Migrating your eCommerce site to a new platform or design can come with a host of benefits – from increased functionality, better security, improved user experience and other advantages that could help your online revenue grow.
However, every experienced digital marketer knows that without proper preparation migrating an eCommerce site can come with a lot of pitfalls that, if ignored, can spell disaster for SEO performance.
To help with this process, we have put together the ultimate SEO guide to eCommerce migration. If you follow this checklist, you will be less likely to see in a drop in your organic rankings and traffic and
It should be noted that each migration is different and comes with its own host of challenges. This guide is meant to outline the main general issues that migrations face, but this mileage may vary depending on factors such as domain name changes, change from HTTP to HTTPs, payment gateway changes and more.
Preparing to Move
These steps should be the first thing you do and can be done before work has even started on the new version of the site.
Crawl Your Current Site
Screaming Frog is a widely used tool that crawls all URLs on your site and lets you analyse all technical and on page SEO data. Other tools are available to do this but Screaming Frog is free up to 500 URLs and is relatively simple to use and understand.
It’s important you crawl your current site to obtain a list of all your current URls as well as SEO data about those URLs that can be used for comparison and benchmarks later on.
Important SEO data can include Metadata, Canonical Tags, H1 & H2 Tags and no-ndex pages .
Benchmark SEO Performance
Using Google Analytics, Google Search Console and the software you use to track your search engine rankings, take a snapshot of performance to benchmark how your site performs in search engines.
Look at how many users land on the site through search engines, how long they stay on the site, the percentage that bounce, how many pages they view per session, what devices they view your site from and your top ranking keywords with the highest monthly search volume. All of this data can then compared once the migration goes live.
Benchmark eCommerce Data
As well as benchmarking your SEO performance, you should export as much details as you can about your sales performance.
Look at revenue, transactions, conversion rate, what channels users are most likely to convert from, what devices users are most likely to convert from, what pages are viewed and assisted conversion. This data will give you a good idea of the impact the migration has on your site’s profitability.
Benchmark Backlink Profile
It is also important to export a full list of all your backlinks. Ahrefs is a useful tool that allows you to look in-depth at all of the domains that link to your site. Keeping a record of this is important to ensure that no important inbound links are lost during migration.
Compare Live Site & Stage Site
With your current URL list from the crawl, create a full 301 redirect map to ensure that all old website URLs redirect properly to the new URLs. Normally, a map will be a spreadsheet with a column with your current/old URLs with another column that lists the new URL counterparts.
Once implemented on the staging site, you will want to crawl the old URLs to ensure that no redirects are broken. This should be repeated again post-launch.
Ensure URL structure is still SEO friendly
If you are migrating to an entirely new eCommerce platform, it is more than likely that the URL structure will change for products and product categories. Review the new URLs on the staging site to ensure they still meet SEO best practices.
- Do URLs still contain target keywords?
- Do URLs follow standard structure like /productcatefory/product/ ?
- Do URLs contain hyphens instead of underscores?
- Do URLs appear spammy/stuffed with keywords?
Compare Internal Links/Site Structure
Before launch, you will need to check to see if the new site has SEO friendly internal links and structure.
- Are all of your main pages, product categories and products linked in your main navigation?
- Are there any orphaned pages?
- Do category pages contain indexable links to the products?
- Are there any broken links on the site?
- Are there any internal links that 301 redirect?
- Are there pages that take more than four clicks from the homepage to get to?
- Do you product categorised in a way that targets keywords?
Review & Copy Metadata
From your initial crawl you should have all of the meta descriptions and titles present on the current site. At this point it may be a good idea to review all metadata to ensure that it effectively targets your keywords.
- Do page titles begin with your main target keyword for that page?
- Does your meta description contain the effective Calls to Action?
- Are all titles and descriptions an appropriate length?
Once the review is completed, copy all Metadata over to you the staging site so that it is ready for when it goes live.
Review & Copy Content
Content is more important than ever for SEO performance so ensure that the new site has unique SEO-friendly content on all pages.
- Does content contain relevant keywords for all pages? Creating a keyword map for each can be helpful to establish what you need to target.
- Is there any duplicate content anywhere on the site?
- Do products contain enough technical information?
- Is it easy to tell what your product is, what it does, why you should buy it from the descriptions?
- Do all product categories have content?
- Is there content on the homepage?
- Check word count on all pages.
Review On-Page/Technical SEO Elements
- Check H1, H2 usage
- Check IMG ALT attributes
- Verify proper implementation of canonical tags
- Check all pages that you don’t want indexed and marked with ‘no index’ tag.
- Check for canonicals and duplicate URLs
- Check the site will
- Ensure the new site has an SEO plugin installed e.g. Yoast for WordPress.
- Ensure Google Analytics tag is copied over.
Copy Schema Markup
For an eCommerce site, schema markup is particularly important.
In 2011, major search engines created a common set of data markup that search engines use to better understand the meaning of and information on a webpage. This collaborative markup is called Schema.org.
All eCommerce sites should have some schema markup on their page, in particular the product schema markup. Although it doesn’t directly impact rankings, it has been proven to have a direct impact on click through rates due to the enhancements it can give your search engine rankings.
If this is on your current site, ensure this is transferred over and if it is not make sure you create schema markup to be implemented before launch.
Compare Page Speed
Using Google’s Page Speed Insights and their Lighthouse Developer Tools, compare the page speed for the current and new sites. Although this may change after launch, it is important to review now to ensure that if there are any issues severely impacting page speed, they can be resolved well before launch.
Compare User Experience
Once you have reviewed all technical aspects, it is also important to check that your new online store works from a user perspective. While this won’t have a direct impact on organic traffic, if you don’t consider the user, you could see a fall in conversions.
- Is it easy to search products on the site?
- If you have a lot of product variations on your site, can these be easily filtered down to specific requirements?
- Are products categorised in a simple, understandable way?
- Is your website easy to navigate?
- Do product pages display enough information to make an informed purchase?
- Is delivery information made clear?
- Is contact information easily accessible?
- Do you have clear Call to Actions?
- Is it clear what elements are clickable?
- Are all product images high quality and relevant?
- Is this site easy to use on all devices?
- How many steps is your checkout process? Is this as simple as possible for the end user?
Once your new site has been launched, it is important to check the below:
- Verify all redirects are working.
- Check that the site is not being blocked from being crawled or indexed.
- Verify all pages that you don’t want accessible in search engines aren’t set to nofollow.
- Check for any 404 or 301 response codes on internal links.
- Ensure that Google Analytics is tracking page view data.
- Verify that Enhanced eCommerce tracking is setup and tracking data correctly.
- Verify that the site has an XML sitemap and this has been submitted to Google Search Console.
- Check that all On-Page and Technical data that has been copied over from the old site is present and indexable.
Site Speed Test
It’s important to check page speed again after launch as if there are any server or hosting changes post-launch you could get different scores.
If you notice a drastic reduction in page speed scores, it is important to rectify this as soon as possible as page speed is a ranking factor for Google.
Ongoing Monitoring of SEO performance
You should set checkpoints to compare the new site’s performance to the old data that we benchmarked earlier. This can be after a week, a month 2 months and then quarterly.
Important things to monitor at each stage are:.
- Have any new pages been indexed?
- How have search engine rankings changed?
- Have the pages that are ranking changed?
- Have you seen a fall/rise in traffic?
- Are users bouncing more? Are users spending less/more time on the site?
- Have you seen a change in transactions/conversion rate?
- Has average transaction value changed?
- Has your top performing products changed?
If you need assistance with migrating your eCommerce site, our SEO team has helped business move their site to a variety of different platforms, ensuring everything is in place to protect their organic traffic.
Contact us now for more information for how we can help you migrate your eCommerce site now.