You might want to migrate your website to a new domain for several reasons. Maybe you want to revamp your site’s look, enhance functionality and security, or improve performance. Regardless, website migration offers many opportunities to boost your online presence. However, a risky journey lies underneath the prospect of enhanced visibility and more traffic – one filled with pitfalls that could affect your SEO ranking and digital marketing efforts.

Having worked so hard to optimise your current site to organically rank higher in search results, you wouldn’t want to jeopardise this hard-earned visibility. That’s what makes migrating a website a complex process. There are several factors to consider and mistakes you must avoid to prevent any negative effects on your SEO. Here’s a look at some common SEO mistakes to avoid when migrating your website.

But first, let’s take it from the top.

What exactly is website migration?

This refers to transferring your website from one hosting environment to another to improve functionality and visibility. This move makes major changes to the site’s technology, design, structure, and location. It involves moving your website files, databases, and configurations while minimising disruptions to your site’s functionality, SEO and user experience.

Here are a few more reasons you might want to migrate your site:

  • Adding a mobile version
  • Moving from HTTP to HTTPS
  • Upgrading or moving to a new framework or content management system (CMS)
  • Moving to a new server
  • Changing your domain name

Common mistakes to avoid during site migration

Site migration looks different depending on why you are migrating and the changes you plan to make. However, even something as simple as adding content to your site can significantly impact your SEO. Here are some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Inadequate URL mapping

Forgetting to redirect old URLs to new ones can affect your SEO ranking. This is because search engines use URLs to index and rank pages. If you change a page’s URL but fail to link to the new one, the search engine thinks the old URL is a broken link, affecting your page’s ranking.

To avoid this, use 301 redirects. They act as signposts so users and search engines know the new location of your page. Unlike 302 temporary redirects, 301 redirects are permanent and tell search engines your page has permanently moved to the new address. The search engine now knows to prioritise the new page so all the ranking signals and focus shift to the new address.

Make sure you properly target your redirects. For example, if the landing page for local SEO services in Australia is missing, find a suitable alternative or recreate it.

Poor planning

Falling to plan is planning to fail. Failing to formulate a clear migration strategy is the biggest mistake you can make. Even when what you want to do seems simple, you will likely underestimate the scope of the work needed. Think of it like you are packing for a vacation. Whether it’s long or short, you won’t throw everything into your suitcase. You must decide what to carry based on your destination, activities and the weather.

Migrating your site requires the same thing. You must formulate a plan based on your specific needs and the goals you have in mind. Without a clear plan, there’s disorganisation, potential oversight, potential loss of data, and the possibility of things taking longer than intended.

Your plan should clearly indicate:

  • The purpose of the migration
  • Resource allocation
  • The structure and hierarchy of the teams involved to streamline communication and reporting
  • Timelines
  • The detailed migration procedure and contingencies in case something goes wrong

Skipping a website audit

Before migrating, you must perform a website audit to identify any issues that might affect the migration and deal with them. This involves assessing your current site’s performance, architecture, content and SEO.

Not auditing your site leaves you at risk of transferring these issues to your new site. For example, broken links and poorly optimised content can negatively affect user experience and your SEO efforts.

Neglecting SEO best practices

There are multiple ways a website migration impacts your SEO. You can lose your backlinks, migrate broken internal links, or lose SEO points because you changed something on your website. When moving to the new site, ensure you observe SEO best practices, such as enhancing on-page and technical SEO. For instance, as you migrate your content, ensure it is done accurately. There should be no missing text, images, or videos, and both internal and external links should be intact.

Miscommunication

Migrating a site requires collaboration between various teams. That is why it’s crucial to loop them in from the beginning so everyone is on the same page throughout the process. This means the developers and SEO personnel should work together to ensure successful migration and retention of your site’s SEO value.

Additionally, inform search engines of the move through Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. This will prevent them from redirecting users to your old website. Also, inform your users of the move via social media and website announcements.

Not prioritising mobile optimisation

In the era of mobile supremacy, search engines predominantly focus on mobile-first indexing. Failing to ensure your new site is optimised for mobile use will hurt your SEO ranking. Mobile-first indexing means search engines use the mobile version of your site for ranking and indexing. For instance, when users search for digital marketing in Adelaide on their phones, mobile-optimised sites are ranked higher in the search results.

Any issues with the mobile version, such as long load times or poor user experience, can significantly drop traffic. As you migrate, ensure your site has a structured data markup, responsive design, and fast page load speeds to provide a positive user experience.

Not testing your new site

Your new site is like a new rocket. Would you launch it into space without conducting thorough pre-flight tests? The same principle applies to your new site. Adequate pre-launch testing allows you to test run your site before you go live. This way, you check on all aspects of the site, such as load times, mobile-friendliness, functionality and SEO performance.

This test drive helps you identify and resolve any issues before the launch. Afterwards, perform a post-launch audit to reveal any issues you missed during migration and fix them before they become major problems.

Lastly, make sure you have a backup of your old website. Whether you are making major or minor changes, it’s a good idea to have a backup of your resources just in case.

Website migration can be rewarding if done correctly and for the right reasons. However, it comes at a high risk, and things can go bad fast. However, if you avoid these SEO mistakes and navigate this process cautiously, you can enhance your visibility and improve traffic.

If you want help with your website migration, local SEO in Australia, or website optimisation, contact Online Path for assistance.