We often hear that replacing an old website with a brand new one is the best way to get increased traffic and soaring rankings, but that is not always the case.
Your website may now have a brand-new design, a more intuitive and faster interface, and is mobile devices optimised and responsive, but is that enough for you to say you are on the right track?
While each one of these aspects is important, it sometimes is not enough. We have seen mature sites with very good rankings flop in SERPs after an upgrade.
How is this possible you ask! Like a majority of things in the digital marketing world, the problem lies in the detail – and most of the issues are within your migration plan or a lack of one.
Website Migration Plans Explained
Launching a new site might not be as exciting as moving to a new home in a foreign land. But just like migrating to a new country requires lots of planning, so does migrating to a new website require planning.
At BirdBrain, each website migration plan starts right from the moment we start working on a new site – and Keywords are the main building blocks to enjoying a successful migration.
Good website architecture (navigation and sitemaps), meta tags, URL naming, and such are a result of proper keyword targeting. To do this, keyword research alone is not enough. With that being said, there is a need to consider an often-overlooked source of data/information – existing site pages.
Which already-existing pages are receiving the most engagement and traffic? Such pages will likely give you clues about the topics and stories that you should consider focusing more on.
When building a new sitemap, it is important to ensure that “money” pages such as these are clearly targeted.
It is at this point that you should also take the time to look for pages on your existing website that are of little to no value to visitors. This can be done by visiting your Google Analytics account. Topics and pages that aren’t being read or visited should be reviewed or dropped altogether.
URL Redirect Map
Once we have finalized the new sitemap, we make sure to create a new spreadsheet that shows the entire URL page list of both the new and existing site.
Once that is done, all that’s left is connecting pages and knowing forwarding addresses through which old site pages will be directed using 301 redirects.
It is critical that each valuable page redirects to a new page on the new website, otherwise, valuable traffic and ranking will be lost.
Broken Link Checks
One of the most common issues when it comes to new sites is broken links, which are often a result of not working on internal linking. Once your new website is live, we employ the use of a broken link checking tool to ensure that no dead links remain. Not doing this will not only have a negative impact on user experience but may also send negative signs to Google.
Page Speed Test
Before a new website is launched, it is important that a Page Speed test is run to address development and coding issues that may impact the website’s speed and performance. Apart from the user experience, Page Load speeds impact ranking too.
An exhaustive technical test is vital at launch time.
Is the website crawlable? Interestingly, we see a surprisingly high number of WordPress websites launched with the checkbox “discourage search engines” ticked!
Have you added a robots.txt and sitemap file? Have you set up AdWords and Analytics code on the site?
Consider using Google’s Search Console to search for any crawl errors, and Analytics account for 404 errors. Also, test your destination emails in forms and make sure that they are correct. Are the mailing services associated with your host working as they should?
Once the website is launched, that is when all the heavy lifting starts, and nothing matters more than these results.
– average session time
– bounce rate
Coming up with and building a site requires focus and a lot of hard work – do not waste your time and money on a sloppy site migration.
If you have anything to add or any questions, contact us today.