// Guest Posting

Breezing Your Way through the Pitfalls of Website Migration

Table of Contents

#1. What are the Different Types of Website Migration?
#2. 1) Domain Change
#3. 2) Switching from HTTP to HTTPS
#4. 3) Migrating from One CMS Platform to Another
#5. 4) Content Migration
#6. 5) Website Redesign
#7. 6) Changing URL Structure
#8. 7) Switching Hosting
#9. 9) Mobile setup changes
#10. What are the Common Challenges or Pitfalls During Website Migration?
#11. 1) Poor Strategy
#12. 2) Poor Planning
#13. 3) Lack of Resources and Budget
#14. 4) Lack of SEO/UX Expertise
#15. 5) Late Involvement
#16. 6) Lack of Testing
#17. 7) Slow Bug Fixing
#18. Examples of Successful and Unsuccessful Site Migration
#19. a) Unsuccessful Migration
#20. b) Successful Migration
#21. What are the Important Things to Consider Before Starting the Website Migration Process?
#22. Steps for the Website Migration Process….
#23. a) Planning
#24. b) Pre-Launch Preparation
#25. c) Pre-Launch Testing
#26. d) Launch Day
#27. e) Post Launch
#28. f) Measure the site migration performance

Website migration is a term mostly used by SEO professionals. It is defined as the process of migrating a website from one domain to another. This process involves various significant and substantial changes which directly affect the search engine visibility of the website. It involves some typical changes such as site design, platform, structure, content and site location.

In website migration, the most catastrophic effect which a user faces is the loss in search engine ranking and traffic. The reason behind this loss is that Google documentation does not cover the site migration at greater depths. Such loss can last from several days to months. It eventually leads to a loss of regular business till the time site ranking and traffic are recovered.

Since, website migration is a complex process, make sure you to have a good reason behind undertaking the same.

What are the Different Types of Website Migration?

Depending on the nature of the changes during the process of website migration, it can be classified into various types.

eight different types Pitfalls of Website Migration

Following are the eight different types of website migration:

1) Domain Change

The main objective of this type of website migration is to rebrand the business. It involves switching domain from a country code top level domain (ccTLD) to generic top level domain (gTLD). In short, changing from co.in, co.uk, and co.nz to .com

2) Switching from HTTP to HTTPS

It is considered as one of the most basic migration but still is complicated. It is potentially dangerous for those who are not sure about its purpose. The objective of switching from HTTP to HTTPS is to serve the website over secure SSL protocol. It provides security and traffic boost to the website. The user needs to be more careful while switching from HTTP to HTTPS.

3) Migrating from One CMS Platform to Another

The main objective behind migrating from one CMS (content management system) to another is to improve the website functionality and remove existing technical limitations. It also helps in improving UI & UX. For example – WordPress website migration.

4) Content Migration

This type of migration involves addition, omission, consolidation, rewriting and removal of multiple duplicate pages on the website. The main objective of the Content migration is to improve the site’s organic search visibility in SERP (search engine research pages).

5) Website Redesign

Website redesigning is one of the most common types of Website migration. It changes the outlook of the website by applying themes, adding new media, optimizing the pre existing content. It improves the performance of the website and can also drag more traffic to it. It becomes necessary to upgrade the design of a pre existing website. If the website owner is still using decade old themes and media then it is difficult to boost the traffic with the passage of time.

6) Changing URL Structure

In this type of migration, structural changes such as navigation, slugs, taxonomy and internal linking take place in order to change the basic website architecture.

7) Switching Hosting

The main objective behind switching the host is to improve the speed and performance of the website on an optimal level. It also helps to get a better website support system.

It is the combination of all possible migrations to accomplish more than one objective during the process of website migration.

Apart from these eight different types of migration, we can also see one more type of Website migration that is:

9) Mobile setup changes

Building an AMP or PWA website can be considered as partial site migrations.

What are the Common Challenges or Pitfalls During Website Migration?

Although every site is different, still there are some common pitfalls which may materialize during the website migration process.

1) Poor Strategy

Poor strategy is the first cause for failure of site migration. When strategy is based upon unclear or unrealistic assumptions and goals, the website migration process is bound to fail.

The primary objective of website migration should be the retention of preexisting website traffic and revenue levels. Although, a certain amount of loss in traffic is inevitable, it can be controlled with proper strategy.

To avoid a significant amount of loss in traffic during website migration, one should always check out the consequences. This will help avoid creating any unrealistic objective which can lead to a failure.

2) Poor Planning

If you fail to plan then you will plan to fail. Planning is the most important part of the website migration. After realizing and clearing the main objectives and purpose behind the website migration, plan out the whole process appropriately.

Detailed planning may sound a bit redundant but will help you cover all the important and necessary aspects of website migration. Poor planning can lead to a complicated site launch. It doesn’t matter how much detailed your planning is, things never go out 100% as planned.

Planning flexibility is an important key in case of any unforeseen circumstance. Make sure that you do not procrastinate during planning, otherwise you will not get enough time to rectify your mistakes during the site launch. It is always better to plan out in advance to avoid piling up the work which can ultimately lead to errors and loss in traffic.

Do not launch your website during seasonal peaks as again you will not get enough time to make necessary changes and eventually you will end up suffering revenue and traffic loss.

3) Lack of Resources and Budget

This is one of the most common reasons behind a website migration failure. Before entering in the process of website migration, make sure that you have enough migration tools and resources and a well defined budget.

If you have a limited budget then you can simply delay the migration because once you have started the process then you can’t look backwards. Either you will succeed or you will fail miserably in the migration process which will give you some long nights.

As mentioned above, it is highly unlikely that everything will go as you have plotted on the paper. So, to avoid any failure in the process of site migration, you should always have a buffer of at least 20% additional budget. If you cannot allot this 20% of additional resources, then simply delay it. There is no point of fighting with a half sword.

4) Lack of SEO/UX Expertise

It is always good to have some experts on your side during such complex and delicate process especially when you are confused or do not know what you are doing. Many such migration processes fail due to the lack of SEO/UX consultation.

Suppose you are removing a good amount of content to improve UX then unknowingly it will damage the site’s ability to target critical keywords. It can also lead to some crawling and indexing issues. In some extreme cases it will also damage the site’s organic visibility.

Sometimes, copying too much text and images can also affect the site conversions. Hence, it becomes very important to hire or consult an experienced SEO/UX expert. It may look like a costly investment but in the longer term, this investment will save you from a potential revenue loss.

5) Late Involvement

Website migration is not a one day process; it can stretch up to several months and requires lot of resources and skills. Any delay in seeking professional help, consultation or SEO/UX expert can lead to a failure.

6) Lack of Testing

Testing is a part of good planning and strategy. You should always spare enough time to test your migrated website so that you can detect any fault or issue before launching the website. If you skip the testing phase and any error occurs during the launch of website then it can have a negative impact on your brand.

It is always better to delay the site launch rather than spoiling your brand with a faulty website. Poor implementation can lead to revenue and traffic loss; so, make sure that your developers are aware of this fact.

7) Slow Bug Fixing

It doesn’t matter what type of migration your site has gone through, there will be always be a need of fixing bugs whenever the site goes live. Suppose after launching the site, you find that there is a bug in crawling and indexing in the site’s search engine then it will require an immediate fix.

Any delay in fixings bugs can lead to some major technical issues and the site will take long to recover. It will lead to a significant amount of revenue and traffic loss. So, make sure that you are keeping an eye on the bugs and you are fixing them immediately to avoid any loss.

Examples of Successful and Unsuccessful Site Migration

To have a clear understanding of website migration, here are some examples of successful and unsuccessful website migration:

a) Unsuccessful Migration

Unsuccessful Migration Pitfalls of Website Migration

This graph is a perfect example of website migration failure. It involves switching from HTTP to HTTPS and experiences a loss 35% of the visibility. This UK based website took almost six months to recover and lost a significant amount of organic revenue.

another example Pitfalls of Website Migration

This is another example of website migration failure. In this case, the website was not lucky and failed to recover. This is another UK based website which suffered a permanent loss of 20% when it migrated from HTTP to HTTPS.

These failures are the direct result of poor planning and poor strategy before migration, and launching of the website.

b) Successful Migration

The way plans are executed decides whether the site will suffer a significant loss or not. It also depends on the type of migration. Following is an example of one such successful website migration:

successful Pitfalls of Website Migration

This is an example of a successful website migration and this time the website suffered zero or minimal traffic and visibility loss. As you can see in the graph, the visibility growth reached 60% in just one month after website migration.

Below is the graph explaining the traffic growth experienced by the same site after executing a proper plan and strategy.

strategy Pitfalls of Website Migration

As you can see, the website has experienced 80% traffic growth within two months of launch. Now, we can conclude the characteristics of a successful website migration:

  1. Zero or minimal visibility loss in the first few weeks of the website launch.
  2. After a certain duration there is a growth in website visibility and traffic.

What are the Important Things to Consider Before Starting the Website Migration Process?

There are many important things you should keep in mind before starting with migration in order to avoid any significant damage to the website. Following are some basic rules of website migration:
  1. You should always notify your users about the impending migration process.
  2. Do not migrate the entire website at once.
  3. Try to migrate during a low traffic phases.
  4. Do not mix multiple types of migration in a single move.
  5. Religiously execute your planning and strategy.

Steps for the Website Migration Process….

Till now, we have understood all the important aspects related to website migration. Now it is time to know steps involved in website migration. Following are the steps:

a) Planning

  1. It is the first and most important step in the migration process. Be clear in your objectives and intentions. Such clarity will help you manage and filter out unrealistic expectations.
  2. Identify all the risks and critical aspects of the chosen migration type and work accordingly. Consult or hire a SEO/UX expert to have a categorical understanding of the road towards website migration and avoid any critical damage in the beginning of the process.
  3. Make sure you are equipped with proper migration tools to avoid any delay in progress of the site migration and launch.
  4. Share the project plan with every stakeholder in order to have timely discussion and clarifications.

b) Pre-Launch Preparation

  1. Review the prototype before taking any further steps in the migration process. All the radical changes should be reviewed in time so that it can be rectified in case of any fault.
  2. After reviewing the prototype, prepare all the essential SEO details and specification required to move ahead. Make sure to elaborate these details to the developers so that they get a clear picture of your objective.
  3. Identify and focus on the priority pages which are going to drive traffic towards the website.
  4. Avoid internal redirects and do not forget to add media such as audio and image files.

c) Pre-Launch Testing

  1. Start testing your site as early as possible and ensure that the search engines cannot access the testing site by having passwords in place.
  2. The site should be available to only specific IP address.
  3. Review the user journey if the site is redesigned or restructured.
  4. Reorganize the keyword targeted content by reviewing the site architecture.
  5. Review Meta data and internal linking.
  6. Review all the things related to the functioning of the website including the mobile version.

d) Launch Day

  1. While replacing the website, ensure that it responds to any URL request with a 503 server response. This will tell the search engines the website is currently under maintenance.
  2. Check all the technical spots.
  3. Check out all the search console options.

e) Post Launch

  1. Measure the site speed.
  2. Regularly review all crawl errors.
  3. Checkout all crawl stats and server logs.

f) Measure the site migration performance

  1. Few months after the launch, measure site performance. If you have a light or smaller website, check the performance after four weeks. If you have a heavier site, wait for three to four months.
  2. Pay attention to following the following factors:
  3. Mobile and Desktop visibility
  4. Mobile and Desktop site rankings
  5. User engagement
  6. Sessions per page
  7. Conversion rate per page
  8. Conversion rate by device
Once you are done with the above steps, your website will be considered as successfully migrated. Now, you can enjoy the traffic and revenue from your newly modified website.

Ritu Kasana, currently working as a Media Coordinator with Techjockey.com. With more than three years of experience in SEO content and the latest optimization practices, I like to write on trending software and technology. I am a tech lover and always look for the latest industry trends to keep the readers updated.

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