Migrating global websites
Migrating a website from one platform to another can cause headaches even when implemented in just one market but if you have multiple websites for different countries around the world, then the potential for things to go wrong increases. We outline what you need to consider when migrating global websites and give you some guidelines of what to be aware of when updating your website.
- Where to begin?
The first thing to do is work out what you are looking to change, what websites it will affect and what the level of migration will be.
When reviewing this it’s a good idea to create a migration plan outlining all of the changes which need to be made and consider the changes this will entail.
There’s a big difference between reskinning your existing website and content with a new template and migrating from one CMS to another and changing your domain name.
The more markets you are working in the more you need to consider the timings involved in migrating your site. Although it’s nice and clean to migrate all of your sites on date X, there will be a lot of work involved in this and the potential that all your websites will suffer a downturn in visitors at the same time. If you are planning on migrating multiple country sites it might be worth considering doing this over a staggered period so that the impact happens at different times in different markets.
When choosing when to migrate each language site do take time to look at the peak seasonality trends for each market, as you might find that the ideal time to migrate your UK website is not the best time to migrate in the UAE or Australia.
- Getting the foundation right
Make sure you have all of your redirects done fully. It’s often tempting to redirect URLs in a bulk redirect to a new top level category if you have thousands of products, but this won’t help your SEO. Page by page redirections can take some time to create but the benefits for your overall visibility can’t be downplayed.
Whilst we’re on the subject of redirects make sure all of these will be 301 permanent redirects and not 302s as these won’t be seen as a permanent redirect and some of the authority for your pages will be lost.
From your existing website there’s also a couple of things to get right as part of the foundation work in this phase:
Make sure you have a backup of the old site before you go live so that if anything goes wrong you can roll back.
Create a sitemap.xml file with all of your old URLs in it. This can be uploaded to GSC when you go live and will help Google follow your 301s.
Be sure to update internal links from blog posts to new page structures as well, this will help the search engines crawl your new site more quickly.
Testing should form a strong part of your migration plan and you should ensure that there is plenty.
- Reviewing your links
As we all know link health has become more important for all of the major search engines and migration is the ideal time to make sure there are no issues on your backlink profile and clean up links to ensure that anything which could be considered high risk is removed before your new website goes live.
- Drawing a line in the sand
Once you’re ready to go live it’s time to get a benchmark in place of your current site and its performance, to help you monitor migration and recovery.
When you are looking to migrate a series of global websites make sure that you have a full plan in place to cover all elements of the migration as we’ve outlined here. Ensuring you have this phased approach to site migrations will help to mitigate the risks of the changes to your website and help your upgrades run as smoothly as possible.