Website migrations are a necessary evil in the web development world. Although they are necessary, they are rarely an enjoyable experience. Website migrations are typically complex operations that must be coordinated across many teams and stakeholders. Missing one tiny detail can break your entire site and leave you scrambling to fix it while your traffic dries up.
Fortunately, here are the five helpful tips you can take to prepare for your migration and ensure it goes smoothly.
If your site is big enough, you can start by migrating a single page first. It is an excellent way of testing a new environment before committing to complete site migration. In addition, it allows you to troubleshoot any issues that might arise along the way, such as redirects or server errors. Start with a few pages, measure your success, then continue from there.
If you have bought a new domain and/or plan on changing hosts during your migration, set this up in advance of the actual migration day. It's best to set up all of these services with your new host first, rather than transferring them one by one. This includes DNS (so the domain can be found on the Internet), an SSL certificate (so that transactions are secure), and mail (if you need it). Use your old site as inspiration. If you're utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) or a special arrangement with your old host, make sure those are in place too.
A redirect map is a list of pages on the old domain name and their new equivalents on the new domain name. Without a 301 redirect map, search engines will see both versions of your site, and they'll be treated as separate sites. It means search engines won't know which one to rank higher, leading to lower positions on search engine results pages (SERPs) and status messages such as "duplicate content."
Before you go live with your new site, it's essential to ensure that all the content from your old site is brought over and adequately optimized for search engine traffic. To avoid losing out on any organic traffic that comes from keywords that have been ranking well for your business, make sure all existing pages are redirected to the new site, and add metadata and alt tags for images. You should also create an XML sitemap so search engines can easily crawl through the new version of your site.
Whether it's done by yourself or hiring a software development company to test the site, usability testing should be performed at multiple stages throughout development. It's necessary to determine whether or not your users can accomplish what they intend to on your site. Conversely, performance testing involves determining how fast your website performs under real-life conditions. It's vital to determine whether or not your site will be able to handle increased traffic once you complete the migration process.
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