7 typical mistakes in a web migration - Flat101

7 typical mistakes in a web migration

There are times in the life of all SEOs when a migration becomes a major headache, basically because some sites operate without following a set protocol and have no control over what happens to them. There are many types of migration: server, CMS, visual changes… All of them must be…

There are times in the life of all SEOs when a migration becomes a major headache, basically because some sites operate without following a set protocol and have no control over what happens to them.

There are many types of migration: server, CMS, visual changes… All of them must be undertaken with great care, because they can all provoke serious problems for the business at the organic level. Sometimes the SEO is only called for when the problem is catastrophic and panic has set in. What are the most common errors we have seen and discovered in recent times?

Don’t notify the SEO when we carry out a migration.

This is, for me, the most serious mistake. The site manager does not see the need for supervision of the migration process because it is all under control and nothing will go wrong. We find ourselves thrust into the following situation: “Urgent, emergency! We migrated the whole site without notifying the SEO”, and the situation can get out of hand, as the following Sistrix graph shows:

Don’t notify the SEO when we carry out a migration.

Fortunately, this type of situation can be turned around (but not always, depending on the extent of the damage). This is the point when the SEO team arrives to check all the relevant site parameters to find and remedy all the errors generated. A good team, despite not having taken part in the migration process, should be able to find the source of the problem and put it right:

Don’t notify the SEO when we carry out a migration.

Not stopping the PPC campaigns that are active

It seems logical, but is more common than you would imagine. When entering a migration process, it is 100% advisable to stop any campaigns for the duration of the process, or we can find ourselves in the following type of situation:

  • The user lands on a 404 page
  • The user lands on a page that isn’t configured at all
  • We generate high bounce rates
  • The quality of our campaign suffers
  • In short, we are wasting money

The whole pre version is properly indexed in Google

Another fairly common error that can happen is to develop a pre-production version in a sub-domain or other testing site that is not off-limits for the search engine.

When the crawler reaches it, the whole pre version gets indexed, so that all the site’s pages are duplicated or in multiple locations, with low-quality content (industrial amounts of Lorem Ipsum, broken images), leading to problems with the search engine (Pandas, Phantoms…). It also leads to unpleasant user experiences, as their searches can throw up results such as:

  • com
  • midominio.com

To avoid situations like this, you really need to have an expert team that knows what it is doing and can prevent these headaches.

Disallow: / in the production version

This is another of those fearsome problems that is generally a direct consequence of point 3. The chain of events is usually as follows:

  • Pre version gets indexed
  • Pre version gets de-indexed We add Disallow: / for the pre version
  • We forget all about it
  • We go into full operation. We include the robots.txt with our Disallow.
  • We are invisible in Google.

Depending on how long the disallow has been activated, turning it off can have variable results. If the crawler has been over our site several times with this command activated, all the keywords will be ranked low once they are indexed again. Please make sure you always have an SEO or an experienced team on hand that are familiar with these typical errors, and can detect them quickly.

Let’s migrate the whole site this Friday

This is one of the worst decisions you can take, unless you have a team willing to spend the whole weekend going over the errors that have occurred. There is also the other option, of having the Website “under construction” all the weekend. A migration is not a straightforward process, depending on the size of the site, but an online store with 100 categories and 2,000 products, plus a blog with 500 articles and 30 taxonomies is likely to have errors: hanging redirects, broken images, a purchasing process that no longer works, a blog that is suddenly relocated to a different CMS stops working, changes in the DNS that do not appear, etc.

Although you may think that this doesn’t happen anymore, IT DOES. Because we are pushed for time, an investor is losing patience, etc. We always recommend this: NOT ON FRIDAY! 

Forgetting to implement the analytics tool

We have lost all our traffic! Alarms go off, telephones start ringing and everyone moans about crisis and destruction.

Stay calm, because there are lots of things that can go wrong in a migration, but when traffic falls to absolute zero it usually means one thing: The measurement tool, Google Analytics, Adobe, Webtrekk or whatever, has not been installed properly. Let’s look at an example of this, which is 100% curable with no side effects, apart from the loss of records from this time, and the effect on our dashboards that this causes:

Forgetting to implement the analytics tool

We have loaded everything on AJAX

This is a much more specific error, but worth adding to this list because it was a major surprise for me and the rest of the team working on it.

It was during a migration with fully standardized processes and technology that we were supervising, when after a few weeks we received the news that the whole site was loaded in AJAX, which is a technology that is “much cooler and more visual”.

Then, a view of the website with the browser JavaScript turned off: Surprise!

We knew that AJAX is indexed by Google, but it requires a fairly specific set of parameters for these pages to be indexed.

AJAX web

In short…

Always count of a team that is prepared to perform a migration, one that has experience and knows how to deal with all types of situations. At Flat 101 we are lucky to have one. We have a checklist for migrations that we follow to the letter.

You must have heard all kinds of stories about migrations, why not tell us about them!

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