A Beginners Guide to Website Migration

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A Beginners Guide to Website Migration
by Marketing

In today’s digital world, your business website is vital for bringing both brand reputation and revenue. Companies consistently search for SEO strategies to increase traffic and site rank. For some companies, website migration becomes an option to boost visibility and climb search engine rankings. 

The process is complex, and there’s much to consider. Whether you’re moving to a new domain, server, or host, migrating your website requires detailed planning and takes up time and resources. Get it wrong and risk losing website traffic and revenue. And with 68% of search engine click tracking in the first five results, a low ranking has dire consequences in traffic and sales.

But get it right, and enjoy the rewards of increased visibility, traffic, and new deals.  Ready to learn more? Read on for this guide to website migration.

What Exactly Is Website Migration?

In a nutshell, website migration is any event that changes a website significantly enough to affect search engine visibility. These changes can include changing the site’s domain, updating and adding more content, or changing the website’s structure and design. 

Significant website changes, like changing the domain name, affect search engine visibility. Suppose the search engine fails to find the connection between your old website and the new one via redirects. Your search engine visibility may plummet, resulting in lost traffic.

Successful website migrations work by utilizing SEO (search engine optimization). SEO strategies involve optimizing your website for search engines and users. For example, creating a mobile-friendly and easy-to-use website or by ensuring you have good keywords. 

Why Perform a Website Migration? 

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There are many reasons to perform a website migration. Perhaps the company has considered using an ai domain and sees the benefits of changing. Other reasons website migrations are beneficial are: 

  • Updates your website’s structure, navigation, and design;
  • Implement a new content management system (CMS);
  • Make a move from HTTP to HTTPS;
  • Transfer to a new server; 
  • Move to a different domain;
  • Updating and maintaining data integrity.

Although a website migration is a big job, a new web design, brand domain name, or secure website can significantly impact success rates. But remember, a successful website migration requires meticulous planning and a solid team. As the saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. 

Let’s now look at some of the most common website migration pitfalls (and how you can avoid them.)

Common Causes of Website Migration Failure 

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Unfortunately, too many website migrations fail for the same avoidable reasons, including: 

Lack of Planning 

You must research the best practices for the reason you’re migrating and build a plan around them. If you’ve searched ‘what is .ae domain‘ and have found it could benefit your business, then focus your efforts on a URL and new TLD. 

Weak Strategy

Having a weak strategy for migrating your website will lead to issues further on. Spend time developing your strategy and account for all outcomes. Only then can you have the confidence to continue.

Lack of SEO

Remember, the whole point of website migration is to boost search engine performance. Correctly implementing SEO will ensure you don’t lose website traffic and your business’s future.

Whether it’s in-house or outsourced, collaborate closely with the SEO team and absorb their knowledge.

Low on Resources

Many businesses fail to set aside the required resources for performing a website migration. For example, a lack of funding for an SEO consultancy or a web designing team means you won’t be able to afford premium services. 

Poor Testing and Follow-Up 

In all business processes, follow-ups are essential. Would you install interactive voice response software in your business and not test it by making a call? You would not. Website migrations are much the same. 

Follow-up your launch with tests: do your redirects work? Are there any bugs?

Now that we know what mistakes to avoid, let’s explore how to migrate your website in six steps successfully.

How to Perform a Website Migration in Six Steps

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Follow this six-step guide to make your website migration as smooth as possible. 

Devise a Website Migration Plan

A good website migration starts with a good plan. You’ll want to make sure you include the following:

      • Identify the scope and timeframe for your migration. What do you wish to achieve, and by when? 
      • Assemble a team to perform the migration, including leaders and support teams.
      • Break each task down into checklists to ensure nothing is skipped over or forgotten about during the process. 
      • Work out how much budget and how many resources you need. 
      • Undertake risk assessment and risk mitigation into your migration to reduce potential obstacles. 

Quite simply, a good plan for website migration takes time. Spend time liaising with SEO teams, leaders, developers, and anyone else who will be part of the project: the more input, the greater the output. 

Team Up With Developers and Designers

Building a new website or updating your current one will need a team of developers and designers. Work with them to reach your objectives. 

For example, if your objective is to redesign your website to increase customer engagement, this step could involve reviewing wireframes, providing feedback, and collaborating with the design team. 

If your website migration needs more than design, then you’ll need to let your developers get to work. For example, if your website speed is an issue, developers can improve this while also adding features to prevent it in the future, such as image optimization and compression.

Or perhaps you want to integrate an order processing system with your website; you’ll also need developers for this. 

Prepare Your SEO 

After your developers and designers have completed their work (if required), it’s time to get your website migration SEO ready. 

Whether with an in-house SEO specialist or outsourced to a team, collaborate with them and prepare a list of SEO specifications for your website. Your developers will need this to launch at a later date. 

Your SEO specifications could include:

      • URL structure
      • Redirects
      • Internal linking
      • HTML sitemap

As well as building these specifications, your SEO also needs to:

      • Crawl your current website using one of the many tools available online.
      • Create benchmarks from your existing website, including ranking, speed, and other performance attributes. 
      • Export data from your existing website to find the performance of your organic-search traffic for reference after migration.

If your website migration involves redirects, like moving to a new domain or from HTTP to HTTPS, then create a document outlining your planned redirects. For example, “www.catfood.com/aboutus” should redirect to “www.foodforcats.com/aboutus.”

Launch and Test Your New Website

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Strictly speaking, you could launch your website earlier than step four. For example, if your designers have designed a new website, you can begin testing it as your developers start building it. 

Be careful though, if you choose to start testing your website early on, make sure it’s not discoverable by search engines. You don’t want search engines to start crawling and indexing your new website before you’ve migrated your old site’s content to it. To avoid this, limit your new website’s access to specific IPs. 

During the testing stage, leave no stone unturned. Make a checklist to:

      • Review your website architecture. 
      • Identify your website’s usability. 
      • Test that it works just as well on mobile devices. 
      • Test your internal linking to ensure everything works correctly and intuitively. 
      • Check website title tags, meta descriptions, and general copy. 
      • Test your website’s functionality, page loading, buttons, and speed. 
      • Double-check your txt file, HTML sitemap, XML sitemap, and structured data. 

It’s best practice to have a team conduct your testing stage. What one person misses, another may spot. For example, one person may spot a broken link, whereas another may spot a typo on your landing page. 

Migrate Your Website

Finally, it’s time to launch your website migration. After weeks or even months of hard work and testing, you should be feeling confident. 

One of the critical factors for a successful migration is speed. Why? Because if your migration requires downtime, website crawlers will see that your website is down, which can affect your visibility and damage your ranking quickly. 

To keep things speedy, make sure to do the following straight after your initial migration:

      • Make sure your robots.txt file does not block search engines.
      • Check your redirects, especially ones for your most important pages. 
      • Upload your XML sitemap to your Google Search Console. 

These three steps will help you avoid the most common slow-down causes.

Follow-Up Your Website Migration

Although your website migration has launched, it’s not over yet. 

The final step of successful website migration is to monitor it over the coming weeks and months to watch your search engine rankings, and traffic numbers are stable, increasing, or decreasing. 

While a slight drop in ranking and traffic is expected, an extended slump may signal problems with your migration that need addressing straight away. 

For example, forgetting redirects could damage your ranking as search engines won’t be able to find your new website, and users will think you’ve disappeared! 

Use analytics tools to keep an eye on your website’s search engine performance. Remember, low traffic could have catastrophic consequences, so your follow-up stage is just as important as the planning stage. 

Final Thought 

While it may seem daunting, a website migration doesn’t have to be feared. For many businesses, a poor understanding is enough to stop them from even attempting a website migration.

But by following this guide, you should have a better understanding of what is required and how to avoid the most common mistakes. A successful website migration comes down to meticulous planning, perfect execution, and calculated follow-ups. 

So, wait no longer to climb those search engine rankings by performing your website migration. 

About the Guest Blogger Francis King

Francis leads customer acquisition at OnlyDomains, a domain management solution that offers global services and support that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Francis has been a part of the team since 2009 and is the go-to guy for everything online advertising. Originally from Melbourne, Francis cannot go a day without lifting weights; he considers taking on Jiu-Jitsu next. Here is his blog.