Sadly, getting a new website isn’t as simple as just choosing a beautiful new design to showcase your business. You don’t want to waste all of the efforts you have spent optimising your website for SEO but you’ll also want to update and change some of the content. So how do you get this balance without destroying your existing website rankings?
Step 1 - Get everyone on board for the switch
Whether you have a contracted digital marketing agency or will be completing the migration solely in-house, make sure that everyone is informed of the change and can ensure that nothing is missed during the process. It is important to give enough notice particularly when outsourcing to a digital agency as they will need time to migrate the behind-the-scenes content that you may not even consider.
Step 2 – Start by analysing what needs migrating across
To avoid losing your SEO ranking, you will need to ensure that no content is missed out when mapping across. All URLs have to be preserved where possible and you can redirect any pages you want to delete later. The easiest way to find out what needs migrating is to generate a complete sitemap. Many websites will have this function automatically, and it’ll give you a full picture of the current layout of your site.
Step 3 – Migrate all the content including meta data
As well as migrating all the content across, you will want to preserve certain elements such as header tags that contribute to SEO. As well as the on-page content, make sure to move across all hidden content such as meta-tags, page titles and keywords.
Step 4 – Improve your site
This is also a great time to recognise any missing content and add it in as you go, fix links, or to remove duplicate content which can be harming your SEO efforts. Besides editing the layout of your site, you can add or change any imagery and utilise any new features of your site that will make the most of it – for example adding buttons or icons that will improve the design.
Step 5 – Noindex your new site’s development domain
This is a critical stage of migration where you prevent Google et al from indexing your content as duplicate content from your old site. You can often do this within your site’s CMS or settings, but essentially it is adding the code onto each page. Failure to do this will cause significant damage to your SEO.
Step 6 – Check before you go live
Before you make your new site live, check that everything is there, including all the URLs. If you’ve removed any URLs and are receiving a 303 error message, this is the time to redirect this extension to a new page destination so that it is not lost.