Creating a new domain for your site can be a smart thing to do if it’s done for the right reasons. For example, you may have an existing domain that’s too generic, or you might want to increase security for your visitors by implementing HTTPS. However, you want to make changes like this in a way that minimizes potential damage to your current online ranking. Trusted providers of local SEO in San Diego share a few tips on performing site immigration without losing search engine ranking.
Use a Test Server
You can seriously damage your online ranking if you jump into things and make your changes all at once on your main server. Setting up a test server also gives you a chance to check for errors and omissions before implementing your changes on a grand scale.
Do It During a Slow Period
It’s probably not a good idea to do a migration during the holidays or another busy season. Preferably, you want to plan a website migration during the slower times of the year since you’ll likely experience a slight dip in traffic during the process.
Crawl Your Site First
Tools such as Screaming Frog can be used to crawl your site prior to migration. What you’ll end up with is a complete list of your URLs, which can also be used to find any crawl errors on your old site.
Copy Your Google Analytics Data
Before the migration, make a copy of your Google Analytics (GA) data. You’ll have a reference you can use when your new site is up and running to determine if you’ve lost any traffic. If you do notice a dip, compare your GA data from your old site with stats for your new one to see what specific pages have been affected.
You can also use GA data to see which pages have the most activity and authority. These are the ones you should pay particular attention to after the transition is complete.
Map Old and New URLs
Create a spreadsheet that shows all of your old and new URLs. It’s best to retain the same URL architecture with your new site. If you plan to make changes, realize that doing so may cause Google to view your site as an entirely new one, which could potentially have a big impact on your traffic.
If you do delete some pages, make a list of what you remove. Also, remove links from removed pages and redirect them to a 404.
Update Internal Links
Make sure your internal links point to the new site. While it may be tempting to use redirects and leave these links alone, the extra server load could affect how your site performs.
Self-Canonicalize New Pages
Tell search engines about your new site by canonicalizing to your new site. This step can be combined with strategic redirects to point site crawlers to the correct pages.
Check for Duplicate Content
Even if you’re careful, it’s possible to overlook some duplicate content during the migration process. Pay particular attention to default folders that lead to the same content.
Manage Your Site Maps
Submit your new site map to Google’s Search Console, but leave the old map in place. This will allow search engine crawlers to use your old map to find the redirects to your new site’s pages.
Set Up Metrics for Your New Domain
Before your new domain goes live, set it up in Google Analytics or whatever other analytical tools you may be using. By setting up metrics for your new domain, you’ll be ready to access data from your new site when it makes its official debut.
Don’t Give Up Your Old Domain
It may be tempting to give up your old domain when you reach a point where it’s no longer being indexed. However, doing so could mean giving up your redirects and assuming search engine crawlers will automatically take users to the right destination.
Update Other Platforms
Don’t forget to update the links back to your website on your other platforms, including your social media pages, blogs, and any of your listings in directories with a link to your site. Update your PPC campaigns as well.
Contact Sites with Links Pointing Back to Your Old Domain
Reach out to the sources of your most important external links. Whoever is running those sites can make the change to your new site’s link. Since it may take a while for the link to point to your new domain, start this process as early as possible.
Monitor Your Traffic and Other Important Stats
It will take some time for Google and Bing to make adjustments, but you shouldn’t see a massive decrease in traffic. Stay on top of what’s going on with your new site by:
- Monitoring your traffic
- Checking your keyword performance
- Watching your most prominent links
- Using GA annotations to mark important dates during your migration
- Tracking your indexed page count
Before you do a site migration, determine if it’s really necessary for your business or brand. If you decide a change can ultimately be a positive thing (especially if you’re making your site more secure with a move to HTTPS), realize you will likely lose some traffic at first during the transition. However, having a site migration game plan in place before you make the shift can make the transition less stressful and more productive.
Whether you need minor changes to your existing website or a complete site migration plan, turn to Saba SEO. As a leading San Diego web development company, we can help you design and switch to a mobile-friendly website with high-quality content without losing your online ranking. Our experts work tirelessly to ensure our clients stay ahead of their competitors and enjoy better search engine rankings and high conversion rates. To get started with creating a site migration plan for your business, call us at 858-951-1717 today.