In the fast-paced world of digital, it’s inevitable that your website will need an overhaul at some point. But if you’re worried about the logistics, the downtime and falling into SEO oblivion, then stop! Rhodri has you covered with his top five tips for successful website migration.
Here’s what you need to know.
Website migration refers to any large-scale changes you make to your site. This includes everything from changes to design, site structure and navigation to a new CMS or domain.
There are tons of benefits to a site migration, but one of the biggest concerns for our clients is the impact it will have on their brand — both logistically and digitally.
It’s inevitable that these website changes will have short term effects, but there are some key ways to minimise their impact so your brand can start reaping the benefits sooner.
1. Plan ahead
Timing is essential for successful website migration. It’s always best to implement any changes during slower periods. Retailers, for example, should steer clear of key shopping dates, such as Black Friday and Christmas, whereas financial services businesses will want to avoid the rush at the start of each year. To find the most appropriate time for your own brand, take a look at your site traffic’s historical traffic data. This will help you to recognise any slower periods throughout the year that provide an ideal window for a successful migration. It's also worth adding a 20% buffer for any allocated time to allow for delays at any stage of the process.
Mapping out both the existing and new sites lets you gather vital information for a smooth migration. Reviewing the existing site lets you gain information about existing pages so you can benchmark where you're currently ranking. It also gives you an insight into the pages that are indexed with Google — and how they rank. This, in turn, lets you determine which pages stay, and which ones will change or go. You’ll also be able to see clearly the URLs, links and content you have in place — and how these will adapt or change with the migration. Gathering this information won’t just make sure you have the relevant content, links, URLs and metadata in place, but also makes sure you’re not duplicating content or using incorrect links — all of which can have a negative impact on SEO.
Before you migrate, it’s important to consider how you're going to migrate any existing content to the new site. Depending on your current CMS, there are both manual and automatic options for content migration, but it’s worth weighing up the time, cost and energy involved with both scenarios to find the fit that’s best for you.
Once the migration is complete, it’s important to monitor your site’s traffic and performance to make sure it’s hitting your initial migration objectives. Areas to monitor might include overall traffic to your website, dedicated product or landing page traffic, user engagement, user interactions, user retention and keyword rankings. Measuring these metrics over the weeks and months following your migration will let tweak and address any issues (such as dips in traffic or keyword rankings) and give you an overview of its success. But…
5. Be patient
Determining the overall success of your site migration is a waiting game. It’s very rare that you’ll see the best results in just a few weeks — and we always recommend gathering data for at least three months following any migration to gain an objective overview of the new site’s performance and its overall success.
As a digital agency, we see a lot of mistakes being made during a website migration — which is why we’re here to help guide our clients through the process as seamlessly as possible. If you’re considering making any major website changes and you’re worried about their impact, drop us a line to see how our experts can help you maximise your migration for optimal site performance.