We are currently undertaking a fairly complicated site migration, and are looking for thoughts, ideas, pointers, takeaways, findings from the great minds at WebmasterWorld.
I would love to get a thoughtful conversation going on this topic and see what kind of experience others have had on similar projects. Thanks.
We have 3 websites, each with 1-3K+ pages indexed in Google, at the directive of the executive team, they must be migrated into a 4th existing website with about 2K pages indexed.
Each of these sites have a decent amount of organic traffic, rankings and are leaders within their submarket.
A Little Background
This is a larger company, let’s call it Company A, which went on a buying spree and bought up several of the other smaller market leaders across it’s submarkets. Company A is also a leader in their main market, but they offer 5 different products/services, whereas companies B,.C and D carry one main product that falls within one of the 5 products sold by company A.
These 3 other companies they bought, have some overlap with company A’s existing keywords/services, but there are also some service branches that do not overlap and are completely different.
(Company A) bought Company (B, C and D)
(Company A) after 6-12 months of messaging and cross branding on the sites, is ready to pull the plug on the 3 sites for each (Company B, C and D)
Additional Aggravating Factors:
1) Company A recently changed their domain as well. (3-4 months ago) from exampledomainsystems.com to exampledomain.com. Thankfully, there has been less than 5-10% loss of organic traffic, but they are seeing a lot of traffic from the old domains keywords and losing some links.
2) We are up against a hard deadline, and a hard directive from CEO. Whatever we recommend, whatever we find. We HAVE to migrate all 3 sites into site A, even if it takes just taking them down completely and doing a catch all redirect sending everything to the homepage of the website of Company A.
3) There are a lot of internal politics at play here as well. We are dealing with 4 different teams, each with different priorities, and each pulling to save ALL the traffic on their sites (B, C, D)
Then you have the team from company (A) trying to drill the fact that sites (B, C, D), make up only 10% of the global picture, and are not that important. More important they say, is maintaining the integrity of the main site, site A, which is now going to be home for all sites A, B, C, D.
4) Each site has at least a couple of hundred pages living within subdomains. From support PDF’s, to old content, to blogs.
I hope I haven't lost you yet! If you have read this far, you're probably the type of person I want to hear from. Keep reading ….
Data we Have Pulled
Complete crawl of all 4 sites using Screamingfrog and Deepcrawl.
Identified all existing :
Meta and Semantic Errors (Title, Desc, H1’s, etc)
Existing redirects (301, 302, etc)
Existing 404’s and other errors. (40X, Time outs, etc)
We do not intend on trying to fix ALL errors pre migration, only those related to migration i.e. redirects, 404’s, page speed, etc. Any pages missing meta data or H1’s, etc on sites B. C, D will not be fixed post migration. (thoughts?)
Once migration is complete, and traffic/rankings settle, we will do a post live SEO audit and recrawl and identify all remaining crawl/html/semantic errors.
We also used Majestic SEO to pull link data for each domain
# of links and value per URL
Types of links (image, text, etc)
Anchor text breakdown
Top referring domains and IP’s
In addition to using this link data for selecting the high priority, highest value pages, we can also use this data for outreach to update important valuable links and anchor text.
Traffic data using GA and GWMT
We pulled GWMT search queries and landing page data Jan-April 2014
We pulled GA organic keyword and landing page data YTD 2014
We looked for overlap across organic ranking keywords, to identify potential targets on the target site that can be used for existing content.
Not all of the sites had goals set up in GA, but the ones that did we are also using that data at the KW and URl level to identify top pages and URLs.
Additional Baseline Data:
We pulled pages indexed data from GWMT and also scraped all of the indexed URLs from Google for each site and subdomain.
We pulled crawl stats for each site in GWMT
We created visual sitemaps of each site using powermapper, which really helps visualize the site structure and layout, when mapping the content across the domains and understanding the overall size and scope of each site.
What we are doing next:
We are currently working on categorizing and grouping all of the URLS and starting to flag all High Priority URLs to identify where they will go on site A.
High Priority URLs = URls w/ decent links, traffic and ranking for some variation of target keywords.
All High Priority URLs must be mapped to pages with same content and page structure. Site A will create subdirectory for Site B exampledomaina.com/siteb, which will serve as a new home page for site B with its own sub navigation and links to important subpages, similiar to structure from old site.
Submitting XML Sitemaps prior to migration on all 4 sites and then post migration, we will submit a new master sitemap for site A, with all of the new subdirectories and pages.
Make recommendations on new site sections for site A, to house new pages for each site(section B, to contain all of the high priority pages from old site B)
Ensure ALL URLs are redirected to the most relevant URL
We also have a team on stand by during the migration: SEO, Devs, PR and Internal decision makers.
This by no means is the complete list of everything we are doing, but I hope it can get the discussion going.
I would love to hear your war/horror/success stories around site migration.