A multi site migration can result in a better user experience, increased organic metrics and a simpler long-term management solution.  But many SEO's get hung up or miss the most critical pieces to a successful transfer.  Having done many migrations I can say there is more to it than you may have previously thought.

Let's start with the fun part, Research.  
Exactly - Not so exciting.  But this is the most important part of the process.  A professional SEO expert will compound hours of research and data to formulate the best migration plan.  Creating lists of high priority content, looking at search console and evaluating how you will accomplish the project.

Research can be an intangible to a client.  Sending them a spreadsheet of URLs with a roadmap and justification is good document to ease their mind.  But how you come up with that roadmap is part of your strategy, which you should pull from research online from others who have done it.

Here are some of the items one needs to consider for a multi site migration to maintain as much of their SEO value as possible:

  • Internal Content Analysis
    • Prioritize Legacy Content/Posts on age, authority, linking & traffic
    • URL Structure Analysis & Mapping
    • 301 vs. 404 Analysis of Legacy Content
    • Media Mapping (Images, Videos, PDFs +)
    • CMS Plugin/Tool Review
    • Migration Architecture Development (Categories, Tags, Posts)
    • Internal Linking Mapping
    • External Link Analysis
  • Post Migration Consultation
    • Header Check
    • Unified XML Sitemap Development & Submission
    • Analytics Set Up
    • Indexation Monitroing
    • Search Console Analysis (404, Server Errors)
    • Link Reclamation from External Link Partners

NOTE:  It is recommended not to change the following at the same time during site migration:

  • Platform (CMS)
  • URL Structure/Naming
  • Design
  • Content
  • Hosting (whois, IP - Only if Necessary)
Have any other steps?  Drop them in the comments below.

October 7, 2016

Todd Bailey is Director of Search, Media and PR with Gen3 Marketing and US Brand Ambassador for Majestic SEO. Also, Founder/Editor of pushStar.com


Great post Todd, thanks for sharing.

One thing I personally enjoy about site migrations is the opportunity to improve existing pages with SEO 'upgrades' - such as adding missing meta data, or additional content to thin pages that could only ever benefit from the new additions.

I've also found it useful is to have a full width 'all purpose' page template specifically for legacy content. This is handy if you are migrating existing content into a new visual design and have a ton of low impact legacy content that you want to keep, but don't want to have to fiddle with to suit the new site appearance.

Absolutely true, an SEO expert must compound hours on researching data to formulate the best plan. I guess everything is set here. Great source of information. Thanks for sharing.

I think that research and analyzing are the main parts of any process. Without analyse we can't say if we do something right or not. Thanks for posting!

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