8 SEO tips for migrating your site

Then simply choose the Change of Address option in the settings menu and select the new site under the drop down menu that appears. This article originally appeared in net magazine issue 256. You can use Open Site Explorer for free, but for a full list of your links you need to sign up to Moz Pro and pay a monthly fee. By the same token, though, these domains send strong signals to Google about which country you are   targeting, so you won’t need to set up any additional geo-targeting. If you’re simply changing your business or domain name and are keeping the TLD the same, then you probably won’t see much negative effect in terms of search engine rankings. If regex isn’t your strong point, a quick Google search should provide you with an example to copy. But generally everything will return to normal within a   couple of weeks. It enables you to list all your domains, pages and languages. 02. The Sitemaps section is located in   the left-hand menu underneath the Crawl   heading. If you have been conducting targeted content creation and manual outreach, then you should already have developed relationships with some of the site owners who have linked to you. A   hreflang sitemap sits on the site’s root, in much the same way as a standard XML sitemap. If you have a ccTLD this is automatically set as the domain’s default country; however, if you are using sub-directories, sub-domains or a global domain, then definitely spend five minutes setting this up. Creating a sitemap is really simple, and there are a number of online tools that generate an XML file from   a list of URLs you provide. 301s
Redirects are probably the most important part of any   migration, because they make sure both users and search engines are taken directly to your new site. 07. Geo-location  

As well as stating the languages, you should also tell Google which country you want to target. Reporting links  
Another element of SEO that shouldn’t be overlooked during a   site migration is link building. However, if you’re moving from a .com to a sub-directory or vice versa, then you might have issues when the search engines try to rank your site in the relevant countries. Once this is set, Google should start to index and rank your site in the correct country. Linkdex   is another really useful tool that helps you pull contact details for the sites that are linking to you. A hreflang tag added to a single page would look something like this:

link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” href=”http://example.com/es/page.html” /
 
The above tag shows Google that the specified page in the /es sub-directory is written in Spanish. Domain Choice
Whatever your reason for migrating your website, you should put some thought into the domain you want to move to. Obviously, your choice of domain depends on a variety of factors, but when taking search engines into account, you should bear the following in mind:
Global top-level domains (gTLDs)example.com, example.org, example.net – These domains can rank in any country, and search engines view them as fairly authoritative. Whether you’ve expanded your business into a   new market, or simply want to help existing international customers find your site more easily, it’s important to maintain your web presence in international markets. If you check each of these small tasks off your list, you’ll be well on your way to a well-optimised website that’s loved by search engines all over the world. Subdomains   subdomain.example.com – Subdomains are now treated as entirely separate domains by search engines – however, it is generally advisable to avoid them unless you have a good reason   for doing otherwise. To block the entire site, add the following code to the robots.txt file and upload it to the site’s root:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /
 
To block a single sub-directory, simply use the folder name instead of the slash:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /folder-name/
 
Once your new site is ready to rock and roll, unblock it   and submit your sitemap to Google. First, you need to add your new site to your Webmaster Tools account and verify it. Sub-directories can be geo-targeted using Google’s Webmaster Tools, so ranking shouldn’t be an issue. When you’re happy it’s being indexed, and you’ve checked your 301s are redirecting to the right places, you can block the old site. 08. 04. 302 redirects don’t pass any value, so avoid them if you can. You can also use sub-folders to leverage the authority that the TLD may have built up over time, giving your new site a boost. Linkdex also comes at a cost but, if you have a large number of links to repoint, it’s well worth the investment. This means that the file can get pretty large. There are ways around this, of course, which I’ll go into later in this article. Using permanent 301 redirects ensures that most   of the value from your old pages is passed onto the new ones. The various languages for one URL would be written   out like this:

url
lochttp://www.example.com/en/page1.html/loc
xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de” href=”http://www.example.com/de/page1.html” /
xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr” href=”http://www.example.com/fr/page1.html” /
xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”http://www.example.com/en/page1.html” /
/url
 
The hreflang sitemap should include every page of your site, with a list of every equivalent page in the various languages. After all, you don’t want to have to go through all this again in a year or two. If you have a large number of different sites, sub-directories or languages, then using a hreflang sitemap representas a much easier option. Sub-directories example.com/sub-directory – Sub-directories are useful if you want to have separate   sites for each market, but can’t purchase each individual ccTLD for your brand name. It’s important to cover everything, though, otherwise Google may see your pages as being   duplicates – which can generate major ranking problems for you. Country code top-level Domains (ccTLDs) example.co.uk, example.de – Country-level domains will typically only rank in their   equivalent country, so if you want to market your site across the globe, don’t use one of these. First of all, you don’t want your new site to be   crawled and indexed by Google while your old site is still around, so you need to block it until it’s ready to go live. Google should then get a good idea of what’s going on and swap the sites in their search results. The Sitemaps section enables you to see how many pages have been successfully submitted and crawled, helping you to identify and rectify any issues with your sitemap or your site’s structure. 03. Once you have migrated your site successfully, create a sitemap of the new URLs and upload it to the   site’s root with the standard filename: www.example.com/sitemap.xml. You can do this easily using Google Webmaster Tools. Sitemaps
XML sitemaps are important to ensure your newly migrated site is crawled and indexed by the search engines quickly and efficiently. 301 redirects don’t pass 100 per cent of the value gained from external links, so always look for opportunities to repoint your links if you don’t want to lose any of that hard-earned authority. Plus, luckily, it’s a one-time job so you won’t need to worry about it again. Once you’ve exported the list, it’s just a case of manually checking each one and finding some contact details to request that the link is changed to point to the new URL.

Updated: 15.11.2014 — 01:56