migrate to the new domain, you will need to check all the internal links. There are tools that can help you identify dead links.
Don’t forget the 404 page
Ensure that you come up with a customized 404 page. This is often overlooked, but it is quite important for SEO. It will help you regain some of the traffic.
Google first launched an algorithm with a focus on mobile friendliness in 2015. Since then, it has become imperative that each site you create be mobile friendly.
Remember to test for mobile friendliness when you set up your new site. If you don’t have one yet, make sure to set up a mobile site for your visitors.
Check page speed
Page speed is one of the easiest ways through which a site can lose its ranking. Before you launch your site, check for its page speed first. There are many plugins you can use to boost page speed.
Grow your inbound links
There are many tools online which you can use to check inbound links. The more high-quality inbound links that you have, the better your site will rank. Get in touch with as many of them as possible and provide them with your new link.
Make updates in the Google search console
This helps Google know that your content will now be available through new URLs. That way, you will not be mistakenly blacklisted for copying content. The update index status is active for about 180 days, which is more than enough time for Google to crawl your site.
Check your URLs in your social media campaigns
If you are active on social media, you need to check the existing links and edit them. Creating a clone campaign is not advisable as you would lose all the data collected up to that point. Ensure that all the links on your ads match. Otherwise, the ads could be rejected for inconsistent links.
Block crawling and indexing
While still setting up your site, you do not want Google to crawl or index your site. It could lead to poor ranking as Google will automatically assume that your site has problems.
Ensure that you study how to use the noindex, nofollow and disallow commands. This will play an important role in how your site will rank in search engines.
Troubleshoot the site
When you are done with website migration, you will still need to do a lot of troubleshooting. Crawl the new site to ensure that you are able to spot any issues before you launch it. This could include things such as duplicate pages, no metadata, dead redirects, and many other things.
There are many tools out there to help you with troubleshooting. Some are free while others cost quite a lot. If you have the budget, you can choose to have an automated tool that will continually crawl the site and check for any errors.
If you follow this checklist, you’ll be able to reduce the negative effects of website migration. However, you should note that this isn’t the only checklist that will help you get through the process successfully. These tips are only the most basic steps that are important for any site migration.
Another important aspect you will need to remember is that you should back up the entire site before the migration process begins. Sometimes, things go wrong and if you fail to back up the site, it could lead to a catastrophic loss.