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Migrating a Website? 10 Things to Keep in Mind

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Migrating a Website? 10 Things to Keep in Mind

It’s on you to put together a plan for a successful website migration—and it gets much easier once you understand the potential pitfalls.

· Web Dev Zone ·
Free Resource

Migrating a website to a new domain can be a major undertaking, especially if you’ve spent a lot of time building up your old domain with search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and customer support. However, the result is worth it if you’re motivated by the right strategic reasoning.

It’s on you to put together a plan for a successful website migration—and it gets much easier once you understand the potential pitfalls.

What to Consider When Migrating a Website

These are some of the most important considerations when migrating your website to a new domain:

1. Stage and test the new website. First, make sure you develop the new website on an effective staging platform. This staging environment will allow you to visit the website as if it were life while it’s still in progress—keeping it off of live servers. The more thoroughly you test the site while it’s in staging, the better your chances of launching error-free when it’s time to go live.

2. Audit and reassess your content. This is a great opportunity to reevaluate your content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Over the years, websites tend to get cluttered with blog posts that are obsolete, no longer relevant, or written according to older standards. This is your chance to weed out some of these underperforming posts, rewrite others, and consolidate content that could perform better as part of a bigger, more informative piece.

3. Create 301 redirects. Regardless of whether you overhaul your onsite content, it’s crucial to create 301 redirects. These web-based redirects will guide your users from old site URLs to their new versions; while you’ll spend some effort replacing links and updating your customers, old bookmarks, old links, and other old ways of reaching your site will still exist. Redirects will ensure customers using these methods aren’t lost in the transition.

4. Audit and update your old backlinks. Take this time to audit your current backlink profile. Which sites are linking to you, and which links are they using? If possible, reach out to domains with old links, and ask them to update their links with the new versions; 301 redirects should only be your backup plan.

5. Update your internal links. Similarly, you’ll want to audit and update your internal link structure. Make sure all internal links on your website are updated with the new domain; you don’t want to have your users click on a link to your old site and get 301 redirected to a new page. This is especially important if you’re overhauling your content marketing strategy.

6. Notify Google of your coming change. Within Google Search Console, Google offers a tool you can use to notify the search engine giant of your upcoming change of address. There, you’ll also find some best practices you can follow to make sure Google can still “see” and appropriately analyze your site.

7. Check your robots.txt file and Schema markup. Technical errors can spell doom for an otherwise perfectly functional site; if your site’s search engine visibility or functionality declines during or after launch, you could lose vital customers. Double-check your robots.txt file to make sure the site is crawlable as intended, and review your Schema micro formatting to see how your entries appear in search engines.

8. Notify your customers. It’s important to keep your customers in the loop as well, especially if your new website will change how they interact with your brand. In the weeks preceding your launch, let your customers know about the migration, and send them reminders as your launch date gets closer. Then, submit a press release and advertise your new site to gain more visibility.

9. Measure your performance. In the days and weeks following your website’s launch, it’s important to measure its performance. What kind of uptime are you seeing? Are there any user-reported errors? Do people seem to be enjoying the new features, subjectively?

10. Keep your old domain. Finally, even though you’ve made a full migration, it’s important to keep your old domain, for at least six months after you’ve migrated. This will help your current customers adjust to the change, and will serve as a backup in case you run into any issues—though you should never revert to the old domain entirely.

Planning Ahead

There are some vital strategies that you must remember to execute if you want your migration to be successful. Some may only benefit you in certain situations, and others are more of a gray area. There’s no strict formula that every website follows precisely. Instead, you’ll have to put together a plan of your own if you want to succeed. The best thing you can do for your upcoming website is to plan.

Topics:
web dev, website, website migration services

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