Domain Migration Impact on your website SEO
Before you make any changes, it’s wise to create a domain migration plan. Think about the variables – When a domain changes, what are the variables? What are the flags that might tell a search engine that something huge has changed?
- Old and New domain WHOIS details
- Highest traffic driving links
- Most “powerful” links by PageRank
- Site Architecture
Try and change as few variables at any one time through the process. If anything went wrong you will have chance to identify the cause of the issue and resolving it quickly. Plan to change the domain first, making sure the host IP, WHOIS and content all remained unchanged. Review changes in visibility daily and watch closely for changes.
Here’s a step by step breakdown of what we did at the point of migration:
- Kept site content and structure exactly the same
- Matched the WHOIS to be exactly the same as the old domain
- Kept the host IP stayed the same (Optional)
- Created a sitemap xml file at the same URL on both domains
- Submitted the new XML sitemap file as soon as the domain went live
- Pinged Google, Bing and Yahoo! with the old sitemap XML file URLs, being sure that the old sitemaps would respond with a 301 redirect to the new files.
A migration is the perfect time to rethink the direction of the site. Go beyond the need for a refreshed look and analyze the hierarchy of your content. Google is looking at this so be sure there is a clear view of the overall site theme as well as sub-themes flowing into the site through an appropriate folder structure.
This is a continuation of the Information Architecture revisions. Be mindful of folder structure as well as relevant, keyword-rich text usage in page names. Make sure all rewritten URLs include a 301 permanent redirect from the old URL to the new URL.
Make sure that your analytical tracking code is placed back in the page source before the site goes live. Additionally, any conversion pages should have the appropriate conversion tracking code appended. Nothing makes an SEO want to cry like lost data.
It’s important before you throw the site to the web that you make sure that you have identified what pages shouldn’t be crawled. Are there new parts of the site that shouldn’t be seen by search engines, login pages, etc.? Does the new site utilize dynamic URL creation or parameters that will need to be restricted?
Inversely, what pages might be restricted that shouldn’t be? Is there a folder in the robots.txt file that is inaccurately excluding pages that should be visible? Have meta robots tags been placed on pages that shouldn’t have been tags?
Hold on the content changes until the domain had migrated smoothly. Prior to the new site going live, crawl the site using a URL list created from the original domain. Checking that each URL responded with a redirect and ultimately took our crawler to the appropriate page.
Prepared a list of the highest traffic driving links prior to the migration, also included high PageRank links too. Contact with as many webmasters linking to the site as possible, informing them that we were going to change the domain over in the near future.
To truly assess the success of the migration from an SEO and sales standpoint, ensure that you have recorded several site statistics as well as focused monitoring in post-launch. You will be happy you did because it will either be a visible success story or a lifesaver for finding problems once the site launches.read more