How Long Should An SEO Migration Take? [Study]


Website migrations, particularly domain migrations, are sometimes seen as one of many extra complicated elements of Search engine optimization.

As Search engine optimization execs, we’re tasked with mitigating as many dangers and variables as attainable in order that the enterprise doesn’t see organic performance issues – both in any respect or for an extended than essential time frame.

Through the years, I’ve sat in various pitch conferences for migration initiatives, and I’ve heard the phrases:

“The opposite company stated there must be no visitors loss in any respect, will probably be like a light-weight change.”

Most of the time, the prospect has gone with the salesperson’s pitch, and monitoring the web site in Ahrefs and different instruments, you see conditions like this:

, WEB DESIGNER KUALA LUMPURPicture created by Dan Taylor, July 2023

A site migration that hasn’t recovered natural visitors greater than two years after migration.

Most companies can’t maintain an natural visitors drop of that magnitude for that size of time and never really feel a critical influence on enterprise operations.

So this leads us again to the query we’re requested by stakeholders when scoping and pitching for Search engine optimization migration initiatives:

How lengthy ought to an Search engine optimization migration take?

Examine Methodology

The intention of this examine is to analysis and supply a data-led reply to “How lengthy ought to an Search engine optimization migration take,” to assist each in-house Search engine optimization execs and Search engine optimization consultants present higher estimations and communications with non-Search engine optimization stakeholders of their migration initiatives.

To reply this, we took a pattern of 171 area migrations (knowledge offered by Ahrefs, supplemented by migration examples offered by different SEOs, in addition to our personal work historical past). We measured, utilizing third-party instruments, the variety of days that it took Area B (the brand new area) to attain the identical estimated natural visitors quantity as Area A (the previous area).

Serving to me course of this knowledge was my colleague and fellow Search Engine Journal creator Alireza Esmikhani.

Bias Elements

Bias in a quantitative examine refers to systematic errors that may considerably skew the outcomes, resulting in incorrect conclusions.

These biases can come up at any stage of the analysis course of, equivalent to within the design, knowledge assortment, evaluation, and interpretation levels.

Bias undermines the validity and reliability of the examine’s outcomes and may result in deceptive conclusions.

The place attainable, we now have taken steps to mitigate any bias from impacting the examine.

  • Choice Bias – We now have labored to get rid of this as a lot as attainable, with a excessive share of the info coming from Ahrefs (unfiltered) and an open request to the Search engine optimization group. This could negate our personal inputs from sectors we focus on. This has led to quite a lot of domains in quite a lot of sectors.
  • Measurement Bias – As we’re utilizing a third-party software, the bias right here is restricted to the scope of the software, database updates, and the key phrase set. As we’re evaluating two domains and making the idea that they match by way of the goal key phrase set, this bias must be mitigated.
  • Confounding Bias – As we’re evaluating date intervals inside the similar software, no correlations are being made by way of knowledge evaluation.
  • Publication Bias – This examine was going to be printed and submitted no matter percentages/knowledge findings. So this bias is mitigated.

The information set contained domains of various utilization, from lead era in SaaS, authorized, and finance, to blogs, native retail, and ecommerce.

The break up of English web sites to non-English was round 70/30.

Examine Findings

The important thing takeaways from the area examine are:

  • On common, it took 229 days for Area B to point out the identical stage of natural visitors as Area A.
  • The shortest instances recorded have been 16, 19, 22, 23, and 33 days respectively.
  • 4 of the migrations within the pattern we classed as being “in progress,” because the migrations occurred lower than 150 days in the past, and have been steadily bettering.
  • 42% of area migrations within the pattern didn’t see natural visitors return to the identical ranges.

From the unique knowledge set, there have been various domains that had dropped and at the moment are redirected to area squatters/non-public area sellers.

As these aren’t “real” area migrations, and the brand new area was by no means meant to take care of the identical key phrases and visitors, these have been discounted and never included within the knowledge.

Why Do Migration Outcomes Differ?

No two web sites are the identical, and there are a number of variables in an internet site migration we are able to management – and several other we are able to’t.

The discourse round migrations within the Search engine optimization trade has actually not modified for various years, with fundamental finest practices being established after which layering the fundamentals with situation-dependent must mitigate dangers.

One of many newest developments in migration finest practices got here in June this yr when John Mueller said that launching a brand new web site previous to the migration might mitigate some dangers.

As this was solely a month in the past, it’s too early for any significant exams to have come via to validate or point out how early is early sufficient. However the principle is sensible as Google rebuilds its index on a page-by-page foundation, so opening up new crawl paths and URLs forward of time might velocity up the preliminary Uncover and Crawl phases.

Backlink Profiles & Migrations

While crowd-sourcing domains for this examine, I additionally requested the group why there are “time lags” in migrations, and Natalia Witczyk proposed the concept that it’s associated to backlink profiles and the way lengthy it takes Google to course of profile transference:

From my expertise, for the rankings and visitors to be again to regular ranges, the backlink profile needs to be recrawled and the redirects should be mirrored.

That takes near no time if the backlink profile is non-existent, so the return to regular visitors ranges occurs quick. If the backlink profile is in depth, there’s extra to recrawl and that might take Google extra time.

This prompted me to have a look at the overall variety of referring domains every area had, and there’s some correlation to this being the case, however with numerous outliers – seemingly on account of how the migration was carried out.

For extra data and finest practices on web site migrations, I’d advocate studying the beneath articles:

Extra assets: 

Featured Picture: Luis Molinero/Shutterstock


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