Professional SEO Migration

Looking to migrate your website without losing search engine rankings? Learn about the importance of SEO migration and how to ensure a smooth transition.

SEO Migration Service

In short, SEO migration is the process of transferring a website from one domain to another, the role of an SEO agency like Bravr is to minimise any loss in organic/SEO traffic. SEO migrations can take place for many reasons such as M&A's, rebrand, international expansion, CMS replatforms.

The process at a high level includes:

  • Preparation - Initial SEO audit, migration plan, content migration plan, redirect mapping,
  • Implementation - Deployment plan, redirects, Google Site Move, QA
  • Post-migration - Monitoring, Reporting and Managing Expectations

Why is an SEO migration important?

  • Impact on search engine rankings: SEO migration is crucial because it directly impacts your search engine rankings. When you migrate your website from one domain name to another, there is a risk of losing valuable organic traffic and domain authority that you have built up over time. 
  • Maintaining organic traffic during a website transition: During a website migration, maintaining organic traffic should the top priority. Ensuring your legacy domain has redirects in place to the new URL with minimal redirect chains. 

Common pitfalls in SEO migration

Lack of properly instrumented redirects and invalid redirects mapping can significantly hinder your SEO migration process. It's crucial to ensure that all old URLs are redirected to the corresponding new ones, preserving the authority built on those pages.

Need help?

SEO Migration Service

At Bravr we've supported many businesses through website migrations and replatforms. SEO migrations done wrong can have long-lasting detrimental impact to Organic rankings, it's important that you chose an SEO agency who not only understand the process, but can support you as a business throughout.

Hourly from £90 Perfectly suited when you want quick advice from an SEO Pro, or need some top level advice on an SEO migration.

Full Migration from £2,000 A full SEO migration for a medium sized site requires a lot of time + effort to minimise any loss in Organic Traffic.

Preparing for SEO Migration

Preparation is everything when it comes to SEO migration, it might seem like an arduous task, but with good prep and documentation an SEO migration will be smooth sailing! There are some key steps and documentation to get together for an SEO migration:

1. Create the Migration plan

A migration plan is the first step to any successful SEO migration. It spans beyond just SEO considerations and can be seen as a "top level" overview. It should document all the key tasks in a website migration. For example, if you are rebranding, then we need to consider not only the SEO implications, but also things like social media accounts, emails, contracts etc. With different stakeholders in the business such as your sales, social media, marketing, the top level migration plan encourages alignment. At a top level, the following should be included, Each migration is different some time should be invested into thinking how this migration will impact your business:

  • Objectives and goals for the migration process - What is our overall aim here? Sunsetting a brand, rebranding, replatforming?
  • Tasks + Timelines - Outline of the migration from initial discovery through to completion.
  • Roles/Responsibilities - It's important to identify all the key stakeholders from Development, Infrastructure, Business, Social, Finance etc.
  • Rollback plans + Acceptance criteria.

By carefully planning and executing your website migration, you can minimize the risk to your existing traffic.

Manage Expectations

It's important to be up-front with business owners that SEO migrations can have a negative impact on traffic, we've conducted many migrations with minimal impact, however this often depends on the exact nature of the migration. Switching domains often has little penalty, however if you add a content purge, or a replatform then it often impacts rankings.

2. Content evaluation + migration

We've supported a lot of businesses in a website migration and in the cases of a Merger or Acquisition, often a content audit is included as part of the scope of the migration plan. In a content audit we prepare a list of all URL's we've discovered and include metrics spanning from All Trafic, Organic Traffic, Revenue, SEO Value etc. We would recommend at least a years data, but dependant on your traffic levels a smaller time frame may work for you. The aim of the content audit is decide what we're doing with the page, e.g. migrate content, redirect or archive/404. This decision is shared between business stakeholders and your SEO team.

2. Plan your Redirects

The first step is Data Gathering, there are various tools and resources than can help with this. We gather URLS from your Website CMS, XML Sitemaps, Website Crawls, Backlinks, Error Logs.

Essentially we want to build a picture of all the URLS that have been requested in the past and potentially requested in the future. The second step is to build a comprehensive redirect plan: Mapping out all the old URLs and their new URLs in a spreadsheet. If its a straight domain change then the "SUBSTITUTE" formula comes in handy here and it works on Google Sheets + Excel. If you are changing just the domain and nothing else, then redirect mapping is not really necessary as you'll be able to manage this with a single redirect rule. If however you are making changes to your URLs, removing outdated content, then a redirect plan comes into play here. You may have to cross-reference the Content migration plan.

Each SEO migration we've worked on differs in complexity, so this is just a general guide to redirect mapping. Having a redirect plan will make it easier to manage the redirection process and ensure that no pages are left behind (unredirected!). The other benefit of the redirect plan is for post-migration QA, as often the legacy URL's will be the seed URL's for testing all your redirects work as intended.

3. Freeze Content updates

SEO migration planning can take some time, especially when if purging outdated content is included as part of the process. Leading up to the migration date, we'd recommend implementing a content freeze, this will ensure that nothing is missed during the SEO migration and new content isn't "left behind". For sites which regularly publish new content, a refresh of the redirect mapping maybe required on the day to uncover any new URLs.

4. Backup and secure your data

An obvious step, but before any SEO migration takes place, its important to take complete backups of your current website's files and databases to ensure that rollback is possible. If  your web stack allows it, test everything in a staging environment before going live, the aim is to ensure a smooth transition without any disruptions or negative impact on your SEO ranking.

Implementing an SEO Migration

Once you've completed your necessary preparation work, you'll need to implement your redirect mapping. Google treats 301 redirects as a signal to update the pages canonical.

5. Implement Redirects

301 Redirects: Make sure all old URLs are redirected to their corresponding new URLs using 301 status code. This will ensure that any existing SEO value from the old pages is transferred to the new ones, helping maintain your search engine rankings.

Redirects can be implemented in many different ways, here are a few examples:

  • Plugins - If your site is running on Wordpress like ours, there are plenty of redirect plugins available to enable you to setup redirects and bulk upload them using a CSV. (Difficulty: Easy)
  • DNS - Cloudflare allows you to bulk upload redirects. This is our preferred method. It means you won't need to keep the old domain live to maintain redirects. (Difficulty: Intermediate)*
  • CMS - Hubspot's CMS allows you to implement redirects  (Difficulty: Intermediate)
  • .htaccess - Redirects can be added to your htaccess file for sites running on Apache (Difficulty: High)

*Tip: If you have more redirects that available in your Cloudflare plan, we've written a knowledge base article on how to bulk add redirects via a Cloudflare worker

6. Testing and Validation

Once your redirects are implemented, its important to thoroughly test every URL. Our aim here is that we're redirected from the old domain to the new domain, with little redirect chains as possible. 

7. Update internal links

Updating internal links is a crucial step during website migration. To ensure a smooth transition we want to ensure all internal links point to the new domain, and not the old domain.

Let's take an example of an old blog post, for the example below we'll say "" is the old domain, and "" is the new domain. Let's imagine there is a blog post we wrote a few years ago with a link to:

This would redirect users to the following URL:

Whilst from an end user perspective they are redirected to the correct domain, in the background the user has just been redirected. What happens if we decide to turn off the (old domain) in the future. This would now be broken (if we aren't redirecting at the DNS level). So it's important to not rely on the redirects as a fallback method and to ensure all your internal links point to the correct domain. 

So what we need to do is scan our entire website looking for inlinks that point to the OLD URL. We'll then need to update those URLS to the new domain. This can be done manually or using a find-and-replace routine. This all depends on the capabilities of the CMS you are using and the resources available to you. If there are thousands of links, then we'll opt to use some sort of find-and-replace, if its just a few then its probably easier just to take care of it manually. 

As part of any SEO migration service, we will scan your site looking for links pointing to your old domain and work with you to update them. 

Post SEO Migration

We're not our the gate yet, we're often asked how long does it take for a website to migrate over. If you've followed all of the steps, then you'll start seeing the new site replacing the existing site in Search Engine Results. We normally see this process take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months. Google is lazy, well its not a person, but it's just slow at updating websites and often inbetween period we'll see traffic dip.

8. Google Site Move aka "Change of Address" tool

Google has a tool to allow you to signal to Google that you are changing your website address. More information on their tool can be found here, this tool may not be applicable in each case of site migration, but in our experience it expedites the migration process.

9. Watch your Error Logs / 404

Whilst a lot of preparation goes into preparing a list of redirects, there maybe inbound URLs that haven't been detected in site crawls. This can be from a social media network, or a backlink. Watching your 404's will allow you to pick up any missed redirects and implement them quickly. On Wordpress Sites, Rank Math Pro has a great 404 monitoring tool that allows you to implement redirects within the CMS.

10. Report!

Tracking Visibility is essential during a website migration. We'd recommend setting up reports to track your website performance pre/post migration. Our preference is to setup a migration dashboard which would allow easy comparison of pre/post migration. This will help identify any changes in organic search visibility and keyword rankings. This analysis will help you understand how the migration has affected your Visibility and identify any areas that need improvement. We'd recommend using Google Search Console, Google analytics and a third party SEO Tool, like our favourite

Final thoughts

SEO migrations are complex and challenging processes that require careful planning, execution, and monitoring. The information on this page is intended to provide a general guide on how to prepare, perform, and steps post-migration, but it is not a substitute for professional SEO advice.

SEO migrations can have long-term negative impacts on your website's performance, ranking, and traffic if done incorrectly. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consult with an SEO expert like Bravr before undertaking any SEO migration project.

Bravr is a leading digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO migrations and other SEO services. Bravr has helped hundreds of clients successfully migrate their websites without losing any organic visibility or revenue. If you need help with your SEO migration, contact Bravr today.

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