These days it’s entirely possible for a website to be twenty years old. That’s impressive! But online design trends have changed beyond recognition since the early days. Say you want your old, crusty website redesigned so it’s fresh and extra-appealing? Are there any guidelines to follow? Yes, there are plenty – and they’re much more than a ‘nice to have’. They’re vital.
The same goes for CMS, AKA content management systems. If your site’s still sitting on an inflexible old-school platform written in complex code without so much as a sniff of an extra feature, you’d be forgiven for wanting to move it somewhere fast, flexible, trusted and user-friendly like our all-time favourite, WordPress.
All of which means website migration is becoming increasingly popular. And because very few established businesses are website-less these days, it’s something we’re doing more and more often.
So what are the risks behind website migration? We thought it’d be interesting to take a quick look at how we do it in comparison with less-than-professional web design agencies who wouldn’t even recognise a strong site migration plan if one bit them.
First, what might you want to migrate?
Website migration can mean any one or a combination of things including migrating the host or IP, URL structure, content, design, domain name or architecture. In complicated cases, it involves all of the above.
Website migration – Getting it right first time
If you want us to relocate your old website or design a brand new one to replace your original site, what will web design professionals like us do to make sure your business isn’t damaged beyond repair?
Every migration is different but here are the bare bones basics, to illustrate the core processes we tend to go through to ensure successful site migration without trashing your search visibility… or worse.
Site migration basics in 13 steps
- Together we decide what you intend to achieve from the migration, making sure it’s practical, achievable and ties in with your business plan and goals
- We devise a tailored process by examining and analysing the architecture of the old site and the proposed new one, and the technical limitations of both
- We plan the migration for a time when you’re not madly busy. If you’re in retail, for example, there’s no way we’d carry out a migration just before the all-important festive season
- We take a copy of your original site so we can reinstate it if necessary
- We make sure we identify all the redirects already in place and those you’ll need to map for the new website, and our team ensure we don’t send you into horrible redirect loops, something people hate and Google and co will probably penalise you for
- We provide every existing page with inbound links exported so you don’t lose any important ‘link love’, and we take note of any 404 ‘page not found’ errors
- We check the performance of the original site so we can tell whether or not the migration has a beneficial effect and can fix any issues before they become a problem
- We check your natural search rankings so we can see how the migration affects your visibility – in an ideal world when it’s done properly, your new site will deliver better performance all round
- We map your old URLs to your new pages. Every piece of useful content needs to be redirected to similar or identical pages on the new site using 301 redirects. Redirects are easy when you’re not changing the content for your new site, less straightforward if you are. We will also make sure there aren’t any duplicate URLs left in place to confuse Google
- We make sure the new site isn’t immediately crawlable by search engine bots, since you don’t want the new site to be indexed by Google until it’s 100% ready. We tend to add a meta robots noindex to every page, the simplest and most efficient way
- We create XML and HTML sitemaps to tell Google about the URLs on the new site
- We mend any broken links, check all the 301 redirects and make sure no duplicate content has slipped through. When everything is present and correct, we make your new site live for the first time and let Google know via Webmaster Tools
- Last but not least we sit back and watch for a month, fixing anything that comes to light straight away. This means monitoring your search rankings, indexation, search engine cache, metrics and site performance until we know for sure everything’s working as it should
Need a brand new web presence to boost your business?
If your current site’s looking tired and out of date and you’ve decided on a redesign, contact us and we’ll pull out all the stops to make sure everything is migrated the way it should be. Our web design team ensure search engines get everything they need to classify, rank and rate your fresh, hard-working, high-performing new web presence accurately and quickly.