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The art of migrating to a new website without losing your visitors

Do not forget this when updating your website

Updating your website and getting a new website is something that most companies are forced to do on a regular basis - but there are pitfalls when updating to a new platform or changing platform.

There are many factors you need to check as a marketing manager or webmaster when launching a new website in addition to the site being stylish and graphically appealing. The reality is that most web agencies do not have the SEO expertise internally and many people have made mistakes when changing websites. Not ensuring the quality of the website's SEO and getting input from professional SEO specialists can cost you many visitors, which in turn means fewer leads and reduced sales.

Tips when updating a new website and needing to migrate from an old website

For a company that has a website that is business critical for sales, there is reason to be extremely careful. It can cost you a lot of traffic to disregard SEO and lose the organic traffic which leads to fewer visitors to your site, fewer phone calls from customers and finally less sales.

Failed to update website

Picture: The horror scenario where the organization changed website and lost all its traffic.

Start with a migration plan

When you launch a new site or migrate, there are several steps to check so that you get the site indexed. A larger migration requires a team of developers, content managers and SEO specialists

  • Start by seeing what your migration goals are. Why do you want to change website is it to change design or structure or do you have a bad website that can be improved-
  • Which web system should you use. Are you going to use open-source or is it a purchased and tailored system?
  • Is the new system SEO-friendly and mobile-friendly?
  • Make sure the site and links are crawled by search engines in a good way.
  • Check that there are not too many ads "above the fold". Check that the headlines are well set and structured so that the search engines understand the pages.
  • Also do not forget when to do the migration because it is a risk so during the high season it is not time to do a migration.
  • Manage your old URLs and content. The permalinks, ie the URL structure, are very important to keep intact because they are indexed by search engines and can have a lot of links to them.
  • It is necessary to maintain your link power if you do not want to start over from scratch, especially if you want to use a new domain name.

In short, there is a risk that you lose all your traffic in a migration project, but there are different methods so that you do not lose any traffic:

Scenario 1 - for simple migration

If you want to change the URL to a new address then you should use the Google Search Consol to make a change of address (see picture). This works well if it is a simple website where all the URLs and content are the same or if it is a brand new website where you do not have to consider your old website.


Scenario 2 - in the case of a complex migration of a website

If you are going to change content such as texts and URLs, moving the website is more complex. Google has made recommendations not to move URLs unless you really need to.

This is a method of moving to websites so you minimize the risk of losing traffic where various activities are done before, during and after the new website has been published. A complex migration is often a website that needs to be updated to a new one and where the old site has a lot of links that point to different pages and where the permalink structure is redesigned.

Before migrating the site

Of course, you should check the site with spelling and that the logo links to the front page - but there are also purely technical parts that must be ensured:

1. Make sure you measure most of your visibility and which keywords have a lot of volume before migrating (there are a plethora of different tools to use)

2. If there is a development server, pick out the largest landing pages from Google Analytics and check that the corresponding pages are on the development server. You can also download the files from the Google Search Consol. Put the pages in an excel sheet and the keywords they rank well on. Make http calls to the development server through excel. Make sure that all the largest pages are included and redirected correctly. Check that the pages are on the development server and that they have not been renamed permalinks.

3. Check the development server so that everything is up to date - for example meta descriptions and titles. Look at the main pages that they contain the word they want to rank on.

4. Download the data file from the Google Search Consol so you can see how the statistics have been and which pages have the most traffic and which have the most links. (The files are only saved for the last 3 months so it can be valuable to you) and need to be downloaded.

5. Prepare .htaccess files and robots.txt files. In .htaccess you can set rules so you do not lose anything and a common mistake is to block pages in the robots file that should not be blocked. For example, check your robots.txt file and index the entire site in Google when you launch a new site.

During site migration

  1. Launch the site and make sure you have not blocked any pages in the robots.txt file.
  2. Implement quality assurance around old URLs, indexing and sitemaps. Submit your new site directory to Google and re-index the entire site.
  3. Check the site again and see that the pages are there and the metadata is correct.

After migrating the site

1. Make sure to monitor and yes check your error messages in the Google Search Console and re-index the site in connection with the move or migration. Make sure all Sitemaps are submitted to the Search Console. Check error messages so they do not increase.

After a migration, be sure to look up all the major landing pages on the new server. Make sure that there are no new 404 messages but that they point to the new site, ie give you 202 messages.

3. Check in Google Search console what the development looks like and that there are no pages with low CTR

Check external links with Moz site explorer and try to get them redirected if you changed your domain name or structure.

5. Measure the segment of organic visitors in Google Analytics (clear of ghosts and spambots) and preferably some measuring tool so that you do not lose any visibility and if there are any specific words where you lose search position, you can always supplement the texts and improve texts.

6. Check the site and if there are any technical error messages and if they have increased after the migration. In this case, I would check more on unnecessary redirects, canonical tags, noindex and redirects. Other parts are that all pages have titles and meta descriptions.

Violations - technical seo problems

7. Check the linked pages (you can find them in the Google search console). They have the pages are important and strong landing pages because they contain link juice and you want to keep the link juice. Make calls in Excel and see that the pages remain, ie give 202 messages.

8. Report results from the migration. Check to see if you've missed any major keywords and see if they've changed their content. In such cases, complete the pages so you can recover the placements again.

Why is it a bad idea to hold developers accountable for SEO?


A lot of companies let their developers handle the SEO and go live. Even worse is when a designer gets loose without even thinking about SEO. The reason it is a bad idea is that many web designers and programmers have a lack of SEO expert knowledge.

Because they are not specialists in search behaviors and testing of a site, they do not have the tools and experience and often prioritize developers and designers SEO issues very low. Or as a developer who sat and built on one of Sweden's largest companies once told me "SEO is the last thing you do”.

Our advice is: Always leave SEO to an external partner if you do not have expert expertise in-house.

Buying a new website or new design?

Do not make the most common mistakes when redoing a website, which usually leads to you losing traffic that is likely to go to your competitors. Make sure you have an SEO expert before you begin the process of designing your new website for search behaviors but which can also support during the development stage and after launch.

For those of you who are considering buying a new website, we work with some of the largest web agencies in Stockholm. This means that we can offer developers, graphic skills and photographers for larger projects. We ourselves specialize in search engine optimization and can help you with a migration. Contact us if you want to know more!

Do you need SEO specialists on the team?

Migrating a website can be a high risk project so that you do not lose large numbers of visitors…
Several marketing departments have an ongoing dialogue with SEO companies to reduce the risks when they launch a new website. You can reduce the risks when you launch a new website by checking the SEO separately. Do not make critical decisions without consulting an SEO specialist.


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