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How to handle a domain migration when going international

In the next part of our blog series about going international with results-focussed domain expansion, we discuss how to make sure you don’t damage your existing SEO, if you chose to change a ccTLD to a generic URL.

Haven’t read parts one and two of this series? It’s worth making sure you catch up before reading this post.

If you have decided to go with a generic domain for your international expansion, allowing you to host new countries in sub folders (such as www.yoursite.com/fr and www.yoursite.com/de) and your existing site is hosted on a ccTLD, you will need to have a migration plan in place. This will ensure that you don’t lose any of the SEO goodness you have worked so hard to achieve on the existing site.

Below are some of the key factors to consider when migrating your existing site. But, we would strongly recommend working with an SEO agency to put in place a full migration plan. This would ensure you achieve success and flush out any technical issues that may arise along the way.

Pre-migration

Before you start anything make sure you benchmark your existing performance to get a feel for where you are before the site goes live.

Create a map of the URLs on the old site and match these to the URLs of the new site. This map will be needed to ensure that all the pages on your old site 301 redirect to the new domain. This is important as it will help both the search engines understand that the move has happened and will ensure your existing visitors are able to find pages on your site.

When migrating pages on to the new site make sure all the title tags and meta descriptions are moved across, to keep the work you’ve done on the SEO of your site in place.

It’s also worth reviewing your backlinks at this point – again this might be something you want help with, as an SEO specialist can provide feedback on your links based on previous experience and the size of your site. The idea behind this process is to ensure that any links which you don’t want to have are disavowed on the new domain name and any good quality links are collated into a list.  Once you have fully migrated to your new URL, you can contact the webmasters of these good quality sites and ask them to update their link to point to your new site. This will then help your new domain gain some traction in SERPs.

Migration

Once you have a go-live date for your site to migrate it’s important to make sure you communicate this to everyone working on your new website, including internal teams, any SEO or PPC agencies you have and, of course, your development team.

On the go-live day, work out what time is best to send the new site up, as you don’t want to go live during peak business times or when you get a lot of visitors to your site. It’s also important to factor in the time of day your worldwide visitors come to the site and not just those in the UK.

When the new site goes live, make sure you have time set aside to check for issues. Make sure you check for broken links and internal redirects on the site as these need to be resolved as quickly as possible.

Ensure your Robots.txt file has been updated – and there are no issues with blocking the whole site – or key sections of the new site structure. If you are running WordPress, make sure you have de-selected the option, to discourage Search Engines from viewing your website.

Use Google Webmaster Tools, to upload your new sitemap file and ensure your international targeting is correct.

In the weeks that follow the go-live of your site, make regular checks to indexation and update the benchmarking reports.

We hope you have enjoyed our series on making your website international, if you need advice on taking these steps and expanding your business online please contact Oban International and one of our experts can help you manage your domain expansion.

 

Going international: domain expansion series

Part one: Expanding your website for an international audience
Part two: Choosing the right Domain strategy for your site