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SEO Strategy and Checklist for Platform Migration - Productimize

June 2020 – Magento 1 support comes to an end. You’ve heard this same sentence 1,000 times over the past couple of months.

You might have already started the Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration by now. If you’re migrating from Magento 1 or just looking to re-platform, there are few things on SEO you need to seriously consider to ensure there is no dip in traffic and revenue. We’ve outlined some of the common SEO mistakes and created a checklist for you to prepare for the migration process.

SEO

71% of buyers use search engines to research and compare products prior to placing an order. If you’re really good at SEO and are ranking #1 on Google organic search results, then the first thing that enters your mind during the discovery process of migration is – what happens to my SEO rankings? Yes, if you don’t plan right, those rankings are going to be vulnerable. You need to consider one thing in mind – when it comes to re-platforming, not only do you need to take care of the technical aspects, you also need to pay attention to the SEO. With the right strategy in place, you can increase the traffic as well as online sales.

As you may already know, Google uses complex algorithms to rank websites. Search engines crawl the website constantly and index each page to measure the metrics and rank the website, like traffic, page speed, bounce rates, etc. If something changes between the crawl, then your ranking is going to get a hit. Outdated pages and updating the landing pages with proper redirection are some of the re-platforming mistakes. Changing too many things will make it hard to predict why the data points are actually changing. Eventually, you should start working on the content strategy, only after you complete the migration.

Your SEO Strategy and The Checklist:

Below is the list of things you need to consider during the re-platforming:

Understand and Define The Scope:

Define the ScopeFirst things first – analyze your website performance through the Google search console and Google analytics and prepare a spreadsheet with all the URLs and data. If you’re looking for a crawler and log file analyzer tool, Screaming Frog is an industry-leading SEO spider software.

One thing you need to understand very clearly is the quality of your data. Ensure you have all the necessary data like products, attributes, categories, etc. because your SEM after the migration is completely based on the quality of your catalog data.

URL Redirection:

If the URL and pages are treated well, you don’t have to worry about the traffic loss. If you’re looking to do changes to the existing landing pages, make sure you don’t do any drastic changes during the migration process – let’s say you can make a few changes to the structure and the content of the pages and ensure you have redirection for any new pages. One major thing you need to keep in mind is the redirections are one-to-one. What do I mean by that? Don’t redirect 1000’s of URLs to a single new URL, redirect each product to the same new product URL. Most eCommerce agencies nowadays do comprehensive audits prior to the migration.

Some of the major things you need to consider are:

  • Carefully curate the 301 redirects to keep the organic traffic (If you don’t properly redirect your old URLs –  You will lose traffic and ranking, as Google throws more 404 errors, and eventually you will lose all the SEO values created by the old site and will have to start fresh.)
  • Check the meta descriptions carefully.
  • Check the robots.txt file and XML sitemap generation to avoid the unnecessary pages getting indexed and obstructing crawl efficiency.

 

On-Page Changes:

One question that keeps coming back from every merchant when we do re-platforming is “I’m already in the process of re-platforming, so why don’t we change everything at once – starting from the design, content, images, etc.?” Our answer is strictly a “NOPE”. Don’t do that mistake ever.

On Page ChangesGoogle has been crawling your website, so any drastic change that you make now will lead to reindex and a huge dip in the website traffic. You need to understand the problem is going to get bigger when you undervalue the technical SEO impact. You will have to constantly keep one thing in mind – “Keep your website identical as much as possible” during migration because this is what’s going to help you to maintain the current rankings.

Ensure all the pages and categories are retained from the old website to the new one and review how you want the dynamic pages to be handled, crawled and indexed in the new website.

Duplicate Content:

  • If you have a development/staging environment, ensure you follow the no-index tags.
  • In the event of a sub-domain,  be sure to let the search engine know about it.
  • Most of the leading SaaS platforms offer SSL and default to HTTPS. If you don’t already have one, make sure you redirect from HTTP to HTTPS, otherwise the HTTP content would be accessible as well and considered duplicate.
  • If you have dynamic pages to display different content, ensure they’re non-indexed.
  • Use Canonical URLs wherever required – This basically tells Google to pick the URL that you prefer if there is more than one result. Even a character change in the URL will be considered as a new URL. In platforms like Shopify, canonicals are set by default to help manage the duplicate content.

Canonical URL

The 404 pages:

Sometimes as you grow, over a period of time, you may not know what keywords you’re missing and what the 404 pages are. Re-platforming actually helps you to identify those errors. Essentially, this helps you to boost the organic traffic and rankings after you migrate to the new platform.

The Mobile-First Approach:

Mobile first approach

By the end of March 2018, Google had announced the mobile-first indexing – this means Google will use the mobile version of the page to index and rank (starting July 1, 2019, this got rolled out). Google went further and analyzed 11 Million mobile ads’ landing pages in over 213 countries to get a better sense of how Google’s advertising partners are doing, and to their surprise, the majority of mobile sites are slow and bloated. For an optimal customer experience – mobile-first eCommerce website strategy is a must-have. Chris Love, the PWA and SEO expert says rendering as much HTML on the server-side first will help the pages to index faster. He also adds to pre-render everything on the server-side and not to use heavy JavaScript in the browser side – This helps score the page for better search results.

Post-Go-Live Website Optimization:

Website OptimizationLike every other part of your online business, SEO should also be considered a part of your ongoing eCommerce growth. So, even after you migrate, ensure you constantly keep working on it to keep the momentum. Always do an additional crawl and check the same with your first crawl.

If you’re looking for SEO auditing software to do the SEO audits, here are few:

Common Mistakes:

Below are some of the common mistakes you can prevent in the future:

  • Not migrating the meta-title and the description data from the old website to the new one or giving “Default Description” for all the pages
  • Multiple H1 Tags on all pages
  • No Canonical URL implementation
  • Not blocking the search engine to index the development/staging website
  • Font Visibility – The average font size has to be greater than 14px
  • Hiding certain content to give better look and feel for the mobile view is bad for your website’s SEO
  • Sometimes no ALT text for images
  • Not implementing Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml

eCommerce SEO Checklist

Your Step-by-Step SEO Guide to platform migration

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Ref:

  • https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/replatforming-seo-strategies
  • https://inchoo.net/online-marketing/seo-checklist-magento-2-migration

Shiva Kumaar

Shiva Kumaar

Shiva is the Strategy Manager leading the business efforts and global partnerships of DCKAP Digital Products. He is passionate about eCommerce and SaaS products, he loves tech startups. Regardless of the role, his blogs are unbiased. An avid gadget lover and a mobile enthusiast.

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