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Multilingual SEO guide

Ensuring SEO Integrity in Multilingual Website Migrations: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you concerned about a drop in SERP rankings when you are considering migrating your multilingual website? Then, here’s where you can get the sol...

So, you are an SEO professional or experienced marketer working for a brand or business that wants to seamlessly migrate its multilingual business website. 

This migration process, whether it involves moving to a new domain, changing hosting providers, or restructuring the site entirely, is a crucial step in maintaining the SEO integrity of the website.

SEO plays a crucial role in website migration by ensuring that search engines continue to recognize and rank the site appropriately after the move. Poorly executed migrations can result in significant traffic loss and lower search engine rankings.

Migrating a multilingual website is a complex task. Each language version must maintain its SEO integrity, and proper localization is crucial to cater to diverse audiences effectively. This is where our comprehensive guide comes in.

With over twelve years of helping a vast global client base migrate their websites seamlessly without SERP rankings taking a hit, we at Mavlers would like to share some tricks and tips from our book on SEO-friendly migration experience.  

Today’s blog will walk you through:

As you read this guide, you will be better equipped to take the necessary steps to migrate your multilingual website efficiently and effectively without losing out on those precious SERP (Search Engine Pages) rankings!


(Yep, maintaining those rankings and pulling that site traffic! 😉 )

Understanding multilingual SEO

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of multilingual SEO website migration, it is important to understand the fundamentals of multilingual SEO and everything it entails. 

So, for starters, multilingual SEO involves optimizing a website for multiple languages and regions, allowing it to rank well in search engines across different locales. It ensures that content is accessible and relevant to users in their native language, which can significantly enhance user engagement and conversion rates.

Also, while single-language SEO focuses on optimizing content for one language, multilingual SEO requires addressing language and cultural nuances, geo-targeting, and ensuring technical SEO elements like hreflang tags are correctly implemented to signal the relationship between translated pages.

The following are the key elements to consider for multilingual SEO:

  • Language targeting: Ensuring that content is correctly written by a native writer and not just simply translated and is also culturally appropriate.
  • Geo-targeting: Using tools like Google Search Console to specify target countries.
  • Hreflang tags: Implementing hreflang tags to indicate language and regional targeting to search engines.

Here’s an example of Hreflang tags on the website. 

  • URL structure: Deciding between subdomains, subdirectories, or country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) for different language versions.

Now that we are familiar with the basics of multilingual SEO and the key factors to look out for let’s explore the checklist for a smooth multilingual website migration.

Planning the migration

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and rightly so! It does require planning, spadework, and committed focus to execute a seamless website migration. 

  • Set clear goals and objectives

Define your goals for the migration, such as improving site performance, enhancing user experience, or targeting new markets.

  • Analyze the current website’s SEO performance

Assess your current SEO standings, keyword rankings, backlink profile, and traffic data to establish benchmarks and identify potential risks.

  • Identify and prioritize target languages and regions

Determine which languages and regions are most critical for your business. This prioritization helps in allocating resources effectively during the migration process.

  • Create a comprehensive migration plan

Develop a detailed plan that outlines each step of the migration process, including timelines, responsibilities, and milestones to ensure a smooth transition.

Pre-migration checks

Technical audit

  • Current website structure and URLs: Document the existing site structure and URLs to ensure proper mapping and redirection.
  • Hreflang tags: Verify that hreflang tags are correctly implemented to avoid duplicate content issues and improper geo-targeting.
  • Language-specific content: Ensure that content in different languages is appropriately segregated and optimized.

Content audit

  • Evaluating content quality and relevance: Review existing content for quality, relevance, and SEO performance.
  • Identifying content gaps: Determine where additional content is needed to support different languages.
  • Preparing for content writing and localization: Plan for and invest in high-quality writing (preferably by local writers with native language proficiency) and localization to maintain message consistency across languages.

SEO audit

  • Keyword rankings: Assess current keyword performance in different languages to identify top-performing terms.
  • Backlink profiles: Analyze backlinks to understand the link equity of each language version. Focus on getting local citations for greater credibility. 
  • On-page SEO elements: Review meta tags, headers, and other on-page elements for SEO optimization.

Preparing for migration

Here’s what you need to get in order before you get down to the actual process of migration.

Backup and security

  • Full backup: Create a comprehensive backup of the existing website to prevent data loss.
  • Security measures: Implement security protocols to protect the site during the migration process.

Staging environment

  • Setting up: Establish a staging environment that mirrors the live site for testing purposes.
  • Replicating the site: Duplicate the existing site in the staging environment to test changes without affecting the live site.

SEO elements

  • URL mapping: Map existing URLs to new URLs to maintain SEO value.
  • Redirects: Set up 301 redirects to ensure users and search engines are directed to the correct pages.
  • Updating Hreflang tags: Adjust hreflang tags to reflect the new URL structure and language targeting.

Executing the migration

Step-by-step process

  • Follow the migration plan meticulously, ensuring each step is executed as planned.
  • Use tools to monitor the migration process in real-time to catch and resolve issues promptly.

Handle potential issues

  • Be prepared to troubleshoot issues such as broken links, incorrect redirects, and missing content.
  • Maintain open communication with stakeholders to keep them informed and manage expectations.

Communicate with stakeholders

  • Regular updates and clear communication are essential to keep all parties informed and aligned throughout the migration process.

Post-migration checks

The following checks must be accounted for a smooth post-migration journey. 

Technical checks

  • Page accessibility: Verify that all pages are accessible and correctly displayed.
  • Broken links and 404 errors: Check for and resolve any broken links or 404 errors.
  • Hreflang tags: Ensure hreflang tags function correctly and point to the appropriate pages.

SEO checks

  • Keyword rankings and traffic: Monitor keyword rankings and organic traffic to assess the impact of the migration.
  • Sitemaps: Update and submit new sitemaps to search engines.
  • Site crawl: Conduct a thorough site crawl to identify and fix any SEO issues.

Content checks

  • Localization: Verify that all content is correctly written and localized in the specific language.
  • Duplicate content: Check for duplicate content issues and resolve them.
  • Indexing: Ensure that search engines properly index language-specific content.

Ongoing monitoring and optimization

Successful website migration efforts do not stop here; you need to carry out optimization efforts and regular monitoring. 

Regular monitoring and reporting

  • Set up regular monitoring to track website performance, identify issues, and report on key metrics.

Analyzing performance metrics

  • Analyze metrics such as traffic, rankings, and conversions to gauge the migration’s success and identify areas for improvement.

Continuous improvement

  • Use data insights to make ongoing improvements, adapt to changes in search engine algorithms, and stay ahead of market trends.

Adapting to changes

  • Stay informed about the latest SEO trends and algorithm updates to keep your multilingual site optimized and competitive.

The road ahead

Now that you are familiar with multilingual SEO website migration, you might want to read about Mavlers’ approach to local SEO.

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Shashikant Mane - Subject Matter Expert (SME)

Shashikant is an Assistant Team Lead at Mavlers with over 7 years of SEO expertise, specializing in B2B, E-commerce, and YouTube SEO. Known for pioneering effective strategies and mentoring teams, he is currently exploring Python SEO to push digital boundaries. His passion for innovation drives him to continuously evolve and achieve outstanding results in the Digital Marketing sphere.

Naina Sandhir - Content Writer

A content writer at Mavlers, Naina pens quirky, inimitable, and damn relatable content after an in-depth and critical dissection of the topic in question. When not hiking across the Himalayas, she can be found buried in a book with spectacles dangling off her nose!

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