Considering a redesign of your website? When you hire an Agency to deliver a new website there’s a long list of items they need to work on to ensure the website migration is successful. And hopefully, you’ll have nothing to worry about. It will all be done perfectly!!! But….maybe you’ll need to keep an eye on the process and knowing some of the best practices for website migration will definitely help you stay on top of things. We have managed the delivery of many website projects and it’s always important to have someone sitting on the client’s side of the fence that understands what could go wrong. Here are some of the top considerations for website migration, assuming that you are doing a redesign.
1. Block the new website from indexingIf the agency gives you access to the replacement website, how can you be sure they have blocked it from indexing? There’s a file called Robots.txt and in this file, you can issue a command to Google to block the indexing of the whole site. However, this doesn’t always stop Google from indexing! You can also use this setting within WordPress which works better: Note: Make sure that this setting is removed when the website is launched!
2. Analyze your existing trafficBefore you start the migration process you need to perform the analysis of your existing website’s traffic. One of the most important things is to identify the most valuable pages on your site because you want to make sure you don’t lose any traffic. What are your most trafficked pages? You’ll want to keep an eye on these! What are the least visited pages of your website? You’ll need to make a decision about what to do with these pages and we’ll talk about the options you have in the next couple of points in this post. What is the current user behavior flow through your website? This is the path that the user takes from one page to the next and it’s vital to conversion on your site. You want to see what works and what doesn’t work and Google Analytics behavior flow report will help you understand this. What goals work/don’t work? Hopefully, you have goals set up so you can see what currently works/doesn’t work. You need to consider your most valuable goals with the new website.
3. Delete pages that are not usefulWhen you are migrating a website there are probably a bunch of pages that you shouldn’t move across. These pages generally have no traffic and no relevant backlinks pointing to them. If a page is generating less than 100 visits per year and no relevant website is linking to it, then this is a good candidate to delete unless it’s a page that you need to have e.g. privacy, contact us, etc.
4. Redirect pages that no longer existWhen you launch a new website, you’ll want to apply 301 redirects to the pages from the old site that no longer exist or that exist with a different URL. A 301 redirect is a technical term which means that any value of the old page is transferred to the new page. If you don’t set up an appropriate 301 redirect, a user that tries to visit a non-existing page will see a 404 error which is really bad for user experience.
5. Optimize the content for SEOWhen you move to a new website you may find that some of the existing content is not optimized correctly. Or… you are changing the content on some of the pages. This means you need to have someone with SEO skills who can review the content and re-optimize it. Content optimization should include:
- Making sure that the content is optimized for the right keywords
- Checking if the outbound links are relevant and link to authoritative websites
- Ensuring that all images have alt text
- Optimizing the page title and the H1 and H2 title tags, etc.
6. Get trainingIf you are moving to a new content management system, or maybe a theme that allows you to configure it, make sure to get relevant training from your Agency. Ideally, the Agency will set up a test version of your site so you can practice making changes before doing it on the live site.
7. Check the speed of the existing websiteThe speed of your website is becoming more and more important. Use a tool such as GTMetrix to take note of your existing web site’s speed and compare it with the new website. You definitely don’t want the new website to be slower!
8. Investigate hosting optionsAre you sticking with the same hosting service provider or moving to a new hosting company for your website? If you’re not going to change providers, maybe it’s time to upgrade the service to give your new website a boost. Here are some considerations for hosting:
- What’s the uptime? A hosting provider reports on when their servers are down. So you need to know the uptime.
- How fast is it going to be? Are you on a dedicated server, shared server, etc? This will have implications to speed.
- Is broadband unlimited or restricted? If it’s restricted then when you have a busy period some people may not be able to access your site.
- Is there a CDN? A content distribution network ensures that your website is accessed from the closest hosting center to the visitor. This means faster access!