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Site migrations | Brighton SEO 2019

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Site migrations | Brighton SEO 2019

  1. 1. Reasons For Site Migrations ● Moving to HTTPS (URL changes) August 2014, Google announced that site using HTTPS site would benefit from minor boost in rankings, hoping to encourage a safer web. ● Rebranding, Re-design or CMS/platform change (possible URL changes) ● Site Structure Changes (likely URL changes) ● Mobile Site Changes (possible URL changes) ● Changing Top Level Domain (TLD) or Domain Name (URL changes) Going international? Change targeting and add hreflang tags @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  2. 2. What Could Go Wrong? Changes in Domain, URLs or Structure (or all 3 at a time!) could lead to: ● Missing 301s, redirect chains, 404s & broken links ● Content duplication ● Crawling, Robots.txt & Sitemap issues ● High quality links loss ● Tracking issues = rankings, traffic & revenue losses !! Try to migrate one thing at a time to minimise ranking losses. @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  3. 3. Common Pitfalls ● Poor strategy, planning & preparation ● Changing too many things at once (ie domain, site structure & URLs) ● Lack of resources (time, budget, skills) ● Not involving SEO from the start/ at all ● Not enough testing ● Rushing Go Live @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  4. 4. How to Make Sure You Get it Right?
  5. 5. Strategise & Plan ● Conduct a keyword research, use GA & SC ○ Identify key & top performing pages ○ Plan URL structure, site hierarchy, navigation & pages ○ Benchmark everything & especially rankings ● Look at competitors ○ Use their knowledge & experience to your advantage ● Think UX ○ User friendly enough? ○ Look at your current userflow & how you can facilitate the user journey? ○ Strong enough CTAs? ● Audit domain if new ○ Previous penalties? ○ Audit backlinks too @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  6. 6. Crawl your Site Gather all URLs & indexable pages Use Screaming Frog’s Spider Mode to crawl the legacy site and get a list of URLs. ● Ignore robots.txt if URLs are blocked ● Make sure ‘Always Follow Redirects’ is ticked in Settings. (Configuration > Spider > Advanced) ● Paste/Export all URLs into a spreadsheet ● Identify current redirects to avoid redirect chains Make sure you keep a copy of your legacy site crawl! @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  7. 7. Identify Your Priority Pages You will want to carry them over to the new site. ● Identify top performing pages in GA: ○ organic traffic ○ revenue ○ conv rate ○ time on page/ bounce rate & other engagement metrics ● Identify top performing pages in Search Console: ○ Clicks ○ Impressions ○ CTR ● Identify high quality links and pages they link to (Majestic/Ahrefs etc) @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  8. 8. Map Out Your 301 Redirects Ideally, try and preserve priority pages URLs. Where redirects are needed: ○ Assign a corresponding new site URL (or best option) to all current URLs to be 301 redirected. ○ Don’t forget about legacy (existing) redirects, avoid redirect chains ○ Don’t forget about image files ○ Don’t forget about ads URLs (plan for URL switches, ensure ads are still as relevant to help maintain quality scores) Make sure to test redirects before go live! @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  9. 9. Start Optimising ● Navigation ● Page titles & meta descriptions ● Heading tags ● On page content ● Interlinking ● Alt tags ● CTAs If migrating the CMS, ensure you have all the SEO functionalities you need! @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  10. 10. Get New Site Optimisation Right ● Ensure ALL pages have a unique Page title, meta description and H1s. ○ Targeted keyword should be at the start of the page title & in the H1 ○ Make meta descriptions engaging & with a CTA. ○ Include KW & semantic variations in H2s ● Ensure each page targets a different phrase to avoid internal cannibalisation ● June 2019 - half searches on didn’t lead to clicks (SparkToro) - gather your snippets and ensure content is formatted correctly for it on the new site. ○ Think about how to get value out of 0 click searches. @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  11. 11. What to Look at For Optimisation Improvements? ● Missing page titles/meta descriptions/ H1s - use SF SERP Summary report ● Duplicate page titles/meta descriptions/ H1s - use SF SERP Summary report ● Lack of keyword targeting ● Internal cannibalisation - use GA landing page organic traffic & check rankings ● Top ranking results & competitors ● Look into Search Console CTR for opportunities to improve page titles & meta descriptions @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  12. 12. Canonical Tags ● Ensure canonicals point to the preferred version of the site (esp. important for https migrations and domain changes) ● Use absolute URLs ● Should NOT point to 404s or 301s ● Listing URLs should not be canonicalised to the first page ● If using AMP pages or different URLs for mobile version, make sure these are canonicalised correctly. Canonical tags do matter! If incorrect could lead to massive drops in visibility! @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  13. 13. Robots.txt File ● Hide / Disallow the staging site! ○ password protect the staging/new site and add the Disallow : / directive to robots.txt: User-agent: * Disallow: / ** DON’T FORGET TO REMOVE IT ON GO LIVE ** ● Get a list of unwanted URLs (for users only) that you’ll want to add to it (wish list urls, admin urls etc) ● Sitemap reference will need to be added too @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  14. 14. Sitemap.xml ● Best type of Sitemap is dynamic - automatically updates! ● Only include canonical URLs, don’t include 404, 301s or canonicalised URLs ● Beware of orphaned URLs that you may not want to be indexed ● Include an accurate Last Modified Date and Location of the URL ● Make sure your key pages are in there & use child sitemaps to separate sections/large list of URLs. ● If multiple types of content, use additional sitemap types (image, video & mobile ) ● All URLs in the sitemap should be linked internally @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  15. 15. Schema It’s a way to annotate the code of your website so that Google understands your data better through adding markup tags within a page’s HTML. ● These include products, local business, breadcrumbs and many others. ● Search engines use the tags that they find on pages to generate rich snippets for search results in Google. ● These can then help increase visibility and CTR from SERPs ● Take advantage of new ones: FAQ, How To etc More Information : @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  16. 16. 404s ● 404s do not negatively affect SEO but do impact the user experience ● Incorrect URLs should contain a 404 HTTP status code & display a page not found error. They SHOULD NOT redirect. ● Create a custom 404 page that displays links to other pages that users could visit & keep same header / footer. Use 404s to your advantage! @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  17. 17. Mobile & Page Speed Google has now switched to mobile-first indexing: ● Website should use a responsive design - same code is present on all devices ● Mobile website should include same content as desktop, DO NOT remove important links or hide content on some devices. ● Review pages using a mobile user-agent such as Google’s mobile-friendly tool. Page Speed has been a ranking signal since 2010 & also affects UX ● Test your page speed (webpagetest, gtmetrix, pingdom, page speed insights) ● Make sure that the server is as optimised as possible for speed ● What website page speed improvements can you make? @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  18. 18. Tracking ● Tracking to be added on go live to every page, make sure you have all you need and know what to do. ● Test with Google Tag Assistant ● Set up goals - or ecomm tracking ○ Destination urls ○ Event tracking Test! Test! Test! @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  19. 19. To Recap: Pre Go Live
  20. 20. Before Going Live 1. Design, Content & Functionalities 2. Navigation, URL structure & Optimisation 3. Crawl Current Website URLs 4. Identify Top Performing Pages 5. Map 301 Redirects 6. Canonical Tags 7. Robots.txt File 7. Sitemap.xml 8. Schema Markup 9. 404s 10. Mobile & Page Speed 11. Goals & Event Tracking @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  21. 21. Ready To Go Live?
  22. 22. Going Live 1. Add the GA tracking code 2. Check goals are set up 3. Remove blanket noindex tags 4. Remove disallow directive from robots.txt file 5. Check 301 Redirects are added and ready to go 6. Complete a final crawl. Check/fix any remaining issues 7. Save the last crawl (to run again post migration) 8. Backup your website (in case anything goes wrong) 9. Serve a 503 (service unavailable) if/while site is down. @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  23. 23. Once You Are Live
  24. 24. Post Go Live Checklist - Same Domain ● Check GA tracking code ● Check goal/ ecomm tracking is working ● Inspect & Request Indexing URLs in SC ● Submit Sitemap in SC ● Add an annotation in GA ● Check robots.txt file ● Crawl New Site - check for issues such as 404s or internal redirects ● Crawl Old URLs - check the redirects are working as expected ● Check Canonicals ● Update important Backlinks @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  25. 25. Post Go Live Checklist - HTTPS Migration Extra steps for a HTTPS migration ● Verify HTTPS version in Search Console. ● Update Google Analytics settings & reconnect to Search Console ● Upload disavow file for new domain ● Ensure all URL within the sitemap are on https as otherwise http urls could get indexed ● Outreach to update high quality links to avoid redirects ● Update social profiles & citations links @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  26. 26. Post Go Live Checklist - Domain Change Extra steps for a Domain migration ● Verify new domain in Search Console (don’t remove the previous domain!) ● Submit ‘Change of Address’ request in Search Console (on old version) & Bing Webmaster Tools ● Update Google Analytics settings & reconnect to Search Console ● Submit 2 sitemaps with old and new URLs in Search Console ● Upload disavow file for new domain ● Update social profiles & citations e.g Google My Business links ● Outreach to update high quality links to avoid redirects @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  27. 27. Check Your Sitemap(s) Use DeepCrawl Sitemap report to: ● Highlight any orphaned URLs to be linked ● Pages missing from your sitemap to be added ● Errors within its pages to be fixed Use Search Console to submit it & check for errors: ● Check for warnings & follow recommendations ● Look at number of URLs submitted vs indexed What to look for? ● Errors in your sitemap, such as 404, 301s or canonicalised URLs ● Orphaned URLs that you may / may not want to be indexed ● Missing/inaccurate Last Modified Date ● Missing key pages ● Noindex pages & URLs blocked by robots.txt file ● Monitor sitemap indexing in Search Console @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  28. 28. Check Your Robots.txt File What to Look For? ● Disallowing full site post migration? ● Disallowing CSS/JS files? ● Disallowing unexpected URLs? Option 1: Use the robots.txt tester (old version but can still access tool) in Search Console - this requires the robots.txt file to be actually updated. Option 2: Use the custom robots.txt tool in Screaming Frog to test then and there. Check the commands you are adding will work for the URLS you want to block. @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  29. 29. Crawl your URLs + Check 301s & 404’s Use Screaming Frogs Spider Mode to crawl your list of URLs. Make sure ‘Always Follow Redirects’ is ticked in Settings. (Configuration > Spider > Advanced) ● Paste/Upload old URLs ● Update Redirects which have multiple Redirect Chains ● Create Redirects for key 404s (esp. Backlink or Landing Page 404s) ● Fix broken/incorrect Redirects ● Download the final redirect chain reports @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  30. 30. Check Canonicals Run a DeepCrawl Canonical Report to highlight: ● Canonical errors, ● Orphaned canonical URLs ● Pages without a valid canonical tag Use Screaming Frog to: ● Identify canonicalised URLs ● Check for errors by exporting the Canonical Errors report @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  31. 31. Check High Quality Backlinks ● Gather backlink URLs via tools such as Majestic & Search Console ● Update high quality backlinks to final destination if possible or make sure 301s are in place ● Update local citations if domain name changes including GMB ● Update Social Profiles @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  32. 32. To Recap: Post Go Live
  33. 33. Post Go Live Checklist 1. Submit & Check Sitemap(s) 2. Robots.txt file check 3. Old URLs & new site crawl - Check 301s, fix 404s if any 4. Check canonicals 5. Check GA tracking & goals/events/ ecomm tracking 6. GA & SC settings updates & verifications (if required) 7. Inspect URLs (prioritise) 8. Update high quality backlinks, social profiles & local citations 9. Upload disavow file @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  34. 34. What Next?
  35. 35. What Next? Crawl, re-crawl, keep checking indexing, rankings, visibility and traffic! ● Monitor indexing, visibility, traffic & rankings, user engagement etc ● Update meta titles, descriptions and heading tags based on rankings ● Work on on site content - on page & blog articles ● Work on internal linking ● Work on outreach and link building ● Carry out technical checks (check 404s, 301s, new issues - repeat pre-launch checks) @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO
  36. 36. Thank You! @chloebodard | #BrightonSEO