We’ve listed out five issues below: something you should keep in mind when engaging in any migration.
Legacy performance issues being transferred
Whilst this isn’t a traditional migration focus, ensuring that you don’t transfer any of the previous websites issues, such as poorly optimised meta data or dead pages, is key. These will affect the performance of the new site the same as the previous site, but without the added benefit of the site being fully established.
As such, performance issues on your new website will hit your key metrics which in turn will hurt your general business performance. This is something to avoid at all costs, so making sure that you don’t transfer any legacy performance issues across when carrying out a website migration is important.
Migrating your website during key trading periods
It’s worth ensuring that your structure and schedule for rolling out a new website aren’t too tight and have a lot of flexibility. Whilst stakeholders may decide that a new website has to go live by a particular date, such as for press coverage or re-branding, it is important to note that a website migration may not be completed fully, or have stabilised performance even if the website is fully migrated.
Don’t launch a new website at a key trading period. Launching early when possible, or working out where the bottlenecks in development are so that you can mitigate for them as quick as possible will help when launching.
Not updating internal links
When migrating a site to a new domain structure or re-categorising products, one pitfall you may encounter is that a lot of the internal links may no longer work as intended. Developers may create redirect rules to ensure that customers and visitors to the website won’t end up on a dead page at the start, but there is the potential that links within the navigation, on-page copy or even breadcrumb structure may not be updated properly.
There is a chance that either links will go through a redirect chain, which is very unhelpful for SEO purposes, or may not be redirected at all and will instead direct customers to a 404 page. It is key to crawl over the original site before migration and make a list of every link on every page so that these can be properly addressed later on.
Multiple versions of your website being live
There are two reasons why you may have multiple versions of your website live. One is that your developer may have not built your site in a secured environment, i.e. making sure that it is not indexed in Google, and the second reason is when a company changes its domain from HTTP to HTTPS.
When your website has been built in an insecure environment, Google and other search engines will index it, and see both your original site and the developers’ site, which will have a lot of duplicate content on it compared to your original site. As a result you could potentially run the risk of being penalised, which is why it is key that you ensure that your website is built in a secure environment.
And when you migrate from a HTTP site to a HTTPS site, it is important to ensure that your HTTP pages are no longer indexed afterwards. If they are indexed, this can lead to cases where Google gets confused due to a lack of successful redirection, and as a result, will lead to devaluation and deindexing of potentially key pages. It is key to ensure that everything is properly redirected and indexed after migrating.
With redirects, it’s possible a developer has instated blanket redirects across a website as a bulk approach to save time. This can have a detrimental effect as old product pages can end up being redirected to either top level categories or back to the homepage if there is no longer an appropriate category to redirect to.
This can have numerous effects; from soft 404 errors which will eat up crawl budget to key pages and categories being deindexed by Google. This in turn will affect your revenue, so it is recommended that you don’t use blanket redirects when migrating a site. These are just some of the main pitfalls that you may encounter during a migration, as well as how to mitigate them. It’s always important to ensure that you have a solid strategy in place before beginning a migration, and that it includes flexibility for any situation that may arise.
Adam Taylor is the accounts director at Infinity Nation, who help manage the ecommerce operations for many major brands.