Updated: April 26, 2024.

The ultimate checklist for successful site migration.

Site migration is a complex process that involves moving a website from one domain to another, changing its structure, or switching to a new CMS. It’s a delicate procedure that can affect SEO performance if not handled correctly. 

This website SEO migration checklist (created based on my experience with SEO migrations) will guide you through the entire site migration process, from pre-migration planning to post-migration monitoring.

P.S. Note that not all items on this list may apply to every site migration, but it should cover the majority of possible scenarios.

Let’s get started. 

SEO Migration Checklist
SEO Migration Checklist
SEO Migration Checklist

JetOctopus is a great site migration tool!

Before we get started, I want you to know that JetOctopus is one of the best if not the best SEO migration tool.

If you are migrating an e-commerce website, then JetOctopus – the fastest crawler on the market – will be absolutely essential because you need to be able to extract and map all URLs!

JetOctopus is also invaluable when it comes to detecting and fixing keyword cannibalization & content duplication at scale.

SEO Migration Checklist Tips, Truth & Advice

Experienced site migration consultants like myself have learned over the years that each site migration project is different but there are universal truths that should be accounted for in practically every site migration strategy.

Here are the SEO website migration tips and truths I want to share with you:

  • Despite our best efforts and planning, site migrations can bring about unexpected outcomes. It’s important to remain adaptable and ready to tackle unforeseen challenges.
  • It’s natural to see fluctuations in your traffic, rankings in search results, and overall search engine visibility after a site migration. These shifts typically stabilize over time, so don’t panic at the first sign of change.
  • Each search engine (Google, Bing, and other search engines) has its own pace for recrawling and reindexing a newly migrated site, and unfortunately, this isn’t something we can completely control.
  • While website migrations can be challenging, they’re also opportunities. They’re chances to fix longstanding issues, improve site structure, optimize internal links, and provide a better user experience (both on desktop and mobile).
  • Website migrations can temporarily impact organic search visibility and rankings, but they usually recover over time (if SEO is done properly).
  • Website migration is not just a task for your web development team; SEOs should be involved at every stage, from planning to post-migration monitoring. There are a lot of essential SEO requirements developers don’t know and should be educated about.
  • Don’t rush a website migration. It’s a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. Mistakes can have long-term effects.
  • With each site migration (whether it is a successful site migration or not), you become a better SEO.

I also have another in-depth site migration guide on how to migrate without losing SEO.

Types of Site Migrations

This website migration checklist is a universal one but you need to be aware that there are different types of site migrations and each has its unique needs, issues to address, and common pitfalls to avoid.

The most common types of website migrations include:

  • Domain Migration: This involves changing your website’s domain, usually due to rebranding or acquiring a better domain. It’s essential to set up 301 redirects from the old domain to the new one to maintain SEO value. 
  • Website Redesign Migration: This involves implementing a major design overhaul of your website. Site redesigns can involve changes to the site structure, content, and visual design, and can have significant SEO implications. Careful planning is needed to preserve URL structures where possible, correctly implement redirects, update internal links, and ensure that all important content and metadata are preserved in the new design.
    TIP: From my own experience, website redesigns are the type of site migration that most often ends badly for the site (if no SEO is involved in the process).
  • Platform Migration: This refers to changing the platform or CMS (Content Management System) your website is built on, such as moving from Joomla to WordPress. It’s important to manage the transition to ensure SEO elements, including meta tags and URLs, are preserved, or the organic search traffic will suffer.
  • Site Structure Migration: This type of migration involves making significant changes to the structure of your website, like modifying URL patterns, site hierarchy, site internal linking, or navigation. This requires careful planning to implement redirects correctly and make sure search engine spiders fully understand the new website structure.
  • Content Migration: This type of migration refers to moving content from one site to another. It could be part of a larger site merger or could be as simple as transferring blog posts to a new platform. This type of migration very often ends successfully as it involves adding a lot of new content to the website or enriching content on the existing site.
  • Subdomain to Subdirectory Migration: This migration involves moving content from a subdomain (e.g., blog.oldsite.com) to a subdirectory (e.g., oldsite.com/blog). It is often done for SEO reasons as it’s generally believed that content in a subdirectory has more SEO value than content on a subdomain. But like everything in SEO, it depends.
  • International Migration: This involves making changes to cater to different languages or regions, such as implementing hreflang tags or moving from a generic top-level domain (gTLD) to a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD).
  • HTTP to HTTPS Migration: This migration means moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS for enhanced security. Google recognizes HTTPS as a ranking signal, so this migration can have SEO benefits. It is not a common type of migration now since most websites use HTTPS by default.

As with all migrations, each of these has its own complexities and potential pitfalls, so careful planning, thorough execution, and diligent monitoring are crucial.

Always remember to back up your website before starting any migration process!

Recommended site migration tools

Your website migration checklist won’t be complete without having a decent SEO toolset to assist you.

Of course, there are a lot of options out there and it is totally up to you which tool you choose.

Here are my essential tools that always assist me in the migration from the old site to the new one:

  • Jet Octopus for crawling and extracting URLs as well as connecting crawl data with the Google Search Console data. JetOctopus is the fastest crawler and also lets you easily check if there is keyword cannibalization or content duplication happening on your website. If you are migrating a huge e-commerce site, JetOctopus will be the best choice. 
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider for crawling the old site and the staging website. It lets you adjust robots.txt settings and user-agent settings easily so that you can crawl practically every website whether it is blocked from crawling or not. Screaming Frog is a desktop-based crawler so it is better suited for smaller websites in most cases. 
  • SE Ranking to monitor the performance of new pages and gather ranking data of the old site. This is my favorite rank-tracking tool that lets you monitor rankings in different search engines. SE Ranking is also awesome for weekly ongoing crawls. I love their On-page SEO Checker and Page Changes Monitor
Using SE Ranking for rank tracking
  • Semrush or Ahrefs to monitor rankings, and keyword visibility and perform regular weekly or daily crawls. Which one you choose is a matter of personal preference. I use both. 
  • InLinks for the optimization of internal links and Schema. This is an essential tool if you want to move your site to a higher level in terms of semantic SEO, entity SEO & schema. 
  • WP Rocket for the site speed improvements of WordPress sites. In most cases, all you need regarding website speed improvements is that one plugin. 

SEO Migration Checklist 

Below is a comprehensive SEO site migration checklist that can help you maintain, if not improve, your SEO rankings and traffic during and after the transition.

All the steps are divided into three crucial phases of site migrations, including pre-migration, migration, and post-migration.

So let’s dive in deep!

SEO Migration Checklist: Pre-Migration 

Here are all the essential site migration checklist steps you need to take before the site migration to ensure it is successful and does not kill your website!

There may be some overlap between specific points but I believe it is better to talk about something a few times to make sure you don’t skip that step!

1. Define your SEO migration goals 

The first and arguably one of the most important steps is to establish your migration goals.

Are you primarily focused on preserving existing search engine rankings and traffic levels, or are there other goals such as improving site architecture, updating branding, or enhancing usability?

Clear, measurable goals will guide all aspects of your migration strategy, from planning to execution to evaluation.

Furthermore, having established goals in place will allow you to better assess the success of the migration once it’s completed, and provide key insights to guide any necessary post-migration adjustments.

2. Plan the best timing for the migration

Schedule the migration at a time when your website traffic is at its lowest to reduce potential disruptions to your user base.

This could mean planning the migration for off-peak hours, weekends, or during your industry’s slow season.

Thoughtful timing can help maintain user trust and safeguard your conversion rate during the transition period.

3. Determine the key responsibilities of specific people involved in the migration

With a project as critical as a site migration, you need a clear division of roles and responsibilities among your team.

Assign specific tasks to each team member based on their expertise, including developers for technical implementation, SEO specialists for performance monitoring, content creators for content migration, and project managers for overall coordination.

TIP: I strongly recommend you refer your site developers to Google’s documentation before even starting the entire site migration process.

4. Create a detailed migration plan 

A detailed, step-by-step migration plan is the blueprint for a successful migration.

This plan should cover every stage of the migration process, including pre-migration audits and preparations, technical aspects of the migration, and post-migration tasks like testing and performance monitoring.

Since each site is different, you need to come up with your own unique site migration plan. Not all the steps and guidelines I share here may apply to your specific case.

Your critical SEO mind is essential here!

Having a comprehensive migration plan in place will help keep everyone on the same page and ensure that no important steps are missed.

5. Forecast the possible migration results

Anticipating potential outcomes of the site migration is crucial for managing expectations and planning for potential challenges.

While short-term drops in traffic or search engine rankings are common during migration, understanding these potential outcomes can help you prepare and plan mitigating strategies.

Additionally, forecasting allows you to keep sight of the longer-term benefits of the migration, whether that’s improved site structure, better usability, or more effective SEO.

TIP: Make sure to your client is fully aware of all possible migration results so that they won’t fire you on day two of migration when rankings start to fluctuate.  

6. Perform an SEO audit of the current website

An SEO audit is essential to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the old site and to highlight any issues that could potentially complicate the migration.

SE Ranking SEO Audit

The insights gleaned from an SEO audit will not only guide the migration process but also help inform the SEO strategy for the new site.

Tools like Screaming Frog, JetOctopus, Sitebulb, Semrush Site Audit, SE Ranking Website Audit, and Ahrefs Site Audit will be essential here. 

7. Perform a full website crawl to extract all URLs

Conducting a full site crawl of the old site and all old URLs is necessary to compile a complete list of all existing URLs.

This list will be instrumental when setting up redirects, preserving site structure, and ensuring no pages are lost or overlooked during the migration.

Use a tool like Screaming Frog or JetOctopus to get a full list of your URLs.

Extracting site URLs using JetOctopus

Keep in mind that you may not be able to find all the URLs of the old site by simply doing the crawl.

In many cases, you need to dig deeper in the CMS of the old site or in its Google Search Console property data.

8. Extract all image URLs and check their rankings

Images play a important role in SEO, they are not just a visual element on your website, but a potential source of organic traffic from image searches. 

Therefore, during the migration, it’s crucial to ensure that the images are properly transferred and their SEO value is retained.

Start by extracting all image URLs from your current site. There are various tools like Screaming Frog that can help you in this process. 

Images report in JetOctopus

Once you have a complete list, you’ll want to check their current rankings in search results.

Tools like Google’s Search Console (the Performance report with the Image Filter applied) with can help you understand which images are bringing in the most traffic, so you can give them special attention during migration.

The Image filter in the Performance report in Google Search Console

Remember, image URLs matter just as much as page URLs when you’re redirecting to the new site. 

Ensure that the redirects for images are properly implemented, and metadata like alt tags and titles are correctly carried over.

9. Identify top content 

It’s vital to know which pieces of content (top pages) on your site are most valuable in terms of user engagement, traffic generation, conversions, or other important metrics.

These top pages should be prioritized during the migration to ensure they maintain their SEO value and continue to perform well on the new site.

This might involve carefully managing the transfer of the most important pages to the new site, carefully checking their formatting and functionality post-migration, or putting special effort into preserving their backlinks and social shares.

Each of those pages needs to be mapped to the most relevant corresponding page.

10. Identify high-traffic pages 

Recognizing the pages on the old site that attract the most traffic is crucial during a migration.

These pages are key to your site’s overall performance and any drop in their traffic or functionality could have a significant impact on your business.

Prioritize these pages during the migration process as well, and ensure that their URLs are correctly redirected, and that their content and SEO elements are preserved on the new site.

Google Analytics and Google Search Console can be helpful for this.

11. Identify high-value backlinks

Identify the pages with high-value backlinks using tools like the GSC Links report, Semrush, SE Ranking, and Ahrefs.

Semrush Backlink Audit

Make sure to use multiple tools for that because none has the complete information about your backlinks.

Make sure these links are preserved during the migration. You want these backlinks continue to work after the migration.

If you are removing a page that has a high-value backlink, at least make sure it is redirected to the most relevant page and does not return the 404 status code.

12. Identify ranking keywords

Identifying the keywords your site currently ranks for is crucial to guiding your SEO strategy post-migration.

With the help of keyword tracking tools like SE Ranking Keyword Rank Tracker or Semrush Position Tracking Tool, you can determine which keywords to prioritize in your content and meta data on the new site to maintain or improve your rankings.

I also recommend monitoring rankings with various tools and making sure you are tracking rankings in the correct location.

13. Identify landing pages for ads 

If you’re running paid ad campaigns, it’s essential to locate and document all associated landing pages.

Any changes or disruptions to these pages during the migration could impact your ad performance, potentially wasting ad spend or losing leads.

Make sure these landing pages are accurately replicated on the new site and their URLs correctly redirected.

14. Benchmark current SEO performance

Documenting your current SEO performance provides a valuable benchmark for evaluating the impact of the migration.

This should include key metrics like organic traffic, keyword rankings, backlinks, Google Discover traffic, conversion rates, indexation rate, or Google crawling activity, to name a few.

I suggest putting all this information into one spreadsheet with two tabs, one being “Pre-migration” and the other one being “Post-migration”.

Post-migration, you can compare these benchmarks with your new site’s performance to measure the success of the migration and identify any potential issues or areas for improvement.

15. Create a URL mapping document 

This document is a key part of preserving your site’s SEO value during a migration.

It should detail the old URLs on your current site and the corresponding new URLs on your migrated site.

This step is often overlooked, but doing it thoroughly can give your new site a significant advantage in search engine image results. Don’t miss out on this chance to safeguard and even enhance your image-based SEO.

Keyword mapping document

This document will guide the creation of 301 redirects, ensuring that users and search engines are automatically directed to the correct pages on your new site when they try to access old URLs.

16. Prepare the new site structure

Designing a new site structure involves planning the organization of pages on your new site, considering aspects like user experience, navigation, and SEO best practices.

A well-planned site structure can help users find what they’re looking for more easily, and can also help search engines understand and index your site more effectively.

You want to make sure that the new site structure does not prevent search engines from understanding the topical relevance of your new site.

I love visualizing new site structure in either Google Sheets or in Workflowy.

Site structure visualization

Depending on the type of migration, you may or may not want to change the structure of your site.

17. Create the new website in the test environment

Creating the new website in a test environment is an integral step in the website migration process:

  • This involves building an exact replica of your proposed new website (the so-called staging website) on a private server, entirely separate from your existing live website.
  • The objective of this is to establish a secure and controlled testing ground where you can freely experiment without any real-world consequences.
  • In this safe haven, you’re able to rigorously test all elements of your new site, including redirects, canonical tags, internal links, new site’s main templates, load times on desktop and mobile, and more.
  • You can also troubleshoot any potential problems that may arise in the staging site and address them proactively rather than reactively.
  • Critically, this process ensures that any changes or tweaks do not affect your existing live site or disrupt your users’ experience in any way.

It’s all about meticulousness and managing risk, after all, any changes made in the live environment are immediately visible to users and search engine crawlers.

18. Block the new website from indexation and crawling

Preventing your new website from being crawled and indexed during its construction is crucial for SEO health and user experience:

  • Exposing unfinished or test pages to the world can lead to negative user experiences and SEO implications.
  • Users may end up encountering these incomplete pages in search results, which can result in confusion and possibly hurting your website’s reputation.
  • In SEO terms, these unfinished or poorly optimized pages could be perceived as low-quality content by search engines, which can affect your overall SEO performance.
  • Additionally, simultaneous indexing of test and live environments could result in content duplication issues.

To make sure your temporary website blocks search engine crawling and indexation, use two primary techniques: a robots.txt file block and noindex meta tags.

This is a crucial step in ensuring a smooth transition during website migration.

19. Do the on-page SEO for the website in the test environment

On-page SEO elements, such as title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and image alt text, should be implemented and tested on your new site before it goes live.

This not only helps ensure that your new site is SEO-friendly from the start, but also allows you to spot and correct any issues in a controlled environment.

Do this!

20. Perform a full audit and full crawl of the new website in the test environment

A comprehensive audit and crawl of your new site in the testing environment helps identify any potential issues before the site goes live.

This could include broken links, incorrect redirects, missing content, or SEO issues.

It’s much easier to fix these issues in a testing environment than after the site has gone live. Believe me… 😊

21. Implement & test redirects in the test environment

Implementing and testing your 301 redirects and canonical tags in the testing environment is an important part of the migration process.

These redirects ensure that when a user or search engine tries to access an old URL, they are automatically directed to the correct new URL.

Incorrect or missing redirects can result in lost traffic, 404 errors, and a drop in SEO value, so thorough testing is crucial.

NOTE: Depending on the setup, in some cases it may not be feasible to implement canonical tags or redirects in the test environments but rather it should be done simultaneously with launching the site.

22. Create a backup of the current website (just in case)

Lastly, always create a full backup of your existing site before starting the migration.

Despite the most thorough planning and careful execution, unexpected issues can arise during a migration.

Having a complete backup ensures that you can restore your site to its pre-migration state if necessary, which will minimize any potential damage and give you peace of mind.

Practical tips for the pre-migration phase 

It is very easy to make a lot of mistakes in the pre-migration phase.

Here are some tips based on my experience that will help you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls:

  • If the structure of the site is very complex or site has some orphan pages, you may not be able to find all URLs be performing a full crawl. In that case, you may want to use other tools like Google Search Console (the Index report) to look for other possible URLs or manually review the pages in the CMS.
The Index report in Google Search Console
  • Skipping a thorough audit of your current site before migration is like walking blindfolded – you might miss serious issues that could hurt your SEO.
  • URL redirection is one of the most critical aspects of a site migration. Neglecting it can result in lost traffic and decreased rankings
  • Testing everything on a staging site before the migration is crucial to avoid serious errors and downtime during the actual migration

SEO Migration Checklist: Migration 

All of the below tasks should be done almost simultaneously. Make sure there is no lag between those tasks or it may seriously hurt your website.

23. Launch the new website

This is the moment when you take your new website live. You usually do this by pointing DNS names to your new site’s server and making all redirects live.

Ensure all preparation steps have been correctly implemented and that you’ve done a final check on all aspects of the site.

It’s always best to schedule the launch during off-peak hours to minimize any potential disruption to users.

For many sites, a good time for the migration is Saturday night.

24. Make sure the new website is indexable and crawlable

Now that the new site is live, it’s crucial to ensure that search engines can crawl and index it.

Check your robots.txt file and meta tags to ensure they’re not blocking search engine bots.

You can use Google’s URL Inspection Tool to verify that Google can access and understand your pages.

URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console

25. Indicate the domain name change in GSC (optional)

If you’re moving to a new domain, use Google Search Console’s Change of Address Tool to inform Google about the change.

This is not an essential step but a good site migration practice. However, keep in mind that this tool is not recommended in all cases.

Google Change of Address Tool

26. Implement tracking codes & make an annotation 

Ensure all tracking codes, including those for Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Tag Manager, or any other tracking tools you’re using, are installed correctly on your new site.

This will enable you to monitor your site’s performance and user behavior post-migration.

Also, make an annotation in Google Analytics to mark the date of migration. This will help you understand any changes in your data as a result of the migration..

27. Do a full crawl & audit right after the launch

After your new site is live, perform another full site crawl and audit.

This will help you identify and fix any potential issues that may have been overlooked during testing, such as 404 pages, or other SEO issues.

28. Test all the redirects

Testing all redirects is a pivotal step during the website migration process:

  • Of course, you should test all redirects pre-launch, but the testing shouldn’t stop there.
  • Post-launch testing is equally important to confirm that all redirects are functioning correctly in the live environment.
  • Broken or incorrect redirects can lead to “404 not found” pages, which can disrupt the user experience, cause loss of traffic, and negatively affect your SEO standings.

Fix any redirect issues right away!

29. Fix any issues as soon as possible

Addressing any issues promptly after launch is also a key aspect of a successful site migration.

In an ideal world, everything will function flawlessly once your new site goes live. However, there’s always a chance that issues may emerge once the website is live.

Upon encountering any issues, be it a failed redirect, a broken link, or a misconfigured meta tag, take immediate action.

This swift response is essential to prevent any potential long-term SEO ramifications.

30. Keep the old XML sitemap intact until fully recrawled

Don’t remove the old XML sitemap right away. Keeping it live will help search engines understand the changes to your site and find your new URLs.

Once your new site has been fully crawled and indexed, you can remove the old sitemap.

31. Add the new site to rank tracking tools

If you’re using rank tracking tools, remember to add your new site or update the existing site’s URL (if you are changing the domain name).

This will allow you to monitor your keyword rankings post-migration and identify any potential drops or improvements.

My favorite rank tracking tool is SE Ranking (below).

SE Ranking

32. Test Forms and CTAs

Testing all your forms and CTAs, like your contact forms, newsletter signups, and that bright ‘Buy Now’ button, is just as important as the other pieces of your site migration.

These are the little bridges between you and your users, and ensuring they function perfectly in the new site environment is key to keeping communication lines open and maintaining conversion rates.

Imagine a potential customer filling out a form or clicking on a CTA, only to find it doesn’t work—talk about a missed opportunity, right?

33. Inform website users and subscribers about the change (optional)

This is an “optional but highly recommended” tip. If you’ve built a loyal base of users and email subscribers, loop them in about your migration plans.

You may think this isn’t a big deal, but trust me, it can do wonders for keeping your audience engaged and your brand trusted.

You can use several channels like site-wide announcements, a heart-to-heart email newsletter, or even an informative blog post to keep them in the loop.

Practical tips for the migration phase 

The migration phase is the most important phase and it requires your special attention. It is super easy to kill the entire migration with one seemingly small mistake. 

Here are the tips for this stage based on my experience with SEO migrations:

  • I know I am repeating myself but please ensure all internal and external links are updated to the new URLs and are working correctly.
  • Remember that just blocking the staging site in robots.txt file does not prevent search engines from indexing the test site’s URL. You need to have the no-index tag or password-protect the new site as well.
  • Transferring tracking codes and analytics from your current site to the new one is absolutely critical for ensuring a continuous monitoring of site performance and user behavior. It happens to be one of the most common slip-ups during site migration. And let’s be real, who wants to see their traffic metrics plummet to zero right after the big launch?
  • Don’t remove old XML sitemaps immediately after migration; they can assist search engines in understanding the changes.
  • Ensure all canonical tags point to the correct new URLs to prevent confusion for search engines. It is not uncommon to see the live site whose canonical tags point to the staging site.
  • Always remember to make your new site accessible to search engines for crawling and indexing after the launch. Yes, I have seen a lot of migration where the newly launched site still has a no-index tag.

SEO Migration Checklist: Post-Migration

Website migration does not end together with the launch of the new site. There are still a lot of post-migration tasks to perform. 

34. Set up automatic crawls of the new site

Regular (ideally weekly and right after migration daily) site crawls can help identify any issues that may emerge over time, like broken links, missing meta tags, or changes in page status.

Using a tool like Semrush Site Audit or SE Ranking Website Audit, you can schedule automatic crawls of your site on a regular basis to help keep an eye on its health and performance. 

Site Audit by Semrush

TIP: When setting automatic crawls for the site, always take into account its size and crawl budget. For most sites, it won’t be a concern, but if you are working with a very large website, a different approach may be necessary.

35. Monitor the new site’s rankings, traffic, and conversions on a daily basis

Changes in your site’s organic search rankings, traffic, and conversions are key indicators of the migration’s success.

Use tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and any rank tracking tool to keep an eye on these metrics daily.

Significant changes could indicate issues that need to be addressed very quickly.

36. Submit a new sitemap to Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools

Once your new site is live and functional (and after search engines have crawled the old XML sitemap), generate a new XML sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

This helps the search engines understand your new site structure and find all of your pages, which can expedite the indexation process.

37. Monitor your new website’s performance and speed 

Site performance and speed can impact user experience and search engine rankings, so it’s crucial to monitor these factors after migration.

Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights can help you monitor site speed.

However, don’t get caught up on speed and Core Web Vitals too much because they can easily become vanity metrics.

If you are using a WordPress website, one plugin WP Rocket is likely to be enough in terms of speed optimizations.

WP Rocket

38. Monitor indexation in Google & Bing

Use Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to monitor the indexation of your new site.

Bing Webmaster Tools

It’s normal for indexation to take some time, but if certain pages are not being indexed after a reasonable period, this could indicate issues like crawl errors or problems with your sitemap.

TIP: I strongly recommend you also use Bing Scan (it is under SEO > Site Scan) to scan your new site. It is super useful.

39. Assess the impact of the migration

A few weeks after the migration, conduct a comprehensive assessment to understand its impact.

Compare pre- and post-migration data, including organic traffic, keyword rankings, bounce rate, conversion rate, and page load time.

Any significant changes can help identify whether the migration was successful or if there are areas that need further attention or adjustment.

Practical tips for the post-migration phase 

Here are some practical tips and common site migration pitfalls to be aware of:

  • Expect fluctuations in rankings and traffic in the weeks following migration. Don’t panic, but keep a close eye on metrics.
  • Remember, search engines need time to understand and index your new site. Patience is key post-migration
  • Keep an eye on Google Search Console for any increase in 404 errors. Fix them promptly to avoid losing traffic.
  • It can take time for traffic and rankings to stabilize after a migration. Don’t make hasty decisions based on short-term fluctuations.
  • Use “site:domain.com” searches in Google and Bing regularly to check which pages of your new site are indexed. Be aware that this is not the most reliable method of checking indexing.
  • When migrating to a new domain, preserving the authority of your old site by properly setting up 301 redirects is crucial to maintaining your organic rankings.

SEO Domain Migration Special Tips

Migrating to a new domain is a specific type of SEO migration. 

Here are the best practices, tips, and things to know to make sure your SEO domain migration goes smoothly:

  1. Keep the old domain active and maintain its DNS settings for a significant period after the migration to ensure all redirects continue to work. Google advises keeping redirects live for a year at least.
  2. Use tools like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to explore whether your domain had any potentially detrimental content in the past. This can help you identify and address any lingering issues that might impact your site’s reputation or SEO.
  3. Confirm both your old and new sites within the same account on Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console. This helps streamline the migration process and keeps all relevant data in one place for easy access and comparison.
  4. Do not operate two identical websites concurrently. Make sure any staging or development sites are blocked from search engine crawlers to prevent duplicate content issues.
  5. Use Google Search Console’s “Change of Address” tool to inform Google about your new domain and help accelerate the transition.
  6. Inform any partners, affiliates, or other websites linking to your site about your new URL structure. This can help them update their links and ensure the continued flow of referral traffic and link equity.
  7. Set up a new domain in your rank-tracking tools.  
  8. Keep in mind that major content changes at the same time as a migration can make it difficult to determine what caused shifts in rankings and traffic. This is especially true for the domain migration.
  9. If you have previously disavowed any spammy or low-quality backlinks, make sure to resubmit the disavow file in Google Search Console for your new domain.
  10. Make sure to transfer all tracking and analytics codes to your new domain.

Final SEO migration thoughts & tips

Well, there you have it folks – the nitty-gritty of a successful SEO migration checklist. 

I hope you’ve found this guide to be a valuable resource, a solid foundation on which you can build your SEO migration strategy. Remember, planning is key to a smooth transition – and that’s exactly what we aim for!

At the end of the day, SEO migration isn’t just about moving from one site to another. It’s an opportunity to improve, to make things better than they were before. It’s a chance to reassess your SEO strategy, to sharpen your focus, and to create an even more engaging user experience.

However, it’s crucial to remember that SEO migration is a complex process, not a one-time action. It requires continuous monitoring and tweaking. 

Don’t be alarmed if things don’t go perfectly right off the bat – that’s completely normal. The true success of SEO migration lies in how quickly you spot the issues and how effectively you respond to them.

Be patient, be proactive, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of the change. Embrace it, because every challenge is an opportunity for growth. And as always, keep your users at the heart of everything you do, because they are the reason we’re here in the first place.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this SEO migration checklist. If you like it, please share it with other SEOs.

Olga Zarr is an SEO consultant with 10+ years of experience. She has been doing SEO for both the biggest brands in the world and small businesses. She has done 200+ SEO audits so far. Olga has completed SEO courses and degrees at universities, such as UC Davis, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University. She also completed Moz Academy! And, of course, has Google certifications. She keeps learning SEO and loves it. Olga is also a Google Product Expert specializing in areas, such as Google Search and Google Webmasters.