Site migration with an emphasis on search engine optimization and maintaining rank is key to ensuring successful completion.
#1 – Consider the Merits of no Migration
Site migration is almost guaranteed to result in a loss of traffic because it will take time for search engines like Google to re-index your content.
With this in mind, the only time a site migration should be launched is when there is strong rebranding, the promise of generating press and links, or when your site needs to be moved, such as to HTTPS.
#2 – Use a Test Server First
Before doing a site migration, ensure that all redirects are working and complete all checks before taking it public.
#3 – Migrate when there is Slow Traffic
Identify a slow part of the year to perform your migration as a means of minimizing the traffic damage.
#4 – Crawl before you Migrate
Crawl your site first to build a complete list of URLs, ensuring all information is kept in the crossover.
#5 - Copy all Google Analytics Data
Doing so will help you identify if and where any traffic is lost following the migration. This will make it easy to close these gaps. Monitor closely. Remember, authority may not be properly transferred from old site to new site.
#6 – Spreadsheet old URLs to new URLs
This makes it easy to directly connect old pages to new, at least in terms of organization. Connect every page to somewhere. This will communicate to Google that the new site is the same as the old site and help with transferring authority.
#7 – HTML Links on the New Site
With regards to your new site’s internal links, all should be pointing to existing links on the new site.
#8 – Self-canonization
By self-canonizing all the pages on a new site, you communicate to Google that this is the new, current location of your old site.
#9 – Remedy any Issues with Duplicate Content in the Migration
#10 – Remove as Little Pages as Possible
Removing pages in a migration should be avoided. If it is a must, be sure to identify and address accordingly.
#11 – Employ a Custom 404 Page for misdirected users
#12 – Keep your old Sitemap and submit your New Sitemap
#13 – Install Google Analytics on the new domain before it is public
#14 – Redirect changed links
#15 – Do not give up Authority on the old Domain
Re-direct page by page the old site through to the new site. Don’t give up control of the old domain, under any circumstances. Additionally, ensure that re-directs are working.
#16 – Monitor Traffic Consistently
Throughout the weeks after your migration, monitor traffic closely. Note changes in performance and search rankings. Check these metrics on a daily basis for at least a week after the migration is completed.
#17 – Mark down Critical Dates throughout the Migration
#18 – Set up Google Search Console on the new Domain
#19 – Update all PPC Campaigns to ensure they are Directed to the Right Site
#20 – Update Links on all Social Media platforms
#21 – Contact the Authoritative sites that link to you
To the more authoritative sites that link to you, advise them of the migration. Ensure that the links under their domain are properly linked to the new site.
#22 – Monitor Index Page count
Google is not going to index every page immediately following migration. If your site has not been completely indexed after a month’s time, something’s wrong. Browse your migration again and find the issue.
#23 – Check for any 404s and Re-directs
#24 – Crawl all URLs on your Old Site Crawling old URLS is a must following any site migration. This is to verify that everything is re-directing properly.