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Recovering your organic performance after a website migration is a challenging task that requires careful handling. While a successful migration can bring long-term benefits, various factors can lead to issues and a drop in performance during the process.
The following mistakes can contribute to a decline in organic performance after the migration:
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When faced with a drop in performance, it becomes crucial to quickly identify the reasons behind it and take appropriate action. However, this process often involves trial and error. In this blog, we delve into several areas that you can investigate to mitigate the impact of performance declines after a migration along with finding out how to increase organic traffic.
By addressing issues, you will be able to enhance your chances of recovering and improving your organic performance following a website migration.
Organic Traffic Vs Paid Traffic: What You Need to Know?
Here’s a comparison between organic traffic and paid traffic:
Organic traffic refers to visitors who find your website through unpaid, natural search engine results. Users discover your website by clicking on the organic listings in search engine results pages (SERPs). It is generated through search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts, optimising your website’s content.
On the other hand, paid traffic refers to visitors who land on your website by clicking on paid advertisements or sponsored listings. It is generated through online advertising platforms such as Google Ads, social media ads, display advertising or affiliate marketing. It requires a budget as advertisers pay for each click (cost-per-click, CPC) or impression.
During a website migration, it is important to ensure the accuracy of your traffic data. Data tracking is a critical aspect that is often overlooked and outages in tracking can occur, especially during complex projects like migrations.
Even in cases where migrations are not executed smoothly, it is highly unlikely for all forms of organic traffic to completely disappear. Therefore, if you notice a significant drop in key metrics around the time of the migration, it is more likely to be a tracking issue rather than an actual performance drop.
What To Do?
It is crucial to thoroughly investigate and identify any potential tracking issues that may be causing the apparent traffic loss. By addressing these tracking issues, you can gain a more accurate understanding of your website’s performance during and after the migration process.
One of the primary concerns during a website migration is to ensure that your content remains accessible to search engines. To achieve this, there are a few important aspects to investigate:
Crawlability and Indexability:
Check for any issues that might hinder search engine crawlers from accessing and indexing your content. Often, staging sites used during the migration process inadvertently end up being indexed. This can be addressed by verifying that the production environment does not have any “noindex” tags in the page headers and ensuring that any unnecessary blocking rules in the robots.txt file are removed.
Google Search Console (GSC) Analysis:
Log in to Google Search Console and navigate to the “Index” section, specifically the “Coverage” report. This report will highlight any potential errors or issues with the URLs that have experienced a drop in performance. Additionally, utilise the “URL inspection tool” in GSC to test the affected URLs individually and identify any problems that Google might encounter while accessing your pages.
What To Do?
By addressing crawlability and indexability issues and leveraging the tools available in Google Search Console, you can identify and resolve potential obstacles that may be impacting the accessibility of your content during the migration process.
Canonicalisation plays a crucial role in website migrations, as it helps search engines understand the original and preferred version of a URL.
However, there are common errors that can occur during migrations, affecting canonicalisation. Some examples include:
During a website migration, it is crucial to review and address any issues related to canonicalisation to ensure that search engines correctly index and understand the preferred versions of your URLs.
While Google can handle rendering JS content in most cases, there are still limitations. It is essential to utilise tools like Google Search Console’s fetch and render to ensure that on-page content remains crawlable.
During website migrations, changes to the internal linking structure can occur, which may have implications for organic performance. It’s essential to pay attention to internal linking to ensure optimal PageRank flow and maintain organic visibility. Here are some key points to consider:
While redirects are essential for preserving link equity and maintaining user experience, they should not be solely relied upon. Aligning internal links with the new URL structure is crucial to ensure optimal performance.
By carefully managing internal linking during website migrations, you can mitigate any negative impacts and maintain the flow of authority throughout your website.
During a website migration, implementing redirects correctly is crucial to maintain traffic and preserving the authority of your web pages. Checking the effectiveness of your redirect plan is essential if you notice a drop in organic search traffic after the migration.
Here are some key considerations:
Investing effort into proper redirect implementation and link realignment is crucial for preserving traffic and maintaining the authority of your website during and after a migration.
By following best practices and ensuring accurate redirect mapping, you can mitigate issues and optimise organic traffic and SEO.
A decline in visibility after a site migration may be attributed to inconsistencies or gaps in the new site’s pages and content structures. If the new pages lack:
One common issue is missing or altered on-page content, particularly on key pages. Removing content can result in fewer effectively targeted keywords while changing crucial elements like headings or meta titles can lead to shifts in targeted keywords and subsequent ranking losses.
Although content changes may be necessary or beneficial during a migration, it is crucial to carefully plan these changes as part of a new keyword-targeting strategy.
What To Do?
In addition to internal linking, the anchor text used in links also plays a significant role in conveying page relevance and targeted keywords to search engines like Google.
Maintaining consistent anchor text, whenever possible, helps mitigate potential keyword fluctuations. This applies not only to links within page content but also to those used in the main navigation.
By ensuring that on-page content is maintained or strategically updated during migration and preserving consistent anchor text in links, you can minimise the negative impact on keyword targeting, maintain relevance and optimise organic performance
In some cases, a drop in performance following migration may not be solely attributed to the migration itself. External factors, beyond your control, such as Google algorithm updates causing fluctuations in search engine result pages (SERPs), could also be influencing the situation.
What To Do?
Another aspect to consider is changes in search demand and potential seasonal dips that might coincide with the migration. Analyse the specific pages and keywords that experienced a decline in rankings and investigate whether there has been a shift in search demand.
By considering external factors and their potential impact, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the performance changes following the migration. This will help you differentiate between migration-related issues and external factors, enabling you to take appropriate actions to address any challenges and optimise your website’s organic performance.
If you have exhausted all the possible reasons mentioned earlier and are still experiencing performance issues after your website migration, it is advisable to conduct a comprehensive re-audit of your site. Use the same SEO migration checklist that you followed during the migration process to ensure that no important aspects were overlooked before the launch, both in the staging environment and in the production environment.