How to get your website migration right

One of the most useful conferences in the country is the Internet Conference on the Gold Coast in May. I’m presenting a panel there this year on site migration.

Yes, it’s an old chestnut, but one that’s worth reviewing every once in a while. These steps can’t be emphasised enough if you want to keep your rankings once you update your site to a new and faster site.

So many times web developers will move an entire site and the rankings drop like a stone. It can take months of work to build a site back up again, months that you could save by doing your homework ahead of time.

The key is to fix the SEO problems in your old site before moving it to a new one. Once you’ve moved, it’s doubly hard to figure out where problems in your site are due to old troubles or are fresh from your new server.

And the larger the site you have, the harder the migration will be.

Begin by checking your site’s index and cleaning it up. Look for duplicate pages, dead links, bad URLs, and other simple mistakes that can slow down your rankings.

Once you move your site, make sure you mirror your URL and page titles exactly. If you’ve got pages that are ranking well on Google, changing the titles or tags will begin the process of Google crawling your site all over again.

Map your URLs and redirect them to the new site. This will eliminate the down time that many sites experience when Google no longer recognises their site, thinking it’s broken.

With redirects, Google will move on to your new site and treat it just like the old version.

Upload a new sitemap to Google Search Console, check to make sure your site is error free, and watch your rankings for the next two weeks to make sure your new site is trouble-free.

For more information, visit the StewArt website.

Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business  StewArt Media  has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.

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