What Should a Website Migration Plan Include?
Website migration can be a daunting task, but our twelve experts, ranging from founders to marketing specialists, have shared their top tips to ensure a smooth transition. From preserving inbound links and rankings to developing a backup and recovery strategy, this article provides a comprehensive guide to what you should include in your website migration plan.
- Preserve Inbound Links and Rankings
- Wield the 404 Redirect Spell
- Document Settings and Configurations
- Maintain Rankings with 301 Redirects
- Plan a Pre-Migration SEO Audit
- Include a Content Inventory
- Create a Staging Environment
- Establish a Detailed Migration Timeline
- Prepare a Post-Migration Analysis Plan
- Emphasize Exhaustive Testing
- Examine Pre-Migration SEO Performance
- Develop a Backup and Recovery Strategy
Preserve Inbound Links and Rankings
We recently migrated our new website to a different hosting provider, changed the framework it was built in, and restructured the pages and service offerings.
Before jumping in, I had one essential goal: to keep all the inbound links, search traffic, and rankings.
The solution was to carefully map the pages we needed to move under new URLs, set 301 redirects for inbound links, update sitemap.xml, and rewrite all internal links to point to the new URLs directly.
The result was an increase in search rankings for several keywords and gaining increased traffic.
Wield the 404 Redirect Spell
The daring adventure of website migration—like moving to a new wizarding school! Picture this: Your magical wand, the “404 Redirect Spell,” is essential for a seamless transition. A staggering 58% of websites face a traffic drop after migration, but fear not! With the 404 Redirect Spell, you’ll guide lost visitors to their desired destination like a true GPS charm!
Real-life example? “Enchanting E-Commerce” saw a miraculous 30% traffic increase after wielding this powerful spell during their migration. So, when crafting your plan, don’t forget the 404 Redirect Spell!
Avoid those digital roadblocks and keep the magic alive for both users and search engines. Your website migration journey shall be as smooth as butterbeer, and your visitors shall sing your praises like Phoenixes!
Document Settings and Configurations
Before you start website migration, write all the important settings and configuration. This will help you replicate the same settings in the new location with no trouble. It’s like having a blueprint to recreate the same environment. This document will also help you troubleshoot any issue that might arise during the migration process.
Maintain Rankings with 301 Redirects
When embarking on a website migration, whether it’s a simple redesign or a platform switch, one essential tool that plays a critical role in maintaining search engine rankings and user experience is the 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect is an HTTP status code that signifies a permanent redirection from one URL to another. When implemented correctly, it informs both users and search engines that the original URL has moved permanently to a new location. Instead of abruptly breaking old links, 301 redirects gracefully guide visitors and search engine crawlers to the updated content, preserving link equity and authority accumulated over time.
Without 301 redirects, all the backlinks, social media shares, and other external references accumulated by the old URLs would become invalid, resulting in a significant loss of SEO value. By employing 301 redirects, you ensure that the SEO equity garnered from inbound links is effectively passed on to the new URLs.
Plan a Pre-Migration SEO Audit
Website migration involves transferring a website to a new environment, but it can lead to temporary ranking decreases in search engines.
To mitigate this, a well-planned SEO strategy is crucial. Search engines perceive migrations as significant changes, causing fluctuations in rankings. Crawlability issues, slow loading speeds, keyword relevance changes, and domain authority impact contribute to the ranking decline.
Include the following in your migration plan:
- Pre-migration SEO Audit: Assess your website’s strengths, weaknesses, and keywords to identify areas for improvement.
- Keyword Research and Mapping: Research relevant keywords for the new website and map them to appropriate pages for continued relevance.
- Redirection Plan: Implement 301 redirects to preserve link equity and guide users to the right pages after migration.
- XML Sitemap Submission: Submit an updated XML sitemap to expedite search engine indexing.
- Monitor and Resolve Crawl Errors: Regularly check for crawl errors and
Include a Content Inventory
One thing to include in a website-migration plan is a content inventory. This is a list of all the content that will be migrated to the new website, including:
- The URL of the content
- The title of the content
- The type of content (e.g., blog post, product page, image)
- The date the content was created
- The date the content was last updated
- The keywords associated with the content
The content inventory will help you track the progress of the migration and ensure that all the content is migrated correctly. It will also help you identify any content that needs to be updated or removed before the migration.
Create a Staging Environment
Creating a staging or homologation environment is the best thing to include in a seamless website migration plan. It’s a very efficient practice for site migration processes, allowing thorough testing before publishing the site without having to remove the old one.
By creating a homologation environment on the same server where the final version of the site will be, it’s possible to save time in the migration stage. In addition, this practice ensures that the tests will be carried out in an identical structure, both in terms of content and settings, avoiding surprises while expediting the processes of the new structure.
Establish a Detailed Migration Timeline
Establishing a detailed timeline and task checklist among the team members is one of the most important things in a website migration plan. A timeline organizes the migration process and ensures timely work, whereas a checklist ensures that all the important tasks are completed.
Prepare a Post-Migration Analysis Plan
One important thing to include in a website-migration plan is a post-migration analysis plan. This should detail how you will monitor and evaluate the new website’s performance, with a particular focus on SEO metrics, user behavior, and site functionality.
Having this plan in place ensures that any unexpected issues are promptly identified and addressed, minimizing the impact on your website’s performance.
Emphasize Exhaustive Testing
Emphasizing the significance of exhaustive testing in a website-migration plan is crucial. We can ensure a smooth and successful transition to the new platform by thoroughly testing the migration process.
This testing allows us to identify and address any potential issues or errors that may arise during the migration, reducing the risk of disruptions or downtime for users. Meticulous testing guarantees that all website functionalities, data transfers, and integrations cohesively come together in the new environment.
This comprehensive approach maximizes our adaptability to the changes and ensures an unyielding commitment to a seamless user experience, preserving the website’s optimum functionality and user-friendliness throughout the process.
Examine Pre-Migration SEO Performance
During a migration, it’s quite common for a site’s search engine rankings to take a hit, resulting in an organic traffic drop. This typically happens because of changes in site structure, content, or technical aspects that search engines, like Google, consider important. So, before making any changes, thoroughly examine your current website’s SEO performance. This means taking a look at several important aspects:
First, have a handy list of all the URLs your site currently has, so you can make sure none of them go missing or break during the migration. We don’t want any lost pages.
Next, dive into studying your site’s structure, metadata, and content. Pay close attention to what’s driving the most traffic and engagement. This way, you’ll have a solid understanding of what’s performing well and what may need improvement. Don’t forget to check out your backlink report! It’s important to know which sites are linking to your pages!
Develop a Backup and Recovery Strategy
A comprehensive backup and data-recovery strategy is a crucial component to include when developing a website migration plan. Ensure that you create a comprehensive backup of your existing website, including all files, databases, and configurations, before beginning any migration process. This backup is a safety net in the event that something goes awry during the migration.
In addition, a recovery plan should be in place to resolve any issues that may arise during or after the migration. By having a robust backup and recovery strategy, you can minimize downtime, reduce the risk of data loss, and quickly resolve any unanticipated obstacles, thereby ensuring a successful website migration.
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