How to maintain your SEO when migrating your website

Website migration presents an opportunity to strategically upgrade your SEO. Going through the process of maintaining SEO is also crucial to ensure you don’t lose the benefits of optimisation you’ve already invested in. So, how do you do it?

Factor SEO into you decision making

When you’re planning the migration, make sure you prioritise SEO as a top consideration. Otherwise you face losing the benefits of all that structure and content simply by forgetting to factor it in.

Assess your existing website

Start by crawling your current site – there are plenty of free tools that can do this for you. This will give you a roadmap of meta data and structure that you can use to ensure the migrated site matches up. With a free audit tool you’ll also be able to see what has been successful on the existing site in SEO terms – and so what you need to keep – as well as what has not worked. An audit tool will highlight issues such as missing meta descriptions or page titles over 512 pixels and you can check manually for features such as duplicated content and XML sitemap.

The value of noindex

A new site full of great new content will get indexed straight away by Google, even if it is a test site. The problem with this is that when you then go on to launch the migrated site for real everything on it will be read as a duplicate because search engines have already seen it. So, noindex is essential. You can do this either by blocking the site in the Robots.txt file or locating the noindex option in your new site's CMS.

Looking at the test site

It can be a good idea to also carry out a crawl of the test site you’re preparing to migrate to. By using crawling and comparison tools and exporting the data from these crawls into Excel you’ll be able to carry out a comprehensive analysis of what works on the test site and what doesn’t. You should be able to see functional information, such as links that aren’t working, as well as data that is crucial for SEO such as duplication of meta descriptions. This crawl – and the subsequent analysis – can be quite a complex process so you might need the support of a team like ours to help you manage it.

Checking the ranking of the test site

The ranking check will show you how the site performs for keywords with search engines. If there are significant shifts between the old site and the new then you may need to readjust the SEO of the test site to allow for this.

Keep your content

You might be tempted to use the opportunity of a migration to have a clean sheet as far as content is concerned. 90% of the time this is a big mistake and one that you can’t undo without a lot of effort. Your existing content adds value to the site and gives it depth so avoid a deletion spree at this stage.

If you’d like to understand more about the process of preserving SEO during migration, our team of digital experts is here to help – and happy to do the hard work for you. Get in touch with the Iconic Digital team by giving us a call on 020 7100 0726 today.

Author: Steve Pailthorpe - Follow us on