How To Prevent Ranking Loss When Migrating Your Website
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How To Prevent Ranking Loss When Migrating Your Website

15/09/2016

There are many issues that need to be considered when migrating your web hosting to another provider. You may be considering a re-vamp, overall improvement, or an upgrade of the site management system. You might also be looking to redo the overall design layout to fit with any new developments that may apply to your site, however, you do need to consider how this may affect your search engine rankings.

A website becomes visible to a search engine through its use of keywords and incoming links. It also identifies domain names, content management systems, design, and the webhost. A domain name may need to be changed due to the company’s circumstances shifting. Perhaps a company acquisition is occurring, winding up a business, rebranding a more appropriate domain name, or even renaming a company.

For link equity and integrity to remain intact when changing a domain name, there needs to be a system of 301 redirections implemented. It is highly recommended that a professional web design agency or a skilled in-house IT department be engaged to make these changes. This will ensure that the front end system can be easily accessed by your customers. Further to this, there will be an element of effective back end management for ease of use and on-going maintenance.

An often overlooked consideration is how the URL syntax (.htm, .php, or .aspx) will appear to search engines. This can be overcome by mapping the new URLs together with a system of permanent 301 re-directs. Web analytics will consequently identify the top link referral sources. If a page cannot be directly mapped, then a search engine friendly custom 404 error page needs to put in place to correctly link to the URL. This will require monitoring for broken links and any other 404 errors.

If you are simply changing the web host, there should be little or no effect on the ranking that the search engine assigns. Smaller sites containing 1,000 or less pages are a relatively uncomplicated process, whereas larger sites, with several thousands of pages operating from an array of servers and complicated hosting becomes more problematic.

Once a new location is identified, the site should then ideally be set up entirely. This needs to include any DNS differences to show the search engines the correct place of its new location. Making this as clear and easy as possible will help the search engines adapt to the changes more efficiently. This process will guide the search engines and enable it to adjust to these changes, domain name, URL syntax, site composition, host location, and any link sources that are related to the site, rendering page rankings minimally effected.

A migration plan is ideally conducted by your own in-house staffing solution or a web design agent. However, depending on the complexity of the switch, it may be useful to consider consulting with a specialist SEO migration expert to complete the process with the best possible outcome, avoiding potentially expensive and disastrous results.

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