Migrating a website can hurt traffic, leading to a website sales drop if appropriate actions are not taken. A website migration is a term used to describe any event whereby a website undergoes substantial changes in areas that can significantly affect search engine visibility — typically changes to the site’s location, platform, structure, or design.

There’s a HUGE risk associated to losing organic traffic and this is no time to improvise or go through exploratory processes. So make sure you understand what you need to do right, in order to maintain the same level of organic traffic and sales after going live with a new website.

First, let’s establish who should be interested in this article:

Should:

– Online merchants which sales heavily rely on transactions sourcing from organic traffic.
– Any e-commerce business which 30% (or more) of traffic is organic.

Should not:

– Merchants with password-protected websites
– Merchants building a new website (not migrating)

As an online merchant you probably know about typical risks associated with a website migration since these touch on familiar subjects that you have to deal with as part of maintaining and optimizing a website. However, there’s a deeper layer of risks that you may not be as familiar with and that can hurt your SEO badly if not able to quickly resolve.

All the above not only can change how Google understands your website overall, its pages, and their hierarchy within the context of your entire website but can also generate increasing crawling errors.

Here’s how to avoid site migration headaches

1. Don’t underestimate scale

Going live is far from a simple flip the switch. Most business stakeholders don’t realize that behind a go-live process there’s a multi-disciplinary group of individuals with a long list of tasks making sure the process goes smoothly – code troubleshooting, internal linking review, site architecture, 301 redirects, domain setup, google search console reports monitoring, google analytics setup, xml sitemap generation among a long checklist of tasks.

2. Leave your SEO ego behind

Every team member is critical on a golive, but an SEO expert is key. Migrating a website is probably one of the most SEO risky scenarios an online business can face. The SEO expert needs to be a real expert, with real world hands-on experience in SEO for e-commerce websites. The architecture and url structure of e-commerce sites typically differ from other types of sites, so make sure your SEO expert knows the challenges that brings going live.

3. Good planning is required

Make sure you set a plan from the beginning and stick to it, instead of leaving things for the last minute. A careful migration process kicks with an evaluation of the current website (that is going to be later replaced) understanding the site architecture, keywords targeted, keyword density, content review, as well as identifying landing pages where organic traffic is landing and what things are not working for SEO. We recommend starting this analysis at the same time development of the new website begins.

4. Work on avoiding team disconnects

As explained before, going live without losing organic traffic or sales requires a team of multi-disciplinary individuals working in coordination. Make sure periodic checkpoints between developers, tech leads, and SEO consultant happen on a weekly basis. There’s a lot to plan, coordinate, discuss and resolve around the best course of action for a site migration. If disconnects happen close to golive it may be too late to resolve it.

At Tavano we’ve gone through hundreds of migrations from a wide variety of e-commerce platforms to NetSuite Site Builder and SuiteCommerce, as well as Site Builder to SuiteCommerce Advanced website migrations.

Migration Success is a service aimed to help online merchants help through this process included a proven mix of industry best practices, advanced SuiteCommerce SEO techniques and a series of lessons learnt through +10 years of website migration projects.