Site Migration: The Most Common Mistakes! - Semalt Warns
Hi! In today's article, Semalt is going to tell you about the most common mistakes made during a website migration. With 90% of the website migration, at least one of the errors I will tell you about today often appears. Unfortunately, it is also the case that even the smallest mistake can cost us a loss of traffic and a decrease in the visibility.
So if you are considering moving the website, migrating it or changing the domain, I encourage you to read the entire article.
If you've reached this point, you probably know what migration is. In the case of website migration, we can divide it into several types.
Among the e-commerce, the most popular type of migration is migration from one CMS to another. Suppose your store grows with a small inventory at the beginning, few products and your requirements were smaller. However, with time, as the store grew, your needs began to increase, so you started thinking about changing the CMS, which will allow you to do things that you want to be in a given CMS.
And here you are actually considering changing from a CMS to another CMS. In this case, the migration gives you many advantages. You are able to handle more inquiries, you can integrate with the systems, e.g. for the wholesalers, which make your business grow and the CMS simply makes it easier for you.
Another type of migration is from one domain to another. So our store, for example, operated under the name X, but after some time we found that it was time to change and our brand should have a different name. Therefore, we buy a new domain and want to switch the store to another one.
Sometimes it also happens that if, for example, we have a domain that has suffered somehow (e.g. a filter has been applied to it) and we know that nothing can be achieved here, then we also consider changing the domain. Then we are dealing with the migration of the domain to another domain.
We also deal with the migration when we want to update the appearance of our store - we change its template, we simply change the page, I mean, the visual part that the users see. It often involves the URL path changing, so here the migration itself and its correct implementation will also be very important. Because we want to leave what worked well for us and add those functionalities to make the traffic on the website bigger in the future.
For this reason, we must remember about certain rules that will prevent us from losing what we have already gained. Probably we associate primarily the migration with the redirections. So if you do any of the migrations, probably someone will tell you "remember, do a redirection". And that's true, of course the redirects are important, but there are also many other elements that affect whether the migration will be successful or not.
Believe me, if you do not properly prepare for the migration, you will make some mistakes in the process, the results can be really directs. To prepare for the migration, you should properly planning it and then implementing it, and see how the website reacts will be much easier than catching what has been done after a bad migration.
If we are working on a new version of the website, we usually deal with the development version. So it is a page that should not be accessible to both users and search engines, and should be marked with the Noindex Nofollow parameters. Thanks to this method, we do not allow our website to be indexed and we can work on it freely.
This is especially important if, for example, we transfer the content from the old page to the new one, because Google, if it reaches our development page, will start to index it. So the search engines index will include the content from both the new and the old page - then we will have to deal with the duplication.
Due to the fact that the development version is blocked by the search engines' robots for the indexing, we can treat it as a scratch paper. We can safely plan some solutions, implement some elements calmly and that will not have a negative impact on the visibility of the website. We can, for example, plan the menu structure and change the URLs very often. In the normal world it is not possible, because if the crawler finds a given URL and indexes it, then if we change this address and we do not create the redirects, the 404 errors will start to appear.
In the case of the development version, it is also important that if, for example, an SEO company with which you cooperate has access to it, it can also freely work on it, transfer it and help you with the migration. If it is not there and we are working on a living organism, it is a much more difficult task.
Move all your content
Having a development version, we cannot forget about the other elements that will also be important in the event of a successful migration. If our store was already optimized, it had content in the categories and the products that we optimized and that we know for generating the traffic, then here we must remember to transfer all the content from one side to the other.
So we move the title, Meta description, descriptions along with the formatting they had on the old page. If there were the alternative descriptions on the site, we should also make sure that it appears on the new page. The same applies to the headings - that is, if we optimized the headings on our website, the same headers should be on the new version of the page. These elements will cause after the switching on our new website it will already rank.
Of course, it is worth preparing in advance that is creating a redirect map of the old addresses to the new ones, so that the turning on the page is simply redirected and causing Google to quickly see that these redirects exist if they enter the website.
Redirect all the subpages
When it comes to redirects, the basic error is that we only redirect the home page. So if, for example, we change the domain and change from one to another, we only redirect the home page. The categories, products, blog articles do not interest us - this is a very big mistake.
Each subpage has its own visibility, which we've been building for some time. It is optimized, linked from the outside... So if a new address appears in the structure of the site, it is just fresh and until we strengthen this address after redirecting from the old to the new one, it's as if we build it all from scratch. Of course, the title elements that we have moved or the content that have been implemented on the new page will help us here, but we will not transfer the power of the old subpage.
Thanks to the 301 redirects, we do not lose what we have already been working on, so it is very important to transfer the addresses 1:1. So if we have the category addresses, we should redirect each category to its counterpart. The same goes for the products. Of course, if there are a lot of these products, and we do not want to slow down the server very much, then you can of course choose a part of the products or apply just the rules.
Of course, we can make it easier for ourselves when we have the option of the creating addresses that look the same when we are designing a page. So if we do not change the structure of the URLs in the old and the new store, then of course we will not have to create these redirects. However, if we change, for example, a CMS, it is often simply impossible and these redirects must be performed.
301, not 302
After we create all the redirections, we must remember that these redirections must be permanent redirects, that is to say, 301 redirects. The 302 redirections, which are also often performed, are temporary redirects - they will not transfer the power of those subpages that I told you about earlier.
If we turn on a new page, we must also make sure that our website has the Google Analytics and Google Search Console codes. Thanks to this, we will be able to observe what is happening on our website and how it behaves.
If we have completed the individual stages and are ready for the page to be seen by Google, we can of course submit the page for the re-indexation in the Search Console. We can also upload a new map to Search Console to make it easier for him to identify the content of the new page - this will happen a little faster.
We must also remember that for the first period, Google will index the new page, but it will also keep the old one in the index, so we must give it time for the old page to be removed from the index and a new one to be inserted in its place. We will watch for the first three to six months what will happen.
Of course, in the tools that show us the visibility, we can also see e.g. a decline over a period of time, but then this side will start to bounce. If this is not the case, you need to check what went wrong. It might seem that your developer introduced 301 redirects, and these redirects turned out to be 302 redirects. So these things will just have to be picked up right after the migration.
These were the most common mistakes when migrating a page. If we know that our migration was carried out badly, does this mean that our side is doomed to fail? Not completely. You can of course introduce of a recovery plan only what is important is time. If the website migration has not been carried out correctly, for the first months we still have the opportunity to recover the traffic that we lost. Later - if Google removes the old addresses from the search engines - it can be much more difficult.