Mastering Migration SEO: When to Bring in the Experts

Mastering Migration SEO: When to Bring in the Experts

If you’re in the planning stages of a website migration, you already understand it’s not just about moving content from point A to point B. It’s a pretty complex project and if not done methodically, there are about a million things that can go wrong…especially when it comes to your SEO migration. Feeling nervous about the whole thing? You don’t have to worry. When done correctly, migrating your website doesn’t have to result in lost rankings, you can maintain or even improve your search engine rankings in the process. The key to SEO migration success is bringing in an SEO expert at the right time. Let’s dive into why timing matters and how to get it right.

The Case for Early Involvement

The best time to hire an SEO expert is the moment a website migration crosses your mind. Ok, ok, you can think about it without hiring an SEO, but don’t make any decisions about platform or architecture changes before consulting one. You want someone on board in charge of protecting your SEO during the planning stage, before the actual migration kicks off. This early involvement allows for a comprehensive review of your current website from an SEO perspective and the time to craft a detailed plan for how the SEO migration should be conducted to preserve your site’s SEO value throughout the migration process.

Pre-Migration Essentials

Before the migration starts, an SEO will focus on a few key tasks:

Keyword and Content Mapping: Documenting current rankings and performance in search results to help identify which pages should be kept, consolidated, or killed in the new site structure.

URL Structure Planning: Deciding on the URL structure early prevents issues with broken links and ensures that search engines can easily understand and index your site. Whenever possible, if the URL is ranking well, keeping the URL structure the same is advised. In some cases, platforms will not allow you to modify the URL structure and some changes will need to be made. Additionally, if the current URL is not ranking well, a migration can be a good time to optimize for a different keyword term.

Pre-migration Audit: Similar to a standard SEO audit in many ways but instead of looking for opportunities to improve, an SEO will be reviewing the current site SEO elements and comparing them to the staging or pre-production site to make sure as much as possible stays exactly the same from the old site to new to minimize ranking/traffic flux during the transition.

301 Redirect Strategy: A solid redirect plan is crucial for maintaining link equity and minimizing the loss of traffic post-migration.

During the Migration

Throughout the migration, the SEO who created your SEO migration plan should be hands-on, monitoring the process to ensure that the SEO strategy outlined in the pre-migration phase is implemented as planned. This includes testing 301 redirects and verifying indexability of your top priority pages so that anything critical is identified and fixed immediately.

Post-Migration Follow-Up

After the migration, the work isn’t over. The SEO expert should submit the new sitemap for indexing and continue to monitor the site’s performance closely, comparing it to pre-migration benchmarks, strategizing as needed to address any unexpected drops in traffic or rankings. They should also have a phase 2 plan outlined to begin working on growing your qualified site traffic post-stabilization.

The Risks of Waiting Too Long

Delaying the involvement of an SEO for a site migration can lead to major issues, including loss of traffic, decreased rankings, and a significantly longer recovery time. It’s much, much harder to fix SEO problems after they’ve occurred than to prevent them in the first place.

Choosing the Right Migration SEO Partner

Selecting the right SEO partner is about finding someone with the right experience and proven results with website SEO migrations. Look for someone who not only understands SEO but also the technical aspects of website development and can communicate effectively with your web development team.

In website migration, timing is everything—especially when it comes to SEO. Hiring an SEO expert at the right moment ensures that your site remains visible and effective, turning the migration into an opportunity for improvement rather than a risk to your traffic and rankings.

At Above The Fray, our SEO team specializes in the complex, detailed work of SEO migrations and has a tried and trusted method that has helped many brands migrate platforms successfully with 100% traffic recovery in less than 30 days. Read about how we helped Liberty Sport migrate from M1 to M2 without losing organic traffic and increased their organic impressions 31.2% at the same time.