The massive change businesses have gone through to focus more on internet sales and less on in-person retail has largely been a good thing. However, it certainly has its own set of challenges. Some of the most prominent ones come from website migrations. While there’s a lot to know about these processes, one vital thing to be aware of right away is that they can negatively impact your SEO. If you want to learn more about these site migrations and how to make them more fluid, this guide is just for you.
What Is a Site Migration?
Based on the name alone, you can assume that site migration is when you create a new website for your company, then move everything from the old site to the new one. While this assumption is true, this is only one possibility of what a site migration might be.
Besides changing the site’s location, this process also includes other adjustments, such as platform changes, addition or reduction of content, structural alterations, and shifts in either UI or UX. Basically, any large-scale change can result in some form of site migration. That means that whenever you want to significantly improve your e-commerce order fulfillment process, you’ll need to take steps to ensure a successful site migration.
How Can a Migration Impact Your SEO?
If you’re wondering why you need to do this every time, the answer is simple—any site migration could negatively affect your current SEO output. While most companies will bounce back from these dips in little to no time, they’ll still result in a significant decrease in sales for that short time frame. Plus, you’re still at risk of never fully recovering at all.
But why does this happen? Well, the answer is quite simple. Search engines like Google are constantly crawling your web pages, documenting what they find, and reporting that data back so that your site can climb the rankings and grow. However, when you make changes to your site, they affect this whole process. Search engines can either no longer find information or may not want to rank the newly added stuff. That’s why you need to take steps to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Next Migration?
Now that you better understand what a site migration is and how it affects your SEO, it’s time to learn about the crucial steps you need to take to ensure that you don’t make all these changes in vain. If nothing else, you should make a solid effort toward performing these steps during the migration.
Crawl Your Site Before and After
For those who don’t already know, you don’t have to sit back and wonder what a search engine’s website crawlers are seeing. You can use your own crawler program to get a good idea of your site’s appearance. Performing these crawls before the migration will give you a good starting point for future changes. If you complete this craw again after the migration, it’ll also be easy to track any changes that occur during the process.
Map Your Changes
Regardless of the type of site migration your company performs, you must map out your changes. Having search results that lead directly to a 404 page will drastically hurt your rankings. You’ll need to make sure both new and old redirects are in place to ensure a smooth transition to the updated version of the site.
Fix Problems Immediately
After the new version of the site goes live and you’ve performed your own crawl of the site, it’s time to resolve any issues that arise. There will almost certainly be one or two things your team will need to fix—perfect migrations are few and far between. Removing duplicate content, redirecting broken links, and tidying up sitemaps are just a few of the potential tasks you might need to do.
The sooner you fix issues, the less likely you’ll be to experience a dip in SEO. To ensure that you have enough time to remedy all these issues, it’s always a good idea to implement these migrations during downtimes on your site. That way, you don’t have a massive influx of people trying to navigate your website and reporting issues immediately.
Monitor Performance Afterward
Even if you manage to get past the first few hours of a site migration without a hitch, anything else could go wrong in the following weeks or months. Not all imperfections in this process are instantly noticeable. If you don’t monitor your changes regularly, smaller problems could slip through the cracks that hurt your SEO over time. To ensure this doesn’t happen, you’ll need your team to keep a watchful eye on your metrics and troublesome areas of your site.