How to avoid losing SEO traffic when migrating your website

You’ve worked hard to carefully craft site SEO that works for your business but now there’s a site migration on the agenda. This can be a difficult moment for any business, as search engines often don’t react well to something like a domain name change. However, if you’re keen to ensure you keep your SEO in tact, there are some simple steps you can take to help you do it.

Accept the expected

If you’re going to go through a site migration then you just have to accept that there will be a temporary slow in the traffic that is going through your website. Search engines don’t like site migrations. However, if you have a very good reason for going through the process – such as supporting a rebrand – then weigh up the benefits of this against the traffic loss and accept the temporary slowdown as part of the process.

Use a test server

A site migration can seem like a simple task but 90% of the time issues can arise. The best way to ensure that these don’t completely catch you out is to use a test server so that you can test out the new site in private before the migration.

Choose your migration date with care

The optimum time for site migration is during a slow period when you might already expect business to be less active. So, for example, a retailer scheduling the site migration around the time of the Black Friday rush is likely to be a very bad idea just in case any interruptions occur.

Get perspective on your existing site

Ideally, the new URL infrastrucutre you use will be identical to the old one. So, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet of every old URL and every new URL so you can map the transition from old to new and redirect any new of different links so that they are not lost. Make sure that you have a copy of your analytics data somewhere to hand too. This will be an essential part of establishing whether you’ve lost any traffic after the migration has happened – and how much. Make sure your analytics are up and running on the new site well before the switch takes place so that no data is lost.

Don’t forget the details

Plan to cover important details when the new site is ready, including:

- Updating HTML links on the new site so that they all point to pages on the new site

- Look out for problems with duplicate content that may arise during the migration process

- Make sure any removed pages don’t leave gaps – for example, you will need to remove all links from those pages and allow them to redirect to alternative, relevant pages

- Ensure you log the new sitemap in Google Search Console

- Crawl old URLs and ensure they redirect to the new site

If you’d like to find out more about SEO and how to nurture it for your business we can help. If you need a new website, or just want some help with your SEO, give our team a call today on 020 7100 0726.

Author: Steve Pailthorpe - Follow us on Google+