The Ultimate Guide to Successful Website Migration

Outdated technology, unresponsiveness, and security worries are just some of the problems that make businesses consider migrating their websites.

However, website migration is about more than just addressing these challenges – it also presents numerous benefits. From enhancing performance and adhering to SEO best practices to staying current with market trends and improving user experience, the entire process has a transformative effect.

Website migrations are a frequent occurrence, but they can be challenging. Moving your website to a different server, domain, or host demands careful planning, sufficient resources, and tons of time and effort. Making a mistake during a website migration can damage your website’s traffic and revenue overnight.

This ultimate guide to website migration dives into all the aspects of website migration to help you migrate your websites successfully and free of any potential damage.

Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Successful site migration requires careful planning and execution with key components including goal setting, assembling a cross-functional team, pre-migration preparation & post-migration monitoring.
  • Common challenges such as redirect errors or broken links can be addressed by thorough testing & monitoring.
  • Tools and resources like crawlers, analytics tools & keyword ranking trackers are essential for successful website migrations.

What Is Website Migration?

Website migration is the process of making significant alterations to a website’s technology, site structure, design, or location.

There can be different reasons for migrating a website such as changing platforms, switching web hosting providers, or updating the domain name. Even a small change like going from HTTP to HTTPS is considered a website migration.

In fact, any significant modification that could affect your visibility on search engines qualifies as a site migration. These changes can range from major to minor, and you might decide to make multiple changes at once for efficiency.

A site migration could involve making adjustments to your website’s content, design, structure, platform, or domain. However, the ultimate goal is to improve the site’s performance, visibility, and user experience.

No matter what changes you want to make, migrating a website is not without risks. Potential issues may include status code errors, decreased SEO performance, and user dissatisfaction. To minimize these risks, a comprehensive understanding of the procedure and its potential impact on SEO is indispensable.

What Drives the Need for Website Migration?

There are various reasons for performing a site migration. These reasons may include changes in structure, design, platform, UX, or location, depending on your objectives.

For example, you might choose to migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS to enhance data security. If you’re rebranding your business, this could involve altering your domain name and URL to better align with your brand.

Another reason for migration is to change your web hosting or platform service. Maybe you want to upgrade the functions of your site or gain additional features. If you sell physical products, you might need an eCommerce platform to be able to sell.

You might also need to make adjustments to the structure or content of your website. This could include adding new pages or content, modifying the internal linking system, etc.

Another common case is when you’re in the process of acquiring a business and intend to integrate its website with your current one.

Key Components of a Successful Website Migration Strategy

A successful website migration strategy comprises three essential elements: defining specific objectives, forming a multi-disciplinary team, and conducting comprehensive pre-migration planning. In the following subsections, we’ll delve deeper into each of these components, highlighting their importance in ensuring a smooth and successful migration.

Mastering these pivotal elements and understanding the challenges and solutions inherent in website migration will equip you to carry out a smooth transition that not only sustains your site’s SEO performance but also boosts it for enduring success.

Goal Setting and Planning

The initial step of website migration is the planning phase. This involves:

  • Setting clear objectives for the migration, such as improving site performance, user experience, or security.
  • Creating a detailed timeline for the process.
  • Keeping the process as straightforward as possible, avoiding multiple alterations simultaneously.

You need to be extremely detailed with the goal setting and planning. It’s important to have a clear understanding of why you’re moving the site and what specific outcomes you hope to achieve. The more precise you can be, the more successful your migration will be.

In the planning stage of website migration, it’s beneficial to seek input from various individuals both within and outside the organization, including IT professionals, SEO professionals, designers, and analytics teams.

This collaborative approach ensures that all perspectives are considered, and potential pitfalls are identified and addressed early in the process.

Pre-Migration Preparation

Before setting out on the website migration journey, it’s imperative to undertake comprehensive pre-migration preparation. At this stage, you need to ensure that all components are prepared for a smooth and successful migration. The pre-launch phase should include these crucial tasks:

  • Backing up the current website, including all the content and meta tags. The backup process may vary depending on the hosting platform and the CMS used for your website.
  • Creating a staging website. A staging website is a duplicate version of the new website that is not visible to users. It allows you to test and implement URL 301 redirects before going live, eliminating the need to update URLs in internal links and sitemaps multiple times before and after launch.
  • Evaluating the accessibility of your website whenever major design or UX modifications are made. Ensuring that all temporary website blocks are removed and that the new website contains the necessary HTML files for Google Search Console verification is essential for a successful migration.
  • Documenting the complete pre-migration procedure, which should encompass all configurations, settings, and any customizations. This documentation will prove invaluable for resolving issues and as a point of reference in the future.
  • Preparing a plan for monitoring the performance of the website after the migration.

Note: Never skip the pre-migration stage or dedicate less time to this important process. Investing time and effort in preparing for migration allows for a more seamless transition and improves the chances of achieving your desired results.

Executing the Website Migration

Executing the website migration involves implementing the planned changes, including transferring files, updating databases, and adjusting configurations.

However, the go-live day is the most exciting yet the most nervous stage. It’s important to recognize the possible challenges that may occur, as any problems can have a significant impact on the site’s performance. Timing plays a crucial role in executing the website migration. It is advisable to choose a time when website traffic is typically low so that users are minimally affected. Other factors to consider include upcoming marketing campaigns, seasonal trends, and business-related events that could impact website traffic.

The main steps of executing the website migration include:

  • Performing a comprehensive final testing of the website to ensure that all elements and features are working properly. This entails assessing the navigation, testing links, verifying page display, duplicate content,  validating forms, and confirming the functionality of any interactive components. Additionally, make sure to check for any error messages or inconsistencies that may have occurred during the migration procedure.
  • Updating DNS records so that they are directed to the new site.
  • Make sure to have a 24/7 support team available to address any concerns or inquiries from users after the launch.

Once the migration is complete, it’s essential to test the new site for any discrepancies, such as duplicate content or 404 errors and broken links. Manually exploring the new site and utilizing tools like ScreamingFrog can help identify and resolve any potential issues.

Post-Migration Monitoring and Optimization

So, you successfully launched your website within the deadline!

However, the work doesn’t stop there. It’s important to continue evaluating and monitoring your website’s performance in the days following the migration.

Make use of the customized reports you’ve prepared to determine the amount of organic traffic your website is receiving. Additionally, keep a close watch on your site’s indexing status with Google and check the sitemaps to ensure that the search engine is accurately tracking and updating your list of indexed pages.

Once your website migration is finalized, it’s vital to oversee and enhance the site’s performance to guarantee its sustained success.

To prevent a decrease in traffic following website migration, it’s essential to:

  • Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of site performance indicators to guarantee the best possible functionality and user experience.
  • Set benchmarks for pages indexed.
  • Monitor the backlinks, keyword rankings, and organic search traffic of the previous site for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Make sure to check for any remaining 301 redirects or broken links that may have been missed during the pre-launch preparation and testing phase.
  • Utilize tools such as Semrush Notes and Position Tracking on Semrush to stay on top of your site’s performance and make necessary adjustments.

By diligently monitoring your site’s performance and making improvements as needed, you’ll be able to maintain or even improve your SEO rankings, ensuring the overall success of your website migration.

Note: Even if you successfully carry out a website migration without any issues, the process of regaining organic traffic may still take a significant amount of time. This is because there are certain factors that are beyond your control, and it ultimately depends on Google’s algorithms to improve your website’s visibility.

Common Challenges and Solutions in Website Migrations

Website migrations, including site migrations, frequently entail their own set of challenges. Some common issues include redirect errors, broken links, and a decrease in organic traffic. To address these challenges, thorough planning, testing, and monitoring are essential throughout the migration process. A well-prepared migration checklist can help ensure a smooth transition.

One crucial aspect of overcoming these risks of website migration is reviewing the site crawl report for any discrepancies and manually exploring the new site to identify any potential issues. By being proactive and addressing problems early on, you can minimize the impact of these challenges on your site’s performance and user experience.

The secret to surmounting these common challenges is rooted in detailed planning and execution. By understanding the potential pitfalls and employing the right tools and resources, you can successfully navigate the complexities of website migration and enjoy the benefits of improved site performance and visibility.

Typically, website migrations fail due to a lack of understanding regarding the risks involved, inadequate planning, an unreliable migration checklist (or no checklist at all), and a lack of knowledge among the parties involved.

The Impact of Website Migration on SEO

It’s important to recognize that website migration may temporarily affect your website’s SEO performance. You might experience a dip in organic traffic and rankings for the existing site during the migration process. However, with a well-thought-out plan and successful implementation, you can overcome these short-term challenges and reap the long-term benefits of improved site performance and visibility.

Thorough preparation and implementation are paramount in mitigating the effects of website migration on your SEO performance. This includes:

  • Setting budgets, and timelines, and assembling a migration team.
  • Executing the migration during times of low traffic to reduce the number of visitors impacted.
  • Ensuring that search engine crawlers can efficiently index your new site for a smooth transition.

As you commence your website migration journey, brace yourself for potential risks, including subpar performance, while also aiming to reap benefits like improved performance and visibility. Identifying URLs that need redirects, updating backlinks, amending the robots.txt file, submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console, and setting aside a contingency budget are crucial. To ensure a smooth process, consider using a website migration checklist.

Remember, the key to a successful site migration is careful planning and execution. In the next section, we’ll explore the main tools and resources for an effective website migration strategy to help you navigate this complex process with confidence.

Tools and Resources for Effective Website Migration

For a successful execution of a website migration, it’s crucial to use appropriate tools and resources. Let’s look through some of the basic tools and software below:

Cloud Data Migration Tools

Many companies, whether fully or partially, are choosing to migrate to the cloud to take advantage of its scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. This shift represents a strategic decision to modernize IT infrastructures and embrace a dynamic and responsive computing environment that meets the evolving needs of today’s businesses.

Cloud data migration tools like and AWS data migration are excellent at securely and efficiently transmitting files and documents. Their versatility not only makes the migration process more streamlined but also guarantees a smooth and secure transition for organizations that want to take advantage of the cloud’s capabilities.

Cloud Storage Network Server Online Backup Graphic

Image by on Freepik

On-Premise Data Migration Tools

On-premise data migration tools such as Oracle and IBM are tailored to be deployed within a company’s own physical infrastructure or data centers. Their main objective is to enable smooth data transfer between on-premises servers or systems. Typically, these tools are installed and operated on the company’s hardware, providing a higher level of control over data security and compliance.

Custom Data Migration Tools

Custom data migration tools are specially designed to meet the unique data migration needs of a company. These tools, renowned for their extensive customization, are usually created internally or by external experts skilled in programming. Typically, they employ programming languages like Python, Java, or PowerShell throughout the development phase.

WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins such as Duplicator, Migrate Guru, and more make the site migration process easier for users with different levels of technical knowledge. They offer advantages such as simplifying complexity, saving time, and reducing the chances of losing data during migration. Additionally, these plugins often include features that allow users to create backups, providing a safety net for website content.

Website Crawlers

Website crawlers, such as Screaming Frog, can help inspect the crawlability report and ascertain if there are any non-indexable pages or crawl budget waste. These crawlers can also identify internal links, their anchor text, and all the pages they are located on.

Analytics Tools

Analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and Semrush, can provide valuable insights into your site’s performance, user behavior, and keyword rankings. By monitoring these metrics, you can make data-driven decisions and adjustments to optimize your site’s performance and SEO rankings.

Keyword Ranking Trackers

Finally, utilizing keyword ranking trackers like Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz, and more, can help you monitor the impact of your website migration on your organic search traffic. By keeping a close eye on your site’s performance and SEO rankings, you can ensure a successful migration and reap the rewards of your hard work.

Choose Andava Digital For Seamless Website Migration

At Andava Digital, we recognize all the challenges that come with website migration, and we are here to not only streamline the process for you but also bring a ton of advantages to your business, including SEO audits, technical SEO, eCommerce development, Shopify development, social media marketing, to name a few.

Our experienced team of SEO experts is committed to ensuring that your website not only maintains its online presence but also thrives in the constantly changing digital market. Let us assist you in navigating the intricacies of website migration, ensuring that every aspect is optimized for enhanced visibility and performance.

Level up your online presence with Andava Digital;  – where knowledge meets excellence.

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