An internet site migration is a time period used to explain any important adjustments to a web site’s setup which can influence Web optimization, reminiscent of adjustments to the area, URLs, internet hosting, platform, or design.

There are various completely different sorts of migrations, however the fundamental steps for planning and troubleshooting are related. Migrations could be extremely advanced as they usually contain many individuals and transferring elements. Don’t panic if every little thing doesn’t go as deliberate; you possibly can repair nearly something that goes flawed.

On this information, we’ll cowl:

Getting ready for a web site migration

It’s essential know what’s altering and who must be concerned for it to occur. In different phrases, you want a plan and a spot to trace all of the transferring elements. You’ll must know the entire folks concerned, their position, deadlines, and have a course of in place to trace every little thing. A undertaking supervisor and undertaking administration system helps with this. Attempting to do all of it in e-mail and Slack can get uncontrolled quick.

You additionally wish to have a rollback plan, simply in case one thing goes horribly flawed. You must at all times have a strategy to get again to the unique state, even if you happen to solely plan to make use of it in excessive conditions.

You’ll wish to know the influence of a transfer, so be sure to have entry to GSC and Analytics on the previous and new websites (make a mixed view if wanted to see each). Some adjustments might take just a few weeks and even months the place you may even see flux, however others might not see any adjustments in any respect. As an illustration, if you happen to’re migrating a mid-size website to a brand new area, I’d count on just a few weeks of flux. However if you happen to’re combining into an present website, you might not see any visitors disruptions at all.

You additionally wish to do a little bit of prep work. I counsel just a few steps:

  • Crawl your web site. You’ll use this as a baseline to verify for adjustments in a while. You should use Website Audit for this.
  • Create a set of check pages reminiscent of these from the Prime Pages report in Website Explorer. You’ll use these later to verify for errors. Chances are you’ll wish to go forward and crawl these in a separate Website Audit undertaking so you possibly can simply evaluate them later.
  • Limit entry to your staging or dev website (you probably have one) to forestall it from being listed.
  • Make a backup of your website, simply in case you could return to it.

Performing a web site migration

Exactly what’s concerned in a web site migration will depend on whether or not the URLs will stay the identical or not. Under we’ll talk about each eventualities.

When URLs are the similar…

That is usually a extra simple transfer—not less than Web optimization-wise—since fewer issues are altering. It nonetheless could also be a fancy transfer, however lots of the duties concerned with these strikes are usually extra the work of infrastructure/DevOps or builders and never SEOs.

These migrations might embrace:

  • Internet hosting: CDN, server
  • Platform: CMS, language, JS framework
  • Design: template, inner hyperlinks, tags

In case you are utilizing a staging or dev website, it’s finest to get entry to verify for points earlier than you launch it dwell.

What to look for

For this, you’re primarily searching for any adjustments, together with issues like:

  • Canonical tags. These needs to be the similar.
  • Title tags. Make sure that these are the identical or much like what you will have. New techniques might have automated tag technology or some defaults that could be completely different than what you had.
  • Meta descriptions
  • Heading tags
  • Hreflang
  • Schema
  • Meta robots. You wish to make sure that your pages aren’t noindexed.
  • Content material. That is particularly necessary for JavaScript techniques. New techniques might not have the entire content material loaded into the DOM by default, so serps might not see a number of the content material in some circumstances.
  • Inner hyperlinks. Issues like breadcrumbs, associated posts, footer hyperlinks, and even the primary navigation might have modified.
  • Pace variations

Use the comparability operate of Website Audit to see adjustments since your final crawl:

There are a pair extra points that will create extra important issues.

  • For those who by accident go away a block in place, serps can’t crawl your pages.
  • Generally older redirects aren’t copied over from .htaccess information or server config information, and also you’ll lose a number of the hyperlinks that had been pointing to your website. This one is difficult as a result of it’s tougher to note and infrequently occurs when altering hosts. Control your Greatest by hyperlinks report in Website Explorer and filter for 404s to see pages with hyperlinks that at the moment are damaged.

When URLs are completely different…

These migrations will often be extra advanced. The exception is transferring from HTTP to HTTPS—which is fairly straightforward these days.

These migrations might embrace:

Particular to HTTP > HTTPS

  • Use a Content material Safety Coverage of upgrade-insecure-requests to repair all combined content material points. It’s fast to implement and works for all sources in addition to issues like inner hyperlinks, which you continue to must replace your self.
  • Set up a safety certificates
  • 301 redirect HTTP > HTTPS
  • Add an HSTS header

I wouldn’t fear about issues like a redirect chain on the basis path or updating hyperlinks to the location. Fixing the chain and updating hyperlinks gained’t present any advantages since indicators consolidate due to the redirects.

Particular to area adjustments

  • Decrease TTL briefly (just a few hours for the worth). It will refresh DNS caches sooner and whenever you make the swap your adjustments might be seen by extra customers sooner.
  • Use the change of deal with software in GSC.
  • Examine the previous area for any guide actions that may be in place in GSC

Right here’s a fast tip for Website Audit customers: if you happen to change the scope of your crawl within the undertaking settings to a unique area, your new crawl might be on the brand new area and also you’ll be capable to evaluate it to the crawl on the previous area.


  • Replace inner hyperlinks and hyperlinks in numerous tags like canonicals, hreflang, and so forth. You might be able to use a discover and change plugin to do that rapidly for inner hyperlinks.
  • Setup GSC. This may embrace issues like transferring your disavow file, setting geo-targeting, URL parameter settings, and importing sitemaps. You’ll wish to maintain a sitemap with previous URLs for a brief time frame. It will assist monitor indexing of URLs in GSC.
  • Take away any crawling blocks for pages on the previous and new website. The whole lot must be crawled for indicators to consolidate correctly.
  • Make sure that pages you need listed aren’t marked noindex. You should use Website Audit for this.
  • Redirect pages. You wish to make sure that previous pages are redirected with a 301 redirect to the brand new variations of your pages. It’s a good suggestion to redirect issues like photographs and PDFs as effectively, however don’t fear about issues like JS, CSS, or Font information. Deal with redirecting issues that get listed by serps and don’t fear about different file varieties.

You wish to catch adjustments as early as doable so you probably have a dev or staging website, you must crawl this to verify every little thing’s okay earlier than pushing adjustments to a dwell website. Do not forget that if an previous website was utilizing HTTPS and the certificates expires, bots are handed however customers will obtain an error message and gained’t be redirected. There are multi-domain certificates that cowl a number of websites that may assist forestall this subject.

For those who see a drop, it’s probably associated to redirects, one thing not with the ability to be crawled, one thing noindexed, adjustments to the content material or eradicating content material, adjustments to inner hyperlinks, or one thing that modified associated to technical Web optimization.


 For those who’re interested by updating hyperlinks to your website, you might wish to replace hyperlinks from pages you management, however I wouldn’t hassle doing outreach to replace hyperlinks on different websites that time to you. They need to consolidate correctly with the 301 redirects. It’s not definitely worth the effort to get them modified. 

Testing and ongoing monitoring

There are numerous methods to observe the progress of the migration and ensure every little thing is progressing because it ought to.

With Ahrefs

There are a number of numerous methods to search for adjustments. As I discussed earlier, you possibly can change the scope of your crawl in Website Audit and get a comparability that exhibits you what modified. You’ll wish to look out for adjustments to issues like:

  • Canonicals
  • Hreflang. It will break for some time if you happen to change domains since it is going to take a while for pages to be re-crawled and connections made.
  • Schema
  • Meta robots

Keep in mind how we created that listing of prime pages earlier? These are your precedence pages. It’s price crawling that listing in Website Audit to make sure issues like redirects are in place and there haven’t been any important adjustments. For those who arrange a separate undertaking for that listing forward of time, you possibly can even do a comparability crawl to see adjustments on these pages rapidly.

You may get web page visitors, key phrase visitors and alter historical past with the Prime Pages and Natural Key phrases reviews in Website Explorer 2.0. It’s straightforward to make comparisons for a similar area, however if you happen to modified domains, you may wish to export this information to Excel or Google Sheets to make a mixed view for various durations and see the place any losses might have occurred.

You can even use our crawler to verify your redirects are working correctly, and hyperlinks are redirected correctly.

Right here’s the best strategy to do that:

  1. Enter your area into Website Explorer
  2. Go to the Greatest by Hyperlinks report
  3. Add a “404 not discovered” filter
  4. Type by referring domains

It will present you pages with hyperlinks to them that we see as 404 with our crawler. You may wish to redirect these.

With GSC

Google Search Console has a whole lot of information that can assist you with migration. For instance, you possibly can verify for canonicalization points utilizing the URL Inspection software. Simply enter the URL, and Google will let you know what canonical they selected.

Past that, you possibly can export GSC information and make a mixed view of your visitors in Excel or Google Knowledge Studio to observe the migration higher. You might also wish to use a mixed view of the web page or key phrase information to troubleshoot any losses.

The Index Protection report helps you see how your pages are listed. For those who’ve uploaded each the previous and new sitemap information, you possibly can watch the change in indexing and verify for any points right here. By having the sitemap information, you may get particular protection reviews only for the pages in these sitemaps.

If you wish to see an outline of Google crawl exercise and any recognized points, the very best place to look is the Crawl Stats report in Google Search Console. There are numerous reviews right here that can assist you establish adjustments in crawling habits, points with crawling, and offer you extra details about how Google is crawling your website.

You positively wish to look into any flagged crawl statuses like those proven right here:

There are additionally timestamps of when pages had been final crawled.


For those who didn’t get a baseline crawl of the location and must verify for variations between the previous and the brand new, verify to see if they’ve a replica of any of the pages. In addition they often have copies of robots.txt information from websites that may be helpful to see if one thing went flawed and was by accident blocked throughout the course of.

For those who don’t have entry to Google Search Console for a website, you possibly can nonetheless verify canonicalization by pasting a URL in Google. Often the primary web page proven would be the canonical.

And once more, if you happen to don’t have entry to GSC, many different points associated to crawling could be checked in your log information.

Only a warning that the location: search operator typically confuses folks. For those who use website:, you’re asking what Google is aware of a couple of particular web site. Simply since you see pages there doesn’t imply that’s how they’re listed or that there’s an issue with the migration. I’ve seen this result in folks doing issues like blocking the previous website to maintain the pages out of the index—which causes issues.

Proceed monitoring

Some issues might present up lengthy after migration is over.

  • Monitor the previous area to verify it will get renewed, and do the identical for any others you redirected to the location. If the domains expire, any indicators handed via redirects from the older websites could also be misplaced.
  • For those who didn’t do away with your previous internet hosting and nonetheless maintain redirects there, remember that they’ll break if it shuts down—and also you’ll lose some hyperlinks. You possibly can resolve this by redirecting through DNS and storing the redirects in your new website.
  • Make sure that to maintain safety certificates renewed or swap to a multi-domain certificates, as we talked about earlier.

Last ideas

Migrating web sites isn’t any straightforward feat, so it’s time to have a good time if every little thing went effectively. Nevertheless, as this in all probability gained’t be the final time you do a website migration, I’d counsel getting along with these concerned yet one more time to go over what went effectively, what went flawed, what you’ll change if you happen to needed to do it once more.

Acquired questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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