SEO and Site Migration: Common Mistakes That Affect Rankings

by: Dale Roxas
| October 24, 2021
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Ensure that your next website move goes as smoothly as possible. Continue reading to discover how to prevent typical SEO pitfalls.
Are you considering a site migration?

One of the more challenging – and dreaded – SEO jobs is migration.

To make it work, you must avoid typical errors that might harm your visibility and lead to traffic and income losses.

Cody Gault, Migration Services Lead at Conductor, presented a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar on August 11th, which I moderated.
There are numerous reasons why businesses choose to migrate their websites.

However, site migrations, regardless of their objective, can be frightening for most individuals, including SEO professionals.

Site migrations can be dangerous if done incorrectly.

They can have a big impact on your search engine visibility and rankings. Worse yet, you risk losing ranks and income.
And, because most migrations take about 4-6 months on average, teams are frequently under pressure to finish them.

The following are some of the most commonly encountered migration issues:

  1. Technical SEO problems.
  2. Rushed projects.
  3. Lack of communication.
  4. Content changes.
  5. Lack of action and focus.

There are several site migration checklists available, however some key aspects are rarely included.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.


1. Technical Issues


If you’re working with React or Angular, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t go live without some kind of pre-rendering. When a client relies on Google to render content professionals have seen the most damage.
  • Use JavaScript links sparingly. They won’t be crawled by Google, and your internal linking structure will be messed up.
  • Make sure your content isn’t hidden behind user interaction. Because Google can’t see it, it can’t rank it.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is typically overlooked during site migrations, yet failing to consider it can be detrimental to SEO.

Here are some suggestions for maintaining your internal linking structure:

  • If at all possible, avoid making dramatic changes to your internal linking structure. While you should expect modifications, you should be conscious of your past internal links.It’s never a good idea to bury sections of a website behind a few layers of pages.
  • The links on your menu are important. To Google, your menu navigation is a strong signal. The loss of menu navigation might cause plenty of problems.


Critical Issues on the Day of the Launch

These are the items you should double-check before releasing your newly migrated website.

  • Look for noindex tags. They don’t belong on your live site.
  • Examine the redirects. Check to see if they’re up and running.
  • Check the robots.txt file. You don’t want Google to be able to crawl your site.
  • Examine the canonicals.
  • Rollbacks are not your friend, and they frequently cause issues.



2. Content Issues


Changing Content

  • If at all possible, avoid changing your content when migrating. A previously stable element is removed when the content is changed. Based on the modifications made during the migration, Google will need to re-evaluate the site.
  • If you must update content, make a copy of the previous version in case you need to re-add it later. Reverting content can help you recover from a migration.

Improper Redirects
Properly target redirects. Redirects should be directed to the appropriate people. Redirects to the homepage should not be done in bulk.

  • Find an appropriate match if a page is missing (product to product category).
  • Consider rebuilding a key page if it doesn’t have a match.

Best Practices for Site Migration
Here are some general pointers and reminders to help you make the most of your migration.


  • It’s harder to figure out what caused a drop the more you change.
    It will be much easier to detect any specific difficulties if you can postpone certain changes (such as content) until after the launch.


  • If there are critical issues, don’t be afraid to push back and delay the launch.
    Migrations are difficult enough without adding more complications. If a site is going to go launch despite the problems, make sure the client or your superiors are aware of the potential consequences.


  • Launching during a Google Update is not a good idea.
    It’s becoming more difficult to diagnose problems as a result of Google updates.
    If one is approaching that they warn you about, delaying the launch may make it easier to determine how the migration affected things.


  • Avoid Phased Migrations.
    While Google currently claims to be able to handle phased migrations, Gault believes that this method has many flaws. When dealing with international sites, be especially aware of phased launches.


  • Begin redirecting your traffic. Early
    If at all feasible, test your redirects — you’d be surprised how uncommon this is.


You’ll almost certainly make mistakes that can be corrected through testing. Keep an eye out for better reroute matches down the road.


Check Your Redirects Three Times

  • Keep an eye out for when the site becomes live.
  • Later that day or the next day, double-check.
  • Just to be safe, check again a week later.

The majority of big migration concerns aren’t typically the most visible.
Keep an eye on what’s going on and don’t be scared to speak up. Content modifications and internal linking aren’t always a good idea.
Maintain as much simplicity and “cleanliness” as feasible during the relocation. Consider deferring some modifications until the migration is complete.
Communication is key, as is resolving issues early on to avoid huge headaches later on.

Are you thinking about migrating your website? To guarantee a successful transition, arm yourself with the necessary resources, information, and expertise. Speak with a member of Conductor’s team of professionals.