Migrating to a new eCommerce platform is a crucial step towards business growth, scalability, and an improved user experience for both your shoppers and employees. However, if not handled properly, this process can disrupt your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, leading to a significant drop in organic traffic and potential revenue loss.
A lot of planning goes into switching platforms such as how to migrate data, which data will be brought over to the new platform, how to categorize products, what the design of the new site will look like, etc., but many eCommerce store owners tend to forget that SEO is a vital component of the migration process that can’t be overlooked.
Here are our ten tips to maintain your SEO ranking during a platform migration.
1. Maintain URL structures
Consistent URL structures are vital for SEO. If the new platform requires changes to your URL structure, ensure to set up 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. This informs search engines that your pages have moved permanently, preserving your page authority.
Example: If your old URL was “www.example.com/product-name” and the new URL is “www.example.com/product/product-name,” a 301 redirect must be established.
2. Preserve Content and Meta Data
Ensure that your content and meta data are transferred accurately during the migration. Incorrect meta data migration could lead to loss of SEO value. For instance, ensure meta titles, descriptions, and H1 tags are copied exactly as they are in the original site to the new platform. This helps maintain keyword consistency and ranking signals.
Example: Metadata like the page title, “Blue Tennis Shoes | Example.com,” must be carried over to the new platform exactly.
3. Optimize Your Site’s Speed
Page loading time affects SEO rankings. Use this migration as an opportunity to improve your site’s speed by optimizing images, reducing unnecessary plugins, combining/optimizing the use of scripts, and using a CDN if possible. For example, you can compress your images before uploading them to the new platform.
4. Duplicate Content Control
Search engines penalize sites with duplicate content. During the migration process, ensure you’re not duplicating any existing content. Make use of canonical tags that tell search engines which is the primary page if there is identical content across multiple pages.
5. Implement Structured Data
Structured data can enhance your visibility on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Implement Schema.org structured data for your products, reviews, and business details in the new platform. For example, this could involve adding product review stars or price information that appears directly in the search results.
6. Retain Internal Linking Structure
Your internal links pass SEO value around your website and help search engines understand your site’s structure. If possible, try to keep your internal linking structure the same when you migrate.
7. Take Care of Image SEO
Ensure all images are migrated correctly with their alt tags intact. Image search can drive significant traffic, so make sure your image file names and alt texts are descriptive and include relevant keywords.
8. Set Up a Custom 404 Page
Despite your best efforts, some pages may get lost in the shuffle. A custom 404 page can guide visitors back to a working page, reducing bounce rates and maintaining user experience.
9. Monitor Your Site’s Performance
Post-migration, closely monitor your site’s performance and SEO rankings. This can be done through tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. For instance, if you see a significant drop in traffic for a specific page, you may need to reassess the SEO factors for that page.
10. Post-Migration SEO Audit
Finally, after going live, conduct a thorough SEO audit to identify any issues that may have been overlooked during the migration process. You might find broken links, missing meta data, or pages that are not correctly redirected.
An eCommerce platform migration is a perfect opportunity to evaluate your SEO strategy and implement changes that might have been sidelined. With careful planning and execution, you can navigate this process without impacting your search rankings, setting you up for future growth. By considering these tips before, during, and after the process, you can protect, and even improve, your SEO rankings. Remember, maintaining SEO isn’t just about preserving rankings; it’s about improving user experience, which is at the heart of what Google values.
Scott Sanfilippo began his eCommerce journey in 1994 by co-founding one of the Internet’s first online retailers, TheFerretStore.com, which was acquired by PetCo in 2006. In 2001, he co-founded the eCommerce design and marketing firm Solid Cactus, which was acquired by web.com in 2009. Today, Scott is the General Manager of Your Store Wizards and lives in Delray Beach, FL. Scott can be contacted at email@example.com.