How to prevent a loss of organic traffic after a website migration

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Feb 11th 2020

Importance of redirects for website migrations

Most businesses will go through a website migration at some point with the digital space progressing at the rate it does. As a business grows, a website will alongside it. That can mean changes in site structure, content and even domains. However, with each changing factor, the possibility of loss in organic traffic is greater if they're not handled appropriately.

Forming a redirect strategy is standard practice when it comes to a website migration. That means discovering all of the pages on your current (live/old) website and redirecting them to their new location (a new domain, a new URL) at go-live.

Essentially, when a search engine crawls the new website, a redirect strategy is the process of putting measures in place to tell crawlers that a page that once existed has moved to a new location. Ranking factor, domain authority, link juice; all the good stuff is maintained and redirected to the new URL (within reason, as it can take time to gain initial traction so have some patience).

However, what happens when a marketing or development team doesn’t put any process in place for a redirect strategy?

404 error pages, a significant drop in organic traffic, penalising due to poor website performance, bad user experience and failure in SEO, to name but a few.

Sound familiar?

A strong redirect strategy for SEO is a key step on any website migration checklist to keep organic traffic in place.

Ranking can drop in a matter of hours when links are broken and if those links have previously been shared (consider social media) it leads to bad user experience, high bounce rate and general untrustworthiness when users can’t find the content they initially searched for.

Whilst keeping the URL the same is ideal, website structure changes, services are dropped, products become end of line, articles are outdated, even domains change, and it’s all common practice when running a website.

It’s an especially challenging situation if a business's website is new (live within the last 3 years) and has gained momentum and ranking factor to then suddenly decline as soon as a new website structure, template or migration takes place. It’s disheartening at best and the question arises; was this the right thing to do?

Generally speaking, yes, it more than likely was. Business owners, marketers and developers shouldn’t have reservations about change when it comes to a website, as long as steps are taken to ensure a smooth switch with as little disruption as possible.

Website migrations and an easy redirect strategy

Maybe we should say, easier.

One of the biggest factors of not actioning a redirect strategy for a website migration is that it can be a tedious, time-consuming task to undertake, especially when at scale and on ecommerce sites with thousands of pages.

It’s a manual process and often sees marketers knee-deep in spreadsheets, formulaic headaches and a sheet of URLs that seems to be getting longer, not easier.

That’s why we created Redirectly for managing URLs and website migrations.

Redirectly is a URL redirect platform designed by developers and marketers to save time, reduce human error and accurately create redirect lists with ease in minutes, not hours.

Featuring auto-crawl to automatically crawl the old site and new site for a user or the option to upload the sitemap (if available) for speed, Redirectly automatically identifies pages with identical URLs and leaves those that need a 301 or 302 redirect to match. Easily drag single URLs or highlight those in bulk to drag and drop against their new URL; then they’re matched and it’s that simple. Made a mistake? It’s easy to unmatch a single page or reset to start again.

No matter a users level of understanding, once all URLs are matched, the redirect list can be sent to the developer or the developer can collect the data themselves for Apache, CraftCMS, WordPress, NGINX or as a CSV file.

Redirectly makes a demanding and laborious task effortless and that means that a website need not suffer a decline in organic traffic, due to a poorly managed website migration.

Sound good? Join beta and give Redirectly a try for free until April 2020.

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