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Avoiding a Website Relaunch Disaster: Tips for a Smooth Migration

By SEO, Web Analytics

Why do website relaunches often end in disaster?

Websites are crucial for businesses. They are often the first point of contact between a company and its customers. A well-designed, functioning website can result in a satisfied customer and a poor website experience can result in a lost one. For this reason, companies invest heavily in their websites, ensuring they are always up-to-date and compliant with the latest standards. However, website migrations – whether to a new platform, URL structure, or content management system – are complex processes that often meet with disaster because they are rarely created with SEO in mind, resulting in significant traffic and revenue loss. So, we are sharing why website migrations so often go wrong, and what to do to prevent it. 

SEO is Key to a Website’s Success

Lack of SEO planning severely impacts the website’s performance after migration. SEO experts need to be brought into the process early. SEO consultants understand what changes to make, how SEO will be affected, and plan accordingly. For example, SEO tags should not be removed or changed without thought and consideration. Any change can have a significant impact on Search rankings.

In addition, you will want to ensure that URLs do not drastically change, and that broken links do not occur due to the website migration, as this could damage SEO efforts significantly. Without proper planning and assessment of risks before website migration, disastrous consequences may await a business or organization who has not adequately prepared for the move. By understanding the potential pitfalls of website relocation and allowing enough time to make all necessary changes with the advice of an SEO expert, businesses can prevent costly disasters from occurring during migrations. 

The Forgotten SEO Aspect 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains a crucial element of successful online marketing. Companies invest considerable effort and resources in optimizing their websites to attract high quality traffic and generate more business. While much emphasis is placed on headlines, keywords, and content optimization, redirects, URLs, and meta data are often neglected. Redirects ensure that visitors are directed to the correct pages even if the URL structure or page address changes. URLs need to be short and descriptive so search engines can quickly find them. 

Similarly, optimizing metadata helps search engines and readers find your site as quickly as possible by providing valuable information about the content of the pages. In other words, attention needs to be paid not just to what is published on your site but also to how it is accessed and found through different links. By accounting for all these SEO elements, you will maximize your chances of reaching potential customers who conduct online searches by minimizing any missing content through which clients could stumble upon your website. 

How to Avoid Website Relaunch Disasters

While launching a website can be an exciting milestone for any organization, it is essential to recognize the risk of potential disasters that results from the launch process. To reduce the chances of these automated or manual errors, organizations should:

  • Consult an SEO expert before making any changes. It will help ensure that you implement all redirects properly and that page loading time speeds remain fast and consistent. 
  • Pull metrics from platforms such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics to track user behavior before and after going live to identify potential problems early on. While migrating a website, create a proper redirect plan to ensure users will reach their intended pages upon visiting the new site. 
  • Make sure to implement redirects correctly before going live and that websites are continuously monitored both before and after launch. 

By following these steps, organizations can avoid major catastrophes resulting from website launches. 

How to Execute a Successful Website Migration

Migrating a website from one domain to another is always a delicate process, requiring an expert understanding of SEO and web development.  

  • All traffic metrics, such as page views and session length, should be pulled before the migration to create a baseline representation of performance before and after the new website goes live. 
  • Moving, planning, and execution of the content to be kept live on the new website should be carefully considered and monitored throughout the entire process. 
  • To mitigate traffic losses, implement a proper redirect plan and avoid SEO crawl errors.
  • UX and technical aspects should be preemptively checked in the staging environment before being deployed into the production server for go-live.
  • Implement the developed redirect plan within the go-live phase to ensure a smooth transition with no SEO-related issues popping up later down the line. Multi-step verification among stakeholders throughout the process through harmonious teamwork would help deliver successful outcomes. 

If you execute the above steps, your website team will have peace of mind that the SEO performance will remain intact moving forward. You can guarantee that all SEO issues are resolved at each stage before transitioning into the pre-production server for final Q/A and then going into production for the launch phase with minimum discrepancies resulting from the above-mentioned transitions and possible setbacks from an SEO perspective along the way. 

An effective transition plan should include efficient tracking mechanisms such as analytics tags integration or tracking engine tool used by client organizations that help assess post Go Live accuracy rate of migration outcomes desired/expected ones. The bottom line is that all key stakeholders must communicate and collaborate effectively during the transition phase for smooth switchovers during migrations. Follow the best practices like unified style sheet(s), strong back-end designs, well-thought-through redirect plans, etc. Armed with the right set of tools, and experienced SEO professionals equipped with organized thought processes, your website transition results in yielding higher ROIs. 

As you see, website migrations are a delicate process, and they should be handled with care. If not, they can lead to disaster. If you take the time to plan and execute your migration correctly, you can avoid common mistakes and have a successful launch. 

Are you planning a website migration? Acronym’s team of experts has successfully migrated dozens of websites and knows what to do to make your website launch smoothly. If you need assistance with your website’s relaunch, contact us today. We are here to help.

POV by Ulrich Franke, Managing Director, Europe GmbH