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Restoring Your Organic Performance Following a Website Migration

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Restoring Your Organic Performance Following a Website Migration

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Restoring Your Organic Performance Following a Website Migration

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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  • Improper or missing redirects
  • Broken internal links
  • Crawlability problems

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.

Verify the Accuracy of Traffic Loss During a Website Migration

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.

What You Need to Know About Site Migration?

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.

Ensuring Accessibility of Your Content During a Website Migration

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 and Website Migrations

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:

  • Incorrect Canonical Tags: In some cases, migrated pages may still have canonical tags pointing to the old URLs that no longer exist. It is essential to update the canonical tags to reflect the new URLs accurately.
  • Improper Implementation of Self-Referencing Canonicals: Self-referencing canonicals should be implemented correctly by referencing the appropriate version of the URL, such as the HTTPS version instead of the outdated HTTP version.
  • Flawed Canonical Logic: It is important to ensure that canonical tags are not mistakenly applied to multiple versions of the same page, such as both the trailing slash and non-trailing slash versions. Consistency in canonicalisation is crucial.
  • Canonical Tags Pointing to Irrelevant URLs: There may be instances where canonical tags suddenly point to non-relevant URLs, such as the home page. It is important to review and verify that the canonical tags are directing search engines to the appropriate and relevant URLs.
  • Missing Canonical Tags: In some cases, the canonical tag field may be completely missing. It is essential to ensure that proper canonical tags are in place for each page to avoid confusion and improve indexing.

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.

Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About the Canonical URL

JavaScript and SEO Considerations in Website Migrations

JavaScript has become a challenging aspect when it comes to website migrations, especially with the increasing use of JS frameworks without considering the SEO implications.

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.

There are a few common issues to be aware of regarding JavaScript and SEO during a migration:

  • Improper Internal Linking: Ensure that internal links are implemented using the appropriate “<a href>” attribute. Failing to do so can significantly impact the crawlability of your website. Check that all internal links are correctly set up to facilitate navigation and indexing.
  • Mobile Content Discrepancies: It’s crucial to ensure that the content displayed on desktop versions of your website is also present and accessible on mobile devices. This consistency helps maintain a positive user experience and ensures that all relevant content is indexed by search engines.

For a more comprehensive understanding of JavaScript content accessibility and its impact on SEO during a CMS migration, we recommend referring to our detailed CMS migration guide. This resource will provide further insights if you suspect that your drop in performance may be related to issues with JavaScript content accessibility.

Internal Linking Considerations in Website Migrations

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:

  • Changes in Linking Structure: If the internal linking structure changes during the migration, certain pages may not receive as many internal links as before. This can impact the flow of PageRank and potentially affect organic performance. Common causes include modifications to the main navigation or footer, which can result in pages receiving fewer internal links.
  • Updating Internal Links: When URLs change as part of the migration, it is crucial to update internal links throughout the website. Failure to do so means that links may continue to point to the old URLs instead of the new ones. This can result in the loss of link equity during redirects, which can negatively impact performance. It’s important to prioritise updating internal links to align with the new URL structure.
  • Analysing Linking Patterns: Perform pre-migration and post-migration crawls of your website to compare the number of links pointing to the old and new URLs. Investigate any differences in terms of the number of links or click-depth. This analysis can help identify any issues with internal linking and guide necessary adjustments.

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.

Ensuring Proper Redirects and HTTP Statuses in Website Migrations

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:

  • Redirect Mapping: Check that your redirect mapping plan has been executed accurately. Ensure that all relevant pages have been included in the redirect mapping and migrated properly. Pages that were missed or not redirected correctly may return 4xx errors, which can negatively impact organic performance.
  • Use 301 Redirects: All redirects should use a 301-status code, indicating a permanent redirect. This helps search engines quickly index the new URLs and pass the link equity from the old URLs to the new ones.
  • Avoid Redirect Chains: Redirect chains, where multiple redirects are in place before reaching the destination, should be avoided. They waste crawl budgets and can delay indexation. It’s best to create direct redirects from old pages to the corresponding new pages, minimising the number of hops in the redirect chain.
  • Preserve Link Equity: Pages with valuable external links should redirect to an end destination using a 200-status code. This ensures that the link equity is passed effectively without unnecessary intermediate redirects.
  • Realign Internal and External Links: Both internal and external links play a significant role in on-page authority and organic performance. Take the time to realign these links to point to the new URLs. This ensures an efficient flow of link equity and helps maintain organic performance.

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.

Addressing Missing or Changing On-Page Content in Website Migrations

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:

  • Cohesiveness
  • Detailed Information
  • Or failing to deliver the same user experience as the older pages, can adversely affect organic performance marketing.

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

Taking External Factors into Account for Performance Analysis after a Migration

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.

Site Migration SEO Guide: What You Need to Know?

  • Assess your current website: Evaluate its structure, content and technical aspects to identify areas for improvement and establish goals for the migration.
  • Analyse your existing content, identify high-performing pages and prioritise what needs to be migrated.
  • Map old URLs to new ones, ensuring proper redirection and minimising any negative impact on SEO.
  • Transfer essential elements such as meta tags, headings, and alt attributes to maintain relevance and search visibility.
  • Implement 301 redirects from old URLs to new ones to ensure a seamless user experience and preserve link equity.
  • Adjust internal links to reflect the new URL structure and maintain a strong website hierarchy.
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and responsive, as mobile optimisation is crucial for search engine rankings.
  • Update tracking codes and ensure accurate data collection during and after the migration.


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.

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