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How to Keep Your SEO When Moving to a New eCommerce Platform

Shifting to a new eCommerce platform can be a game-changer. It promises improved functionality, scalability, and user experience. But in the excitement, don’t overlook the critical aspect of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A poorly executed replatforming can send years of hard gained organic traffic plummeting, hurting your revenue and your site’s visibility. To navigate this transition seamlessly, both store owners and developers must prioritize SEO every step of the way.

We’ve put together this guide that outlines essential SEO considerations for a smooth transition to your new platform, specifically for eCommerce businesses. Let’s dive into strategies, common pitfalls to avoid, and best practices to ensure your new platform becomes a launchpad for SEO and eCommerce success.

Part 1: Pre-Replatforming Planning

1. Understanding Your SEO Landscape:

Before embarking on the replatforming journey, it’s important to document your current SEO standing. Tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics provide invaluable insights:

  • Track your top-performing keywords: Identify terms driving organic traffic and conversions. Prioritize making sure these high-value pages maintain the same content, URL structure, links, etc.
  • Analyze backlinks: Backlinks are SEO gold. If your eCommerce store has valuable links from brand pages, high traffic relevant blogs, or manufacturer websites, make sure the pages these link to are part of the migration to prevent link loss. Tools like Ahrefs or Moz can help.
  • Assess technical SEO health: Check for indexing issues, broken links, and slow loading times. Address these issues before migration to avoid negative SEO impact.

2. Choosing the Right Platform:

Not all platforms are created equal when it comes to SEO. Many store owners replatform to save money but don’t take into consideration the SEO implications a platform change can have if the new platform is not designed to be SEO-friendly.  Those cost savings can actually cost you lost sales due to a dramatic drop in organic traffic.  Your Store Wizards can help you choose a platform that offers:

  • Clean, crawlable URLs: Opt for a platform with user-friendly URL structures that accurately reflect page content. Most modern eCommerce paltforms such as BigCommerce and Shopify  already offer this type of URL structure.  Be sure to avoid a platform that uses dynamic parameters and excessive use of underscores.
  • Built-in SEO tools: Look for platforms with built-in features like meta tag editing, robots.txt control, and sitemap generation.
  • Mobile-friendliness: With Google prioritizing mobile-first indexing, choose a platform optimized for mobile responsiveness and performance.

3. Content Audit and Planning:

From the early days of SEO there has been one rule that has never changed – “Content is king.”  That remains as true today as it did 25 years ago.  A site that has relevant, up-to-date content is looked upon favorably by Google.  Conduct a thorough content audit:

  • Identify outdated or irrelevant content: Remove or rewrite content that no longer aligns with your brand, target audience, or has become outdated.  Nobody likes to visit a website for information only to find out it’s several years old and the advice offered no longer applies.
  • Prioritize high-performing content: Replicate and optimize your top-performing pages on the new platform.  Take a look at your best selling products and make sure you have the best content you can on those pages and that the information is accurate and current.
  • Plan for new content creation: Develop fresh content addressing gaps or seasonal trends to attract new audiences and boost discoverability.  Many eCommerce stores have the luxury of selling seasonal products which are a huge source of blog content, creative product descriptions, gift guides, etc. that can be SEO gold!

4. Communication and Collaboration:

Open communication is vital throughout the process. Ensure everyone involved, from developers to marketing teams, understands the SEO objectives and implications of replatforming.

  • Establish clear KPIs: Define measurable SEO goals, such as maintaining organic traffic levels or improving keyword rankings.
  • Regularly share insights: Keep all stakeholders informed about SEO progress and potential roadblocks.

Part 2: Technical Implementation

1. Data Migration and Redirects:

Data migration plays a crucial role in preserving SEO value and while we don’t like to toot our own horn, we are the data migration masters when it comes to migrating your eCommerce store to a new platform.  With hundreds of stores successfully migrated, we employ a proven process that makes sure we get as much data out of your old store into your new one.  Whether your choose Your Store Wizards or another developer, make sure you have a data migration strategy that:

  • Transfers all relevant data: This includes products, blog posts, info/content pages, etc.
  • Backup or transfer optional data: Such as customer info and order history.  Many platforms don’t allow the export of customer information or order history, or allow it to be exported in a format that isn’t clean or usable by other platforms.  If certain data from your old store can’t be migrated over, at least create a backup somewhere for historical records.
  • Maintains URL structure: Wherever possible, it’s recommended to maintain the existing URLs on your new platform to avoid broken links and link juice loss.  Many of today’s platforms make this possible and unless there is a compelling reason not to maintain your existing URL structure, Your Store Wizards always will do so when we migrate online stores.
  • Implements 301 redirects: Ensure all old URLs redirect permanently to their corresponding new counterparts.  If you’re not maintaining your URL structure from your old store, it is crucial 301 redirects are entered for each page.  If not… well, it can be a serious issue when it comes to SEO so this is very important!

2. Technical SEO Optimization:

Technical SEO lays the foundation for successful crawling and indexing. Focus on:

  • Optimize page loading speed: Ensure fast loading times across all devices. Plugins and caching mechanisms can help and your developer can provide advice when it comes to this.  With more and more focus on the correlation to site speed and organic ranking, a fast-loading eCommerce store is essential.
  • Implement structured data: Use schema markup to enhance search engine understanding of your content and improve search result presentation.
  • Submit a sitemap to Google: Guide search engines to key pages on your website with an updated sitemap.  All eCommerce platforms provide a sitemap, it’s up to you to make sure you submit your new one in Google Search Console once the migration is complete.

3. Mobile-First Development:

Prioritize mobile optimization during development. This is one area we cannot stress enough!  Many eCommerce store owners simply look at how their site appears on desktop and use that as the gold standard, when it should be the opposite.  The majority of searches and web traffic is coming from mobile devices, so why would you focus on how your site looks on desktop?

When developing your new eCommerce store, design should be focused around how the site will look and function on mobile devices (phones and tablets).  For Google, how your site responds on mobile is a top raking factor – not your desktop site.

4. Ongoing Monitoring and Reporting:

Continuous monitoring is essential after launch. Track key SEO metrics:

  • Organic traffic and keyword rankings: Monitor changes in organic traffic levels and rankings for crucial keywords.
  • Crawl errors and indexing status: Use Google Search Console to identify indexing issues and address them promptly.
  • Backlink profile: Keep an eye on backlinks and report any significant drops or losses.

Part 3: Post-Launch Optimization and Maintenance

1. Content Marketing and Link Building:

Replatforming is an opportunity to refresh your content strategy and strengthen your backlink profile:

  • Develop high-quality content: Create engaging and informative blog posts and product descriptions aligned with relevant keywords.
  • Promote your content actively: Share your content through social media, email marketing, and guest blogging to reach a wider audience.
  • Build authority with backlinks: Focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from relevant websites and publications to improve your domain authority and search engine trust.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to the manufacturers of your top-selling products and ask for a link!  The worst they can say is, “no.”

2. Ongoing SEO Monitoring and Reporting:

Regular tracking and analysis are crucial for long-term success:

  • Schedule quarterly SEO audits: Conduct in-depth audits to identify and address any lingering technical SEO issues or content gaps.
  • Measure and report on SEO KPIs: Track progress against your defined SEO goals and share reports with stakeholders to maintain transparency and alignment.
  • Experiment and adapt: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different SEO strategies and test their effectiveness. Data-driven decisions are key to continuous improvement.

3. Continuous Development and Improvement:

Just because your live on your new platform, don’t think the job is complete!  There are several things every eCommerce store owner needs to do to say ahead of the competition when it comes to SEO:

  • Stay updated on SEO trends: Keep yourself informed about the latest algorithm updates and industry best practices and never panic when an update comes out and you take a bit of a hit.  There are always ways to recover!
  • Integrate SEO with other marketing channels: Align your SEO strategy with your broader marketing and business goals for holistic success.
  • Optimize product pages: Utilize relevant keywords in product titles, descriptions, and image alt tags. Add high-quality product images and videos for enhanced engagement.
  • Leverage user-generated content: Encourage customer reviews and testimonials to build trust and improve search engine perception.
  • Utilize internal linking: Strategically link relevant pages within your website to improve user navigation and distribute page authority.
  • Don’t neglect local SEO: If you have a brick-and-mortar store, optimize your listings on Google My Business and other local directories to attract nearby customers.

Replatforming your eCommerce store can be a powerful growth opportunity. By prioritizing SEO throughout the process, you can ensure a smooth transition, maintain your current traffic levels, and even strengthen your online presence. Remember, SEO is an ongoing journey, not a one-time sprint. Continuously monitor, adapt, and build upon your strategy to secure lasting SEO success in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

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