How to migrate your website and keep your SEO rankings — a checklist

Dec 10, 2019

However you slice it, website migration is a nightmare for SEO. Ranking is something that cannot be increased overnight, and all the effort you poured into your existing site can be in vain when you migrate from one hosting platform to another.

With any migration, expect a temporary dip in traffic no matter what. But to minimize the impact on your SEO, go through this checklist

Pre-migration:

  • Analyze all the outbound and inbound links using a tool such as Screaming Frog.
  • Make a comprehensive list of broken links, 301, 302 redirects and site-wide links. You should also make a note for all no-do follow links as well.
  • Decide which links are going to be permanent or temporary redirects to a new site and which links will be 404.
  • Export top pages along with their keywords from the analytics/search console. Make them your priority for the whole migration, as you don’t want to lose its current position and traffic from search engines.
  • Be precise about all the keywords a page ranks for. And use this after a successful migration.
  • Jot down the average traffic for all the pages. After all, you need to maintain the same amount of traffic after the migration.
  • Finalize the new website structure and navigation.

Launch time:

  • Cross-check all the inbound and outbound links and their redirecting codes in reference to the existing one.
  • As you are setting up a whole new domain, check that all the on-page factors are implemented correctly for your new site.
  • Check the website in a sandbox environment first. You can also do this by blocking the site from robot.txt.
  • Schedule the launch in downtime. Analyze your existing traffic to determine which time will allow you to roll back changes.
  • Discuss with a developer any optimizations or technical checks that you may need.
  • Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console beforehand.
  • Proofread and check all content.
  • Check sitemaps, canonical tags, schema, and ALT tags.
  • The last step before going live is a site-wide sanity check using any tool.

Post-migration:

  • First, check the search console for all indexed pages, crawl errors, and the status of the sitemap — and fix them.
  • Test all the redirects.
  • Check which pages are blocked from robots.txt.
  • Start tracking your pages and keywords from the list you prepared previously.
  • After a few days, compare the traffic and bounce rate for your old and new site, then work on additional ranking techniques.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Pavan Vora

Pavan Vora is SEO and Content Manager who is astute in writing content and creating SEO strategies that rank well in SERP.