How Website Migration Can Affect Your SEO Ranking

The ins and outs of managing your SEO through a website migration.

Redesigning your website or migrating to a new domain does not only entail making design decisions or picking a new domain, it also involves careful planning around URL redirection. As such, a move can have a significant impact on your website’s SEO ranking.

The first and most obvious reason for URL redirection during website migration is making sure that all the links work on your new domain. To start, it is in your best interest to make sure your links work properly to ensure a smooth transition for your users. This is particularly important for the main pages on your website, especially if they have inbound links (referral traffic coming from another website). If these pages will remain unchanged content-wise, a permanent redirect should be implemented. Using a 301 redirect, also known as a permanent redirect, tells Google and other search engines that your page has moved permanently, as opposed to 302, or temporary redirects. The former passes link equity to the new page, while the latter does not.

If you are migrating the majority of the content on your website, you may have numerous pages that have also gathered link equity. Being able to pass on as much of this existing link equity as possible to the new website is a signal of the strength of the new domain’s authority to search engines.

Another reason might be the amalgamation of two organizations with two different websites — for example, one company acquiring another. One brand is likely better known than the other, and may have a domain with better search engine rankings and authority. In this case, it may be best to keep the higher ranking of the two domains as the primary domain, and redirect links from the lesser performing domain. This is also a good time to decide whether certain URLs need to be redirected to its counterpart on the new site, or to a parent/category page, or even to the homepage.

It is important that URLs are redirected only to pages that are highly relevant, if not exactly the same. Google treats redirects to less relevant pages as soft 404s. If the page with the URL you wish to redirect will not be replicated in your new website, it is better to redirect it to the closest equivalent page, or to a closer category or topic on the site.
A website migration project is also a good time to reassess the 301 redirects you currently have in place. Multiple redirects create redirect chains which impacts your site’s loading time, as well as link authority — and therefore, the quality of your site, which can also impact your SEO ranking. Look for opportunities to reduce the number of redirects you have for each link to optimize user experience on your site.

This post originally appeared on the EasyRedir website.