Alright. Let’s talk migrations.
It’s been a while since I last spoke on migrations but this is an area I work on consistently – as an SEO Contractor.
And as a contractor, I tend to see brands go into a site migration being uninformed, and unprepared.
So, let me cover a few things that you absolutely should bear in mind when migrating your website.
Firstly, a site migration is different to a site optimisation.
I know the two things are very similar, and are both for the purpose of improving one’s website, which in fairness is optimisation.
However, during a site migration, you’ll want to ensure the two are distinguishable as separate things, and that all involved in the migration are aware of the task at hand.
You’ll want to ensure this because a site migration is a project where scope creep can be detrimental to the success of the migration.
So – a site optimisation is the ongoing process of improving your site so more organic traffic can be attained, right?
A site migration, on the other hand, is for the purpose of improving a site by carrying out a one-off piece of work, for, or on a site, depending on the type of migration, which I’ll delve into in a moment.
The two things – optimisation and migration – are for the purpose of improving a site.
However, optimisation is ongoing, whilst a migration is a one-off piece of work, often considered a project.
Now, why is it important to distinguish the two when seeking to migrate your site?
Well, it’s precisely because they share the common goal of site improvement.
You see, whilst optimisation improves a site from its current state, a migration can very easily backfire.
It can put a site in a worse off state post-migration, than it was in pre-migration.
For this reason, a migration is high risk to a site.
And as such, all the risks must be considered, and mitigated before the migration takes place.
Grouping ongoing site optimisation work with the migration of your site puts it at a high risk, at a time where the risks should be lowered.
So, for example, if you’re migrating your website CMS and require SEO recommendations, you’re far better off to have all parties involved being aware of the limits of this scope.
Within this scope of work, you need not concern with targeted keywords for pages, recommended URLs, title tags, H1s – all the SEO elements required for the typical on-page optimisation of a site.
Combining the two things – on-page optimisation and CMS migration – will be a recipe for disaster.
There’ll already be a lot of moving pieces with a CMS migration. Adding more pieces to it will only confuse all the different parties involved with both the migration and the optimisation.
In a case like this, it’s a good idea to identify the two things as separate pieces of work.
You can plan the work to follow each other – with the CMS migration first – but don’t implement them together.
You definitely don’t want to have one team working on both at the same time.
You can, but you shouldn’t.
Now, another thing you’ll want to consider with a migration, which will help you to better understand what the scope of the migration should be, is to identify what type of migration you want to carry out.
There are different types of site migrations.
You have structural migrations, where the URL structure is the focus.
You have CMS migrations, where the back-end of the back-end of the website is the focus.
You have content migrations, where the Copy on the entire site is the focus.
You have several different types of migrations.
Understanding the migration you’re aiming to carry out will help you plan for its success.
Now, can you have more than one type of migration going at the same time? Yes, you can!
But bear this in mind –
All migrations bring about changes on the website.
These changes are for the purpose of improving the site – for users, and for search engines.
And hopefully, improvement is the end result.
But as I said earlier, a migration comes with a risk.
All types of migrations come with a risk.
The more types of migrations you’re carrying out (together), the higher the risk, and the more you have to take the time to plan its success – the success of the entire project.
Mitigating the risk means working one type of migration at a time.
Can you work on more than one type of migration at a time?
Yes! You can, but you shouldn’t.
When you know the type of site migration you want to carry out, a risk assessment for that type of migration must, let me repeat, MUST, be carried out.
At this point you’ll want to look at a migration as what it is – changes to your business.
You’re not just making changes to your website, you’re making critical decisions that will impact your business.
A migration is such a high risk to your business, it’s possible it could temporarily leave you with less search visibility – post-migration.
How much less traffic you receive as a result of this, and for how long for, depends on the risk analysis you carry out, as well as the planning you carry out throughout the migration process.
All the work you’re aiming to do for your migration requires 3 things – planning, planning, planning.
I’m not talking about speaking with everyone involved in the migration.
I’m talking about documenting the actions that will need to take place.
I’m talking about itemising the steps with each party involved with the migration.
I’m not talking about 1-2 months for the migration. I’m talking 3-6 months for it. At least half of which is dedicated to planning.
You must plan, plan plan.
The more you plan, the more you reduce the chances of things going wrong, and the more you increase the likelihood of having a successful migration.
A migration is realised after the migration takes place, and organic traffic remains relatively stable, and then improves thereafter.