June 5


What is a Site Migration and When Do I Use It

By Jason Khoo

June 5, 2020


Hi everybody. And welcome to another edition of Zupo SEO Talk & Tea.

Today's conversation is what is an SEO migration and when do you use it? It's a really important concept because I feel like a lot of people actually, hadn't no idea what a site migration is. And it's actually one of the more important SEO tactics to understand. And then second, I think a lot of people think they'll never need it because they're not ever going to move sites, but you'd be surprised that many different reasons why you may need a site migration.

But before we jump on in, I want to introduce the tea we have today. We have a Pu'Er Tea that my grandma gifted to me. My mom usually goes back to our home country of Malaysia two or three times a year and she always brings back a nice little goodies from my family, who they love tea as well. So they will gift me some of the tea they have. But let's go ahead and get brewing. Pu'Er is a great way to start the day. You can tell today is a little cloudy. I guess you can't tell it's cold, but you can tell it's cloudy, which means it's a little cold. So having a nice cup of Pu'Er Tea to start the day is kind of what I'm looking forward to. But anyways, let's go ahead and get that brewed up and then let's talk about what a site migration is.

So what a site migration is, is it's a feature that Google has through their Google search console, where you can essentially document and let Google know that you are moving sites. And the reason why that is important is because there are many reasons why you can move a site and site migrations is a way to communicate with Google exactly what you're trying to do.

So let me give you the most common example that people will enter into a site migration. Let's say, for example, you want to move your URL to a new URL because you're rebranding. Let's say you've changed your company name and you need a new URL. That's an example of why you might need a site migration. There's a lot of other different reasons as well. For example, if you are a company acquiring other companies, let's say your company A has bought company B and C. Well most likely those company B and Cs will not function anymore in terms of the front facing to the clients or the market. They will essentially be a part of your company. So they will be merged into your company. So that's another example of a site migration where you have three websites but you want to merge two of them into the one that you own right there and then.

So that's another example of a site migration. And there's a couple more that you can go into. For example, there's another one where you own three different sites already, and you just feel like it's too much to manage so you want to merge them altogether. There's very differing reasons. I have encountered many where I'm surprised that that needed a site migration. But I guess the best way to tell if you need a site migration or what it is and when you need it, is a site migration will be needed any time you are combining different domains or URLs into one, or you're switching one over. So those are the main two methods, either your domain to another one or you're combining them.

And so site migration, let me tell you why it's important. When you are doing a site migration, let's use the basic example first where you own a website and you want to move to a different domain. Let's say you've spent five years under this brand, but then after a great brand refresh, you'll look slicker, you'll look cooler and you're going to design a new website and you have a new URL for it. In that case it's great, but what a lot of companies do is they just switch the URL over and just do a simple 301 redirect for the whole domain. And that's fine but the problem is that doesn't really communicate with Google what's going on. They may see the 301 redirect, and that's great, they'll see that the whole domain has moved over, but it does wash away and wipe out a lot of SEO you've done in the past. Here's why.

So if you own this website for, let's say, five years and you had different products and services, you probably already done a SEO to try to rank for those before. And even if you haven't, you'd be surprised what a website will unintentionally rank for. So you probably have a handful of keywords and links that point to the site and you're ranked for some keywords. What you need to do with a site migration is it tells Google, "Okay, I'm going to migrate from this site to that site and you need to map the site." So you have a Home, About Us, Products, Services, Blog, different blog posts and Contact Us. They need to be 301 redirect one-to-one. So the old homepage to the new home page, the old service page with the new service pages and the blog posts and so on. The reason why that's important is because all the pages on your site that were ranking, if you 301 redirect them to the new site and you do the site migration, you tell Google through their search console, it will dictate to Google. "Hey, these are the two sites that I'm transferring. One from this one. These are the pages that match up. Oh, and by the way, they're redirecting so therefore all links and keywords I'm ranking for, please migrate them and document them for my new website."

And the reason why that's important is because once you do that correctly, the rankings, all the links, all the referring domains you've ever required, will be transferred to your new site. Therefore, you're not starting over, or you're not starting fresh. You are starting as a stepping stone. And I know I've encountered companies and business owners who have said, "I want to start off fresh." That's fine. But when you do this SEO migration, there is no transfer of front facing to the consumer on your website. It's more the backend, the SEO links coming in, the referring domains, like the rankings you have. And so what you don't want to do is get a new site and lose your rankings. And then, though you have a new website, no one can find you. So don't redo your SEO. You can migrate it over. So I would highly recommend this if you ever done a brand refresh.

And if you have done a site change in the last two years and you didn't do what I just said, it's not too late. Go back and try to do that. You can still do the site migration if you own the URL domain, and then you can kind of merge the sites. So anyways, in conclusion, site migrations are really important if you're acquiring companies, you're acquiring websites or you're merging two different websites together, or you're transferring your website to another, it's really important because if you don't do it, you lose all SEO value.

So if you've been working at this, your job or your company, for five, seven years, 10 years, and you've built this great business, but you're doing a change, make sure you move all the SEO work you've ever done over. If you don't, you essentially have to start all over and you might as well just be a brand new, fresh website, which can arguably make you repeat five to seven more years of SEO work. So hopefully that was helpful. If you're doing a site migration, it is complex, so I would say this isn't the video that's definitively explaining how to do a migration. I'm more explaining what a migration is. If you're could going to go enter into a site migration, there's a lot of great tools out there. SEMrush has a great site migration guide that you can use. And there's a lot of literature.

So I would encourage you to read up on it. But if you have any questions, you can feel free to leave it in the comments or email the company. I will find the email and then I can get back to you about specific questions. But if you found that valuable, I hope you did find that valuable, please like and subscribe. I'm going to go ahead and have my first cup of the tea of the day. And I hope to see you guys again soon. Thanks everybody.

Jason Khoo

About the author

Jason is founder and CEO of Zupo, which is an Orange County based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends catching up on reading and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.

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