Over the past year, site migrations have become increasingly more popular, especially as a responsive site is no longer just an option but a must-have. Google is regularly updating its algorithm to penalize websites that are not mobile friendly and businesses have had to be quick to react to save the rank of their website in search results. A site migration can be risky however, and SEO problems can occur if valuable content is lost, the URL structure changes or the website transitions to an entirely new content management system. With this in mind, it is always a good idea to hire a web development company to assist your business with a site migration.
A site migration can be a daunting prospect, especially with so much at stake, so this article offers some helpful questions to ask an agency responsible for your website migration.
The goal here is to make sure the agency thoroughly reviews your current content and takes steps to ensure any high performing content doesn't get lost in the migration. You may decide to trim some content but your agency should advise you that any page that has gained significant page authority should be migrated to aid minimum traffic loss and minimum ranking drops.
Changing the domain adds another layer of complexity to a site migration and changing the directory structure makes it even more complicated. You should only choose to do this if there is good reason to make this switch.
Your migration plan should take into consideration the legacy site architecture, the new site architecture and the technical limitations of both platforms. Use this question as an opportunity to explore the knowledge your agency has behind each platforms and what issues they can foresee.
It is always wise to test one section of a website with changes before implementing the changes site wide. Depending on the size of your website, the changes could be made in two stages or several more.
Site migrations can produce many 404 errors because old URLs will cease to exist once the new website launches. The goal here is to minimize the amount of errors associated with your website. Find out what tools your agency will use to ensure the crawl errors are kept to a minimum.
You do not want existing links on the site to link to the old website and then 301 to the new site. Ask your agency how they will ensure all internal links are updated to the new links as accurately as possible.
Will they update the 404 page to help push users towards the content they are looking for? How will they get creative with this page to impress users instead of irritate them?
What will success look like for your new website? Will you base it on traffic? Rank? Keyword rank? CTR? Engagement metrics? Make sure you set specific digital KPIs for the short, medium and long term goals of your website.
This is done using Google Webmaster Tools. Again, use this question to test the knowledge of your agency and what they plan to do with the old site. Ideally you will keep the old site in a place where you can monitor and manage it.
Choosing the right timeline for a site migration is vital. It isn't something you want to do in the middle of your busiest season. Make sure your agency understands your timeline and what time of the year is best for this type of a digital move.
What other questions do you ensure you ask your agency during a site migration? Share with us over on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
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