Every now and again we all tend to like change. Whether it’s because we are developing and moving up a proverbial ladder, keeping up with the latest fashion or just because we fancy something fresh and new, we tend to embrace most changes positively. As online marketers, progress and change is integral to our survival in the industry, as it is for all of our clients.
It is then easy to understand, that as a website owner you may occasionally want to make changes to your websites content, design or even entire structure. What you may not know is that by altering your site, whether it be:
- Tweaking your URLs (making them more appealing and easy to remember)
- Restructuring your web content
- Switching your CMS platform
- Changing your domain name
you place yourself in danger of adversely affecting the SEO equity of your site which often will have taken a long time and much investment to create.
It’s a sad fact that a very large number of website migrations result in a loss of Search Engine Result Page (SERP) rankings. If you were to consider that a typical site gains 64% of its traffic from the organic search engines positions, a slip in the rankings would be incredibly damaging for brand awareness and ultimately our business.
This is where SEO Migration comes in particularly useful. As a process it best works in 3 stages as described below.
It is vital you know how your current (old) website works and how it’s being used. By understanding which pages are ranking highly in the SERPs, and which pages have high link equity, you can plan what is needed for each page to maintain or even improve their standings when launching a new site. This can be established by:
- Evaluating your traffic split and source
- Defining your high priority keywords
- Establishing what are the top landing pages
- Analysis and benchmark of existing link equity
Like anything planning is key. During a migration, the window of opportunity for a change round or alteration is like meeting someone famous off the TV. They’re generally shorter than you’d think! You have to make sure team members and developers know what they need to be working on and when and that someone is made responsible for this activity. Any lapse in time makes it more likely that your site’s rankings will be affected. So what specifically needs planning?
- Benchmarking rankings and traffic of your keywords
- Mapping URLs on a like for like basis
- Setting 301 rules
- Discovering and annotating high quality links
Now that everyone knows what they’re doing and when, get stuck in! Given the strict time restrictions, you need to have someone leading the development team and ensuring everything is getting done on time. Checklist what you have planned and who is responsible. You are allowed to get a little flustered here. This is what we do to keep tempers at bay:
- Collaboration with web development teams
- Rolling 301s
- Cross checking HTTP status headers
- Optimise and repurpose links (simple 301s don’t cut it)
- Controlling and monitoring progress
By following these processes, you are able to have your cake and thoroughly enjoy it. You get the fresh, new site design that your users will like and you don’t throw away all the effort you invested in SEO.
This article was written by one of our guest bloggers, Mediarun, a leading SEO agency.