#Organic Search - SEO #Digital Marketing

Common Website Migration SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Website migration is the process of transferring a website and its contents from its current domain to a new one. It can improve your website's performance, design, and overall user experience. However, the migration decision is drastic and should not be taken lightly. It demands time and effort to get everything right down to the very minute details, and it's not recommended unless there is no other way to improve your website's performance.

It's easy to overlook a lot of items that should be checked during the migration, including the role of search engine optimization practices and safeguards that ensures that the migration's impact is minimal and that it would indeed improve the website's performance on the long run.

Here are some of the most common site migration SEO mistakes to avoid:

Lack of communication and alignment: When planning your website's migration, it's crucial to loop all the teams in the process to ensure everyone's aligned from the beginning and throughout the whole project. This includes your SEO personnel and their role in making sure that the migration is going in line with the best SEO practices. Not involving your SEO personnel from the beginning can lead to damaging your organic traffic and subsequent revenue. That damage is not always visible on the surface, not in the short term at least.

Unplanned redirecting: Taking your time in mapping out and testing the redirects from the old domain URLs to those of the new domain is not a luxury. Do not go with the easy choice of mass-redirecting all the old URLs to your new homepage. Instead, make sure that each page is redirected to the new URL with similar content. If a high-value page doesn't have a relevant counterpart in the planned new structure to be redirected to, it's recommended to take the time to create it if possible. For the pages that are retired, you can redirect them to their relevant category pages or, if there's none, the new homepage.

Not testing: Migration requires long time and collaborative effort from all the teams involved. For that reason, it's prone to errors and usually undergoes changes along the way and you need test and check your recommended implementations every possible step of the way. This is also essential on the launch day itself, immediately after the launch, and sometime after to confirm that the transition went as smoothly as possible. Run a crawl on your new website to check whether everything has been implemented including the planned redirects, robots.txt file, your canonical tags. There's almost always something that would malfunction.

Not using the Change of Address tool: Google Search Console has a tool that facilitates the migration process for websites called Change of Address which the webmasters can use to inform Google of the planned migration. The tool has been retired then reactivated by Google, and it can be omitted easily among all the pre-migration checks. Taking this step could expedite Google's crawling and indexing of the new website and deindexing of the old website.

Not disallowing crawlers: Not adding a disallow command to your robots.txt file will leave your new website at the risk of being crawled and indexed by the bots and in turn visited by your users while it's still not ready to go live. Not to mention the potential duplicate content issues that may arise and the subsequent impact on your current website's rankings.

Not having a backup of your current content: Whether you're planning on implementing major or minor changes on your website's content, it's never a bad idea to have a backup of your resources just in case. Make sure you have that backup before starting with the migration procedures.

Not monitoring your performance: Keep monitoring and comparing your website's pre- and post-migration performance to see how it improved and whether the migration has achieved its planned goals. This is key in determining how you should proceed with the new website's optimization and detecting and resolving any issues as soon as possible.

Website migration can be a rewarding process if done in the right way and for the right reasons, but it comes at a high risk, and you must navigate your way through the process with caution. If you're planning on migrating your website to a new domain and not sure what to do, reach out to our SEO team and we will help you with the process.