So, you’ve made up your mind to move your website to the new CMS platform. With this perspective looming ahead, most website owners give much thought to the choice of the alternative platform. Another important decision to make is the way of migration. Naturally, the search usually centers around the easiest and fastest ways of website migration.
There is one more aspect of CMS switch, which is often overlooked. You might have already guessed that I am talking about SEO and rankings. Why is it so important? Let me provide you with an example.
Imagine that you moved to another city and didn’t give your friends your new address. They would be disappointed and upset and after trying to track you for some time, end up forgetting you eventually.
Moving website without SEO considerations is practically the same thing. After migration, the URLs on your site will change and all the links will be broken. You will leave your visitors clueless as to the site new “home”, which is too bad already. But the worst thing is, Google will find your most important pages missing as well. What it means? Not only drastic drop of traffic to your site, but also wasted efforts for getting it to show up in Google top 10.
To avoid a situation like this, you have to plan your migration with SEO in mind. There’s no the universal remedy for this purpose, but I’ll provide you with the best practices that will be very useful. So, let’s start:
1. Conduct SEO inventory
(find your most popular pages)
What this means is you should research your site and discover
- pages that are the most linked
- pages that get most traffic
How you can track them? Google Webmaster Tools is one of the numerous tools. Go to Your site on the web – Internal links. You can download the information in .csv file for later use. This is extremely important, as the procedure will show you the ‘juicy’ pages that bring you most visitors and which are ranked high in Google.
2. Redirect your Old URLs
(take guests to your new place)
After the content has been successfully transferred, you may start setting up redirects. They are the way to tell Google that the content has been moved and take it to the new page. There are several types of of them, but 301 redirect (page has been permanently moved) works best to keep the link juice.
It’s possible to 301 redirect your whole website at once, but it’s the least desirable thing if you want to keep the rankings. It is recommended that you manually set up 301 redirects of the most important pages.
Be careful – too many 301 redirects add up to the webserver load and can affect your website performance. For pages of lesser importance, you can simply publish the new ones with similar content instead of redirecting them.
Also, when performing this task, don’t forget about the homepage menu, header and footer links- make sure they are live.
3. Crawl your New Site
(check for the closed doors in your website new “home”)
You can do it using Google Webmaster Tools – in other words, you mimic the search engine bots and look at your site through their eyes. It helps to find the broken links (which are practically unavoidable) and 404 errors that need to be fixed, otherwise bots will not be able to index your website properly which will result in rankings drop.
4. Submit your New Domain to Google
(tell it your new address)
This should be done if you’re changing the domain. Set up Google Webmaster Tools account for your new site and verify it. The, In your account for the old site, add and verify the new website address via Change of Address tool.
5. Submit XML Sitemap to Google
(show it around the place)
It is very useful to help bots index your site and don’t miss any pages that you want indexed.
6. Update Backlinks
(inform most valuable visitors personally)
If you’ve got inbound links from authority websites, it would be a great idea to contact their webmasters and ask them to update your links using the new URLs.
7. Monitor your Website
(watch the visitors)
Keep track of the traffic and rankings to measure the impact of migration using Analytics tools. You may expect a 2-4 week drop because it takes time before Google indexes your pages and you regain your rankings. Also, make sure you timely fix any crawl errors discovered. With this ideas in mind, you are ready with one of the aspects of your website migration.
P.S. If you’re still looking for the most suitable way of moving over the content, CMS2CMS online service is the right tool to save you from the trouble and ensure/ fast and simple CMS switch automatedly. Go to cms2cms.com to find out about the automated website migration.