How Strategic SEO Saves Time & Money During a Website Migration
“When a designer gives you a bill, what do you see it as? An expense, right? When a designer gives me a bill, I see it as an investment. For me, it is something that appreciates and helps your business grow.”
Neil Patel, Founder KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, & Quick Sprout
The importance of a highly functioning website designed to provide optimal user experience across platforms is greater now than ever before. User expectations for digital experiences are growing exponentially, requiring companies to adapt their sites or risk losing out on traffic, conversions, revenue, and market share.
From responsive design, AI, and API integrations to payment portals and conversational marketing website technology is enhancing rapidly, spurring many C-Suite leaders to initiate change in their online offerings and migrate their website to a new design or platform.
For the unprepared this can spell disaster!
Upfront Migration Cost + Backend Traffic Loss = Double Trouble
It’s no secret that redesigning or rebuilding a website in 2019 is costly. It’s also costly to delay an upgrade or to upgrade without a proper plan in place, risking the loss of valuable traffic on the back end of a migration.
No one wants a beautiful new site with no traffic to see it! This is what our experts here at SEO Experts refer to as “Double Trouble”, a costly upfront investment and an even costlier result, typically stemming from a lack of SEO planning.
Decreases in rankings (and traffic), poor user experience, and even Google penalties can result from improper SEO migration planning, all resulting in lower revenue at a time when the website is expected to INCREASE revenue. Hence “Double Trouble”.
Additionally, without proper SEO migration planning, a company will miss out on the opportunity to identify areas in which they can enhance their websites’ organic performance and improve upon its engagement with users to optimize conversion rates.
SEO Website Migration Plan
Now that we’ve covered how essential it is to develop a strategic SEO strategy during a website migration, it’s time to discuss how exactly to implement this SEO migration strategy.
First, in order to ensure an optimal migration, you must have a clear plan in mind. This plan should involve three phases:
2) Launch Day
3) Post Launch
We will discuss how to develop this plan and implement it to ensure your company achieves optimal results and ROI from your website investment.
- Set Objectives & Goals – Share clear and realistic objectives and goals with important stakeholders to set and manage expectations for the migration. Discussing key points and agreeing on this together in the set-up phase will assist in keeping the project within scope and budget. Additionally, it aligns everyone is on the same page with the same goals in mind during the project.
- Review Keyword Focus – Ensure both your development and content creation teams are aligned and have an understanding of the importance of your focused keyword strategy, ensuring the site is designed with SEO in mind. This may require some education of C-level or non-technical employees involved with the migration. Understanding the importance of SEO is critical to ensuring a successful migration.
- Identify Priority Pages – Priority pages are the most valuable assets that can’t afford to lose visibility; When we are identifying priority, pages think about top traffic-drivers, pages that convert well and backlink magnets. These pages are assets your company cannot afford to lose!
- Benchmark Current Site – Note your legacy site’s key SEO metrics such as load times (Mobile & Desktop), number of backlinks, keyword rankings, etc. This will allow you to tangibly compare performance pre & post migration, and in situations where issues are occurring it gives reference points to determine where and why they are happening.
- Review Staging Environment – Ensure the site isn’t accessible to search engines but can be crawled on demand for testing prior to launch.
- Check Search Engine Crawling – Spot check Robots.txt file for any crawling issues, review server responses (desktop & mobile), review canonical tags for errors, check for unintentional no-index or no-follow directives, and identify and fix cloaking issues if needed.
- Redirect Work & Confirmation – Potentially the most important task of a migration, ensure old URL’s redirect properly to the new site. Avoid temporary redirect issues, legacy redirect issues, review redirect chains, and make sure redirect rules are working as expected across the board.
- Search Console Set-Up – Review how Google is indexing the new site. Check for critical issues and use “Fetch as Google” on every page type. Test each sitemap and provide best practices to help search engines discover redirects. Upload mew disavow file and handle all duplicate content issues.
- On-Site Google Compliance Review – Review all meta data, images, internal links, etc to ensure Google compliance.
- Check the Index Status report to closely monitor indexation.
- Monitor the sitemap’s indexation levels.
- Keep an eye on the Crawl Stats report – Look for the number of pages Google crawls per day drops.
- Download and review the Crawl Errors report daily – Consider redirecting the more valuable ones.
- Review the HTML Improvements report – Review to find missing or duplicate title tags.
- Be Wary of mobile usability and structured data errors.
- It’s also worth checking your site’s server log files – Look for crawling patterns and information.
There is no doubt, investing in the infrastructure of a website is an exciting time for an organization. But as discussed above, there are potential risks that come along with it.
To ensure you receive the full benefit of your online investment, SEO must be taken seriously and integrated as part of your migration plan from day 1.
Websites that take the time and effort to implement this strategy reap the results when their new site goes live! Contact our team at SEO Experts for more information on how to ensure you stay out of “Double Trouble” by implementing SEO into your next website migration.