How to migrate to a new website successfully

How to migrate to a new website successfully

Thinking of migrating to a new website but don’t want to lose your Google ranking? Its a serious issue and this week Geek Tamin posted about a recent migration by Skilled Electrical, registered electricians in Christchurch. They have recently migrated to a new website and came out relatively unscathed.

How did they do it? Stick around to find out.

In June , 2021, Skilled Electrical, registered electricians in Christchurch, migrated form the website they had been using for many years, to a new WordPress site.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal right? Choose a template, add some content with nice, fresh photos, throw a few keywords in, and hey presto!

Actually there are many, many things that need to be completed to perfection in order for a successful migration.

Creating a Bold New Look

The owner likes black and orange so we incorporated that using orange text and button elements, as well as natural occurring elements like the orange hi-vis in the photos. 

Photos of staff and vehicles use orange and black elements to create a strong, dynamic presentation.
 

SEO Ranking

Skilled Electrical were consistently ranked #1 in Google Search Engine Page Results (SERPs) for “electrician Christchurch” and other similar keywords.

When migrating to a new site, the fear is that you can lose those rankings.

Types of Google ranking factors

It’s important to note that there isn’t one single ranking factor that will make or break your SEO. It’s the combination of all your technical, on-page, and off-page efforts that work together to build an SEO-friendly website.

Skilled Electrical addressed the following: 

  1. The new site is faster due to a better template and optimisations. 
  2. Skilled Electrical made sure that the template is mobile responsive and the user experience on a smartphone is good. 
  3. They took time to recreate many of the internal links that existed previously.
  4. Incorporating an appropriate number of the keywords that Skilled Electrical are ranked for was a priority. 
  5. Skilled Electrical updated some of the heading to include keywords and communicate a strong message. 
  6. The meta description didn’t change from the previous site as it was already optimised.
  7. Images were given alt-text improvements. There are still some images that lack alt-text, and this will be improved over time.
  8. Some of the URls were changed to improve clarity for the user.
  9. Information has been clarified to be fresh and accurate, and is more concise to improve user experience.
  10. Backlinks have been created to ensure that Google finds the new site.

So how did they do?

Skilled Electrical had a brief hiccup when they went live, as Google indexed a temporary page instead of the new home page. Because of the post-live checklist this was picked up quickly, but took over 24 hours for Google to correct.

The result?

Skilled went from having 8 keywords ranked in the top 3 for electrical companies Christchurch, to having them ranked in the top 8 one week later. 

That’s not too bad and can certainly be improved.

What else was done to ensure a great migration?

There are several keys to a successful migration. Some, like content and keywords have already been mentioned.

Redirections

Other critical aspects include making sure that redirects are put in place for all of the pages that have been getting traffic. There is nothing worse from a user experience than going to pages that no longer exist. 

Location pages

When a business has multiple locations it can help to add a separate page for each location. For example, Skilled Electrical operate in Christchurch and throughout Canterbury, but the are based in Bromley, Christchurch.

Accordingly, even though other keywords are in the top 8, registered electricians Christchurch and electricians Bromley have retained their #1 ranking.

Submitting XML Sitemap & canonical

Because of the hiccup mentioned above Skilled Electrical needed to resubmit the sitemap a few days after launch. It took to recrawl requests before Google recognised the correct canonical info. Note that you want to be sure that your XML sitemap file(s) are pristine. You want to have zero URLs resulting in 404 errors and ensure all URLs are the destination URLs versus redirects or pages that canonical to another version.

Monitoring

Skilled Electricals’ developers monitored the new site for two weeks to ensure that any issues were picked up and corrected with urgency. Fortunately, nothing else has been an issue for them.

Ongoing SEO

SEO is never a one-off piece of work. Skilled Electrical work with Duoplus, who are a leader in online marketing in NZ, as well as Google Ads in Hamilton, to ensure that they continue to dominate the rankings for electrical companies in Christchurch.

 

You can read the full article from Geek Tamin here.

Andrew Roughton

Andrew is an online marketing specialist, based in Hamilton, New Zealand, with personal experience in ecommerce startups. He originally trained as a computer programmer, and then accidentally drifted into adult/tertiary education where he held both teaching and executive roles. In that time he managed a multi-million dollar budget and around 90 staff in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch. His role included both domestic and international marketing. Andrew completed an MBA in 2012 which helped with the leadership and management of the business, as well as his ongoing personal involvement in developing and delivering online business education.