In this post, I’ll cover how to do SEO migration correctly and what to remember when migrating from an old ecommerce store to a new one.
How do you perform SEO migration when switching to a new online store?
SEO migration vs. SEO technical optimization
SEO technical optimization of ecommerce
How to do SEO migration correctly when switching to a new online store?
When should an ecommerce agency start an SEO migration?
Is it worth hiring an SEO agency during the discovery phase of new ecommerce implementation?
There are six steps you should follow or keep in mind to perform a full SEO migration from your old store to the new one.
These are the key steps you need to take when migrating SEO from your old online store to your new one. If you need clarification on what these points mean, don’t worry. I will describe each of them in detail later in this article.
Keep in mind that this article is aimed at people who are not SEO technical specialists, but are often ecommerce managers or online shops owners.
First of all, I want to emphasize the difference between SEO migration and SEO technical optimization.
While preparing to write this article, I browsed through many different texts and noticed that these 2 terms are often used interchangeably. However, in the context of an ecommerce implementation project, it is worth distinguishing between them.
Technical optimization of a website or online store is an action aimed at improving the rating of our site by Google’s algorithm. The goal is to appear higher in search results, which translates into an increase in free, organic traffic to the site.
For example, if someone types “Nike shoes” into a search engine and our site appears first, without being a paid ad, this generates free traffic.
Site optimization, often referred to as SEO technical optimization of an online store, includes a series of measures to improve the site’s rating by Google.
For example, the use of images in WebP format makes them lighter, which is positively evaluated by Google. This allows users on mobile devices to see the image faster. Google promotes sites that meet these requirements.
Another element of technically optimizing a site for SEO can be making sure that a site’s Google Pagespeed results are as high as possible. To achieve high scores, several measures can be taken, ranging from optimization on the hosting side to tasks such as JS bundling.
Higher scores on Google Pagespeed result in more free, organic traffic to the site, as Google promotes high-performance sites that run fast on mobile and desktop devices.
The second aspect is SEO migration, which we are talking about when we move from one ecommerce engine to another, for example.
Let’s assume we are moving from Shopify to Magento. If you own a large online store and regularly invest in external linking and new content creation, you would like to transfer the effects of these efforts to the new site. The goal is to maintain your existing rating by Google’s algorithm.
We show Google that the new site is like the old site. While it may sound absurd, the whole point of SEO migration is to make Google rate the new site like the old one without lowering it in search results. Therefore, all SEO migration efforts are aimed at making the new site look like the old site to Google. Brilliant.
So, we distinguish between SEO technical optimization of the website and SEO migration.
The former is the action we take regularly to bring the site up to Google’s requirements. SEO migration, on the other hand, is the transfer of all the effects of SEO activities to the new site so that we do not lose the invested money in optimizing the site that we have spent for several years.
Let’s go over the 6 key points of SEO migration.
The first is redirecting old addresses to new ones. If you create a new site, the link structure will not be identical to the new and old sites.
For example, you sell consumer electronics and appliances, such as a Bosch blender, model ML6061. In the old online store, this product had a specific URL. In the new online store, this address already looks completely different.
For example, it doesn’t have things like “domain.com/en/product/cat/blender-bosch-ML-606”. Instead, we have something like “domain.com/blender-bosch-ML-6061.”
So what do we need to do? We need to ensure that if someone ever uses the old link, they don’t end up on a page with a 404 error when they click on it. The idea is that when the user clicks on the link, they end up on the corresponding product in the new online store, which has an entirely different URL. For this purpose, permanent 301 redirects are used.
The redirection map is usually prepared by the SEO agency, specialist, or freelancer you work with about 2 months before the planned launch of the new website. The SEO specialist prepares the redirection map, and its implementation is carried out by the ecommerce agency responsible for implementing the new online store.
The next point is content transfer. If you had 180 exciting blog posts on the old store, the same 180 posts must be on the new store.
The same goes for all product content, such as product descriptions, specifications, images, etc. This is a simple task that just needs to be done.
Often, the cold data is moved to the Product Information Management (PIM) system, where it is managed. When content is migrated to PIM, it is integrated with the new ecommerce engine. In this way, product data is transferred to the new ecommerce store.
Another aspect is paid links, which pertain to external linking. This involves placing a link leading to our domain on another domain.
Everything works fine if the link leads to the home page. The problem arises when the link leads to a specific product category, subcategory or a specific product. If this address does not exist, then 301 redirects are used.
A 301 redirect tells you that instead of a given URL, it displays a page with a different URL to which the user is transferred. This way, despite the absence of the original address, the user gets to the right page. Note that the power (from SEO perspective) of such a link is somewhat reduced.
It is essential to contact the owners of sites that link to our online store. You should ask them to replace the links with new ones. Since links are usually paid, this should be fine. If you bought the links, you should be able to change them.
If the purchase was made five years ago, this may be more difficult.
The next element is internal linking. Just as we conduct external linking, there are also internal links on our site.
For example, we create a blog post comparing three different blenders and put links to those blenders. It may happen that these links have changed their addresses. In this case, we should update the old URLs to the new ones on the blog. This should be done, there is no other advice.
The fifth point is the meta title. For the meta title, you could immediately consider changing the meta description, but this is not necessary.
What’s more, h1 headings are very similar to the meta title. If we have headers described as h1 on our website, it’s a good idea for new pages to have these h1s identical to those on our old online store.
There are 6 key points to make. If they are implemented correctly, any SEO drops, especially organic traffic drops, will occur, but they will be short-lived. You will quickly regain your positions and the amount of organic traffic they generate.
Moving on to working with a company during an SEO migration, it is worth considering the right timing to start such cooperation.
For the SEO migration, you should contact the ecommerce agency or software house you work with about 2 months before the planned launch of the new online shop. This will give you enough time to perform the entire SEO migration.
When it comes to SEO technical optimization, you often decide to change your site, among other reasons, because the old site limited the possibilities of technical optimization.
You didn’t have full control over URL structure or content management on the website. For example, you couldn’t add category descriptions in certain places or create content anywhere on the site. This is one of the reasons why you decided to change your site.
Suppose you want to optimize your new online store for SEO. In that case, you should engage an SEO agency, expert, or freelancer to work with your ecommerce agency as early as the discovery phase (pre-implementation analysis / business analysis).
Why so early? At this stage, user stories, acceptance criteria, and design are created.
For example, if your graphic designer from an ecommerce agency is planning a new menu or search results layout, it is worth having your SEO expert look at these elements as well. They should assess whether enough content placements have been provided and whether the layout of categories and subcategories is appropriate. This will make it easy to optimize your ecommerce for SEO.
You should pay attention to 6 key points during SEO migration.
Keeping these points in mind guarantees the full and correct success of the SEO migration.