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Migration Best Practices: Successfully Relaunching Your Website By Bastain Grimm

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From the SMX East Conference in New York City,Oct 24-26, 2017. SESSION: Migration Best-Practices: Successfully Relaunching Your Website. PRESENTATION: Migration Best Practices: Successfully Relaunching Your Website - Given by Bastian Grimm, @basgr - Peak Ace AG, CEO & Director of Organic Search. #SMX #22A2

Published in: Marketing

Migration Best Practices: Successfully Relaunching Your Website By Bastain Grimm

  1. 1. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag MIGRATION BEST-PRACTICES: Successfully relaunching your website Key ingredients: Nerves of steel, loads of coffee & this deck!
  2. 2. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag MIGRATION BEST-PRACTICES: Successfully relaunching your website Key ingredients: Nerves of steel, loads of coffee & this deck!
  3. 3. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag This image cannot currently be displayed. NEVER CHANGE A RUNNING SYSTEM!
  4. 4. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Every (big) change also means (loads of) opportunity! But always keep in mind: the price tag for failure is absolutely immense! Risk Reward User acceptance “Once in a lifetime” opportunity Project complexity Greenfield project: question everything Resilience/Freeze Best chance to really “get shit done” Interruption Opportunity to eliminate “legacy problems” Politics Usually more agile vs. regular, daily business Performance Rethink: RWD/dynamic serving, HTTPS, URL design, etc.
  5. 5. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Migration types and their potential impact on SEO Keep in mind: Often these types overlap – or multiple things are done at once… Inspired by @jonoalderson: http://pa.ag/2xUCMnJ Type Example Hosting migrations You’re changing hosting or CDN provider(s) You’re changing, adding, or removing server locations You’re changing your tech stack/caching/lbs Software migrations You’re changing CMS (or it's version/plugins, etc.) You’re changing the language used to render the website You’re merging platforms; e.g., a blog which operated on a separate domain Domain migrations You’re changing the main domain of your website You’re buying/adding new domains/subdomains to your ecosystem You’re moving a website, or part of a website, between domains Template migrations You’re changing the layout/structure/navigation of important pages You’re adding or removing template components You’re changing elements in your code, like title, canonical, or hreflang tags … and there are more: design migrations, strategy migrations, content migrations, protocol migrations
  6. 6. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Make it a granular, multi-step approach Doing everything at once will make debugging & rolling back an almost impossible task! Source: http://pa.ag/2yJqT1N
  7. 7. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Thorough documentation, in-depth definition of requirements and on-going testing are absolutely essential! BE CRAZY ABOUT DETAILS!
  8. 8. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag …from someone who has successfully done this type of work before ASK FOR HELP…
  9. 9. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag PLANNING & PREPARATION
  10. 10. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag What should go, what can stay? Complete vs. partial site move? DEFINE YOUR MIGRATION STRATEGY
  11. 11. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Consider your crawl budget during migration Important: How long does it take to re-crawl my site completely (in theory)? § In order to implement the protocol change, Google needs to crawl the complete domain and retrieve all URLs. § For a domain with e.g. 100,000 subpages, Google would have to process 200,000 URLs (redirects). § On average, Google crawls 30,000 pages/day (see screenshot) which means this would take at least 7 days. § However, this assumption is only “half the truth”, as Google doesn't retrieve all URLs one after another.
  12. 12. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag You will need an arsenal of tools! A lot comes down to personal taste: you’ll need at least one tool each for crawling, log files analysis as well as search intelligence – and yes, this usually costs money!
  13. 13. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Pre-migration site health check & clean up A properly optimized domain migrates much easier and more efficiently. Getting your house in order prior to the move minimizes the risk of losing rankings. § Google Search Console: manual actions, server errors (DNS, 5XX response codes), Markup validation errors (AMP, schema.org, rich cards), robots.txt § Web crawl: internal redirects as well as redirect chains, broken URLs, and internal links § Log files: broken URLs, suspicious status codes, crawler traps § Algo issues? Relocating with Panda, Penguin & Co. makes very little sense...
  14. 14. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Be careful with broken pages & broken internal linking
  15. 15. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Gather all URLs including static assets Must haves: log files, XML sitemaps as well as a full website crawl Extras: analytics (top ranking URLs and/or URLs generating the most traffic) Mode > List > Upload small domains large domains
  16. 16. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Monitor your keyword rankings daily Check critical rankings of keywords. Making this a daily task ensures that you are only working with the most recent data.
  17. 17. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag PROTOCOL MIGRATION
  18. 18. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Let’s start with <head>: Canonical tags & rel-alternate’s Remember to annotate your dedicated mobile site and to adapt your RSS feeds Canonical tag <link href="http://www.example.com/deep/url" rel="canonical" /> <link href="https://www.example.com/deep/url" rel="canonical" /> Old New <link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://m.example.com/page-1" /> <link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="https://m.example.com/page-1" /> Old New Alternate tag
  19. 19. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Multilingual setup? Customize hreflang target URLs! Individual countries can be moved to HTTPS one-by-one, as long as the circular reference remains intact Hreflang <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="http://www.example.com/de/" /> Old <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="http://www.example.com/fr/" /> Old <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="https://www.example.com/de/" /> New <link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="http://www.example.com/" /> Old <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="https://www.example.com/fr/" /> New <link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="https://www.example.com/" /> New
  20. 20. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Rel=next/prev pagination & Accelerated Mobile Pages Are you using Google's recommendation for pagination? Or AMPs? Pagination <link href="http://www.example.com/deep/url?page=1" rel="prev" /> <link href="https://www.example.com/deep/url?page=1" rel="prev" /> Old New <link href="http://www.example.com/deep/url?page=3" rel="next" /> Old <link href="https://www.example.com/deep/url?page=3" rel="next" /> New AMP <link rel="amphtml" href="http://www.example.com/amp/" /> <link rel="amphtml" href="https://www.example.com/amp/" /> Old New
  21. 21. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Update internal links Simply relying on redirects is not a migration strategy § Links to other internal URLs § Links to internal image files § Links to internal video files § Links to internal web fonts § Links to internal JavaScript files § Links to internal CSS files JS HTML Source code
  22. 22. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Update internal links (within JavaScript files) Simply relying on redirects is not a migration strategy § Links to other internal URLs § Links to internal CSS files JAVASCRIPT Files § Links to internal image files
  23. 23. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Update internal links (within CSS files) Simply relying on redirects is not a migration strategy § Links to internal image files § Links to internal web fonts CSS Files § Any other internal links
  24. 24. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Careful with internal redirects! Avoid redirect chains: old HTTP URLs should lead directly to the new HTTPS URL Source: Redirect Chain Report via DeepCrawl
  25. 25. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Update XML sitemaps #1 Important: if you are using the sitemap index file, you need to update it. If you reference the sitemap in robots.txt, the URL has to be changed there as well. <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="http://www.example.com/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang=“de" href="http://www.example.com/de/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="http://www.example.com/fr/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://m.example.com/" /> <image:image> <image:loc>http://www.example.com/i-am-an-image.jpg</image:loc> </image:image> <video:video> <video:content_loc>http://www.example.com/i-am-a-video.flv</video:content_loc> </video:video> </url> 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Old
  26. 26. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Update XML sitemaps #2 Important: if you are using the sitemap index file, you need to update it. If you reference the sitemap in robots.txt, the URL has to be changed there as well. <url> <loc>https://www.example.com/</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="https://www.example.com/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang=“de" href="https://www.example.com/de/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="https://www.example.com/fr/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="https://m.example.com/" /> <image:image> <image:loc>https://www.example.com/i-am-an-image.jpg</image:loc> </image:image> <video:video> <video:content_loc>https://www.example.com/i-am-a-video.flv</video:content_loc> </video:video> </url> 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 NewNew
  27. 27. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Structured data update (schema.org) Update your schema.org Markup references. Caution: The short annotation “//schema.org” currently does not validate! <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "http://schema.org", "@type": "Product", "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": "4.5", "reviewCount": "100" }, "description": “here goes the product description", "name": “this is the product name", "image": "http://www.example.com/i-am-the-image.jpg", "offers": { "@type": "Offer", "availability": "http://schema.org/InStock", "price": "55.00", "priceCurrency": "EUR" } } </script> Old 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "Product", "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": "4.5", "reviewCount": "100" }, "description": " here goes the product description ", "name": " this is the product name ", "image": "https://www.example.com/i-am-the-image.jpg", "offers": { "@type": "Offer", "availability": "https://schema.org/InStock", "price": "55.00", "priceCurrency": "EUR" } } </script> New 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  28. 28. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Update CDN settings and resource hints Requests for assets on a CDN need to be on HTTPS now, also any resource hints (preconnect, dns-prefetch, etc.) need to be changed <script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.1.0/jquery.min.js"></script> <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.1.0/jquery.min.js"></script> Old New <script src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.1.0/jquery.min.js"></script> CDN Alternatively Resource hints <link rel="preconnect" href="http://cdn.example.com" pr="0.42"> <link rel="preconnect" href=" https:// cdn.example.com" pr="0.42"> Old New
  29. 29. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Update HTTP header & customize cookie settings If applicable, customize X-Robots header tags. Use Chrome DevTools! X-Robots rel-canonical via Apache .htaccess <Files theRequestedFile.pdf > Header add Link 'https://www.example.com/ebook.html; rel="canonical"' </Files> Other HTTP header alternatives: § Link: <https://www.example.com/de/>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="de" § Link: <https://www.example.com/someurl>; rel="canonical" § Link: <https://cdn.example.com>; rel="dns-prefetch"
  30. 30. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag You need to find every single reference to your old HTTP URLs!
  31. 31. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Better safe than sorry: let’s test crawl the new HTTPS test version EVERYTHING UPDATED?
  32. 32. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Inventory Sync: Crawl vs. XML sitemaps Compare both inventories to ensure the same content is available on HTTPS as on the HTTP original (HTTP vs. HTTPS e.g. via ScreamingFrog+Excel or DeepCrawl)
  33. 33. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Make sure there are no more HTTP links Before migrating, check that there are no more HTTP requests on the HTTPS system
  34. 34. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Really helpful: HTTP’s specific crawl output DeepCrawl also reports HSTS headers and non secure forms
  35. 35. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag WORK YOUR SEARCH CONSOLE!
  36. 36. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Create HTTPS properties & merge them into a set Properties for HTTP and HTTPS with and without www = 4 domains If you use separate mobile domains, there are 6 domains in total! Prerequisites for a migration: § No manual actions § No significant amount of crawl errors (DNS, availability, etc.) § No problems with the XML sitemaps § Valid structured data / rich cards markup, no significant AMP and hreflang errors http://xxxxxxx.de/ https://xxxxxxx.de/ http://www.xxxxxxx.de/ https://www.xxxxxxx.de/ https://www.xxxxxxx.de/ http://www.xxxxx.de/
  37. 37. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Transfer disavow links file in time Especially for domains with a “questionable” link profile: GSC setup and disavow file transfer should be done approximately 48 hours prior to going live!
  38. 38. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Set your preferred domain and (if necessary) crawl rate You don’t really need to set the crawl rate, but, if you have done so previously, I would suggest transferring the original settings (for now)
  39. 39. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Configure Geo-Targeting for gTLDs Synchronize settings for handling URL parameters if necessary (i.e. for “.com” gTLDs)
  40. 40. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Before you send to the index: test GSCs fetch & render! Make sure Google includes and displays all requested components properly!
  41. 41. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Test and re-submit all XML sitemaps Also: synchronize URL parameter settings if you were using them or if they are needed for your site’s functionality
  42. 42. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag WOHOOO… LETS DO IT!
  43. 43. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag After all this preparation, all you need to do now is to "just" redirect URLs. 301-REDIRECT ALL THE THINGS!
  44. 44. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Even if, as some people say, all redirects are equal: All we did for this client was change the (chained) 302/307 to 301 redirects!
  45. 45. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Keep in mind: this only works for domain migrations! USE THE GSC SITE MOVE FEATURE
  46. 46. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Crawl old URLs again (301’s now) & manual SERP checks Import HTTP URLs e.g. to ScreamingFrog (list mode), only 301s should appear now. Additional manual check of indexed URLs e.g. via LinkClump Add-On in Chrome 1 3 4 2
  47. 47. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag POST MIGRATION TODOS
  48. 48. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Focus on 4XX and 5XX status codes first, tackle those “live”! LOG FILE, GSC & GA ERROR MONITORING
  49. 49. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Migration performance monitoring #1 HTTP error status code monitoring (e.g. 40X for Googlebot & Bingbot)
  50. 50. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Migration performance monitoring #2 HTTP redirects over time and split by user-agent containing *bot*
  51. 51. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Migration performance monitoring #3 Top crawled pages breakdown (daily & weekly)
  52. 52. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag AMP, structured data and rich cards error monitoring
  53. 53. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Keep an eye on the crawl frequency!
  54. 54. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Ideally it should look like this #1 Domain migration (“de” to “com”), no other changes; fully recovered after 5 weeks! Source: Searchmetrics
  55. 55. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag Ideally it should look like this #2 Protocol migration: from HTTP to HTTPS; 2 weeks visibility dip (-25 %) Source: Searchmetrics
  56. 56. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #10 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER
  57. 57. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #1 GSCs DNS verification can be pretty helpful No need to worry about missing meta tags; plus you can also verify prior to actually deploying a site/frontend to a new domain – and it is faster as well! More: http://pa.ag/2yJ7xtH
  58. 58. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #2 Also move your robots.txt file When changing domains, make sure to transfer (the contents of) robots.txt as well!
  59. 59. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #3 Don’t forget to redirect your images as well When changing URLs/domains, make sure to implement redirect rules for images Read the entire post: http://pa.ag/2yJtTLz
  60. 60. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #4 Bulk testing all the things: mobile Mobile-friendliness at scale: technicalseo.com Check it out: https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/mobile-friendly/
  61. 61. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #5 Bulk testing all the things: hreflang tags hreflang tags (in sitemaps) at scale: technicalseo.com Check it out: https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/hreflang/
  62. 62. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #6 Bulk testing all the things: redirects & other headers HTTP status codes (errors, redirects, etc.) at scale: httpstatus.io Check it out: https://httpstatus.io/
  63. 63. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #7 Simulate Googlebot for smartphone with JS-rendering ScreamingFrog can do that easily at scale; again pay close attention to rendered output! Also pretty cool: Extract > Xpath > //head/link[@rel="amphtml"]/@href
  64. 64. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #8 HTTP 503 is your friend Combine with “revisit-after” to throttle crawling; never use “noindex”/4xx instead! Source: http://pa.ag/2xRiA5T Webmasters should return a 503 HTTP header for all the URLs participating in the blackout […] Googlebot's crawling rate will drop when it sees a spike in 503 […] as Googlebot is currently configured, it will halt all crawling of the site if the site’s robots.txt file returns a 503 status code for robots.txt. „
  65. 65. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #9 Fix those redirect chains, especially on legacy sites… …as multiple requests waste valuable performance and crawl budget!
  66. 66. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag #10 Careful: JavaScript frameworks are still tricky! Check out Bartosz‘ massive research on crawlability and indexability! Read more: http://pa.ag/2qLqlqH
  67. 67. #SMX #22A2 @peakaceag https://pa.ag/smx17mig Always looking for talent! Check out jobs.pa.ag Bastian Grimm bg@pa.ag twitter.com/peakaceag facebook.com/peakaceag www.pa.ag Found it useful? Here is the deck:

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