SEO Strategies for a Site Migration

Updated: Feb 16, 2024 | |

Planning a new website launch?

Building and launching a new website is a big commitment of time and capital. 

Any site must talk to both the user and the machine (Google). 

The problem is most website agencies are full of web developers and don’t have staff whose main function is SEO. This leads to sites that can look beautiful, are easy to navigate and are very much built with the user in mind. The problem with this is that the second audience (Google) is often overlooked in the development phase.  When SEO considerations are not part of the plan or are not done well, the consequences on traffic and rankings can be substantial and immediate.

The site below was rebuilt and launched by a dev agency. The new site looked much better than the old one, but it was built and launched without any SEO consideration or a migration plan.  

The day the new site launched, there was a 30% drop in impressions and clicks and the site lost roughly 75,000 impressions and 5,000 site visits per month. Buying this traffic with Google ads would cost between $50 and $60,000 annually.

SEO Site Migration

SEO site migration is the process of moving pages, content and URLs to a new website without losing any SEO authority, rankings, indexing signals, etc.

An investment of $5-$10k in an SEO site migration plan would have ensured a smooth transition for the site above with minimal loss of traffic and rankings. In many cases, a robust migration plan can lead to an increase in traffic and rankings.  It can also be used to fix longstanding issues and improve the site architecture. 

Below is an example of a change in rankings (and traffic) a site experienced from a well-planned SEO migration. The period assessed was 1 week before migration and 3 weeks after migration.

This site had sizeable improvements in ranking and traffic for a number of category-level terms and overall traffic to the site.

Migration Plan

When planning a migration, every URL in the old site needs to be reviewed. Any migration plan must take into account the rank, organic traffic and backlinks of every page.

The following tools can be very helpful for doing the initial analysis and planning of a migration:

  • Google Search Console (SC)
  • Google Analytics (GA)
  • Screaming Frog
  • Ahrefs or SEMRush

Below are some key considerations when planning a migration.

Site Structure 

  • Take note of menu structure (both header and footer), how vehicle description pages (VDPs), category pages, blogs, etc fit into the menu and how pages are linked. This will help to determine how URLs should be structured.
  • If the site structure on the old site is good, you can simply carry it across. If not, now is the perfect opportunity to update and improve it.
  • Page 1 rankings
To kick off, we need to understand the current standing of a site.
  • Use Google Search Console or Screaming Frog to identify the indexable pages on the website and which pages have specific status codes.
  • Use Google Analytics or AHREFS to identify which pages are receiving traffic and which aren’t.
  • Use AHREFS again to identify pages with backlinks.

Any pages ranking on page 1 for any keywords or high-traffic keywords ranking close to page 1 are the most important pages when it comes to site migration. It is essential to ensure any content on these pages is carried across in full with little change. 

Ensuring these pages are redirected to the new site properly is also 

important. Doing both of these steps will ensure a high likelihood that no authority will be lost in the migration.

Pages with No Traffic

If there are pages that are not receiving any traffic, have no backlinks and are not key pages (e.g. blogs), consider whether or not these need to be transferred to the new site. 

Redirects

301 redirects tell Google that a page no longer exists and where the replacement URL is. 

One of the most common mistakes we see from dev agencies is they change the URL structure and do not implement 301 redirects, or they remove some URLs and do not implement 301s.

A new website launch often comes at a time when a brand is reviewing its product lineup and also offers the opportunity to change the URL structure for the site to a structure that makes more sense.

Identify the URLs that require redirects & create a 301 Redirect Map.

Trust Retain Media for Effective Site Migration

If you’re planning a new website, don’t let your hard work go to waste. We’ve helped clients of all sizes carry out site migrations without sacrificing their rankings, impressions or clicks. Get in touch with our team today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation and ensure the success of your site migration!

You are in good company. We have helped industry leaders including:

& generate thousands of qualified leads every month for our clients.

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