If you do not take care in the process of migrating or revamping your website, you may adversely affect your search engine optimization strategy. Website re-launching, new domain acquisitions and major redesign work on websites can potentially delete your previous online footprint, which would dramatically reduce any returns previously gained from SEO.
However, there are ways to maintain your search equity by carefully planning and executing the transition. Following these strategies, you can maintain, and improve your online superiority.
Know your website
It’s possible for page URLs to change during site updates, even where the site isn’t moving to a new domain. This can cause a site to lower its individual high rankings for pages, resulting on overall rank declines. To avoid this, ensure you have informed search engine crawlers about the changes in URL.
Make a list of all URLs on your site using tools like ScreamingFrog and identify where you need to have permanent 301 redirects. Redirect all pages whose URLs have changes, even if they don’t have much traffic. If the new site has fewer pages, ensure each page from the old site points to a new relevant page. Also, review your subdomains to ensure you have accounted for all pages prior to migration.
It’s better to implement 1:1 mapping for migrations, since it offers more consistency for users. However, it’ll lead to more work. Test redirected pages to find out if they are showing up on search results then proceed to complete site updates if you’re satisfied. Don’t update huge chunks of the site at once to avoid downtimes because of unexpected errors.
If you’ll have a new domain, include it in the Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools) and include a sitemap to notify Google that your new site has gone live.
You’ll need to update links pointing to pages whose URLs have changed. Begin by carrying out a backlink audit to identify your link profile. Sort the results according to link quality and start with those that have the highest relevance and domain authority. Direct links are better than redirected links since they offer a shorter, clearer path to the content.
Ideally, you would contact webmasters hosting each link to request them to change the URL. If this is not possible, establish 301 redirects to preserve the link-worth for your site. If you’re buying a URL that belonged to another brand, remember that you also inherit their inbound link profile. Audit those as well and remove or preserve links as needed.