The world of SEO and search engine marketing continually changes as Google adjusts its algorithm and consumer tastes evolve. As these adjustments begin to take hold, brands sometimes find themselves facing a site migration. The final push towards making this big change might arise internally, such as when companies rebrand themselves, or it might be caused by external motivations, such as the aforementioned Google announcement.
Regardless of the reason that brought you to the site migration, it is imperative that the entire process is performed correctly and according to best practices. When brands take shortcuts, the potential for catastrophic disaster-- in the form of plummeting rankings and lost data-- looms. With the right advice in mind, however, you will find that a site migration can be not only the transfer of your site from one domain to another-- it can also open up opportunities for you to grow in your SEO efforts and maximize the capabilities of your new site.
Behind these best practices lies superior technology, such as the BrightEdge platform. Armed with the capabilities of the BrightEdge platform, you will have at your fingertips the tools you need to move forward with your project with confidence, verifying that your site migration has been done successfully. You will be able to transfer your domain effectively and efficiently while also seeing the benefits of your efforts on your SEO results.
Using BrightEdge to Maximize a Site Migration
1. Identify the areas of the site that drive the most activity. Use your BrightEdge platform to determine what areas of your site are the most engaging and successful. You can leverage BrightEdge’s integration with your analytics to identify which pages drive the most traffic and revenue while also using the BrightEdge DataCube to understand which keywords are bringing in visitors for those pages.
It is critical to track your traffic and revenue-driving keywords so that you can easily monitor rank changes that would impact site traffic. This information will empower you as you design your new site, helping you to capitalize on the traits that make these pages so popular, while also ensuring that your most valuable pages do not get lost or minimized during the site migration. As you implement 301s to redirect visitors from your old pages to the new pages, you will also be able to ensure that the new pages are optimized for the keywords responsible for the old page’s traffic and success. BrightEdge makes it easy to evaluate your page priorities quickly and efficiently for a successful launch.
2. Investigate areas of technical SEO that need improvement on the old site. On nearly any website, there are various aspects of SEO that need to be modified and improved upon. Leverage the powerful Site Audit feature in the BrightEdge platform to uncover technical errors on the current site. It is critical to avoid repeating mistakes on the new site. The website audit will help you find errors, such as broken links, 404 errors, duplicate content and missing H1 tags. A site relaunch will signal Google to carefully evaluate the credibility of your site, so it is very important to have all of these problems corrected. You can also uncover optimization areas that your competitors are doing that you are not. You can use the DataCube and Backlinks Report, for example, to identify key features you can improve.
3. Use Recommendations to help you prioritize your optimization efforts. As you build your new site, it is also a good idea to pinpoint where you have the opportunity for the biggest gains for the least effort. The Recommendations provides you with competitive intelligence to understand when, where, and why you should take advantage of particular keywords throughout your page for optimal results. Since you will be making changes to your site’s code already, a site migration is the perfect opportunity to make changes that will take advantage these opportunities to ensure that your site performs well from its launch date.
4. Know the types of content and the pages that have the strongest backlink profiles. BrightEdge has teamed with Majestic SEO to offer you a leading SEO backlink profile, which helps you see which of your pages have the strongest backlinks and from where they originate. Often brands forget that the pages with the highest traffic are not necessarily the pages that have the strongest backlinks. It is important to understand and properly redirect these critical pages to avoid losing any of the link equity of the old site. Accidentally collapsing these heavy-equity pages can damage your rank and organic traffic. You can use this BrightEdge capability to quickly determine your link value across your site and prioritize the pages that need to be redirected.
5. Ensure you create a strong 301 redirect plan. A 301 redirect is the preferred means of telling both your visitors and the search engine spiders that you have transferred the domain permanently. With a 301, Google will know that you want the new site indexed and ranked and not the old one. This type of redirect will also enable you to transfer your ‘link juice’ from your old domain to the new one. This means that all your hard work earning rank will not be lost when your pages are redirected. This will help you maintain your position in the SERPs and prevent losses in traffic. This redirect plan needs be thoughtfully planned. The targeted pages for the redirects need to make sense and these new pages need to be optimized for the keywords that had driven traffic to the old pages.
6. Set up a site migration dashboard in Brightedge. As your site migration progresses, you want to make sure that you have complete visibility before and after the launch. A site migration dashboard on BrightEdge will help to ensure that the site information and your visitors are transferred seamlessly from one domain to the next. To create this useful feature, develop a new dashboard that lists your new domain as a competitor for your old site, so you can monitor features, such as indexed pages, rankings, traffic, and backlinks. If any problems arise, you can be alerted immediately and correct the issue before it causes serious harm to your rank or reputation. You have a limited amount of time to fix errors before Google starts to penalize your site-- which can result in a reduction in rank and then a huge drop in traffic.
7. Run a site audit while still in the staging environment. The BrightEdge Site Audit can help you uncover any potential problems with your site while still in the staging environment. You can surface potential errors and ensure that your redirect plan works prior to your official launch. This will ensure that both your visitors and the search engine spiders have the experience you are working to design for them. A site audit will prioritize your problems to make efficient use of your optimizing time leading up to the launch.
8. Re-run your BrightEdge site audit when launching the new site. The day your new site goes live is one where everyone from your sales to your IT departments tends to cross their fingers and close their eyes. Running additional site audits, however, can help reduce the drama. Once the site officially goes live, run an additional site audit to make sure there are no unforeseen problems that your customers might be encountering as they reach your new site. You can check not only for potential errors, but also monitor your traffic rates and customer behavior right from the BrightEdge platform, helping you feel confident that the site migration has been completed correctly. Run another audit a few weeks after your launch day to monitor progress.
When a site migration is done correctly, it can be a cause for celebration or at least relief. It is a genuine achievement and requires considerable hard work and careful forethought. BrightEdge helps make this process much easier, and will enable you to transform your site migration into an SEO opportunity that will help your brand and traffic reach new heights.