WordCamp Notes: Site Migration? Redesign? Don't Tank Your SEO - Kathy Alice Brown

September 29, 2018

"How do to a SEO site Audit"
"SEO Copywriting: Rank and Get the click"

what's changing?
migration and redesign can mean a lot of different things
domain name?
design/ theme?
information architecture?
are you rebranding?
are pages going away? new pages?
http to https

be careful putting things behind tabs / accordions
make sure most important content is still VISIBLE when the user LANDS on the page
not hidden in a tab / accordion

if you're emigrating to another domain, etc
are the URLs changing?

https is now a ranking factor - not a MAJOR one, but still a factor

Google doesn’t like a lot of changes all at once
it has a "notion" of your site, if you make a lot of changes, it takes a while to process those changes and TRUST those changes
google wants to be confident, that if someone searches, sends them to your page, that the user is still going to have a good experience
if you’re changing a lot of stuff at once, it may not have that "trust factor"

pre-migration checklist - evaluate
identify your top organic pages
-- pages that google is sending the MOST traffic to
-- also be aware of which pages have high quality back-links
80  / 20 rule - 80% of traffic goes to 20% of the pages
those pages are GOLD, don't change them too much

identify any orphaned pages
-- pages that were not linked in the site, but WERE getting traffic and did NOT have backlinks

identify your top keywords
-- want to make sure what you're ranking for NOW, you'll be ranking for after you make changes

evaluate opportunities
-- maybe create new pages to take advantage of them

cleanup xml sitemaps and robots.txt
trash low quality pages
-- if you never deleted "hello world", kill it
"the more pages i have in the index the better" is not true
Put your best foot forward
pages w/ not much content, not very useful, has broken images, links, etc.
- those can pull down performance of the site

backup your existing site

crawl your existing site
tools to start at home page, find all links, discover all the pages you have on the site, etc.
take that list of existing pages, create a mapping from "old page" to "new page"
you don't want to give google a 404
when google knows about a page, it will come visit that page individually
when that page moves and google gets a 404, it forgets about that page, you don’t want to do that

create a redirect mapping

avoid doing 301 to 301 to 301 to 301
longer for pages to come up to users, harder for Google. Google may just "give up" following if too many 301's in a row

target pages must match searcher's intent
keywords should match content ON that page

"Screaming Frog"
tool you can download, runs on desktop (pc and mac)
pop in www.sitename.com
it crawls the site like google does
"internal, filter on html"
gives you a list of all pages on your site
can crawl up to 500 URLs in the free version

how to find top organic pages
Google Analytics
Landing Pages / All segments / Organic Traffic

redirecting to another domain
the way you want to do it depends on scenario
can set it up in CPanel / BlueHost
as long as the DNS server points to that hosting account

can use a plugin
"Simple 301 Redirects"
"Redirection" plugin for WP

can be more performant to do it via htaccess on Apache

http to https
google is pushing it
more secure for users

2 plugins to do this on WP
"Easy HTTPS Redirection" or "Really Simple SSL"
or can do it in htaccess file

The move --
Duplicator Pro
- plugin
- free and pay version
- works great on smaller sites
- if you have a large site w/ lots of media, might run into problems
- the plugin has to talk to the web server, depending on hosting account it might time out
- may have to do things by hand

if you're changing the domain name or where DNS is hosted, be aware that those take 24 hours to propagate

"Better Search Replace" plugin - move old URLs to new URLs easily

migration checklist --
1. Create new profile in Google Search Console - if needed
if moving to https, you wil need to create a new profile
it thinks "https" or "http" are separate sites. same with sitename.com and www.sitename.com

have to type in EXCTLY the right name into the console

acts a conduit for info from Google to you, the webmaster

Two consoles, old and new, have different features

2. crawl old URLs  via Screaming Frog

3. Submit new Sitemap XML to Google Search Console

4. Crawl new site again w/ Screaming frog, make sure no broken links, etc.

5. Monitor and see how things go

Screaming Frog  --
different "modes"
spider for crawling
- runs thru the given urls, crawls them,

http status code checker

So what did you break?
even if URLs didn't change, it’s important to keep an eye on things
google search console
     index coverage
     crawl errors

in Google.com
will give you a list of all URLs on the site that google knows about and their index
info about if urls are mobile friendly, etc.
do this EVEN IF you don't change the URLs.
can show errors that occur from changing hosting providers, or just site config issues, etc.

expect some "turbulence" in Google search for a few weeks
how long? more changes = more trouble for a longer time

to help Google trust the changes:
update social media profiles, etc
update the links!
ask the top sites that link to yours to update their links
(look at back-links and ask them to update links to the new sites)

a link directly on home page = google, this is a REALLY important page
a link that is 5 clicks off home page = google, this page is LESS important

Twitter @kathyalice
Slides: http://webenso.com/wbb/wp-content/uploads/wc/Dont-tank-your-SEO.pdf
Website: webenso.com