Moving Your Website? Address These Structural Issues Before You Begin
It shouldn’t happen very often, but there will come a time where you may need to transfer your website from one place to another. Sometimes, this occurs in the form of a domain name change. Other times (more common), you need to find a new hosting solution. Whatever the cause, it can be a frustrating experience to iron out all the kinks, so you want to be ready. Before you make any rash moves, you need to plan in advance what needs to be handled. There are a variety of items that will need to be addressed, but structural elements are perhaps the most important in getting your website up and running once again. Below, we’ll discuss what you need to prepare for in virtually every circumstance that pertains to a website migration.
Inform the Masses
If you have time to plan in advance, then it’s a good idea to use your mailing lists and the potentially new domain to make an announcement. By having in place the infrastructure that informs everyday users of your website about the changes, you are far less likely to lose traffic over the long-term. You can provide a typical “coming soon” message on your new domain, redirect users to an alternate, temporary version of your website and also utilize social media to mitigate any potential damage caused by a sudden outage or closure of your hosting company. If you are pinging URLs in advance about these changes, you’ll find that the process – at least on the customer service end – will run much more smoothly.
The best way to avoid any complications vis a vis losing even more SEO potential and having to redo all of your posts and pages from scratch is to arrange that the URL structure of the new domain be set up exactly as the original website. When using WordPress, minute changes in the structure of the URLs can actually be configured from within the control panel of the new installation, so there is no major worry about some URL structure changes when using this utility. Even if you are, however, a general rule of thumb is to preserve the URL structure as-is (if possible) due to the aforementioned SEO component; the migration of a website will temporarily upset your search rankings and any additional damage that can be avoided obviously should be.
If your website has been around for years and has tons of content to it, then this may be as good of a time as any to assess if any of that content should or can be removed. You may find a plethora of blog posts or articles that are no longer valuable when it comes to pinging URLs, that never performed well or may even be a hazard to your current-day website (linkbait, low-quality content, and other old school tactics that have since been penalized by Google and others). This may be the primary benefit of having a content review: you’ll spot things that either need correcting or removing to improve performance. Most content on your website, however, should be fine and migrated to the new website as planned.