How SEO Fits into a Website Migration Process

Your SEO team should be closely involved in any website migration project. If you don't plan properly with SEO in mind, you could lose traffic and damage your site's SEO. In this series of posts, we discuss how SEO fits into a website migration process.

How SEO Fits into a Website Redesign Process

There are many reasons why you might want to redesign or migrate your website. Some of these include:

  1. Rebrand / repositioning - maybe your site no longer represents your brand
  2. Outdated design that's in need of a refresh. Web design is constantly evolving, and your website should evolve with it! If your site is >4 years old the design is probably outdated
  3. Poor UX (e.g. difficult to navigate, not mobile friendly, etc.)
  4. Lack of conversion focus (difficult to convert, no campaign landing pages, lack of CTAs)
  5. Poor performance (slow / overuse of plugins / overuse of flash).

Once you've decided that you want to redesign your website, it can be very tempting to rush into the project and try to get it over and done with ASAP. 

However, if you can resist the urge to rush to go-live and instead, take adequate time during the planning and discovery stage, you are more likely to end up with a better website that will be fit for purpose for all of your stakeholders. Regardless of your rationale for a website redesign, you need to take SEO into consideration at the very start of the project. Your SEO team should play a key role in the planning and discovery process. Afterall, if you don't plan properly, you could lose traffic and damage your site's SEO.

Why Should SEO Be Involved At The Beginning of a Website Redesign Project?

SEO should be considered as early as possible in a website redesign / migration project for two broad reasons:

1. Ensure that you don’t lose any of the SEO value built up on the previous site - this is the primary reason to involve an SEO team from the start of your website migration project. 

2. Ensure that you identify key opportunities for improvement in your new site including:

  • a. New content to meet search demand for relevant queries that your old site was not meeting
  • b. Performance optimisations to make sure Google can crawl your site more easily and rank your site higher (CWV)
  • c. Site structure and internal linking improvements to ensure that Google can crawl your site more efficiently and spread PageRank evenly throughout your site (thus improving rankings).

At What Stages Should SEO Be Involved In A Website Redesign Project?

A new website requires SEO input from the very start of the project i.e. the Planning (Pre Information Architecture) phase right through to Go-Live. 

Pre Planning (Pre IA) Steps:

  1. Technical SEO Checklist
  2. Keyword Research, Competitor Content Gap Analysis and Existing Content Review
  3. 301 Redirect Plan - Part 1 - identifying your high value SEO content

Staging / UAT Steps:

  1. 301 Redirect Plan - Part 2 - mapping high value SEO pages to the new site
  2. Crawl Depth / Internal Linking Review & Recommendations
  3. Staging Site Performance Review

Go Live Steps:

  1. Go Live Checkup
Stage Task Why?
Planning (Pre IA) Technical SEO Checklist To equip the development team with technical benchmarks and recommendations to ensure the new site is "SEO ready".
Planning (Pre IA) 301 Redirect Plan - Part 1 Identification of existing site content with high SEO value (i.e. high link value or organic traffic) which must be maintained on new site
Planning (Pre IA) Keyword Research, Competitor Content Gap Analysis and Existing Content Review To identify new content requirements, identify existing content optimisation requirements and inform IA decisions.
Staging / UAT 301 Redirect Plan - Part 2 Mapping of content identified in Part 1 to equivalent page paths within new site structure.
Staging / UAT Crawl Depth / Internal Linking review and recommendations To ensure that site structure is "crawler friendly" and allows for all content to be crawled and indexed efficiently.
Staging / UAT Staging site performance (Pagespeed and Core Web Vitals) review and recommendations To ensure that pages load quickly and therefore can be crawled efficiently. And to ensure that site is not penalised via the Google Page Experience algorithm update.
Go Live Go-live checkup To ensure that technical SEO checklist items have all been passed.

Check out the other blog posts in this series on SEO for a Website Migration:

  1. Technical SEO Checklist for a Website Migration
  2. Keyword Research and Existing Content Audit for a Website Migration
  3. 301 Redirect Planning and Redirect Mapping for a Website Migration
  4. Crawl Depth and Internal Linking Review (of your UAT site) for a Website Migration
  5. Staging Site Performance Review for a Website Migration
  6. SEO Go Live Checkup for a Website Migration
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