Although rebranding can be an effective marketing strategy for businesses, planning on migrating your site to a new domain can hurt your traffic. Since search engines have already indexed and ranked your site, changing it can cause loss of traffic and confusion among search engines when not done properly.
The good news is that you can minimize any changes to your traffic and ensure Google continues to rank you and web users are able to find you by carefully planning your move. Here are our top SEO tips for maintaining your organic rankings when migrating your website.
If You Can, Keep Your Existing URL Structure
If possible, keep the URL structure on your current website the same as your new one. These URLs have already been indexed by search engines like Google and contribute to organic rankings. If you can keep the URL the same, it will help reduce a reduction in rankings or traffic as you migrate your website and even after your new website is established.
Example, is a blog article on your legacy website was www.yourwebsite.com/blog/greatarticle, don’t use a new structure like www.yourwebsite.com/greatarticle, which some website platforms automatically do, so it’s important to check and correct before your new website goes live.
Add 301 Redirects When Changing Your Website
Should you not be able to keep some or all of your legacy URL structure, it’s imperative to add 301 redirects so Google knows to redirect your visitors to the corresponding page on your new website. Since 301 redirects tell search engines that the page has been relocated, the goal is to transfer the page’s organic ranking (also called link juice) to the new site.
Although it’s difficult to completely eliminate a decrease in traffic and rankings when migrating a website, 301 redirects give you your best chance to preserve your organic rankings and traffic.
Redirect mapping is simple enough to do with a crawler and can help reduce snags when rebranding and migrating your website. Just be sure that every URL corresponds to a page on your new website.
For example, if a web page on your previous site was www.yourwebsite.com/oldpage and the new URL for that page is www.yourwebsite.com/newpage, a 301 redirect will tell Google which page is which, and direct them to transfer your organic visibility that you worked so hard to achieve.
Keep Your Website Pages
Although it may be tempting to remove old website pages that are no longer useful or relevant, deleting too many webpages can do more harm than good when migrating your website. It could cause a discrepancy and confuse search engines, leading them to mistake your new site for a different one.
After migration, you can delete pages and remove broken links or duplicate content. You should also have a 404 page that directs web visitors landing on an outdated or missing webpage back to your website so they don’t leave. Any outdated links should also be updated.
Plan Migration for a Slow Time of Week or Year
Planning to migrate your website during a slower time of year for your business is smart because it can help ensure you have any snags or decreases in traffic worked out by the time your busy season comes around again. This is especially true for larger websites with hundreds or thousands of pages to migrate. Never plan to migrate at or right before a busy time of year.
For say small business websites which are smaller, migrating on a Friday evening could be better so you have the full weekend to test and address and challenges that arise with the new website.
Analytics such as Google Analytics can give you valuable insight on the best time to plan your rebranding and website migration.
Continue to Monitor Performance
Before migrating your website, you should have Google Analytics set up to monitor your website’s traffic and rankings and continue to monitor afterwards too. That way, you can identify any changes in traffic, monitor any before/after migration impact and make adjustments as needed based on your results.
Planning a Website Redesign? Make Sure You Do It Right
Planning your website redesign and migration can ensure you have your best chance to successfully migrate without losing the organic rankings you worked hard for. Contact Gazz Consulting today to learn how we can help you successfully migrate your website and preserve your rankings and traffic.