PRESERVE WHAT YOU HAVE AND THEN EXCEED IT

REDESIGN AND MIGRATION


“A beginning is a moment of extreme delicacy” (DUNE), Take advantage of our advice and support during the design phase whilst also integrating technologies, user experience and SEO. The challenges of a successful migration are just as crucial for an e-commerce site as they are for a media portal. Find out how Search Foresight can help you.

Site migration: SEO Challenges & Risks

The URL migration or redesign of your site requires special attention. On the one hand the objective is to at least maintain your current SEO by identifying your strategic backlinks and conserving your linkjuice, but equally it’s also about keeping your SEO optimizations. This is not only to avoid technical errors which may lead to setbacks, but also to avoid design errors by locking functional specifications. As you can see, SEO constitutes the breadcrumbs within your evolution, and whilst not replacing the user experience, SEO should drive solutions designed to blend SEO benefits, technical issues and UX. It’s where your strategic choices and operational mode intersect that we at Search Foresight can support you – and preferably upstream of your project.

THE ABSENCE OF A COMPLETE REDIRECTION PLAN BETWEEN THE OLD URLS AND THE NEW CREATES TWO ISSUES:

  1. Your site immediately loses all the traffic coming from the search engine, until the new urls are indexed
  2. Your site loses all its backlinks and is thus downgraded in the rankings. It will take time to recover your previous position

It is therefore prudent to approach SEO issues well in advance and avoid any “emergency” fixes.

In order to maintain your backlinks, it’s useful at first to identify the pages receiving SEO traffic, and a site crawl mapping (crawl + analysis of SEO-oriented logs) can be useful for this purpose. After that, the links analysis required to identify the backlinks can be multi-source (GWT calculation, Ahrefs, Majestic, LinkResearchTools, etc …). It is only after this preliminary work that it is then possible to define a redirection plan, but this approach is not exhaustive, because pages without SEO traffic and backlinks can still be overlooked.

Where there is a change of host, domain, or url syntax, the delay before Google indexes the new urls/pages usually results in a J curve which can be seen in organic traffic and visibility (the decrease in visibility causes the decrease in traffic). The challenge is to reduce the depth to which the “hollow” of the J curve may fall, or even completely avoid any decrease altogether, and then enjoy the migration while exceeding your previous performance!

Note: Reporting the change of host via Google Webmaster Tools avoids the “J-curve” effect because the new domain is then recognised with immediate effect. Problem: the URLs will probably change (platform change) and yet GWT does not allow does not allow to declare a migration to a subdomain!

 Your redirection is losing linkjuice, so in addition to redirections, you seek to change the destination of the main backlinks for the main contributors to your page ranking. How easy this is will obviously depend on the level of control and influence you have over these backlinks and their respective webmasters.

YOUR NEW SITE MUST BE AT LEAST AS WELL OPTIMIZED AS THE OLD, AND IDEALLY BETTER.

SEO TASKS LINKED TO CONTENT

It’s a matter of preserving urls positioned on important key phrases because of their content (and of course preserving that content) and also keeping the inventory of old urls within the new site, unless the content is obsolete, inappropriate or under-optimized.

SEO TASKS LINKED TO INTERNAL MESH

The SEO performance of site urls also depends a lot on the internal mesh. Particular attention must be paid to everything which impacts upon the hypertext structure of the site, especially all the navigation elements

  • Menus (look out for siloing)
  • Breadcrumbs/ Guides
  • Navigation links

New versions must at least preserve the old mesh, and if possible allow a better optimized mesh:

  • Mesh which adds importance (linkjuice) to important urls
  • Mesh which enriches landing pages with the correct anchorages

SEO TASKS – TECHNICAL ASPECTS
Here is a compilation of some points to look out for:

  • Presence of SEO tags (Title, meta tags, Hn, rel = canonical / next-prev)
  • Beware of the meta robots tag (no nofollow on internal links, corrupt pages in noindex)
  • Rules for generating titles, metadescriptions, Hn, anchortexts
  • Structured code, respecting semantics, accessible, progressive improvement
  • No DUST, duplicate content
  • No crawlable links to blocked pages via robots.txt or non-crawlable by search engines
  • Javascript / CSS “SEO compliant” (no problematic code)
  • Ajax content present in initial state
  • Presence of schema.org metadata

MODERN OBSTACLES

Mobile usage and increasingly interactive pages designed for an optimized user experience, generate complex integrations. Search Foresight agency will help you find the best solutions, which will always prioritise UX over SEO contingencies.

Responsive Design

  • Code preferably undergoing progressive improvement
  • Plan for fallbacks
  • Manage accessibility constraints

Ajax

  • Carousel integration
  • Long scrolling pages
  • Refreshing content loaded in ajax
  • Again: pb limited by accessibility constraints

RETRO-PLANNING SCHEDULE FOR A MIGRATION

J-75/90  Kick off with teams, evaluation of changes to be introduced, arbitrations to be made, definition of functional scope

J-60   Delivery of functional specs and SEO-oriented technical specs
J-45  Validation of specs, project monitoring, exchanges

J-15 à J-7  Functional and technical acceptance pre-migration, search for technical solutions in case of bottlenecks

J-3  Final SEO acceptance, go testing for migration, control crawl

J-1 à J+1  Monitoring in action

J+1 à +7  Functional and technical acceptance in mid-migration. Corrective actions. Estimation of the impacts of migration

J+15  360 ° checking (control crawl, tests)

J+30   Accurate assessment of the impact of migration

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