What Is Website Migration? 5 Best Practice Tips To Move Sites

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Read the transcript of this episode of Giant Wednesday... 👇

You wouldn’t forget to tell the gas people you were moving house, or leave your beloved piece of furniture behind with all your belongings in it… would you?

So why wouldn’t you take the same kind of care, consideration and planning when moving your website for whatever reason?

Migrating your website is super important, and I’m going to share with you why that is in this week’s episode of GIANT Wednesday.

 

Hi, I’m Sam from Sleeping Giant Media and today I’m going to share with you five pieces of advice when migrating your website.

If you like what I have to say in today’s video then make sure to subscribe to our channel where we release digital marketing skills-based videos every week!

 

So, website migration. First of all, what is it and why do you need to?

Well, maybe you’ve outgrown your CMS, want to change your web address or maybe even change up your hosting platform – whatever the reason, that’s up to you.

When you do these things, you’ll want to ensure that all the hard work you’ve put into your site with regards to SEO, usability and the likes retains its existing value – if not gaining more. 

To retain all this hard work, you’ll need to migrate over the efforts and make sure everyone who needs to know where things are, knows!

For example, say with your new site you’ve changed all the URL structures to be more consistent, but you’ve not told anyone (and by anyone, I mean setting up redirects).

Existing links to these pages will no longer work, 404’s will be everywhere, the user experience will be poor and search engines will penalise your website, decreasing its rankings and therefore your traffic.

Boooooo!

That’s why migrating is important, and that’s just one small example from a much larger migration checklist.

So now you can see what I meant – website migration is a LOT like moving house.

If you don’t take the time to tell people where you are moving to, you’ll end up with a lot of missed mail and probably some unhappy people that were trying to find you.

So to avoid poor experiences for your customers, potential users and other internet browsers, you’ll want to migrate properly. 

It’s that, or you risk sharp declines in website sessions, conversions and more – which no one wants.

There’s a whole checklist of activities to get on with, but here are my five top tips for making the process as seamless as possible:

 

Number 1: Collect As Much Information As Possible

When you’re planning on moving out, one of the first things you should do, really, is have a bit of a tidy up.

With this in mind, tidy up your website – work out what it is you want to bring with you to the new site and what there is you can afford to chuck away. 

Make a note of all these things, download what you need to and ensure nothing gets missed.

Spend a lot of time on this part and be as thorough as you can be, because once you’ve moved… whatever you forgot to bring over in the migration will be lost forever. 

So, whether that’s keywords, blogs, pdf’s, downloadables… if it’s valuable, save it. If it’s never been successful and is outdated, you can probably leave it behind.

 

Number 2: Do It During A Quiet Period

Back to the house moving analogy… it’s safe to say that most people wouldn’t want to move house over Christmas, because it’s one of the busiest times of the year and no one needs that extra stress in their life.

And yet, despite that probably being quite an agreeable statement, people don’t seem to feel the same when it comes to migrating their website.

So the advice, if you hadn’t already gathered, is to plan your migration for a quiet part of the year. 

This gives you more time to focus on getting it done right since there’s so much to potentially lose.

It also gives you more time to fix anything that breaks before peak periods for your business.

That leads me quite nicely on to…

 

Number 3: Do It In The Morning

Despite the song saying so… not everyone works 9 till 5… BUT it is still best to work around these as core working hours. 

Aim to migrate your site outside of your businesses hours – maybe look for quiet times in your Google Analytics and maybe even on a quieter day when you know you have time and it won’t impact potential customers.

This just covers your back in case anything goes wrong, and gives you plenty of opportunities to fix it.

The last thing you want if your website is sprouting leaks like the Titanic is for the people responsible for fixing it, clocking off for the night and leaving you with a mess.

 

Number 4: Make Sure You & Your Developers Redirect!

As I’ve already alluded to, one of the most important parts of website migration is redirecting links from your old one, to your new one. 

This ensures your SEO value isn’t lost, but also that people don’t end up on broken 404 pages wondering what went wrong.

Remember, links exist everywhere, and trying to track down and change every external link or social media post is a task and a half. Just set up the right redirects.

In order for value to be passed over, and to retain traffic, you need to redirect and the best way to do this is a 301 redirect – the permanent kind.

Map out your redirects ahead of time, and make sure that your developer is comfortable helping you redirect them.

 

Number 5: Make Sure To Test All Of Your Tracking

Once you’ve migrated your website… it’s important to make sure all of the tracking you might have had on your old site is set up correctly and working. 

This includes things like Facebook Pixel, Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics – all things that need to be set up to run on the new site, and checked to ensure they aren’t double counting. 

After all, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

And if you’re migrating your site, it’s important to track and see the success of your updates. 

 

So, they were my five bits of advice for website migrations. You may have guessed from my terminology that every element is important. 

Getting it wrong is easy to do if you don’t consider every part in advance, so make sure you’ve covered all options and triple-checked them.

Website migration is a big topic, some might say… GIANT. So we’ll cover off more in another episode of Giant Wednesday.

If you have any more advice, or if you think we’ve missed anything…  or maybe just want to hit us with a ‘yasss queen’ – make sure you leave a comment and let us know!

Here’s today’s Giant CheatSheet on this topic – click the link in the description to download it, or just take a screenshot if you’re on mobile!

As always, make sure you subscribe to our channel for more great content every week.

Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next time for another GIANT Wednesday.

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