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Website migration checklist

The Complete Website Migration Checklist: A Comprehensive Guide to Seamless Transition and SEO Success

Are you frantically looking for a perfect website migration checklist? Then this is the one you have been waiting for! ...

You are a brand/agency owner with an ever-evolving vision for your business website. You want it to be fast, SEO-friendly, HTTPS enabled, equipped with an efficient site structure, and conduct regular audits to ensure holistic site health. 

Minor design changes or SEO optimizations can be done without worrying about the repercussions of the website’s visibility on SERPs. But what if your site requires major changes like switching servers, platforms, domain names, architecture, etc.?

Now, that calls for a detailed website migration plan or a website migration checklist that accounts for various steps and ranking pitfalls to avoid. 

We at Mavlers have twelve-plus years of experience delivering multiple website migration projects to a cross-section of delighted clients worldwide. Over the years, we have gained valuable insights into the dos, don’ts, and best practices of successful, SEO-friendly website migration. 

In this blog, we will offer transparent insights on:

  • When should you consider a site migration
  • The basics of SEO-friendly website migration
  • Step-by-step website migration checklist 

Towards the end of this blog, you will be better equipped to conduct a seamless website migration that does not affect your site’s SEO rankings. 

On that note, let’s get started!


When should you consider conducting a site migration

Well, businesses conduct website migration for various reasons, depending on their goals, objectives, and evolving needs. Some of the major reasons behind website migration include:

  1. Platform upgrade: Businesses may migrate their website to upgrade to a more advanced or feature-rich platform or Content Management System (CMS). This could involve moving from a basic or outdated platform to a modern, scalable, and customizable solution that better aligns with their current and future needs.
  2. Rebranding or redesign: A rebranding initiative or a desire to refresh the website’s design and user experience may prompt businesses to conduct a migration. This could involve updating the website’s visual identity, branding elements, layout, and content to reflect a new brand image or messaging strategy.
  3. Improved performance: Businesses may migrate their website to improve speed, responsiveness, and scalability performance. This could involve moving to a new hosting provider, optimizing code and scripts, or implementing caching and content delivery networks (CDNs) to enhance website performance and user experience.
  4. Enhanced functionality: Businesses may migrate their website to incorporate new features, functionality, or integrations not supported by their current platform. This could include adding e-commerce capabilities, customer relationship management (CRM) integrations, marketing automation tools, or third-party APIs to enhance website functionality and drive business objectives.
  5. Content restructuring: Changes in business priorities, target audience, or content strategy may necessitate restructuring the website’s content. This could involve reorganizing navigation, updating information architecture, consolidating or expanding pages, or creating new sections to better align with business goals and user needs.
  6. SEO optimization: Businesses may migrate their website to improve search engine visibility, rankings, and organic traffic. This could involve implementing SEO best practices such as optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and URLs, improving site speed and performance, and enhancing mobile-friendliness to align with search engine algorithms and user expectations.
  7. Domain change: A change in business name, ownership, or branding strategy may require migrating the website to a new domain. This could involve updating branding elements, redirecting old URLs to new ones, and communicating the change to users and stakeholders to ensure continuity and minimize disruption.
  8. Security and compliance: Concerns about website security, data privacy, and regulatory compliance may prompt businesses to migrate to a more secure and compliant platform or hosting environment. This could involve implementing SSL encryption, data encryption, regular security audits, and compliance with industry standards such as GDPR or PCI-DSS.

Now that we are familiar with the reasons why people migrate their websites, let’s decode the basics of SEO-friendly website migration. 

Decoding the basics of SEO-friendly website migration

Website migration refers to the process of moving a website from one location to another. This could involve changing the domain name, moving to a new hosting provider, redesigning the website, restructuring the content, or upgrading to a new platform or CMS (Content Management System). Website migration can be a complex undertaking that requires careful planning, execution, and monitoring to ensure a smooth transition and minimize disruptions to users and search engine rankings.

Many wonder if website migration can significantly affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Well, the answer is yes, it can!

When you migrate a website, various technical, structural, and content-related changes can impact how search engines perceive and index your site. This is why website migrations are also known as SEO migration. Some of the ways website migration can affect SEO include:

  1. Change in URL structure: Changing your website’s URL structure during migration can result in broken links and loss of SEO value. Properly implementing 301 redirects from old URLs to new ones can help preserve SEO equity and ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct pages.
  2. Content changes: When you migrate a website, the content may change, such as updates, deletions, or additions. Maintaining the content’s quality, relevance, and optimization is essential to retaining or improving search engine rankings.
  3. Technical issues: Website migration can introduce technical issues such as slow page load times, broken scripts, or improper canonicalization. These issues can negatively impact user experience and SEO performance. Conducting thorough testing and monitoring post-migration is crucial to promptly identifying and addressing technical issues.
  4. Loss of backlinks and authority: During website migration, your site may lose the backlinks and authority it has built over time. To mitigate the impact on SEO, it’s essential to proactively reach out to relevant websites and update backlinks to point to the new URLs.
  5. Indexing and crawling issues: Search engines may take time to re-crawl and re-index your website after migration. Submitting an updated sitemap to search engines and monitoring crawl errors to ensure that all pages are properly indexed is essential.
  6. User experience: Changes to website structure, design, or functionality during migration can affect user experience, indirectly impacting SEO. Search engines take into conideration factors such as time on site, bounce rate, and user engagement when ranking websites.

Now that you are familiar with the basics let’s delve into the details of the process with an easy-to-follow customizable checklist.

Step-by-step website migration checklist

Let’s break down each step of website migration in detail:

1. Pre-Migration Preparation:

  • Assessing the current website: This involves evaluating the existing website’s structure, content, and performance. Assessing the structure helps understand how the website is organized, including its navigation, hierarchy, and URL structure. Evaluating content involves reviewing the existing content’s quality, relevance, and SEO optimization. Assessing performance includes analyzing metrics such as page load speed, responsiveness, and user experience.
  • Setting migration goals: Define the objectives and desired outcomes of the migration process. This could include improving website performance, enhancing user experience, increasing search engine visibility, or aligning with business goals such as rebranding or expanding product offerings.
  • Creating a timeline: Establish a clear timeline with milestones and deadlines for each migration stage. This ensures the migration process is well-planned, organized, and executed efficiently. Key milestones may include content inventory, design review, testing phases, and final launch date.

2. Technical considerations:

  • Choosing a hosting provider: Select a reliable hosting provider that meets the new website’s needs in terms of performance, scalability, security, and support. Consider factors such as server uptime, bandwidth, storage, and server location.
  • Setting up redirects: Implement 301 redirects to ensure a seamless transition and preserve SEO equity. Redirect old URLs to their corresponding new URLs to prevent broken links and maintain search engine rankings.
  • Updating DNS settings: Update DNS records to point to the new hosting environment. This ensures that visitors are directed to the correct server when accessing the website.
  • Testing server configurations: Verify server settings and configurations to ensure compatibility with the new website. This includes checking server software versions, PHP settings, database configurations, and security measures.

3. Content migration:

  • Content inventory: Create an inventory of all existing content, including pages, posts, images, and media files. This helps identify what content needs to be migrated and organize it accordingly.
  • Content mapping: This involves mapping existing content to corresponding pages or sections on the new website. This ensures that content is structured and organized logically, making it easier for users to navigate and find information.
  • Content optimization: Optimize content for SEO, readability, and relevance before migration. This involves updating meta tags, headings, keywords, and descriptions to align with SEO best practices and improve search engine visibility.

4. Design and layout:

  • Design review: Evaluate the design and layout of the new website to ensure consistency with branding and user experience. This includes reviewing the visual design, color scheme, typography, imagery, and overall aesthetics.
  • Responsive design testing: Test the new website’s responsiveness across various devices and screen sizes. Ensure that the website displays properly and functions seamlessly on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Accessibility compliance: Ensure the new website meets accessibility standards and guidelines, such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This involves making the website accessible to users with disabilities by providing alternative text for images, keyboard navigation, and other accessibility features.

5. Functionality and features:

  • Testing functionality: Conduct thorough testing of all website features, including forms, navigation menus, and interactive elements. Test for functionality, usability, and compatibility across different browsers and devices.
  • Integration testing: Test integrations with third-party tools, plugins, or services to ensure seamless functionality. Verify that integrations like e-commerce platforms, payment gateways, and CRM systems are working correctly.
  • User experience optimization: Fine-tune user experience elements like page load speed, performance, and usability. This includes optimizing images, minifying CSS and JavaScript files, and improving server response times to enhance user experience.

6. SEO and performance:

  • SEO audit: Perform a comprehensive SEO audit of the new website to identify and address any issues or discrepancies. This includes reviewing on-page SEO factors such as meta tags, headings, keyword usage, and internal linking structure.
  • Performance optimization: Optimize website performance by minimizing load times, optimizing images, and reducing server requests. Improve website speed and responsiveness to enhance user experience and search engine rankings.
  • Monitoring tools setup: Set up monitoring tools to track website performance, traffic, and search engine rankings post-migration. Use tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and website monitoring services to monitor and analyze website metrics.

7. Post-migration testing and review:

  • User acceptance testing: Conduct user acceptance testing to identify and address issues or bugs before the website goes live. Test functionality, usability, and performance from end-users perspective to ensure a smooth user experience.
  • Review and feedback: Gather feedback from stakeholders and users to identify areas for improvement and refinement. Incorporate feedback into the final revisions and optimizations before launching the new website.
  • Final QA and sign-off: Conduct a final round of quality assurance testing and obtain sign-off from key stakeholders before launching the new website. Ensure that all aspects of the migration process have been completed successfully and that the website is ready for launch.

By carefully planning and executing each step of the website migration process, businesses can ensure a smooth transition to their new website while minimizing disruption and maximizing the migration’s benefits.

The road ahead

If you are facing issues with your website speed and want to know how Mavlers can fix that, there is a guide for that, too! 

Check it out, amigos!

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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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