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Essential Do's and Don'ts for a Smooth Website Migration

Updated: Jun 11



Essential Do's and Don'ts for a Smooth Website Migration


Website migration is the process of moving a website from one platform, server, or domain to another. This can be a complex and daunting task, but it's often necessary to keep your website up-to-date, secure, and optimized for performance. Whether you're switching to a new content management system (CMS), upgrading your hosting plan, or moving the WordPress site to a new domain, navigating the website migration process can be challenging. 


Avoid These Pitfalls for a Seamless Transition


  1. Failing to Backup Your Website: Before you start the migration process, it's essential to have a complete backup of your website. This includes all your content, media files, and database information. Losing this data can be disastrous, so make sure you have a reliable backup solution in place.

  2. Neglecting to Redirect Old URLs: One of the most critical aspects of a successful website migration is ensuring that all your old URLs are properly redirected to their new counterparts. Failing to do this can result in broken links, poor user experience, and potentially negative SEO implications.

  3. Ignoring Website Performance and Optimization: During the migration process, it's easy to focus solely on the technical aspects of the move and overlook the importance of website performance and optimization. However, this can have a significant impact on your website's user experience and search engine rankings.



Preparing Do’s and Don’t for Website Migration 


Preparing Do’s and Don’t for Website Migration


1. Redirects: The Pathways of Your Site


Redirects are the signposts that guide users and search engines from old URLs to new ones. They need to be mapped out meticulously during the planning phase and tested rigorously post-launch. Using tools like Screaming Frog or Site bulb for crawling these on a staging environment is ideal. Aim for a 1:1 match between old and new URLs wherever possible, but don’t shy away from consolidating pages if it makes sense. For example, redirecting “website.com/waxing/” to “website.com/products/waxing/” with a 301 redirect ensures users and search engines find the right page.


2. URL Structure: The Skeleton of Your Site


Think of your website’s URL structure as its skeleton—a crucial framework that supports and organizes the entire body of content. Just as a well-constructed skeleton is essential for mobility and strength, a well-planned URL structure is vital for SEO and user navigation. It’s not just about making your site look organized; it’s about making it accessible and understandable to both search engines and humans.

When planning your site’s migration, the URL structure deserves careful consideration and strategic planning. Here’s why:


  • Search Engine Crawling and Indexing: Search engines can more quickly and effectively crawl your website with a clear, logical URL structure. The route of URLs is how search engines, such as Google, deduce the hierarchy and relationships between pages. This knowledge may affect the way that the information on your website gets indexed and ranked. 

  • User Experience (UX): Websites that are simple to use and comprehend are preferred by users. Enhancing user experience: When a URL (website.com/products/waxing/, for example) indicates the content of the page, it makes it easier for visitors to predict what will be on a page before they click through.

  • Keyword Relevance: Link Exchange and Readability: Straightforward, informative URLs have a higher chance of being shared and clicked. They are more appealing in emails, social media posts, and other digital communication forms because they are simpler to read and comprehend.

  • Link Sharing and Readability: Link Exchange and Readability: Straightforward, informative URLs have a higher chance of being shared and clicked. They are more appealing in emails, social media posts, and other digital communication forms because they are simpler to read and comprehend. 


3. XML Sitemap: The Index of Your Site


Your XML sitemap acts as a directory for search engines, guiding them through your site’s pages. Update it to reflect the new URL structure, ensuring all links are active (status code 200) and free from redirects or errors. Tools like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb can help test your sitemap before it’s submitted to search engines. Remember, a clean sitemap is a searchable sitemap.


4. Robots.txt: The Gatekeeper of Your Site


The Robots.txt file tells search engines which parts of your site they can and can’t crawl. Determining the proper directives and syntax for this file ahead of time—and testing it—is crucial. Include the URL of your XML sitemap here to make search engines’ jobs easier.


5. On-Page Elements: The Interior Design of Your Site


On-page elements are like the interior design of your website. Just as the choice of colors, furniture, and layout can transform a house into a home, these elements refine and define your site’s appearance and usability, significantly influencing both user experience and search engine optimization (SEO). Here’s why they’re crucial during a site migration and how to optimize them effectively.


The Role of On-Page Elements in SEO and User Experience


  • Content Quality and Relevance: At the heart of on-page SEO is content. High-quality, relevant content that satisfies user intent can elevate your site’s ranking and authority. During migration, ensuring that content is accurately transferred and updated to meet current SEO standards is essential.

  • Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: These elements are the first interaction users have with your site on a search engine results page (SERP). Think of them as the curb appeal of your website. Well-crafted title tags and meta descriptions can significantly impact click-through rates. They should be concise, include target keywords, and accurately describe the page content.

  • Header Tags


  • Internal Linking: Internal links not only help with site navigation but also spread link equity (ranking power) throughout your website. A strategic internal linking structure can boost the SEO performance of individual pages. Ensure that all internal links point to the new URLs post-migration and that they’re relevant and helpful for the user.

  • Image Optimisation: Images enhance the user experience but can slow down your site if not properly optimized. Ensure all images are compressed for faster loading times, use descriptive file names, and include alt text for accessibility and SEO.


6. Post Migration: The Monitoring Phase


After your site goes live, keep a keen eye on traffic and rankings to catch any unforeseen issues. Monitor the site’s performance closely, identifying and fixing problems with urgency. Regularly crawling the site post-migration will help you see and correct issues like poor or missing redirects, outdated meta’s, and broken internal links.


Website Migration Made Simple


Website migration might seem like a Herculean task, but it can be a smooth transition with the right planning, tools, and mindset. And a beneficial one, too!

Website migration can be a complex and challenging process, but following the do's and don'ts outlined in this article can increase your chances of a successful migration. 


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