Moving a site is a delicate, time-consuming, and costly thing. It may be required in the following cases:
- You have decided to change CMS or domain name;
- You’ve moved to another hosting;
- The website was redesigned.
Sometimes, after moving a site, there is a loss of traffic and its positions in search because, from the point of view of search robots, you offer them a completely new site, often with a different structure. Even in the event of a redesign, links, code, application forms, and site navigation change.
Any site transfer is a risk for both the customer and the SEO specialist. To do this, it is necessary to reduce all risks to a minimum and know how to do it correctly. If you don’t have enough time and resources to do it by yourself, address an MjSeo.agency that specializes in optimization for CBD companies. A team of experienced professionals will help you transfer your website without losing positions and traffic.
When to Transfer Your Site
First, let’s take a quick look at a few points when it is necessary to transfer the site (if you are at the stage of doubts).
Until now, not all platforms are SEO friendly, for example, Umi.CMS and Drupal are considered outdated management systems. Considering how difficult it is sometimes to transfer a project to another developer. Therefore, in such cases, it is better to choose in favor of Joomla or WordPress.
If the hosting of the site is located in another country or technical support responds for more than a day, you may have problems with the operation of the site itself in the future. Especially if it is an online store — every non-working minute will count.
Our TOP-3 hosting:
- Bluehost web hosting (fast tech support);
- Hostgator (convenient control panel);
- Hostinger (best cloud web hosting).
Domain name change
One way to “update the reputation” of your site in search is to pick up a new domain name. You need to make sure of the following issues:
- The new domain is not under search engine filters;
- Spam links from other resources do not lead to it;
- The domain was not purchased at an auction (so-called drop domain).
Register your domain name only with trusted providers.
3 Steps before Starting Your Work
After you have decided on the transfer of the site, you should go through the crucial issues to avoid unpleasant surprises:
- Set up the automatic backup (at least once a day). Why automatic? A backup may be required both for the previous version of the site and the transitional one (for the developer).
- Close all files from indexing. If the backup is obvious, closing the site from indexing at the time of its layout is an unobvious detail that many people miss. When a search robot crawls through a “raw” website, it will not please you with changes in the search results.
- Upload the project to Screaming Frog. This file will help not only to preserve the previous structure of the site for specialists but will also become a reminder for SEO specialists of which meta tags were on the site before it was moved.
Checklist for Moving the Site to other CMS/Hosting
As mentioned above, often, when you move a site, its structure changes: for example, when choosing a CMS from a certain provider, you may have additional nesting/catalog, or vice versa.
In order not to get into a mess when transferring to CMS, do the following points:
- Create a site URL mapping table. This can be done using the old unload from Screaming Frog and the new parsing file.
- Perform massive redirects from old pages to new ones. Be sure to check their performance.
- Check basic redirects — from HTML to no HTML, www to no www, and so on. It’s trite, but programmers can create duplicates without knowing it.
- Postpone SSL and HTTPS connections until the site is finished.
- If a global change of the structure of a large project (online store) occurred, check the match between search landing pages and new URLs.
WordPress CMS has a useful redirect plugin that will help you set up redirects without going into the .htaccess of the project.
An Example of Moving a Site because of Its Redesign
Before the implementation of the new layout of the site, so as not to lose positions and traffic, and in the future to increase them, it is essential to do the following:
- Scrape all pages and meta tags of the project.
- Make sure that the site is closed from indexing by the noindex directive for the duration of the work (which was performed at night so as not to affect the main traffic of clients).
- Upload data about traffic and site positions.
- Check the correctness of links, cross-cutting elements, application forms, navigation, and the catalog with the company’s services on the test server.
After re-layout of the site, make sure that:
- Meta tags are correctly substituted on new pages (taken from the old site);
- The site structure contains all the URLs necessary for promotion;
- All texts are present on the site pages;
- Correct redirects from all URLs of the old site are configured.
It is also necessary to check the top priority commercial pages generating the main traffic and the link mass of the project (whether there are any broken links).
It is worth noting that a fairly large part of the traffic is usually generated by the site’s blog. So, after transferring a website, there will be a double benefit: the behavioral factors of the site will improve, and some users from information requests would then convert into real customers.
However, all this would not happen if the site is moved thoughtlessly — all pages and applications should work correctly immediately after the transfer.