Managing Successful SEO Migrations


As website positioning professionals, we are not any strangers to migrations and the varied ranges of volatility they will convey.

Migrations are naturally occurring occasions within the life cycle of digital companies as each expertise and enterprise aims advance.

A migration, regardless of its affect on SEO, can improve customer expertise if performed appropriately.

Upgrading to a sooner host might improve your rating efficiency over time (by influencing and offering higher consumer indicators).

Though preliminary re-indexing by Google might trigger a brief decline in natural site visitors, a well-executed migration plan can keep and even improve your SERP standings.

Defining The Migration Kind

A web site migration entails a considerable change to an internet site’s expertise, construction, design, or location to boost on-line visibility.

Every sort of migration carries a sure stage of danger, and once you start to stack totally different migration sorts (and alter extra variables), the dangers don’t stack, they start to amplify.

As website positioning professionals, among the extra widespread migrations we’re used to being concerned with embody:

Within the trade, we hear about migrations going fallacious, particularly once they begin to affect the world exterior of website positioning.

Dropping some site visitors and some rankings isn’t headline information, however companies closing down shops and shedding workers is.

Examples of this embody the Homebase HTTPS migration (as lined in-depth by Omi Sido here) and the newer Logojoy to Looka rebrand, which, when trying via the eyes of third-party instruments, exhibits a lower in rating key phrases of 25,000 (150k to 125k).

Scoping An website positioning Migration

For me, getting the scoping of a migration right is crucial to the success of the migration course of as an entire, and essential in avoiding conditions like this:

, WEB DESIGNER KUALA LUMPURInstance of a website migration the place website positioning consultancy was introduced in too late, and in spite of everything key selections had been made.

A key a part of the scoping and specs is that it must be actionable for each builders and wider stakeholders:

  • Lowering the “why.”
  • And focusing extra on the “how.”

Ambiguity creates danger. The much less room for misinterpretation, the higher.

Inside the scoping doc, it’s important to determine:

  • The explanations for the migration going down (from the shopper).
  • Major and secondary stakeholders.
  • The scope of actions and obligations from every stakeholder (sustaining site visitors and rankings isn’t a duty, it’s an goal).
  • The timeline for actions, plus post-migration assets.
  • Agreed-upon (by all events) aims of the migration.
  • Reporting frequency and depth.

From this, you may start to create a schedule of actions to scale back as a lot danger as potential.

website positioning Migration Danger Mitigation

For essentially the most half, danger mitigation throughout any migration is finishing up what’s, for a lot of, common migration actions.

Every exercise, nevertheless, is designed to scale back components of danger and work towards reaching the agreed-upon aims.


It’s a on condition that redirects are a part of nearly all migrations.

Nonetheless, having carried out various post-migration site visitors drop audits, listed below are some widespread errors made when scoping and implementing redirects.

Redirects function navigational guides for each browsers and search engines like google and yahoo, offering details about a webpage’s location based mostly on a given URL.

They symbolize coded directions assigned to particular URLs, or a set of them, rerouting the consumer or search engine from the unique enter or clicked URL to a distinct web page.

For migrations the place URLs change, Google has stated it can take up to 180 days for the worth to totally go from A to B.

Relying in your migration, the scope of your redirects will change.

JS, CSS, Parameters & Media Information Not Redirected

As a rule, when migration is carried out, folks deal with redirecting the URLs – as these are what rank – however you also needs to be taking a look at redirecting your JS recordsdata, CSS, Parameter URLs, and media recordsdata (photographs, movies) if obligatory.

Lots of people query the worth of redirecting photographs, however a URL is a URL, and Google may have crawled it. Google has even beneficial that you need to redirect picture URLs.

Atmosphere Modifications

When migrating to a brand new platform, redesigning templates, or updating the location construction, it’s essential to make sure that the brand new “surroundings” mirrors the website positioning qualities of the earlier, at a minimal.

Oftentimes the brand new platform goes stay, and a variety of content material is hidden behind JavaScript expandable areas, and with NoScript or JS disabled, it stays hidden – or different key components have been missed.

So, it’s essential to audit the brand new surroundings to examine that:

  • Metadata has been carried over appropriately.
  • Structured information has been applied and is validated.
  • Canonicals are right.
  • Pagination mark-up is right (Bing exists, too!).
  • Inner linking has been carried over and factors to 200 URLs.
  • XML and HTML sitemaps are current.
  • Hreflang is ready up appropriately (when you’re a global web site).
  • Redirects have been examined.
  • Your 404 web page returns a 404 response code.

Some issues, like website velocity, would require stay website testing until the staging and pre-production environments are on mirrored stacks (so you may emulate the identical efficiency). However most of the time, they’re not on performance-orientated servers.

Understanding Why Migrations Go Fallacious

Oftentimes when a migration goes fallacious, it may be pinpointed to at the very least one in every of seven causes, these being:

  • Incorrect website positioning technique or unclear aims.
  • Poor planning and scoping of assets and timeline.
  • Unexpected UX or design adjustments that affect content material or code.
  • Involving the website positioning company too late or after key selections have already been set in stone.
  • Poor or lack of enough testing.
  • Gradual responses and low growth precedence to post-migration bug fixes.
  • Uncontrollable variables (e.g., Google replace).

Poor Technique

Understanding why the migration is going down and the specified outcomes is crucial with a purpose to set measurable benchmarks for “success.”

For many migrations, the target is to take care of website positioning efficiency after which use stated stability as a basis for development.

Nonetheless, every migration sort has its personal set of dangers. These must be communicated to the shopper and wider stakeholders.

When you’re transferring internet hosting or platform however sustaining URL buildings, it ought to be seamless, however when you’re rebranding and altering the area title, count on some interval of turbulence.

It’s additionally essential to notice that poor technique can even come from the enterprise.

Typically stakeholders create plans on how the web site, model, and wider technique will transfer ahead, however the enterprise technique (and expectations) don’t marry up with the proposed timelines or what’s technically possible.

Poor Planning & Scoping

Devising an in depth scope and undertaking plan early on can assist keep away from delays alongside the way in which by setting expectations of how lengthy website positioning processes and duties take.

This additionally permits you to consider what’s and isn’t throughout the scope of the undertaking, so you may schedule and allocate assets adequately.

By setting out a plan, you can too establish potential obstacles, comparable to public holidays or peak gross sales intervals.

For instance, as an internet retailer, you wouldn’t launch an internet site within the days operating as much as Thanksgiving, as main bugs might jeopardize your Black Friday/Cyber Week/Christmas interval.

Late Involvement

website positioning migrations don’t occur in a single day.

Nonetheless, website positioning help is oftentimes sought too late down the roadmap, with many crucial selections made beforehand that can affect natural search efficiency.

Typically the late involvement generally is a saving grace, so long as there may be room within the timeline for adjustments to be made – however that’s seldom the case, and you’ll solely watch and put together for the autopsy.

This could additionally imply that there’s a lack of enough testing (from an website positioning perspective), and never all performance-affecting points could also be resolved in time if the migration deadline is inflexible.

Gradual Improvement Response Occasions

That is, most of the time, a difficulty with the enterprise itself and never one thing website positioning professionals can management.

I’ve been in conditions earlier than the place instantly after the migration, the event useful resource has been absolutely rededicated to a different a part of the enterprise, leaving no time for pressing or advert hoc bug fixes.

As a rule, this isn’t the developer’s fault however extra a symptom of poor planning from decision-making stakeholders.

I’ve seen web sites go stay earlier than with a sitewide noindex (because the fallacious bucket had been deployed), one thing we flagged nearly instantly – just for it to take 4 days for the useful resource to be allotted to take away it.

Uncontrollable Variables

Each once in a while, regardless of the most effective planning and useful resource allocation, you’ll get sideswiped by one thing unexpected and utterly unavoidable – comparable to a Google replace or the CDN/DNS struggling outage.

A superb instance of this got here in August 2020, when Caffeine broke. Throughout this time, new URLs weren’t being listed.

Ineffective Communications With Stakeholders

When talking to corporations about their migrations, and migration methods, one of many key points is across the communication and expectation stage of oblique stakeholders, sometimes VPs and C-Suite.

It’s essential that every one dangers are outlined each within the technical phrases of the supply but additionally summarized and digestible for the non-technical C-suite.

In these abstract paperwork, it’s essential to not solely define the dangers but additionally what we count on to see – because the skilled consultants we’re – and at which factors we have to begin triaging/panicking.

This tremendously reduces the strain from kneejerk reactions and scrambling on account of C-level involvement and never understanding the entire image.

Extra assets:

Featured Picture: 123graphic/Shutterstock

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