Assume you decide to migrate your website to a different platform, change the domain name, or use HTTPS. Any of them could be a terrific business decision, and your transfer could go smoothly. But then you discover something is wrong: no one is visiting your website because it is no longer listed in search engines.
This is a nightmarish scenario that occurs on a daily basis because site owners are unaware of the dangers of making substantial modifications to their sites.
Here is a list of things to think about and do to help make your website’s transition as smooth as possible:
1: Are you sure that you want to do this?
Not to be disheartened, but a site relocation will nearly always result in a loss of traffic, at least momentarily.
In the best-case scenario, Google will require some time to update its index and resume delivering you traffic.
Site migrations provide little SEO advantage, with one major exception: switching to HTTPS can help you rank higher in search engines.
Furthermore, site migrations do not remove search engine penalties (sorry!).
However, if you want to totally rebrand your site with a new name and URL, a site transfer may be an excellent choice. Migration can also result in free press and new relationships.
2: Make use of a test server.
When moving a site, test everything on a test server first to ensure everything, including redirects, is operating properly. If you omit this step and the subsequent errors are severe enough, you could be set back weeks rather than days.
3: Migrate during the off-season.
Choose a period when your website's traffic is at its lowest. Never attempt to transfer your site during peak periods, such as before a holiday. The goal here is to lose the least amount of traffic.
4: Make use of a website spider crawler.
Crawl your site and save it for later. The goal is to have a complete list of URLs on your old site so that nothing is lost during the changeover.
Determine which links on the old site are broken or redirected. Then, during the migration, delete or replace any links that lead to 404 pages.
Also, update any redirect links to the final page to avoid redirect chains after the migration.
5: Locate orphan pages.
A site crawl may not find all of your site's pages. If a page isn't linked to other pages on your site, you'll need to use your databases or Google Analytics to find it.
To increase search engine traffic, make sure to link these pages to the rest of the site throughout the transfer.
6: Make a side-by-side comparison.
Make a copy of your current site's Google Analytics data first.
After the migration is complete, export the Analytics data from your new site and compare it to the data from the old site.
Determine which pages (if any) experienced a drop in traffic. Typically, traffic loss is caused by a few individual pages rather than the entire site.
7: Keep an eye on the most frequently linked-to pages.
Identify your top linked-to pages using a service like Ahrefs. After the move, keep a close eye on these specific pages. If they are losing traffic, this indicates that authority is not being transferred from your old site to the new one. Because these sites contribute the most to your authority, a drop in traffic on these pages will have an impact on the overall performance of your site in search engines.
(Have you made up your mind regarding moving your site yet? I'm not attempting to frighten you, but rather to prepare you. Your site transfer can be a huge success if you know what you're doing and how to proceed.)
8: Make a count of your baby chicks.
Create a spreadsheet that compares each old URL to each new URL.
These are your newborn chicks, and you don't want to lose even one of them. Not only does eliminating a page decrease the prospect of search engine traffic, but dropping too many pages during the migration tells Google that the new site is not the same as the old one, and you will lose rankings as a result.
8.5: Beware good intentions
Site migration may appear to be the ideal opportunity to remove old pages that are no longer useful, but be mindful that removing pages can cause Google to perceive your new site as being completely different from the old.
Consider removing pages you no longer need six months before or six months after your site move.
9: Redirections from search and replace
This may seem apparent, but the HTML links on your new site should point to the new site, not the old one.
Yes, it's tempting to leave the links alone because they'll automatically redirect to the new URL. Redirects, on the other hand, slow down site performance and reduce PageRank.
Simply perform a search and replace operation to locate and update all of the old links.
10: Design a new 404 page.
If a user lands on a page that doesn't exist, your new 404 should help them explore your site and locate what they're looking for.
11: Assist Google in finding you
You will preserve your previous sitemap in Google Search Console while adding the new sitemap. Then, request that Google crawl the old sitemap to detect the redirection, allowing Google to find the new site and speed up the process.
12: Keep an eye out for traffic changes.
Install and activate Google Analytics on the new domain before making the site public. Missing data during the transition will not assist you in locating traffic leaks, thus it is critical to collect all data from the start.
13: Keep your old domain in perpetuity.
Never, ever give up control of your former domain, unless you're selling it. To avoid losing inbound links obtained by the previous site, the old domain should redirect to the new one eternally.
14: Configure Google Search Console
After ensuring that all of your redirects and links are error-free, go to Google Search Console and create a new property for the new domain. Set it up for the correct version, whether it's HTTP or HTTPS, and whether it's www or non-www.
Then, submit both the old and new sitemaps to demonstrate that the old site has been redirected to the new site.
While you're in Google Search Console, you can also submit a change of address, ask Google to crawl the new sitemap, and request that your site be indexed.
15: Keep other platforms up to date.
As a guest publisher, you should update all of your social network pages as well as any biography. If you use forums, make sure your signatures are up to date. Essentially, you want to update your URL on every platform.
16: Make the request
Make a list of the sites that link to you that are the most authoritative. Inform them of the migration and request that they update their link to go to your new site. Even completing some of these tasks will hasten Google's recognition that your site migration has occurred.
Congratulations, you've completed the procedure! Following these procedures will assist you in migrating your site with little traffic loss and difficulties.
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