Making changes to your B2B business’ website is exciting: whether you’re redesigning your site, restructuring it, or simply sprucing up the URLs, changes to your website are usually for the better. But when executing a flawless site migration, it’s critical to not only get the technical aspects of the migration right. You also need to ensure the SEO of your website is preserved, so the migration doesn’t cause your site to hemorrhage valuable search engine rankings.
Site migration SEO is tricky, there’s no doubt about it. You need to not only ensure that the site migration itself will be successful and seamless for users, but also that it preserves all of the hard B2B SEO work you’ve put in.
In order to successfully execute a site migration that doesn’t cause your search engine rankings to tank, you need to understand not only the technical aspects of a site migration: you also need to navigate the SEO nuances.
When Is A Site Migration Necessary?
In order to understand SEO site migration, let’s start with the basics: what exactly does the phrase “site migration” refer to, and when is it necessary? Website migration is when a site undergoes a substantial change to its URL, UX, design, domain or platform. Specifically, there are several different types of website migration (which we won’t fully dive into in this article), including changes to the protocol, domain, design, and structure.
From a B2B business’ perspective, a site migration can become necessary for several reasons. You might want to change the URL of your website to reflect an update to your branding or product, or you might want to shift to a new content management system, for example. It might also become necessary when redesigning your site, whether you’re making seemingly small “tweaks,” or completely overhauling your site.
While each website migration comes with its own technical requirements, there are also many considerations to understand and keep in mind when it comes to site migration SEO.
How Is SEO Impacted?
Your B2B SEO strategy is something that is critical to your website’s search engine rankings, and the unfortunate truth is that when executing a site migration, you run the risk of negatively impacting your SEO standings. That’s because, unless certain steps are followed, serious changes to your website can cause rankings to plummet, meaning that traffic, inbound leads, and SEO-fueled revenue growth will go with it.
But we have good news for you: while a site migration can rattle nerves when it comes to SEO, there are ways to ensure that your SEO standings don’t take a hit. Especially when it comes to SEO for startups when a website is evolving rapidly, it’s critical to preserve your hard work.
Will All Of Our Hard Work Be Preserved?
By now, you might be connecting the dots, and seeing how a site migration can be a risky move for SEO, when precautions aren’t taken. But we have good news for you: all of that hard work can in fact be kept intact. But you’ll have to ensure methodological steps are taken before, during, and after the website migration.
Yep, simply planning changes to your site isn’t enough. Whether you’re working with developers, your hosting company, or a designer, you still need to take site migration SEO factors into account separately.
What You’ll Need To Plan For An SEO Site Migration
When planning for site migration SEO preservation, there are several steps you’ll need to take aside from whatever your migration protocols are. First of all, you should pick your migration time strategically. You can choose one in between projects, and when traffic is at its lowest, for example.
Next, keep in mind that there are many phases to a successful site migration that preserves SEO, and because of that, site migration typically doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to take steps before the site launches and after it launches, to ensure that damage to SEO is minimal or non-existent.
The SEO Website Migration Checklist
Let’s dig into it: when planning an SEO-friendly website migration, there are many steps that need to be taken, in order to ensure that no SEO harm is done, that everything is set up correctly, and at the end of the day, that your website performs better than before. While your individual needs will depend on your current site and your migration plans, here are some of the most typical (and essential) steps of that process:
1. Backup & crawl your site
There are several ways you can backup your current website, one of which is by using the Wayback Machine Archive tool. This incredibly handy internet archive tool isn’t only for digging through the remnants of defunct websites: it’s also a powerful backup tool which can help you recover content. It’s an excellent safety net when executing a site migration, and can be a big asset when looking to preserve SEO. You can also make a backup through your hosting platform, among other things.
After your site is backed up, you should crawl it, to pull the full list of URLs that exist on your site. This will allow you to understand exactly which pages exist, and can be used as the foundation for mapping any URL redirects.
2. Perform a content audit
From an SEO standpoint, performing a content audit is a critical step of a website migration. During this step, you’ll determine which pages should remain, which should be deleted, and which should be consolidated.
3. Benchmark your Google Analytics
Before your site migration, it’s crucial to benchmark your current Google Analytics. After your site migration, you can use this benchmark to see how your new site is performing as far as SEO is concerned, and where any losses in traffic or performance might be coming from.
4. Redirect URLs (if necessary) & create a new site structure map
You’ll need to manually map out any old URLs to new URLs as-needed, likely using a spreadsheet or something similar. You’ll also need to create a map of your new site, if it’s different from your old one.
5. Use a staging site
This carbon copy of your new website will be where you review changes, see how they look, and test anything that you’re planning on doing. It’s a “scratch pad,” where you’ll work on your new site migration in a live environment. Keep in mind, you’ll want to take some precautions to make sure search engines don’t accidentally index this as your migrated website.
6. After you launch, start with a recrawl, and test your functionality
7. Resubmit your sitemaps to Google Search Console
Ensure Google’s search engine crawling bots take notice of your site as soon as possible, by manually resubmitting your sitemaps. If you’re moving to a new domain, you’ll also need to use the “change of address process” in Google Search Console.
8. Review inbound link reports
Link building is a crucial aspect of preserving site migration SEO, and you should review an inbound link report, and make sure any old URLs redirect successfully. If needed, you might need to contact site owners and ask them to manually update links.
How Long Does A Site Migration Take?
While the actual time it takes to physically migrate a website can take less than an hour, the planning process can span weeks or months. In total, the length of a site migration can vary greatly, depending on the scope of the migration, and the size of the website. If you only have a few pages, it will take far less time than if you have a few hundred pages, for example.
How Much Will It Cost?
As you can likely imagine, the cost of a website migration will also depend on the scope of the migration, and the size of your website. It also depends on which vendors or outside organizations you need to work with to execute the migration.
For example, if you’re working with new designers or developers, you’ll have to take those fees into consideration. The cost of the physical website migration itself usually isn’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to cost: there’s tons of planning and back-end work that goes into making a website migration successful.
Work with an SEO Agency To Help
As you can see, website migration can be powerful for your site, your brand, and your business, but it can be detrimental to SEO when it’s handled incorrectly. The best way to preserve SEO rankings and your well-deserved website traffic during a site migration is to partner with a knowledgeable and skillful SEO agency to help with this process.
Site migration SEO is not typically a concern of developers, designers, platforms, and other site migration providers. They’re more focused on your site functioning and looking the way you want it to, and search engine rankings simply aren’t within their scope or skillset.
Instead, you need to partner with a skillful SEO agency, which knows exactly what steps need to be taken, to make sure that your website migration only leaves you with positive results.
It’s absolutely possible to migrate your site and preserve all the SEO juice
Don’t let the complexities of site migration SEO scare you off: it’s 100% possible to execute a flawless site migration, which preserves all of the SEO goods that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. But in order to do that, you really need a skillful SEO agency in your corner, helmed by site migration experts who know exactly how to tackle the intricacies and nuances of this mission-critical task.
Here at RevenueZen, we know so much about site migration SEO, because it’s one of the things we’re best at. Our team members aren’t just SEO gurus, and pros in things like B2B content marketing: we know every step that needs to be taken before, during, and after a site migration, to ensure your SEO is stronger than ever before.
Interested in learning more about how we can help you tackle your site migration from an SEO standpoint? Contact us today.