The Semrush Website Migration Checklist

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Migrating a website may be a hassle-solving necessity—but it could also be risky. 

problems you can face variety from losing ranks on search engines like google to completely dropping parts of your internet site. Ouch. 

in spite of the capability technical trouble, you’re courageous, tech-savvy, and up for the mission. 

And we’re here to help you mitigate the dangers with our internet site migration tick list. We’ll list the most critical steps to take emigrate a website, along with recommendation from seo experts to keep your migration search engine optimization-friendly. 

At the bottom of the page, you could also customize your own unique checklist based totally on your website’s precise desires. 

however first, a few basics. 

what’s website Migration?

internet site migration is the technique of making principal changes to a website’s generation, structure, layout, or location if you want to have higher online visibility.

Migration implies critical adjustments. It’s a difficult process, and you need a actually correct cause to take it on (we think you have got one because you’ve read this some distance). Some of the maximum not unusual motives to migrate a internet site include:

  • converting your site’s shape, navigation, or layout: For while your old design wishes a refresh. Or perhaps your website online structure and navigation scare crawlers away. 
  • moving to a brand new framework or CMS: you might do that if you need to improve your web site’s performance, safety, or maybe functionality. 
  • adding a cell model: A mobile model of your web page is essential for all of us journeying on a tablet or cellphone. 
  • moving from HTTP to HTTPS: no one wants to go to a website after a scary pop-up tells them that it’s now not safe to browse. Switching from HTTP to HTTPS enables at ease your site with the aid of encrypting visitors’ statistics and heading off scary notices. 
  • transferring to a brand new server: Switching to a new host may want to speed up your web page usual, mainly if it’s growing. A fast website looks right to site visitors and to serps. 
  • converting your area name: perhaps you’re changing your area name as part of rebranding. Changing your area call entails a domain migration. 

Does internet site Migration affect search engine optimization?

as with all drastic alternate, website migration impacts search engine optimization. But, migrating for the proper purpose can create a higher and safer enjoy for web page traffic. 

Google favors fast, user-friendly web sites. So, switching to a faster web host should increase your search engine optimization inside the long time. 

shifting your website online manner Google has to re-index it, so it’s regular to see a dip in your organic traffic within the quick term. 

in the end, having a strong website migration plan can help you keep your present day SERP positions or even begin transferring inside the right route. 

A key piece of recommendation is when you’re making plans your migrations definitely do not forget seo as part of it.

Ric Rodriguez, search engine optimization Director at iProspect

We talked to a handful of seo specialists approximately their enjoy with web page migrations. Take a look at out the video beneath to hear certainly one of their testimonies or watch the entire website migration suggestions playlist.

site Migration checklist part 1: put together Your Plan 

allow’s start at the very beginning, with how you should construct your plan:

1. Plan the circulate and Benchmark Your modern-day site

the largest and most not unusual mistake human beings make while migrating a website is a loss of cautious planning. Some other frequent purpose for failure is underestimating the scope of the paintings and required understanding.

the earlier you can get in the higher. You’re going to need all of the time you could get…even the most effective migrations will be inclined no longer to move very sincere. Also, don’t underestimate the size of a number of the larger tasks and the way they will develop.

David Sayce, virtual advertising consultant at Paper Gecko

So, what are your first actions to take?

  1. Set the objectives. Ask your self why you are migrating and when you need it achieved.
  2. Estimate the timeline. You could use our tick list to put out milestones.
  3. Get assist. Ensure you have got webmaster engineers, SEOs, analysts, UX, and content professionals for your team.

facts collection

the next important guidance step is accumulating the facts for reference and analysis. You can use diverse analytical equipment, but in our tick list, we’ll in most cases use Google gear and the Semrush suite.

We advocate which you create a mission and installation analytical equipment in your current website to have a factor of reference.

2. Make a duplicate of Your web site

in order with the intention to have the ability to test and revise all the changes you’ll make, you’ll want a duplicate of your internet site uploaded to a new server. 

It’s a great concept to use a test web page on a separate area or subdomain so that you can examine your new web page to the present model and tweak it earlier than launch.

in case you are the use of a content transport community (CDN), consider to set it up for the test web site.

3. Block access for your New site

You want to prevent engines like google from indexing the new edition of your internet site earlier than you end the migration. In any other case, it is able to appear on search engines like google and compete with the present model.


growing a robots.Txt file is an easy way of blocking search engines like google from crawling. However you have to recollect to supply get admission to to the equipment with the intention to be used all through the migration.

to block Google and give access to Semrush web page Audit, your robots.Txt ought to have the following directives:

consumer-agent: Googlebot

Disallow: /

consumer-agent: Semrushbot-SA

permit: /

Password safety

every other manner of blocking access to the internet site underneath improvement is putting authorization rules. You could permit site Audit to pass the regulations without disabling your password safety, just enter the credentials inside the tool’s settings.

Noindex Tag

the use of the noindex tag additionally prevents bots from crawling, and also you’ll need to delete stated tag before migrating. So, make a listing of URLs with the noindex tag beforehand.

As for website online Audit’s crawlers, you could nevertheless crawl your site with a noindex in area through the use of the “skip disallow in robots.Txt and by way of robots meta tag” option from the pass internet site restrictions tab in settings.

bypass website restrictions

4. Test Your New site for errors

earlier than launching the new version of a website you ought to check it for technical mistakes.

We suggest putting in place a brand new website Audit project with your take a look at area or subdomain in crawl scope and searching out for important mistakes.

First, you will want to pick the crawl scope settings.

  1. in case you are the use of a subdomain for the check website, click on the pencil icon to specify it.
  2. pick out the limit of checked pages. You’ll want enough to cowl your complete internet site.
  3. go away website because the move slowly source for now. This placing also permits you to use Sitemaps or other lists of URLs as the crawl supply, so one can are available in handy within the destiny steps of internet site migration.

you may depart other options as default, despite the fact that in case your internet site is blocked by means of the password or blocks crawlers in robots.Txt, you could want to enter your credentials or confirm your possession of the internet site within the “pass internet site regulations” alternative.

click “begin web page Audit” for the device to begin scanning the pages of your web site for all sorts of mistakes.

The web site Audit evaluation presents the full quantity of issues determined and the general web site health rating of a internet site. You’ll additionally see the top troubles of your website. You may begin with the aid of solving these, going through the thematic reviews, or going to the troubles tab to see the full list of issues. 

Use the Crawled pages tab to see how the bot crawls your internet site and in case your web site architecture works properly.

crawled pages tab in site audit

You’ll be capable of trade the settings of your web page Audit campaign in the destiny with the aid of clicking the gear icon inside the top right nook.

as an example, to check if your internet site works properly on both laptop and cellular platforms you may transfer to cell user-agent; even though, we strongly recommend you installation a separate web site Audit undertaking for cellular, so you will have the historic facts for every platform. That is a should if you are implementing a cellular model of a website.

For a test site, you can honestly exchange the selected user agent within the settings and re-run the campaign. However please be conscious that evaluating crawls with one-of-a-kind settings is impractical, and you may no longer be able to display the progress as you’ll have blended ancient statistics.

five. Check If Google Can get entry to Your New website

To make sure that Googlebot can get entry to your new internet site, add the brief hostname of your take a look at subdomain to look Console and use the coverage document. This may additionally make sure that JavaScript may be crawled and indexed.

be aware that you may need to temporarily give Googlebot get entry to for your take a look at web site. We advise limiting the get entry to rapidly once you’ve made sure your check web page has no indexing troubles.

The web site Audit crawler has a similar common sense to the Googlebot, so go in advance and look into the Crawlability file to see if our device finds any non-indexable pages or crawl budget waste.

6. Test if your Newly obtained domain become Penalized by using Google

in case you’ve purchased a new area lately, you should check if it has any guide actions issued against it. Go to the manual actions file in seek Console to view the site’s manual motion records and make certain that there are no present day issues, or address any current problems by way of following Google’s guidelines.

7. Test DNS TTL Values

most of your traffic use your website name and not the IP cope with to go into your web page, however computer systems want IPs to serve up web sites. A website naming machine (DNS) translates website online names into IP addresses.

If the migration of your website calls for a alternate of IP address, your DNS statistics will require an replace, as a way to result in downtime to your website online. To decrease the downtime, you can tweak the time-to-live (TTL) values of the DNS entries of your website.

The TTL values specify how long the DNS report is stored; it’s an expiration date of types. Lowering the TTL value before migration will speed up the system of DNS alternate. Once migration is whole, you could set the values again.

eight. Check Server overall performance

Googlebot will must recrawl your new website, and it’s for your fine hobby for it to be done as quick as possible. If your server reaction time is sluggish, then Googlebot will gradual down its crawling rate, so it will take an awful lot longer to recrawl the whole internet site. It will additionally negatively affect the overall overall performance of your website online, regardless of how nicely it’s far optimized.

To make sure all the pages of your site are rapid loading, go to the performance document in the website online Audit tool and use the page (HTML) Load pace widget.

I normally begin each migration project with a complete internet site audit. This gives you the benchmark before the audit that you may use (after you’ve finished it) to ensure which you are on the right track, that your visibility continues to be up there, and which you haven’t missed something.

David Sayce, virtual marketing consultant at Paper Gecko

the ring chart is clickable, and you may use it to generate a record for the pages with a selected load pace range.

widget that shows site performance

nine. Reproduction the GA monitoring Code to your New site

To transfer your historic Google Analytics facts to your new website online, you’ll need to copy your GA monitoring code from an current site and implement it at the new edition.

web page Migration checklist element 2: Mapping URLs

After a careful making plans session, you’ll need to transport on to mapping URLs. This means retaining a list of all your contemporary URLs to suit up with those after the big move. It’s also vital to redirect effectively or you can face some serious search engine optimization consequences. 

distinctive equipment can help clean out the kinks on this procedure. Google seek Console will let you index pages. Also, website online Audit makes it simpler to see mistakes codes on your modern web page and make sure there are none to your remodeled website. 

10. Create a list of Your modern URLs

First things first, you’ll want a listing of the URLs of your existing web page to match them with the URLs of your new web page.

You’ll need to locate the maximum vital pages of your site, content-sensible, visitors-wise, and hyperlink-clever. 

start together with your sitemaps, if they have updated web page data. You want to gather all of the content (which include photos and video) which you want to be available in your new web site.

you can use exceptional sources:

you may create multiple lists, but to simplify your destiny steps, we endorse you merge all the facts into one document. Ensure there are no duplicate URLs to your list.

…I labored on a big-scale migration in which search engine optimization changed into nearly seen as a step-by way of-step system of checks toward the quit of the migration, well, the distinct periods of migration. 

The stop end result being there were duplicates of the web page primarily based on the technical foundations of the site as a whole…

Harry Sumner, search engine optimization Director at iProspect

eleven. Locate URLs That Require Redirects

If the URL structure of your new web site modifications, you’ll want to in shape your antique URLs with the brand new ones to see if any of the pages require a 301 redirect. With out a proper redirection, your new pages will no longer get the visitors and PageRank of the vintage pages, so that you can have an effect on your ratings severely.

I once became referred to as upon a failed migration and that they did all of the right redirects, they did all the studies and the whole thing however nevertheless, they misplaced an sizeable quantity of traffic because of misplaced scores.

So the factor that befell, in this situation, became there has been an automated redirect based at the language. 

It was a Belgian web site and that they essentially either redirected to the Dutch version or to the French model or to the English model but they have been all, like, query mark lang is, FR or something.

They forgot to redirect all of those pages and as such, they’d redirect all of the pages that could come out of a crawler but they wouldn’t redirect the ones that customers in reality linked to. So just fixing those solved the trouble, and that they regained their rankings within some weeks.

So, lesson found out, constantly examine all the pages that get you visitors, that rank, to create your redirects.

Arnout Hellemans, Freelance seo representative

you could use web page Audit to find out if all of the pages you want on a new website online are available. Don’t forget to apply the pass website restrictions option in case your site is blocked by means of the password or blocks crawlers in robots.Txt

Use the existing website Audit challenge to your test web page, or create a new undertaking if you don’t have one.

Use the URLs from the file choice inside the crawl source settings, and upload a CSV report with the listing of relative URLs you need to check. Web page Audit will robotically use the area or a subdomain of your check site.

you could alternate the move slowly limit of an existing challenge within the Settings (tools icon) -> limit of checked pages.

in the troubles tab of web page Audit seek “4xx” to type out the URLs of pages unavailable for your test web page.

checking for 4xx errors site migration checklist

Export the statistics to shop the listing of URLs that need a redirect.

12. Create a 301 Redirect Map

once you’ve mapped the URLs of your vintage and new web sites and observed which pages are missing from your new website, you’ll need to address the lacking URLs. 

For every of your lacking pages, you want to find a relevant destination on your new web page to receive referral traffic from any current hyperlinks pointing to those pages. 

We urge you to be cautious whilst putting in redirects and use a server-facet 301 redirect so that your antique URLs may be excluded from the index and your redirects will nonetheless be running while you cancel your modern-day web hosting.

right here’s every other one that I pretty often come across, is that humans assume they could remove redirects the instant Google has picked up on the brand new URLs or the new area or some thing it’s miles. 

You ought to by no means be doing that. 

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. Which means it wishes to stay there. Nicely, that’s my manner of looking at it. Google by no means forgets, so just hold it there, ensure you redirect the whole thing. 

Don’t have double hops to your redirects. So if there are antique redirects now going to the HTTP model, which redirects to an HTTPS model, which does something, make it a single hop, and just a unmarried 301 redirect…Don’t do away with them after your pages had been migrated.

Arnout Hellemans, Freelance search engine optimization consultant

Don’t redirect all of your pages to a single web page. At the same time as it’s pretty commonplace to use the primary web page as a vacation spot for redirects, it’s also bad exercise. Landing on a homepage while you’re looking ahead to a selected article or landing page confuses users, and serps may additionally take into account the web page a tender 404 error, which hurts rankings.

In some cases, redirecting to a category web page or the primary page is a feasible option, however try and reduce those.

The nice manner is to find the most applicable web page for a redirect or create a new web page with relevant content material.

in case you don’t need a brand new page, we propose you exchange the server response of a damaged web page from 404 to 410. The 410 status code approach that the web page is permanently long gone, and tells the quest engine bots to dispose of the hyperlink from their index.

Careless redirects can turn out to be developing redirect loops, chains, and lifeless ends. You can continually re-run your website Audit campaign to discover if the whole lot works well.

thirteen. Replace All URLs

The ultimate aspect to do before you can start the migration is to update all URL information.

  1. replace annotations within the HTML or the Sitemap record. Every URL ought to have a self-referencing rel=”canonical”. Update the rel-trade-hreflang annotations in case your website has multilingual pages. Update the rel-alternate-media annotations if your website has a cell version.
  2. update all inner hyperlinks on a brand new website online, and alternate all the antique URLs to the brand new URLs.
  3. Create a listing of websites linking in your content material and separate Sitemaps with antique and new URLs. These will help you website pass inside the destiny steps.

web page Migration checklist part 3: beginning the Migration

all your planning adds as much as this second—certainly migrating your website. 

Take a deep breath. It have to cross smoothly together with your sturdy internet site migration plan. The principle point here is to put in force changes, test, and then check again. 

14. Examine the Complexity and Migrate in Chunks

extraordinary pages of your internet site may have distinct problems on the subject of migration. Consequently, the more pages you pass right now, the more likely it’s miles that you may face errors, and it is going to be a whole lot harder to determine the reason.

if you have a big website, we advocate that you pass the internet site bit by bit and perform checks after each pass.

it may additionally be complex whilst there are numerous modifications right now: new CMS, distinct URL shape, content adjustments, HTTP to HTTPS, and so on. Every trade introduces a brand new variable and some thing else to be managed (and doubtlessly tousled)…

As a golden rule, maintain it as easy as viable. Strive now not to make more than one adjustments without delay. By no means alternate URLs if you may assist it. Do the analysis and placed clear plans in place as, ultimately, failing to plan is making plans to fail.

Marcus Miller, marketing Director at BowlerHat business enterprise 

15. Document the modern website fame and Create a content material Backup

Make a very last report of your cutting-edge site fame and make all necessary backups so you can examine and attach issues in case some thing is going wrong.

You’ll need to back up all of your content material, inclusive of meta tags, meta titles, and so on. Mastering a way to returned up all your website online’s content material might be a new submit in itself. 

how you’ll returned up your site depends on how it’s hosted. You might be able to do it through your website online host’s cPanel. When you have a CMS like WordPress, you is probably capable of use a plug-in. 

however the easiest choice is to simply export your content Audit file.

exporting your links in Content Audit is a website migration best practices

ensure your position monitoring and location Audit campaigns are set up and up to date.

sixteen. Replace DNS Settings

in case you are switching to a brand new server, you need to exchange your DNS settings so it’s going to factor to the new IP cope with. To do this you need to contact your hosting corporation and request the exchange.

17. Dispose of All transient internet site Blocks

make sure your website is available for users and search engine crawlers. Use the insurance file in Google seek Console and the Crawlability report in web site Audit.

18. Permit Redirection

At this factor, you could enable and test all of your redirects, if you haven’t achieved so already.

Re-run your web site Audit marketing campaign to make certain there are not any new 4xx mistakes within the troubles tab. Then, you can type the troubles tab for permanent redirects, and go over the listing to ensure that every one web page and link URLs are accurate.

19. Ensure Your internet site is proven inside Google seek Console

You need to test in case your website ownership remains legitimate after the circulate in Google seek Console (GSC) settings.

in case you’re the usage of an HTML record as a verification approach, make certain that your new website contains the file.

20. Request a website exchange thru GSC

To help Google index your new URLs at the brand new cope with, and reduce your ranking loss, you need to put up a exchange of address inside the “change of address” device in search Console.

21. Ship old and New URLs to GSC

To help Googlebot find out the redirects from the vintage URLs to the new URLs, you could put up sitemaps containing the vintage and new URLs. This way you may be capable of monitor how your old URLs are being removed and the new ones delivered to the index. Ultimately, simplest the brand new URLs should remain indexed.

You want to try to replace as many hyperlinks as you can as soon as viable after the flow.

reach out to the web sites that hyperlink to you and ask to alternate the hyperlinks to your new site. If this isn’t feasible, ensure that a 301 redirect is in location.

if you’re jogging ad campaigns, ensure they factor to the new landing pages. Also, check the links in your social media profiles.

Use website online Audit to discover all internal links with redirects; ensure there are not any loops and lengthy chains affecting your website overall performance. 

…Create a comprehensive playbook for you and your team and for the relaxation of the events worried in this type of mission. Divide it into three regions, the technical, the onsite, and the submit-release.

 for example, make certain that you’re going to implement 301 redirects, make certain you’re going to replace canonical tags [and] the hreflangs, you replace the inner linking, but you’re also going to generate a brand new XML sitemap with the antique HTTP pages.

Lefto Chatziandreou, international search engine optimization at CarRentals.Com

if you have a new seek Console account and formerly submitted a disavow listing, you’ll need to re-add your disavow list. Make certain your disavow report is to be had for your new website online, otherwise any spammy one-way links in your preceding website may be taken into consideration through Google.

website online Migration tick list part 4: monitoring the Migration

Your paintings here isn’t executed once you’ve moved your web site. You still have to display and hold your website online’s health, just like with our own fitness after a a success operation. Including Semrush Notes and using role monitoring on Semrush can set you up to reveal your seo from right here on out. 

24. Add a Semrush notice

the primary issue we suggest you do in Semrush after the migration is to make a be aware in your account. You’ll see this note on graphs throughout exceptional gear inside your account, and it’ll make it less complicated to peer if any principal adjustments came about on the time of the circulate; as an example, monitoring technical mistakes and role modifications.

graph shows amount of organic keywords

you may add and manipulate notes within the Notes list or in the equipment’ development graphs. Click the add button to start note manager. Upload a identify and select the date of migration. Then, click on Edit to open the superior settings, and specify the equipment you need to look a note in.

25. Check in case your website online Has Any New problems

Rerun your web site Audit campaign after the move, and spot if the range of troubles has changed.

check the compare move slowly tabs to see if there are any New or fixed troubles for the reason that remaining audit.

checking crawl issues portion of Website Migration Checklist

26. Test the overall performance of Your New website online

page load speed is constantly crucial, however you want to pay unique attention to it in the case of a brand new site. You need all of your pages to be indexed as quickly as viable. Ensure your server is speedy, as Googlebot adjusts its crawling tempo for your website pace.

post-launch, monitor and examine your server logs, see wherein Google is spending extra time. Monitor and examine the deindexation of the HTTP pages and the indexation of the HTTPS through Google seek Console.

Lefto Chatziandreou, worldwide seo at CarRentals.Com

Even in case you’ve performed all the previous steps efficaciously, and feature already checked the performance of your internet site, you should still recheck it simply in case. You need to ensure your new website configuration isn’t overburdened with a full load of person and crawler activities.

all over again, use an updated recrawl of website Audit and inspect the overall performance record.

to see how quickly your real users engage together with your pages, use the site speed record in Google Analytics. Actual customers with specific browsers might also enjoy more speed-related troubles than crawlers.

27. Track Indexing of Your New Pages

in case you haven’t finished so already, upload two Sitemaps with the antique and new URLs to Google seek Console. This way you’ll be capable of display how your old URLs are being removed and the new ones brought to the index. Subsequently, best the brand new URLs have to remain listed.

28. Song Your Positions

After the migration, your web page may also suffer temporary drops in ratings, but it should get returned heading in the right direction quickly enough. In case your website doesn’t recover in a couple of weeks, you should carry out an intensive analysis to discern out the cause. See greater in this within the troubleshooting section.

do not forget to music every day ratings across each computer and mobile.

…Check the natural traffic that you’re attracting…preferably, the entirety must be flat, which means no poor impact from that however not a great deal fine, at least within the beginning. In case you see any sort of abnormalities strive to research that and figure out the basis motive of that.

Lefto Chatziandreou, global seo at CarRentals.Com 

29. Cancel Your antique web hosting

whilst Google finishes indexing your new internet site, you may cancel your old web hosting. Over again, make sure that each one your 301 redirects are set up well and are redirecting human beings far from a discontinued server.

30. Troubleshooting

if you observe anything incorrect with the way your audience is behaving, or if you haven’t regained your positions and natural visitors income, pass over those steps to troubleshoot your troubles:

  1. First, discover in case you are losing traffic evenly throughout all pages of your website, or if it’s far due to specific pages.
  2. discover the source of lost traffic.
  3. if you’ve lost visitors from back-links or ads, recheck the redirects.
  4. in case you’ve misplaced organic site visitors, check if your ratings are ok by inspecting your role tracking marketing campaign.
  5. If the difficulty affects many pages throughout the internet site, re-run site Audit to discover if any new technical troubles are causing problem. Observe the device’s commands to restore them.
  6. when you have specific pages which have misplaced positions, study the backup of your content, and see if there are any modifications in content material and meta tags.

To get optimization thoughts for underperforming pages, you could run On page seo Checker.

if your conversion costs drop, even as soar and exit costs are developing, you can want to trade your method. Sadly, it’s not always technical mistakes that motive hassle. 

you need to keep in mind the possibility that your target market won’t be happy together with your new website. Create a patron journey map, and see if the customers get what they may be searching out for your internet site.

when you have checked the whole thing for your side, and nevertheless cannot discern out what is incorrect, attempt looking for answers on the Google Webmaster help forum.

Create Your personal custom Migration checklist

end: Recap of website Migration high-quality techniques 

the biggest takeaway is that the key to a easy transition is cautious making plans and testing. As a recap:

  • try now not to migrate the complete web site straight away. First, create a check sample of a brand new web page. When you are certain that the whole thing works right, start transferring your website piece with the aid of piece.
  • avoid blending more than one migration types in a unmarried flow. For instance, if you need to trade your area call, transfer to a brand new host, and remodel your website online architecture, we endorse that you consciousness on those one at a time.
  • Migrate in the course of a low-visitors time if feasible; this can decrease the impact in case something goes wrong. Plus, a discounted server load will allow GoogleBot to crawl and index your new internet site quicker.
  • desire for the pleasant, but prepare for the worst. Internet site migration is a extreme project that has a variety of capability problems and pitfalls. Use our tick list alongside the way to facilitate the procedure.
  • And recall—making plans and testing!

It’s a tough job, but it’s simply as profitable whilst you see the consequences. Careful attention or even more cautious migration will preserve your web site in Google’s top graces. Begin your custom tick list now to map your adventure and stay heading in the right direction. 

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