Something we come across a lot is the time planning for migration from your old website to your new one.
When commissioning a new website being built, it’s important to think about the pages from your old website and redirecting URLs that won’t appear. Redirecting is very important if you want to keep and improve on your current organic position. We’ve composed a guide to help you avoid a drop in your organic listings and traffic.
SOME ADVICE BEFORE YOU START
OLD VS NEW
Devise a plan on how this is going to be done and work out how much time is required to complete the process. People generally underestimate the level of work required so think how long it is going to take and triple it.
COMPLETE THE MIGRATION AT UAT STAGE
To avoid you rushing, and so it can be tested, we recommend that you upload and test your redirects on your staging website. This way everything is in place before go live and you won’t be missing out on any revenue opportunities with users going to dead links.
STAGE CHECK LIST
- CRAWL THE LEGACY WEBSITE
Using a crawler application such as Xenu Link Sleuth; crawl the legacy website, making sure all links and redirects are being identified and reported. This is important to avoid redirect chains later.
- EXPORT ALL 404 PAGES
Now is a great time to make sure all URLs generating a 404 are tied up as well. If you have access to SEO software such as Moz or Majestic SEO, these systems will be able to help you with this. If not, Google Search Console also has a section under Diagnostics> Crawl Errors where you can download a .CSV file.
- REMOVE DUPLICATES
Combine your legacy crawl and 404 errors and remove all duplicate URLs using Excel.
- OLD VS NEW
Crawl the new website to have a full list of new URLs and then, using VLOOKUP in Excel, identify if any URLs are the same, as these won’t need redirecting.
- START MAPPING
In Excel, make two columns: Old URLs and New URLs. Find the most appropriate page relating to the old URL and add it into the New URL column. Brace yourself – this may take some time!
- ASK YOUR DEVELOPMENT TEAM TO UPLOAD
Many CMS systems allow you to manually add URLs one by one. To save you time, ask your development team to upload them for you and apply a 301 redirect.
Check that the redirects are working.
- ADD YOUR OLD SITEMAP
To help the search engines know your old URLs have been redirected, upload your old XML sitemap alongside your new sitemap to signal the changes.
- SUBMIT AT GO LIVE
At go live, submit your new AND old sitemaps to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools so that the two major search engines know you have new content and signal.
- TWO WEEKS LATER….
After the search engines have found your new website, remove your old site map from your website and Search Console/Webmaster Tools.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS
If you’re planning to move your site to a new domain, use the Change of Address tool in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools about your new URL.
When you have verified your new domain, go into your old domain and select the option to tell the search engines your new domain.
Now you’re done! And breathe…