Site Migration: A step by step guide

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A site migration can range from updating the structure of your site to launching on a new platform. From a complete redesign to an upgrade to enhance the security of your site. Essentially, it’s any large scale changes which may impact search engine visibility. A well-managed site migration can take a business to the next level, improving functionality and scalability. On the flip side, if not managed correctly a site migration can impact performance for a prolonged period.

Whilst most sites are likely to see a small, short-term drop in traffic. A poorly executed migration can have a negative long-term impact on a site’s performance. There have been many examples of well-known brands who have migrated their sites with poor implementation. The result is a 30%-50% drop in traffic which has lasted for many months.

At Green Ginger, we have experience of planning and delivering successful site migrations. Ensuring there is minimal impact to your performance. Read our short guide to understand the steps you should be taking to ensure a smooth transition.

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Pre-Launch

When considering a site migration, we would recommend planning at least 6-months ahead. This will give you enough time to analyse your site and landscape. Complete the required on-site actions and agree to a robust plan of action. Launching a migration without the recommended analysis will increase the risk of performance drops when the new site goes live.

Our top recommendations for a successful pre-launch are:

  1. Make sure the migration is right for you. Take the time to understand why you are considering a migration. Most site migrations result in a temporary traffic drop so it’s important to be clear on the rationale for migration before pressing ahead. A migration may not always be the best solution vs. your objectives. If you are unsure, speak to an expert

  2. Choose the right timeframe. Plan your migration for a period which will have the least disruption to your business. Review seasonal performance and select a time when demand is lower

  3. Crawl your site. Take the time to crawl your site to get a complete list of URLs which will need to migrate. Use this as an opportunity to discard or fix any broken links and remove blog content with poor engagement

  4. Benchmark analytics. Understand average performance including an expected performance by hour and by day. This will allow you to spot any performance anomalies when it comes to launching. It also allows you to forecast the commercial impact of the migration

  5. Complete a robust testing plan. Test your new site and test again. Set-up a staging site (ensure it can’t be indexed) and ensure the new site is working as expected

Launch

Dedicate time and resource to monitoring performance when you launch the migration. This will minimise the impact of any issues and ensure the migration launches as smoothly as possible.

Our recommended approach to the launch phase is:

  1. Pre-checks and launch. Take the time to complete detailed pre-launch checks on your staging site. Review your pre-launch checklist. Don’t launch until satisfied everything is in the best possible place

  2. Hourly performance checks. Following launch, monitor site performance closely. Look at all key metric benchmarks on an hourly basis to identify any issues quickly and efficiently

  3. Redirect checks. Check your redirects and resolve any issues

  4. Relaunch / Update other channels. Ensure other marketing channels reflect the new site. For example, your PPC activity will need to be directed to the correct URLs

  5. Full site audit. Complete a full audit of the site post-launch to ensure everything is as expected

Post-Launch

In the days and weeks following the migration, it is important to keep a close eye on performance. The key question will be ‘Has the migration been successful?’. It will take time to answer this.

We work with a range of different websites. Depending on the size of the site we would measure the impact of the site migration at different points. Check performance weekly to understand the impact and understand performance trends. The migration process is complete once performance trends have returned to expected levels. This need to be consistent for a prolonged period.

It is at this point you can review the migration and assess the success:

  1. Ensure key technical areas are up to date. Resubmit your site map through Search Console and ensure your robots.txt file is up to date

  2. Monitor performance post-launch. After the site migration is complete you should continue to keep a close eye on performance

  3. Resolve any links/page issues flagged post-migration. Focus your efforts on flagging crawl errors and monitoring engagement metrics. You should focus your efforts on top-performing pages

  4. Address any specific keyword drops. Use your target keyword list to ensure top-terms remain in competitive positions. Use other channels such as PPC to compensate for short-term keyword drops

Overview

Most businesses will have to consider implementing a site migration at some point. If done correctly, with the right support, performance disruption will often be minimal. If you are considering a migration you need to consider the wider SEO impact and get expert support if you are unsure. This is where an SEO or UX expert such as Green Ginger Digital can help.

If you would like to understand more about how we can help with a site migration – either on a consultancy or delivery basis – or any other aspects of SEO. Get in touch for a chat!

Clients Testimonials

Our clients are a diverse mix of eCommerce and service-based businesses.
From well-known UK fashion and furniture retailers to small independent companies - we love the variety!

Made
Habitat
Which
Joules
Wren Kitchens
Homebase
Harrisons of Hull
Pitchy
Riverford Orgnanic Farmers
Rapture Surf Camps
Mark Hill

Kate Harrison
Harrisons of Hull Ltd

Green Ginger Digital have been an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish. They have listened to our business goals and marketing objectives and really delivered in terms of service, content and results. We would highly recommend the team to other businesses looking to build a digital marketing campaign and will continue to work closely with them going forward.

Nathan Green
Pitchy

Pitchy were one of Green Ginger Digitals first clients and we were really impressed with how they took onboard what we wanted to achieve and put together an impressive plan of how they could help us get there. Results were impressive and the team were always professional and approachable.

Andy Orvis
Fountain

Green Ginger Digital came to us with a clear brief and set of requirements. Their communication and ability to make key decisions quickly and effectively made the design and build of their website an easy process. Clearly knowledgable in their field, I'd recommend them for any digital advertising type campaign and certainly hope to work with them in the future.

Nicola Mooney
Adult Planet

We needed serious help with our PPC campaigns as we were wasting a lot of money on ads. The team at Green Ginger restructured everything, advising and adjusting as necessary along the way to really focus the campaign. We were really pleased with the revenue growth we achieved in such a short amount of time, and although early days still, we are seeing promising results! Very happy and would highly recommend the team at Green Ginger Digital.

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