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A team tries to get their website noticed on Google.

How To Create an SEO Migration Checklist

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Content Marketing | 0 comments

Any business undergoing major restructuring in their website can benefit from a clearly designed SEO migration checklist. A website redesign may be in the cards if you want to rebrand your business, generate new leads, garner more traffic or enhance the overall user experience. However, there are risks involved. Following recommended SEO migration strategies helps preserve the high-ranking content you worked hard to get — and avoid having your search engine rankings or web traffic suffer from the changes.

Explaining SEO Migration: Why You Need a Checklist

A woman explains SEO migrations to her colleague.

Website migration involves making major changes to your website in terms of how it looks, how it performs, how it attracts visitors and how it converts those visitors into customers. You should always have a valid reason for doing so to make it worth your time and effort.

You may need to make major changes to your site if you wish to move it to a different server, change your business’s domain name, stop consumers from seeing threatening pop-ups or create a mobile-friendly version, to name just a few common reasons. Regardless of your reasoning for making substantial changes to your website, it’s important that you understand the implications of doing so and put a plan in place to help minimize possible issues.

Understanding How Website Migration Affects SEO

A man considers how seo migration will affect his site's performance.

When you redesign your website without taking the proper precautions, you run the risk of “confusing” the search engines, which in turn may lead to a loss in traffic — and conversions. However excited you feel at the prospect of your website’s new look or improved functionality, know that exercising restraint can go a long way in terms of protecting the hard work you’ve already put in.

Overhauling your website is almost always going to impact search engine optimization, but creating and sticking to an SEO migration checklist helps mitigate potential traffic losses. A strong SEO migration strategy helps you preserve the rankings and visibility you worked hard to secure in the first place, and it also keeps your website visible and relevant to both existing and prospective new leads.

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Creating an SEO Site Migration Checklist 

Now that you understand the importance of having a solid SEO site migration strategy in place before restructuring your website, how do you go about creating your SEO migration checklist?

1. Make a clear plan

A team makes a plan for seo migration checklist

You should have a clear migration plan in place and ensure everyone involved in the process understands their respective roles. Make sure your entire team of stakeholders, from your web developers and strategists to your project managers and content creators, know what they need to do and when they need to do it. Also, make sure all stakeholders are on board with your reasons for revamping the site in the first place.

It’s wise to plan exactly when to perform the site migration. To minimize potential disruptions, consider doing the actual migration during a slower time for your business when your site typically sees its lowest number of visitors. You should also account for the fact that problems are inevitably going to arise along the way — so make sure to give your team time to troubleshoot.

2. Back up your current site

We can’t overstate the importance of backing up every aspect of your website before performing a website migration. This is an essential component of any SEO migration checklist for several reasons. For starters, it protects the content that attracts consumers to your website in the first place, preserving it in the event that something catastrophic happens during migration.

Take blog posts, for example, which tend to generate more traffic than, say, product descriptions. When done well and drafted in an evergreen format, a blog is a strong organic marketing tool that can have a positive impact on search engine results for the foreseeable future — provided you protect those posts during site migrations and make sure your existing and prospective customers maintain access to them.

There’s also a high probability that you may have to revisit certain aspects of your old site when reconfiguring your new one, so it makes sense to maintain a clear pathway to it. Ultimately, backing up your existing site gives you something to fall back on if site improvements fail to deliver and work as intended.

3. Track, manage and redirect URLs

site migration checklist seo

Part of your SEO migration checklist should involve identifying the content and URLs that hold the most value when it comes to gaining traffic and converting customers so that you may prioritize them when performing SEO site migration. This ensures your highest-ranking content remains visible with only minimal lapses, as well as identifies pages and content your new website might be able to do without.

You then have to create a 301-redirect map to ensure all your old URLs direct visitors where you want them to go and update any internal ones that might lead to blank pages or dead ends. Failing to redirect your old URLs to the appropriate new channels may prove devastating to your search rankings.

Always exercise care when planning these redirects and try to avoid redirecting too much content back to a single page. Also make sure links work as intended. When visitors click a link only to find themselves on a 404 status error for a page that doesn’t exist, this has the potential to hurt your search rankings.

4. Perform the migration & evaluate the results 

migration seo

When it comes to the actual SEO site migration, consider breaking it up into manageable steps as part of your checklist. Be sure to shield your new website from the public and enable and test of all your redirects in order of importance before you’re ready to go live.

Once you’re feeling confident about your new website’s performance, you’ll want to update its information in the Google Search Console, then check for any crawl errors and fix them accordingly. Finally, after a time online, you’ll want to evaluate the performance of the new site, and compare it to that of the old one, to ensure that any losses in traffic you experienced were temporary in nature and that the content that helped visitors find you initially is still visible post-migration.

Get Help With Your SEO Migration Checklist

Sometimes site migration is a necessary evil, but if you aren’t careful, your search engine rankings can suffer, leading to a loss of web traffic and leads. Getting organized with an SEO migration checklist helps you get ahead of this complicated task. If you find yourself needing support, BKA Content is here to help. We can conduct audits of your existing content to identify areas to improve during a migration as well as provide new and improved content for your site. Finally, we can help you new and improved site soar to the top of the SERPs through link building and ongoing content focused on SEO. Learn more about what we have to offer. 

The BKA Writing Team
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