Migrating a website can be a complex and challenging process. To help you navigate through it successfully, we’ve created an in-depth website migration checklist. This checklist will guide you through the most important steps to take when migrating a website, while also providing advice from SEO professionals to ensure your migration is SEO-friendly. Whether you’re changing your site’s structure, moving to a new framework or CMS, adding a mobile version, or switching to HTTPS, this checklist will cover it all.

What Is Website Migration?

Website migration refers to the process of making significant changes to a website’s technology, structure, design, or location in order to improve its online visibility. It involves making changes that can have a substantial impact on the website’s performance, and therefore, it requires careful planning and execution.

Does Website Migration Affect SEO?

Yes, website migration can have an impact on SEO. However, if done correctly, it can also create a better and safer experience for site visitors, which can ultimately improve your SEO in the long term. Google favors fast, user-friendly websites, so migrating to a speedier web host, for example, could boost your SEO. It’s important to note that during the migration process, you may experience a temporary dip in organic traffic. However, with a solid migration plan, you can retain your current search engine ranking positions and even start moving in the right direction.

The Website Migration Checklist:

Part 1: Prepare Your Plan

  1. Plan the Move and Benchmark Your Current Site

    • Set objectives and timelines for the migration.
    • Get the necessary expertise and resources involved in the process.
    • Collect data for reference and analysis.
  2. Make a Copy of Your Site

    • Create a copy of your website on a new server for testing and revisions.
    • Use a separate domain or subdomain for the test site.
  3. Block Access to Your New Site

    • Prevent search engines from indexing the new version of your website until the migration is complete.
    • Use robots.txt file and password protection to control access.
  4. Check Your New Site for Errors

    • Conduct a thorough technical audit of your new site before launching it.
    • Use a website auditing tool to identify and fix technical errors.
  5. Check If Google Can Access Your New Site

    • Add the temporary hostname of your test subdomain to Google Search Console.
    • Use the Coverage report to ensure Googlebot can crawl and index your new website.
  6. Check If Your Newly Acquired Domain Was Penalized by Google

    • Check for any manual actions against your new domain in Google Search Console.
  7. Check DNS TTL Values

    • Adjust the time-to-live (TTL) values of DNS entries to minimize downtime during the migration.
  8. Check Server Performance

    • Ensure your server response time is optimized for faster crawling by Googlebot.
  9. Copy the GA Tracking Code to Your New Site

    • Transfer your Google Analytics tracking code to the new version of your site.

Part 2: Mapping URLs

  1. Create a List of Your Current URLs

    • Compile a list of all the URLs on your existing site.
  2. Find URLs That Require Redirects

    • Identify the pages on your new site that require 301 redirects from the old URLs.
    • Use a website auditing tool to find missing pages on your new site.
  3. Create a 301 Redirect Map

    • Map the old URLs to the corresponding new URLs for proper redirection.
    • Avoid redirecting all pages to a single page and aim for relevant redirects.
  4. Update All URLs

    • Update annotations, HTML, and sitemap files with new URLs.
    • Update internal links on your new site.

Part 3: Starting the Migration

  1. Evaluate the Complexity and Migrate in Chunks

    • Migrate your website in phases to minimize errors and manage the process effectively.
  2. Record the Current Site Status and Create a Content Backup

    • Document the current state of your site and back up all content, including meta tags and titles.
  3. Update DNS Settings

    • Change your DNS settings to point to the new IP address if switching servers.
  4. Remove All Temporary Website Blocks

    • Unblock your website from search engine crawlers and make it accessible to users.
  5. Enable Redirection

    • Activate and test all 301 redirects to ensure proper redirection from old URLs to new URLs.
  6. Make Sure Your Website is Verified within Google Search Console

    • Verify ownership of your new website in Google Search Console.
  7. Request a Domain Change via GSCT

    • Use the “change of address” tool in Google Search Console to inform Google of your domain change.
  8. Send Old and New URLs to GSCT

    • Submit two sitemaps containing old and new URLs to Google Search Console.
  9. Update All Your Links (Ad Campaigns, Backlinks, etc.)

    • Update all external links pointing to your site and ensure they lead to the new URLs.
  10. Resubmit Any Disavowed Links to GSC

    • If you previously submitted a disavow list, re-upload it to Google Search Console for your new site.

Part 4: Monitoring the Migration

  1. Add a Semrush Note

    • Create a note in Semrush to track any major changes or issues during the migration process.
  2. Check If Your Site Has Any New Issues

    • Rerun a website audit to identify any new technical issues that may have arisen during the migration.
  3. Check the Performance of Your New Site

    • Monitor the page load speed and overall performance of your new site.
  4. Track Indexing of Your New Pages

    • Upload sitemaps with old and new URLs to Google Search Console to monitor indexing progress.
  5. Track Your Positions

    • Monitor your search engine rankings after the migration to ensure a smooth transition.
  6. Cancel Your Old Hosting

    • Once your new website is fully indexed and operational, cancel your old hosting.
  7. Troubleshooting

    • If any issues arise after the migration, troubleshoot by analyzing traffic, rankings, and technical aspects.

By following this website migration checklist, you can ensure a smooth and SEO-friendly transition to your new website. Remember to plan carefully, test thoroughly, and monitor the migration process to identify and resolve any issues that may arise. With the right approach, you can successfully migrate your website while minimizing any negative impact on SEO and user experience.

Using BulkGPT, you can streamline the website migration process by automating certain tasks, such as generating redirect maps or auditing URLs for technical issues. BulkGPT can assist you in creating custom workflows to save time and improve productivity, allowing you to focus on the strategic aspects of the migration while relying on the model to handle repetitive tasks efficiently.

Start your website migration with confidence by following this comprehensive checklist, and leverage the power of BulkGPT to enhance your SEO efforts and optimize your website for better online visibility.