Improving the functionality and performance of the CMS system, changing the graphic image that will comply with the UX and UI rules, merger companies or a new domain – these are the most common reasons for migrating websites. We explain how to migrate from domain to CMS – without compromising on SEO.
Table of Contents
- Website migration – What is it and Why?
- Website migration – Planning and Organization of Activities
- Website migration – Testing Solutions
Website migration – What is it and Why?
Changes are needed in order for the website to work more efficiently, be functional, intuitive and visually accessible to recipients. We usually decide to migrate a website when we change the engine, which will improve the operation of the website.
- CMS Change – Choosing a different content management system can be a risky change, but not impossible. Technologies that are constantly evolving can simply go beyond the capabilities of the current website. Website users are demanding, expect perfect design, functionality, affordability, and also the speed of loading, which will improve the purchasing process – hence the decision to change the CMS to another.
- Change of domain – this requires good coordination. The decision was made – the brand name changes, companies decide to merge. It doesn’t matter what, but how it happens, so monitoring proper website migration is crucial to avoid e.g. loss of keywords in TOP10, which may result in a reduction of valuable organic traffic.
- Changing to SSL – having a security certificate is a must – especially when you run an online store, for example. It increases the credibility and reliability of the site and protects user data. An SSL certificate may indirectly affect website traffic. The implementation of SSL should not negatively impact the visibility of the website.
How to implement these changes skillfully enough not to lose your position – sometimes over the years – in Google search engine? The migration process of a website, contrary to popular belief, does not have to be dramatic or have a negative impact on the already obtained positive effects of website positioning.
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People who plan to migrate websites should look for the best solutions to avoid such loud falls.
The best solution is to use professional help that can be obtained from SEO fighters. These activities need to be properly planned, think about which elements of the site will need to be moved to a new website and what tools to use to perform this task. Reasonable consideration of your actions will avoid SEO disasters that have been affected, for example, by the Rossmann online store previously mentioned. It is much easier to transfer hosting or domain than CMS for new. It is in the latter case that there is the greatest risk of error that can lead to a decrease in the website’s Google ranking, loss of potential customers and conversion rate. It is not uncommon for organic traffic to be the primary source of income for entrepreneurs, and disturbed and inhibited – it has a negative impact on potential profit. It is time to explain and indicate the right direction that will exclude crises in business.
Website migration – Planning and Organization of Activities
Planning is a must if you do not want to lose your results. Creating a schedule of changes will help avoid catastrophic mistakes that can ruin SEO. Without proper knowledge and skills in this field, it will be difficult to properly migrate www, so be sure to use the help of specialists who will consider the following issues when transferring.
1. Content on the site
The content on the site is valuable to users and search engine robots. Don’t let this important compendium of knowledge be lost to inappropriate activities related to website migration. Remember to export and move it to the new site. This is particularly important in the case of online stores, where content consists of numerous descriptions of categories, products, parameters, as well as blog content – significantly contributing to the increase in website traffic. It is also good to expand some content or create it from scratch – if you plan to add bookmarks or categories on the new page.
As part of this activity, you must remember to transfer photos, graphics or infographics – along with alternative descriptions and titles.
“The page you are looking for does not exist” – do not let a user who visits your website find such a message. Lack of 301 redirect – after implementing website migration – may result in such situations. It is used in several cases when we want to:
- User to a new domain
- Indicate the change of subpage
- Inform that the assortment in the online store has been permanently deleted
It’s just redirecting old addresses to the new page. They are also done so as not to lose page strength, as well as external linking developed. The redirect map will contain a list of URLs that are significant for the new page view and avoid the 404 error. The ready 301 redirect map should be uploaded to the access file.
A 302 redirect is no less important than a 301 redirect, however, it is temporary and applies when the page is under reconstruction. This type of redirection is particularly important for search engine robots that are “informed” that the content is at a different address. You have to remember about changing the temporary 302 redirect to permanent 301 on the new system – after complete website migration.
A sitemap is a file created in HTML or XML format that contains information about the URLs of a given site. Updating sitemaps is necessary when planning website migration. The site map and the addresses it contains allow for more efficient indexing of the site. If you run an online store, it may contain thousands of addresses that you need to save and then add in the Google Search Console panel.
4. Metadata, headers, internal linking
During the page migration process, you cannot omit the Meta title and description tags. In particular, the page title reflects the content that the user should find at the given URL. If the metadata remains unchanged, you must remember to transfer them to the new CMS. Equally important are the headers set for the homepage, category, and products, as well as links inside the site. If we plan to rebuild the menu, change the content or eliminate certain categories on the new page, then we must remember to update this data in the title, headers and linking so that the user does not encounter a 404 error.
Before migrating www, you also need to transfer scripts to Google analytical tools. You should also save structured data, which most often saved in HTML code, determine the type and content of the page. The easiest way to transfer them via Schema.org.
6. Analytical tools
The necessary tools for running, positioning and migrating a website are Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These analytical programs will streamline the process of moving the site, but also allow you to track changes and reports.
The above actions – in cooperation with a web developer and SEO specialist – will help avoid similar downward trends.
Reasonable planning and implementation of website migration will avoid these hesitations in the functioning and visibility of the website.
Website migration – Testing Solutions
If there is such a possibility – it is better to migrate first in the test version to minimize or exclude potential errors. However, then you should remember to secure yet unfinished website against being indexed by Google robots. Failure to do so may result in bots considering content on the new page as duplicate content. To do this, use the robots.txt file and use the command:
_User-agent: * _
_Disallow: / _
You can check the robots.txt file by typing in the browser bar:
Indexing can also be blocked by Google Search Console, where you can find a robots.txt file tester.
However, it is important to block the test page indexation in the section by the Meta tag noindex / nofollow.
When the page is fully functional and ready to start on a new site, then you need to change it to a tag and correct the command in the robots.txt file that will allow crawling the website after proper migration.
Before starting a page on a new page, several issues need to be considered:
- Correct sitemaps,
- Robots.txt file and Meta tags,
- 301 redirect,
- Checking the version of the website for mobile devices.
After moving a website to a new domain or CMS, it should be constantly monitored and analyzed by SEO specialists. They will perform the necessary site audit, check its functionality, detect any errors that occurred during the website migration, and analyze organic traffic. You need to control the operation of new facilities, so it’s best not to immediately report the page/store to Google Search Console, so as not to bring crawlers to the page for indexing. Thanks to this, we gain greater control over the indexation of individual elements. After migrating the website to the new one, some fluctuations may appear, which (after properly carried out activities) should stabilize after a few weeks. A refreshed and properly implemented website or CMS will definitely increase conversion.
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In addition, a well-transferred domain or website of an online store will not only help to avoid inheritance but also indirectly affect the quality of the website and reception by users. A clear interface, ease of use, intuitive and functional navigation are elements that are an additional plus of migration affecting the attractiveness of the site.