Site Migrations: How To Avoid A Falloff In Web Traffic After A Migration

This is me.

Author: Tim Strawbridge

Date Created: Oct 27, 2021

  • website migrations,
  • seo
flock of birds in a migration

We often have to take content from a development or staging website and go live with it. Some site migrations go smoothly and sometimes they go very badly. Imagine that you've just wrapped up a migration and no errors. You think you are in the clear. You go and celebrate. Two months later you login to Google Analytics and check the web traffic. Traffic has dropped 75%! Now you're stuck wondering what happened, where did we go wrong and more importantly, how to fix it. Don't panic if there is a small dip in traffic, just know what needs to be done whenever it does happen. We've compiled a small list that will help make a website migration smoother so you don't have to worry much about the terrors of going through a bad migration.

1. Scan through all meta data

People sometimes forget about page titles and descriptions. Titles and descriptions need to be filled out for every page.

What to do:

2. Image alternative text

For any newly added images, make sure image alternative text is created. While it's not absolutely critical, image alt text is an important part in SEO. This is one of the most common elements that are missed in a website migration. It's quite easy to check to make sure all images have alternative text. 

What to do:

3. Purchased or acquired websites

Be careful with websites that are purchased or acquired. For example, if you want to change the name of your website from to, be sure to check the backlinks to the This is an important step. Thoroughly researching the website being sought will help identify what actions need to be done. A website we like to use is

What to do:

4. Create 301 redirects

If a change of address is required and 301's are not implemented, this can have devastating effects on search results. Most of the old links have some sort of page authority. This will flow from the old site to the new site. If a search engine spider sees a 404 error instead of a 301, it won't like it and sees a structural problem.

What to do:

5. Pay attention to when Google updates the algorithm

Google constantly updates its search algorithm. Beware of when Google does its core updates. 

What to do:

6. Don't update robots.txt after migration right away

Whenever you migrate from one tld to another (.com to .net) the old site pages will be indexed in a search engine. Don't immediately update robots.txt to block the crawler, instead, wait until you start seeing the new pages indexed then you are clear to block any old URLs. Remember that Google caches robots.txt about every 24 hours. 

What to do:

7. Perform the migration step-by-step

A web migration plan needs to be laid out before any action is to be taken. This depends on which type of migration is going to happen. Here is a list of common migrations:

What to do:

8. Don't change too much with the site on a migration

Its compelling just change everything on a website migration. Projects with a design change, navigation, content and structural changes need to be performed slowly and thoughtfully with every detail in mind. This is important because if something goes wrong, there will be too many variables to sort through.

What to do:

Search engine optimization is all about signals. Search engines understand which signals can leverage the best search results. The only thing we can do is understand how they work and that's hard enough to do when every answer from search engines is "it depends". These items are meant to serve as a basis for carrying out a migration and not as a guide.

If you have questions on search engine optimization, take a look at our services page. Interested in more SEO content, search through our SEO blogs.

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