Website migration: SEO concerns before jumping in the ring
Websites can be complicated machines with a lot of moving parts; start tinkering with the wrong one and things can quickly go wrong. While stakeholders get excited at the prospect of a shiny new site, webmasters tremble with fear as they know what’s really at stake.
Website migrations are a necessary evil and it’s easy to understand why such a monster task is often pushed so far down on the ‘to do’ list that it eventually ends-up in the long grass. Digital marketers know that: if you mess with Goggle you’re messing with fire.
They also know that for the next few months they’ll be slogging-it-out with strategists, designers and coders; most of whom don’t know diddly about SEO. They will have to fight their corner which means taking a few punches and making a few compromises. Take too many hits and the website will be left on the canvass haemorrhaging SEO juice until it bleeds out.
At launch the resurrected website will have a new spring in its step and everybody will be patted on the back: the strategists (what a clear vision!) the designers (looks really great!) and the coders (super slick performance!) while you’re quietly ignored. But give it a few months, and if too many compromises cause the traffic to dry-up, you’ll be the one who gets it in the neck.
However, there is another more desirable outcome: one where the right game plan, dogged determination and hard work, sculpt a site that’s fighting fit and ready to pick-apart the competition.
The trick is to anticipate the changes coming (so you can get ahead of the game) keep communicating and explaining (so that everyone’s on the same page) and ask for expert help (so that you’re in safe hands) and here’s how it’s done:
Reasons for website migrations
Website migrations can be triggered by any number of reasons and the following often signal that change is on the horizon:
Corporate Restructuring Mergers and acquisitions almost inevitably mean site changes to reflect the new company structure.
Management Overhaul It’s understandable that new appointments (especially in the digital department) want to make their mark and use their contacts, but sometimes it pays to be patient and take a longer view.
Brand Repositioning Companies evolve over time and marketplaces continually change and websites need to keep-up with the times.
Consolidating Assets Digital assets can have a habit of proliferating and sometimes satellite sites and key-player blogs need to be brought under a single roof.
Exhausted Functionality There comes a time in most website’s life when they are no longer physically fit for purpose and it’s time for a reboot.
Types of website migration
Website migrations come in all shapes and sizes including the following guises:
Hosting Migration Changing provider, server space, specification or location.
Software Migration Changing platform, moving to a new CMS, expanding functionality or consolidating websites.
Domain Migration Changing URL, changing subdomains or adding SSL.
Content Migrations Changing volume of copy, style and tone or foreign language versions.
Design Migrations Changing the look and feel of the site or enhancing UX.
Site migrations can be the stuff of SEO nightmares, but with meticulous planning they can serve as a springboard for sustained SEO success. Get it right and the money men will slowly (but surely) realise you deserve a high five, get it wrong and they’ll quickly give you a kick in the pants.
In our next post we’ll take a much closer look at the mechanics of website migration covering everything from auditing and monitoring to architecture and redirects. If you can’t wait that long, or realise that you’re about to bite off more than you can chew, visit our website migration services page and let the experts lend a helping hand.