Migrating a web service to a new host or platform

Migrating a web service to a new host or platform should be straightforward, but things can often go wrong as we see all too frequently when we are approached to manage the aftermath of mismanaged changes.

At DOM Marketing we are “old hands” at repairing the damage done to your search presence by developers during the website migration process. Not to blow our own trumpet too much, but we are really very good at carrying out the necessary work and guiding your in-house developers in undoing the damage that has been caused.

However, with a few small tips, it’s likely that you won’t lose any traffic as a result.

 

Mapping of a new website

Can I change a URL to a popular category? The answer is, of course, you can, but it’s worth considering a few things

  • Does the URL bring in significant revenue and site visits?
  • Is it possible to leave the old URL in place and split the products?

There are a couple of scenarios

Quite often a company will expand its range and add similar products to an existing URL

  • Scenario a

For example, if you have that began life as a page about dog toys (/dog-toys) and now has dog and cat toys, it’s more sensible to split the page into two and have a page for dog toys and a page for cat toys.  Here you would be sensible to split out the cat toys and leave the dog toys on their old URL

  • Scenario b

If however, you have a page called pet-toys that ranks relatively well, it makes sense to add the additional pages for both dogs and cats and then leave the overall pet toys category in place as well. Just ensure that the products are merchandised to both the top level and the sub-category

  • Scenario c

You may have a page that is simply called /dog at your e-commerce pet shop.  If this is the case, it makes sense to move to the URL /dog-toys.  To protect any existing traffic, simply 301 your existing URL to the new page.

 

Problem redirects and malformed URLs

In URL changes of the type mentioned above we typically see temporary redirects, or pages simply not redirected at all.

There is a far worse pitfall for the unwary developer. Typically what we see from developers is either a default number-based URL, or a string of partially formed category names.  Both of these URL’s make it difficult for Google to index the pages and assign any real value to them.

This is why we believe that mapping the domain before you start to move server or move to a new platform is important.

 

Redirect loops

What’s worse than having no redirects?  Having too many.  A favourite trick amongst developers is to simply add the last page to the new page redirect.  This will help your customer to slowly and eventually get on the right page, but search engines often give up after 3 redirects.  However good your page is, it simply won’t be found by a search bot.

Redirects can also cause issues for your customers.  Many browsers will interpret a large number of redirects as a safety issue and will stop your potential customers from reaching the intended page

If you make a list of existing redirects before the move, it is relatively easy to untangle this web of links.  However, if you have deleted the .htaccess file from the server when you were changing the site all is not lost.  DOM Marketing specialises in recovery of missing web pages and old links.

We find the missing pages and inspect your current site, before adding an easy to follow 301 permanent redirects from the old page to the new.  This ensures that all your hard work in gaining recommendations from across the web for your products is not lost.

 

Of course, the biggest problem faced by website owners is the loss of traffic when they move to a new platform.

We have already touched on the extensive work we can undertake to restore links that have been lost, but one issue that is often overlooked by developers is leaving the site in a no index mode.  Even if URL’s, metadata and on page content have been copied exactly, this prevents search engines from finding your new site whilst it is being prepared, but it is quite shocking how often this setting gets left on for live sites.  It’s the online equivalent of an ex-directory telephone number, not something you want when you are touting for trade.

 

Robot and sitemaps

Once your site is on the web. It’s important to tell the world what products are there.  This is usually done with a sitemap and a robot.txt file.  As your site will function (badly) without one, sometimes developers forget this final step.

 

Call on the experts

If you are about to perform a website migration or need to recover from a poor migration, give DOM Marketing a call.  Our friendly team of experts will be able to put together a solution to get your traffic back or better yet, prevent you losing it in the first place.