The Ultimate Guide to Website Migration SEO

The ultimate guide to website migration SEO covers the importance of SEO in migration strategies, various types of website migrations, and comprehensive checklists for a successful migration. The guide delves into key considerations, best practices, and real-life case studies to help ensure a seamless and successful website migration.

May 10, 2024

Ross Hornish is a digital marketing expert with over a decade of experience leading campaigns for major companies, such as FedEx, AutoZone, & Terminix. Combining a passion for helping businesses grow with proven expertise in SEO, PPC, and Paid Social Media, Hornish founded Search Marketing Pros to provide growth and visibility to home services companies. Ross is also an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Rhodes College where he teaches Digital Marketing.

Read More
    CategoryTry it for Free


    This guide discusses the significance of SEO in website migration, various types of migrations, and checklists for a successful migration. The guide explores important factors, top practices, and real-world examples to assist in a smooth and successful website migration.

    Types of website migrations:

    • Protocol: Changing your website protocol from http to https
    • Subdomain: Changing your website from “” to “
    • Domain: Changing your website URL from to
    • Top-level domain: Changing your website URL from a .com to a .org, .net, etc., or vice versa
    • Content management system: Moving your website from your current CMS to a new one, for instance, moving from Wordpress or Joomla to the Umbraco CMS
    • Redesign: Making changes to a website, from small visual updates to a complete overhaul with significant code and content changes.
    • Structural changes involve altering the website's architecture or layout, such as adjusting the user flow or URL structure.
    • Hybrid or combination: Using a combination of the above types of migrations

    What is Website Migration?

    • Explaining the concept of website migration
    • Different types of website migrations
    • Supporting keyword: site migration checklist

    Does Website Migration Affect SEO?

    Website migration can definitely have an impact on your SEO. Search engines like Google have already indexed your old website. Changing your URL structure, HTML structure, code base, server location, website speed, or any other elements can disrupt Google's tracking.

    It's kind of like a football game where you change the rules mid-game - it's gonna take some time to adjust. You can lessen the impact and improve your position by using strategy and planning. This can potentially lead to a better outcome than where you started.

    What Happens if You Don’t Include SEO in Your Website Migration Strategy?

    If you don't include SEO in your website migration strategy, you may experience various negative consequences.

    Not including SEO in your Website Migration Strategy may include:

    1. Traffic Loss
    2. Your site being completely deindexed
    3. Customer Login pages being deindexed from Google
    4. Analytics goals lost or missing
    5. Conversion or Lead Loss
    6. And most importantly...revenue loss

    In the end, these problems can lead to a loss of revenue. Ultimately, these issues can result in a decrease in income. It is important to incorporate SEO into a website migration strategy to minimize these dangers and maintain online visibility and performance.

    How Long Should a SEO Migration Take?

    The SEO effects of a site migration are typically noticeable shortly after the new website is launched. This can happen within a few hours to 3 days. Rankings and the overall impact of the site you should start to see changes within a week to two weeks.

    An SEO migration takes time, like a marathon race. It usually takes 3-6 months to see full results.

    The time needed for a successful SEO migration can vary. It depends on the size and complexity of your website. Typically, it takes a few weeks to a few months.

    Just like an athlete getting ready for a big event, it's important to plan, execute, and test your website transition thoroughly. This will ensure a smooth changeover without hurting your website's performance or rankings.

    Allocate enough time for each step to achieve success. In this game, patience and precision are crucial. Let's put on our marketing shoes and tackle that migration with finesse!

    How Long Does a SEO Migration Cost?

    The cost of an SEO migration can change based on different factors. These factors include the size of the website, design changes, redirects from the old website, and more.

    It's like customizing your team's equipment to improve performance. It's similar to customizing your team's equipment for better performance.

    On average, though, you can expect the starting cost to be around $2500. This can increase easily when the size of the website increases.

    Think of it as the MVP player's entrance fee to the game. The final score may change depending on your requirements. This estimate can serve as a helpful starting point for your SEO migration plan. Let's tackle this challenge together and score big in the world of digital marketing!

    [CTA Slot]

    Comprehensive SEO Website Migration Checklist

    To ensure a smooth and successful SEO website migration, it's crucial to have a comprehensive checklist in place. Let's take a look at some central ideas to include in your checklist.

    Setting Clear Migration Goals: Start by defining your migration goals, be it improving site performance, restructuring content, or enhancing user experience. Clear goals will guide the entire migration process and keep everyone focused on the desired outcomes.

    Centralize Site Migration Checklist: Create a centralized checklist to track every aspect of the migration. Include tasks such as redirecting URLs, updating meta tags, optimizing page titles, and ensuring mobile responsiveness. This centralized checklist will guide us to ensure we don't overlook anything during the migration process.

    Site Content Inventory: Create a list of all current site content, such as web pages, blog posts, images, and videos. This will help find any missing, repeated, or old content that needs to be fixed during the move."

    Make sure to include these items in your SEO website migration checklist. This will help you plan and carry out your migration smoothly, reducing risks and improving your website's SEO performance."

    The Key to a Successful Site Migration

    For a successful site migration, it's important to consider key factors and best practices to make sure the transition goes smoothly.

    Following best practices and tips can help make the transition smoother without negatively impacting your finances.

    Setting Clear Migration Goals

    When planning a site migration, you need to set clear goals for what you want to achieve. This will help guide your decision-making process and ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page. If you want to improve your website's SEO, make sure everyone on the project knows and works towards this goal.

    Central Site Migration Checklist

    • Having a Project Manager

    Having a project manager is essential for any site migration. This person will be responsible for coordinating all the moving parts and ensuring that everything goes smoothly. They should also have experience with similar projects so they can provide guidance when needed.

    Inventory of Existing Site Content

    You’ll need to create an inventory of all the content on your existing site. This will help you determine what you need to migrate and how to organize it. To track this information, you can use a spreadsheet or project management tool such as Asana, Atlassian, Trello, or Make sure everyone on the project has access to update it.

    Analyzing Current Site Architecture

    The next step is to analyze your current site architecture. This will help you determine the structure of the new site and decide which content to migrate.

    Planning for New Site Architecture Adjustments

    The next step involves planning for any adjustments that need to be made in the new site architecture. It's a good idea to list your main services or products on your website's menu, if possible."

    By combining UX and SEO, you can create a great website. This ensures that your website is user-friendly and has elements that people want to click on (UX). It also incorporates important search queries that people are looking for (SEO).

    Preparing for Website Migration SEO

    Moving a website to a new platform is a crucial step for its online presence. It is important to plan carefully to maintain and improve SEO performance. This guide will help you prepare your website for migration while protecting your SEO rankings.

    Identifying High-Value Pages and URLs

    We need to migrate some content. We may need to remove some. Analytics tools can be your best friends at this stage to tell you:

    1. What people looked at to get to the site
    2. What people looked at when they go to the site
    3. What helped to drive leads
    4. And most importantly...WHAT LED TO REVENUE/LEADS/SALES

    You should think twice about removing content that sells. On the other hand, if some piece of content gets high view and low sales, you may find a better way to position it.

    Benchmarking Current SEO Performance

    You should also benchmark your current SEO performance. This will help you understand the current performance of your site and identify areas for improvement. You can use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to get this information.

    Understanding Website Architecture

    • Analyzing the current site architecture
    • Planning for new site architecture adjustments
    • Tips for creating a user-friendly and SEO-friendly site structure
    • Supporting keyword: site architecture

    Handling URL and Content Changes

    • Importance of preserving SEO value during migration
    • Identifying high-value pages and URLs
    • Benchmarking current SEO performance
    • Supporting keywords: XML sitemap, redirect map

    Maintaining URL Structure and Keyword Relevance

    URL structure and keyword relevance are two of the most important factors in SEO. If you don’t have a good URL structure, it can be difficult for search engines to understand your site’s content. This can lead to lower rankings and less traffic.

    Having a well-structured URL is important. However, if your keywords don't match what people are searching for, you won't attract much traffic.

    CaMeLcAsE URLs vs lowercase

    While some people don't mind URLs in CaMeLcAsE (aka Title Case URL format), others prefer to have all lowercase. The most important item is having a system above all and sticking to it.

    Having an all lowercase website makes it easier for your developers, people sending you backlinks, and anyone doing SEO. We can do things on the server-side where we force lowercase letters (that make it easier on all). You know where we stand in this debate...

    Forced Trailing Slash

    This is a common mistake that many people make when they are first starting out with SEO. Not paying attention to having a trailing slash or not can make it look like you have two different pages with the same content (BAD for Google).

    The best thing you can do is have a system (see a pattern here). Either do not have a trailing slash or have a trailing slash on all pages.

    With that said, our preference is to force a trailing slash. This rule is common because it ensures that a trailing slash is consistently added on the server-side. This eliminates the need to worry about whether the slash is present or not.

    Please note: some CMS (Content Management Platforms aka websites) will make you do one or the other. So please make sure to know the limitations of Shopify, Webflow, Wordpress, Sitecore, Magento, Hubspot, etc.)

    Technical SEO Considerations

    When moving a website, it's crucial to pay attention to technical SEO. This will help prevent any negative effects on search rankings or user experience.

    This involves redirecting URLs in a smart way. It also involves switching from HTTP to HTTPS.

    Additionally, optimizing the XML Sitemap and site structure is important. This helps to improve the website's visibility and performance.

    The Role of Redirect Maps in Site Migration & Creating an Effective 301 Redirect Strategy

    A redirect map is a document that outlines the URLs of your old website and their corresponding new URLs on the new site. The document includes information about pages that need to be redirected.

    It specifies the type of redirection needed, either 301 or 302. Additionally, there are extra notes or instructions included in the document. Bonus points if you can cut down on redirect chains in the process (both internal and external).

    A redirect map is important when moving your website to a new domain or subdomain. It helps search engines find all your content."

    Ensuring Complete XML + HTML Sitemap Transition

    A sitemap is a file that lists all of the pages on your website. Search engines use sitemaps to navigate and categorize websites.

    It is important to have a sitemap for each domain or subdomain you own. This helps search engines better understand the structure of your website.

    Having a sitemap can improve your website's visibility and ranking in search results. If you change your website's domain, make sure to update the URLs in your sitemap so search engines can locate them.

    Scanning and making sure that the current and updated pages are in the new XML sitemap

    Bonus points: Adding a HTML sitemap if you don't already have one is more for the robots than it is for the humans. Google wants to make sure any URL is within 4 clicks of the homepage. Adding a HTML sitemap can almost guarantee that.


    If you are doing a site migration, make sure to force any and all HTTP (non-secure) URLs to a HTTPS (secure) URL. Google sees these as separate pages, so it's important to make sure everything is set up for HTTPS before launching."

    Optimizing Site Structure and Navigation

    The structure of your site and how you navigate through it is important for both users and search engines. A well-organized website helps people find what they need, keeping them on your site longer and reducing bounce rate. It also makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content into logical sections and ideas.

    Treating your site like a filing system (we know, sounds boring), is the most logical way to go about it. Making pillar and cluster pages of information help to build areas of expertise in specific sectors.

    On-Page SEO Strategies

    On-page SEO involves optimizing specific pages on your website to improve their ranking in search engine results. This includes things like optimizing your title tags, meta descriptions, and H1 tags. It also includes making sure that you have a good amount of content on each page and using keywords throughout it.

    Keyword Mapping and On-Page Optimization

    Keyword mapping involves identifying the most relevant keywords for your website and optimizing the pages for those terms. This helps search engines understand what each page is about and how it relates to other pages on your site. It helps create a better user experience by ensuring visitors can easily find what they need.

    Meta Tags and Header Tags Optimization

    Meta tags are HTML tags that provide information about a web page. Search engines use them to determine what your page is about and how it should be displayed in search results. Header tags are similar, but they’re used to organize content on a page into sections. Both types of tags can be optimized for SEO purposes.

    Mobile Optimization and User Experience

    Mobile optimization is the process of making sure that your website looks good and functions properly on mobile devices. Some important factors for a website are fast loading times, responsive design for different screen sizes, and mobile-friendly navigation menus. User experience (UX) refers to how people interact with your site. It’s important to consider both when optimizing for search engines.

    • Ensuring responsive design and mobile usability
    • Importance of mobile optimization for SEO and user experience
    • Tips for improving mobile performance during migration

    Tips for improving mobile performance during migration

    The first step in improving mobile performance is to ensure that your site loads quickly. This can be done by reducing the number of HTTP requests and optimizing images, CSS, and JavaScript files. You should also make sure that your site is using a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes.

    Speed Testing & CDN's

    Speed testing is an important part of any website optimization project. It’s important to know how fast your site loads and what factors are affecting its performance. There are many tools available for testing site speed, including Google’s PageSpeed Insights and

    To boost performance and enhance bandwidth availability, consider utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) such as CloudFlare or MaxCDN. This can help reduce latency for a smoother user experience.

    Post-Migration SEO Actions

    • Monitoring website performance post-migration
    • Tracking rankings, traffic, and user behavior
    • Addressing common post-migration SEO issues
    • Supporting keywords: post-migration SEO, broken links, site authority

    Monitoring Website Performance Post-Migration

    Once your website has been migrated, it is important to monitor its performance to identify successes and areas for improvement.

    You can do this by using the following tools:

    • GA4 (Google Analytics 4) / Hubspot Analytics: Analytics tools that help you track new users, total sessions, time on page and events on your website.
    • Google PageSpeed Insights: Check for page load time. This is the amount of time it takes for a page on your site to fully load in a user’s browser. To speed up page loading times, try using a content delivery network (CDN) such as CloudFlare or MaxCDN. CDNs can help improve performance by reducing delays and increasing bandwidth.

    Tracking Rankings, Traffic, and User Behavior

    You can do this by using the following tools:

    • SEMRush / Ahrefs: These are fremium SEO tools that will help you understand total keywords and Top 3 keywords ranked for over time
    • Google Search Console: This will help you track at a macro level your ranking positions and help you to understand what queries or pages are taking hits.

    Addressing Common Post-Migration SEO Issues

    There are a few common issues that can arise when you migrate your site to a new domain. Here are some of the most common ones and how to address them:

    1. Duplicate Content: If you have multiple versions of the same page on your site, Google will penalize you for it. To fix this, use 301 redirects to point all old URLs to their new counterparts.

    2. Broken Links: If you have any broken links on your site, fix them as soon as possible so that users don’t get frustrated when they click on them and nothing happens.

    3. Missing Meta Tags: Make sure that all pages have appropriate meta tags (title, description, etc.).

    Fixing Broken Links and Redirect Loops

    Ideally, we should not release broken links and redirect loops on the website. But much like a new home or a remodel project, there will be some additional cleanup to do.

    It's important to address these issues within 3 days of launching your website. This will help ensure that Google and other search engines are indexing the right pages.

    Broken links can make it seem like you don't care or aren't as attentive as before. Fixing these issues promptly is crucial for maintaining a positive online presence. Broken links can give the impression that you don't care or aren't as attentive as your previous website."

    Adjusting to Changes in Site Authority and Link Equity

    When you launch a new website, Google and other search engines will not immediately see it as an authority. It takes time for search engines to recognize a new website as a credible source.

    Building authority with search engines is a gradual process that requires consistent effort and quality content. Patience is key when establishing credibility and visibility for a new website.

    This means that you may see a drop in rankings for some of your keywords or phrases. This is completely normal and expected, as the search engines need time to crawl and index all of the new content on your site.

    Once You Feel Good, Ping Google

    Once you believe your new website is complete, you can submit a sitemap to Google using the Google Search Console. This will help Google find your website. This will help Google find all of the pages on your site and index them more quickly.

    Case Studies and Success Stories

    If you have a new website and are looking for some inspiration, here are a few case studies and success site migrations that may help you get started:

    Palm Beach Tan

    Redesigned their website and ended up with BETTER rankings than they originally had. This happened because there was a strong emphasis on quality assurance. Specific code was implemented on the local pages to maintain and improve their local rankings.

    Master Lawn

    Master Lawn did a "simple" switch in their domain. This shows that migrating a website can have a long-lasting impact that takes months to fully realize.

    Lessons Learned and Best Practices


    In conclusion, when migrating a website, it’s important to have a plan in place. This means having the necessary resources and tools, and knowing what each step of the process entails.

    Download this checklist for more info to help you with your Website Migration or Redesign. This checklist is a great resource to help you plan your website migration. It will walk you through each step of the process and provide tips on how to make sure that everything goes smoothly.

    If looking for a Website Migration SEO Agency, we are more than happy to review the best way to move forward.

    Ross Hornish is a digital marketing expert with over a decade of experience leading campaigns for major companies, such as FedEx, AutoZone, & Terminix. Combining a passion for helping businesses grow with proven expertise in SEO, PPC, and Paid Social Media, Hornish founded Search Marketing Pros to provide growth and visibility to home services companies. Ross is also an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Rhodes College where he teaches Digital Marketing.

    Latest Articles

    View All
    No items found.