2 July 2014 | Team Tamar

4 important tips for managing a site migration

flock of migrating canada geese birdsIf you run a website, chances are you’re going to need to address a site migration at some point in its lifetime. Whether you’ve changed domain names, re-platformed or simply made major changes to your structure, having a proper strategy in place for your migration is crucial to ensure you don’t lose value.

So what exactly is site migration?

In the simplest terms, site migration can be defined as the process of migrating a large number of pages or content from your current website to a new platform. These newly transformed URLs are likely to be built on a whole new domain, subdomain or subdirectory.

So why do you need to go through the site migration process? It might be that your content management system (CMS) is starting to play up or maybe you just want to try out something new in order to keep up and surpass your competitors.

Site migration can be a lengthy process, and can go terribly wrong if it’s not carried out carefully. Below are a few useful tips on how you can ensure any associated risks are kept to a minimum.

Disclaimer: These tips should be considered as a BRIEF introduction into site migration, and are probably not suitable for large-scale corporate site migrations. In those cases it is best to talk to an expert. Tamar have managed many site migration projects for several high-street names – get in touch if you’d like to talk to us about this.

Tip one – Have a well managed execution plan

There is absolutely no point in going ahead with site migration if you don’t have a concrete management plan. A good management system is essential if you want to ensure the potential risks of site migration, like traffic loss, are kept at a minimum.

The first step is to make sure everyone involved in the process understands the importance of doing it right. You need to make sure everyone is sticking to their part of the plan, everything is being executed correctly and on time.

Tip two – Double check no vital content is missing

There will plenty of content on your website that you’ll want to keep and want transferred over to the new domain. Make sure the person who is in charge of managing the content on the new site ensures that no old and useful content is lost in the process.

Tip three – Sort out your redirects

Make sure all redirects are in place for each URL on the new website so you can ensure the end user is still not landing on the old page. For this reason, it would be advisable for your technical team to ensure they’re using permanent redirects, also referred to as 301 redirects.

Getting your redirects done properly is the most common source of slip-ups during site migration. If you’re at all unsure of how it’s done, talk to an expert.

Tip four – Monitor the process carefully

It will be useful for you to use a combination of online tools throughout the migration process so you can immediately detect any errors along the way. Tools like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Xenu and Screaming Frog would all collectively help you detect any errors, gaps or mistakes before and after the update.

As I pointed out at the start of the post, these tips are intended as an introduction to the subject. If you’re running a large site (particularly a site with retail capabilities) you would be best getting in touch with an expect before you begin the process.

Team Tamar