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Website Migration Best Practices for SEO

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A website migration is a huge opportunity to improve the usability and business value of your website, but if done incorrectly, it can be an absolute SEO disaster. Learn what you need to consider when planning and executing a website migration to ensure a smooth transition.

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Website Migration Best Practices for SEO

  2. 2. Introduction Pre – Migration Planning Fundamentals of a Search Friendly Website Post Migration Discussion AGENDA
  3. 3. TopRank® Online Marketing Full service digital marketing agency • Content Marketing • SEO • Social Media Marketing • Influencer Marketing Evan Prokop Digital Marketing Manager ABOUT THE SPEAKER
  4. 4. Objective: Migrate or re-design your website while minimizing losses in organic search traffic and rankings. INTRODUCTION
  5. 5. Migration Planning • Analytics Assessment • 301 Redirects • Timing
  6. 6. ANALYTICS Your web analytics are a treasure trove of historic usage patterns for your website
  12. 12. • Setup Web Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools on your new site before pushing live. • Monitor analytics and organic rankings closely following migration. ANALYTICS
  13. 13. Free: • Google Analytics Paid: • Adobe SiteCatelyst • Crazy Egg WEB ANALYTICS TOOLS
  14. 14. • 301 redirects can minimize any losses in SEO equity by transferring link equity from old urls to new. • In addition, traffic to redirected urls will move seamlessly to the new site pages. 301 REDIRECTS
  15. 15. DOCUMENT EXISTING CONTENT Document for all existing urls: • Page topic / keyword • Link profile • Organic rankings • Organic traffic
  16. 16. Document for all new urls: • Page topic / keyword • Existing or new content Tip: use ‘clean’ urls PLAN NEW CONTENT
  17. 17. Map redirects based on: • Relevance (page topic / keyword) • Link profile • Organic rankings 301 REDIRECT MAPPING
  18. 18. Paid*: • SEMRush • Majestic SEO • Open Site Explorer • MS Excel *Stripped down free versions available 301 REDIRECT TOOLS
  19. 19. TIMING Time any significant website change or migration for when it is likely to have a minimal impact on business.
  20. 20. Consider seasonal trends for your business. TIMING – TIME OF YEAR Ideal for a migration
  21. 21. TIME OF DAY / DAY OF WEEK Review your site analytics to determine lowest average traffic days / times.
  22. 22. • Review historic site usage patterns and use these insights to maintain and improve the new site usability • Map 301 redirects to ensure a seamless transition of traffic and SEO equity • Time your migration for when downtime is likely to have the least negative impact on business KEY TAKEAWAYS
  23. 23. Fundamentals of a Search Friendly Website • Optimization • Mobile Friendly • Crawlability • Custom 404 Page • Site Speed • Plugins • Hosting Geography
  24. 24. OPTIMIZATION Effective onpage optimization (post migration) will help your content reach a relevant audience via search engines.
  25. 25. Make sure the following can be edited (preferably by a non-developer): • Meta titles • Meta descriptions • Headings (h1) • Schema markup • Links • Alt tags • Body copy • Onpage assets OPTIMIZATION CHECKLIST
  26. 26. No longer merely a benefit to user experience, mobile accessibility has become a significant search ranking factor. MOBILE FRIENDLY
  27. 27. Primary factors Google is using to evaluate: • Flash Usage • Viewport not configured • Fixed-width viewport • Content not sized to viewport • Small font size • Touch elements too close MOBILE FRIENDLY CRITERIA
  28. 28. MOBILE FRIENDLY • Review and fix mobile errors reported in Google Webmaster Tools. • Monitor mobile usage metrics in your Web Analytics tool.
  29. 29. Free: • Google Mobile Friendly Tester: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ • Google Webmaster Tools MOBILE OPTIMIZATION TOOLS
  30. 30. In order for content to achieve visibility in organic search, it is critical that search engines can easily crawl and index it. CRAWLABILITY
  31. 31. • Minimize use of JavaScript* • Avoid Flash and Framed content • Minimize text contained in images *In cases where using it is unavoidable (i.e. JavaScript fly out menus), provide an alternate path of navigation. CRAWLABILITY CONSIDERATIONS
  32. 32. A good custom 404 page can be very effective at decreasing visitor exits. CUSTOM 404 PAGE
  33. 33. CUSTOM 404 PAGE
  34. 34. Fast page load times are important for user experience and are an increasingly important organic ranking factor. SITE SPEED
  35. 35. • Browser caching • Minimize image and video file sizes • Invest in robust hosting • Parallelize downloads • Avoid chain redirects *Note: not a full list. SITE SPEED FACTORS
  36. 36. Free: • Pingdom Page Speed Test: http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ • Google Analytics SITE SPEED TOOLS
  37. 37. Using trusted plugins whenever possible may help ensure the integrity and functionality of any WordPress powered site. PLUGINS
  38. 38. Follow up with me afterwards to receive list of TopRank preferred WordPress plugins. PREFERRED WORDPRESS PLUGINS
  39. 39. HOSTING GEO Sites hosted in the same country as their target audience may have increased organic search visibility.
  40. 40. Post Migration • XML Sitemap • Robots.txt • QA 301 Redirects • Site Analytics Monitoring • Crawl Errors
  41. 41. A proper XML sitemap helps to ensure search engines index all desired content and are alerted of changes. XML SITEMAP
  42. 42. • Generate and upload sitemap at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml • Submit / validate in Google Webmaster Tools XML SITEMAP
  43. 43. Free WordPress Plugins: • Yoast WordPress SEO • All in One SEO Pack Paid: • Power Mapper • Screaming Frog XML SITEMAP TOOLS
  44. 44. Robots.txt can help with providing search engines with direction on what to crawl and what to exclude. ROBOTS.TXT
  45. 45. • Add robots.txt file to site at yoursite.com/robots.txt • Submit / validate in Webmaster Tools ROBOTS.TXT
  46. 46. Verify that all 301 redirects: • Direct to correct page • Give proper server response QA 301 REDIRECTS
  47. 47. Free: • Bulk URL Checker: https://www.searchcommander.com/seo-tools/bulk-url- checker/ Paid: • Screaming Frog • Power Mapper QA 301 REDIRECT TOOLS
  48. 48. During a migration, it is critical to monitor site health indicators closely. ANALYTICS
  49. 49. Be on the lookout for sharp drop-offs in: • Organic traffic • Keyword rankings Note: decreases are normal immediately following migration, but should rebound within 1-2 months. ANALYTICS
  50. 50. A new site can introduce crawl errors which inhibit searchbots and people from discovering and indexing content. CRAWL ERRORS
  51. 51. • Perform full site crawl • Repeat monthly CRAWL ERRORS
  52. 52. Free: • Google Webmaster Tools Paid: • Screaming Frog • MOZ CRAWL TOOLS
  53. 53. • Keep an extra close eye on analytics and site health following any site migration or significant change. • A temporary decrease in search traffic and rankings is normal for up to 2 months. • Even a well executed migration can introduce site crawl errors. Audit early and often. • Enjoy your sweet new website! KEY TAKEAWAYS
  55. 55. Let’s Connect! • Twitter - @eprokop1 • LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/pub/evan-prokop/3b/a47/839 • TopRank Online Marketing – www.toprankmarketing.com • TopRank Blog - www.toprankblog.com THANK YOU!!!