There are many reasons you may want to migrate your website or merge two sites, one of which may be for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. As with any business decision, there are pros and cons to consider before you commit to the change. However, migration can reduce search engine traffic if you’re not merging sites with SEO analytics in mind, and it is crucial to have a plan to limit disruptions during and after migration.
If it makes sense for your business, merging two websites allows you to spend less time with website management and maintenance, simplifies customer experience, and focuses your resources on one website. Migration can be useful for websites undergoing a necessary redesign or rebranding, moving to a better host provider, or that need the ability to build a larger website down the road.
While these benefits may sound great, it is crucial to consider the challenges accompanying site migration and merging. Hiring a professional is highly recommended to ensure your SEO site migrations strategies are at the front of your plan. They can also help prevent losing the content you’ve worked hard to create.
Follow the site migration checklist below when merging or migrating websites. These steps help ensure that your site merges with SEO best practices in place so your website traffic continues to thrive.
Identify the Opportunity
First, consult with your team and other business professionals to identify the purpose of the transition and ensure it makes sense from a business standpoint. A top consideration should be your users – will this change benefit and make sense to them? Once you’ve determined the answer is “yes,” you’ll start gathering data and planning for the site migration. Before making any changes, get ranking reports of your current website or websites. Determine which might be the best to merge to and monitor the results of your transition once it is complete.
Create a Redirect Plan
A 301 redirect indicates your website has permanently moved from one location to another and automatically sends visitors to the new location. Having a 301 redirect is especially important if you change content management systems (for example, moving from WordPress to Joomla) or domain names. Having a redirect plan in place helps ensure that any readers trying to access your old website are redirected to the new one.
Backlinks (links to your website located on another website) are important for SEO because they signal search engines that other resources find your content valuable. This is why a 301 redirect plan may also be helpful for individual pieces of content on your website that are particularly popular or frequently shared. If there are many backlinks to a particular page in other places across the internet, a 301 direct will help users reach your content without hitting a dead end.
Complete Content Migration
The migration of content is the most cumbersome and delicate part of the process. As you migrate from an old to a new website, you will want to use a staging site that acts as a model of the new site you are building. This allows you to find and fix bugs and test the features of your website in a secure environment before going live.
In addition to making sure everything is running smoothly on your new site, you also want to ensure top-performing content is carried over to the new location when you migrate. This is also an excellent time to review underperforming content. You can determine whether it adds value to your new page or if it needs re-vamping before being posted. If you are merging two sites, analyze all of your content to ensure it makes sense to be in the same place.
Migrating your content from one location to another is not as simple as copying and pasting from the old to the new. You need to consider all the internal links in your content. They’ll need to be updated to reflect their new location to avoid sending readers to a page that no longer exists. Additionally, be sure any meta descriptions you’ve created for improved SEO migrate with your content. If you have worked on a sitemap or navigation features, you want to be sure they will migrate smoothly to your new location.
Consider Page Speed
Once the migration is complete, you should run analyses on user experience metrics, including loading times and page responsiveness. User experience is an essential factor in SEO. A slow page or poor design can lead to lower rankings in search results. Changing content management systems can impact your page speed positively or negatively. If you’re having issues with user experience metrics, contacting a professional to work out the bugs can be beneficial.
Monitor Results and Adjust Goals
After content migration is finished and user experience is optimized, regular monitoring of your site’s performance is crucial. If you followed step one in the site migration checklist, you have ranking reports from your old website to reference. If your new website is significantly underperforming, you may need to revert to your old domain or make more changes to your new website. Whatever you decide, be swift in doing so to avoid further disruptions in website traffic.
SEO Professionals Can Help
Most business owners are not also experienced web developers and SEO experts. While a DIY approach to site migration may seem like a way to save money in the short term, it is important to consider what could go wrong. Investing in an experienced team will save you valuable time. It can also save you money in the long run when you consider the loss of customers you might experience if things don’t go as planned when attempting to migrate yourself.
The team at Zero Gravity Marketing is experienced in website design and migration, and we are ready to help you develop and implement a plan for your website. We can assist with migrating your site, merging SEO strategies between two sites, and much more. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help improve your SEO and preserve your content as you migrate your website.