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SEO 6 min read

Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro

simon cox
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375
Stacy Mine
Editor at Serpstat
Recently we hosted a Twitter chat with Simon Cox. He is the Technical SEO Consultant, web standards evangelist, content management specialist and an amateur bread baker:)
He answered the questions of our channel members on the topic Migrating Sites Like A Pro. In case you missed the chat, you can read this article :)

Why do you think SEO needs to be part of a site migration?

Badly planned site migrations can lead to significant reductions in site visitor numbers and nobody wants that!
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375

What does your site migration SEO planning include?

Crawling the site several times with different tools to form a full picture. Access to Google Search Console Data, Analytics data and server logs is also vital to understand the URLs that are being consumed. I create maps of all the content first.
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375

What strategies have you used to handle redirects?

I like to map ALL urls in a site and all URLs know to the search engines. Sometimes I even map out the URLs that used to be on a site and are no longer active by pulling them out of archive.org. Then I sort through and decide what to redirect and what to allow to die (404). As well as pages and pdfs this could also include images.
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375
I use the GInfinity Chrome ext to list all site: URLs then a Chrome bookmark script @cognitiveSEO do a good one, to scrape the actual URLs ready for the spreadsheet - where i discover content missing from the crawls
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375

How do you monitor site migrations?

After a migration I monitor site health on a daily basis for at least two weeks - sometimes longer. There are always little bits that need caulking - often not necessarily SEO related but have impact on-site content performance.
Although we now have GSC Domain Properties, I pull the data into Google Sheets to monitor progress and share it with clients.
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375

What is the most common issue you have had to fix after a migration?

Hardcoded internal fully qualified links. It can be hard to spot as crawlers will append the domain to any relative link so spotting the full urls in a link is tricky! Its why you need to crawl immediately the site is launched.

I always do a crawl immediately at launch and usually have a preprepared checklist to go through. Includes a list of the links I am expecting to redirect to their new location.

I get called in after migrations because traffic has tanked! If non-SEO's read this please call me before you migrate! Most common issue has been a total lack of redirects and planning.
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375

What was your toughest migration? Any horror stories?

Brand and domain change in 3 days over a weekend because of threatened legal action. Actually, the brand change was a lot of fun, though very little sleep especially for the design team - new logos etc. The owner was really worried he was going to get sued by a very large corp - which is exactly what they wanted.

We assumed there would be a lot of sweeping up in the following weeks - probably was with stationery, business cards etc. but for the site we pretty much nailed it.

Also 1 job where I added hreflang to thousands of pages through a CMS process as no dev resource available for at least a year.
Interview With Simon Cox: Migrating Sites Like A Pro 16261788381375
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