5th of April 2017 by Alex Mungo
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Migrating URLs can be a complex process, and it's crucial to plan and execute the migration carefully to avoid negative impacts on your website's SEO and user experience. Whether you are moving to a new domain, restructuring your site, or making changes to individual URLs, here's a general guide to help you successfully migrate URLs:

1. Create a Comprehensive Plan

Inventory: Document all current URLs and their corresponding structures.

Mapping: Create a mapping of old URLs to new URLs.

Prioritize Pages: Identify high-priority pages and ensure they are prioritized in the migration plan.

2. Set Up Redirects

Implement 301 redirects from old URLs to new ones. This helps search engines and users find the updated content.

Utilize tools like .htaccess for Apache servers or the mod_rewrite module for Nginx to manage redirects.

Consider using server-side redirects instead of JavaScript or meta refresh, as they are more SEO-friendly.

3. Update Internal Links

Update all internal links on your site to point to the new URLs.

Make sure navigation menus, sitemaps, and other internal linking structures reflect the changes.

4. Update External Links

If possible, reach out to websites linking to your old URLs and request them to update their links.

Consider using Google Search Console to identify external links pointing to your site.

5. Update XML Sitemaps

Generate and submit updated XML sitemaps to search engines.

Ensure that the sitemap includes the new URLs and removes references to old ones.

6. Monitor Crawl Errors

Regularly check Google Search Console for crawl errors and address them promptly.

Monitor your site's performance in search engine rankings after the migration.

7. Update Robots.txt

Ensure your robots.txt file allows search engines to crawl the new URLs.

If necessary, update directives to reflect the changes in URL structure.

8. Test And QA

Conduct thorough testing of the new URLs to ensure proper functionality.

Use tools like Google's Search Console, Screaming Frog, or other SEO tools to identify potential issues.

9. Communicate Changes

Inform your team members about the migration plan and its implications.

Communicate the changes to your users through newsletters, social media, or website announcements.

10. Monitor And Iterate

Continuously monitor the performance of your site after the migration.

Be ready to address any unforeseen issues promptly.

11. Consider Professional Help

If your site is large or the migration is complex, consider consulting with SEO experts or web developers to ensure a smooth transition.

12. How Long Do You Have To Keep 301 Redirects In Place?

You can keep 301 redirects for months or as long as it might take so that your traffic is restored. If you remove the 301s too early you might end up breaking the link juice that Google has between the two URLs.

You should also ensure that the new URL is ranking for branded searches before doing any 301 redirects. This may take a couple of months but please remember to use a 301 when you finally redirect.

13. Do My Pages Have To Be Identical?

For the 301 redirects to be able to work it is not a must for the web pages to be identical. You should redirect your web pages’ users and bots to web pages that are identical to the old one only when possible.

At Go Mungo SEO we often redirect just few of our clients' previous web pages to just one of their new URLs and it has worked well for them. The only thing we refrain from doing is redirecting web pages that are irrelevant to equivalent web pages. We also ensure that all of the keywords that were in the old web pages are also available in the new site's pages.

14. You Should Not Redirect All Of Your Old Pages To Your Homepage

Redirecting all of your old web pages to your homepage will lead to a soft 404 error or multiple ones which could have negative effects on how some of your web pages rank. This is because Google will class these redirects as improperly redirected links, hence why they are called soft 404s.

To avoid this, simply redirect the old web pages to their relevant new web pages.

15. Ensure That All Duplicate Content Across Both Sites Is Removed

Removing any duplicate content across both sites is important in helping Google know which pages to rank for in the search results. This may be a blog which was on the old site or any content that is identical on both sites. You should also make sure that you request no-follows for the old site's content if it is still visible.

Final Thoughts

Moving a site's URL can be very hectic, but with the proper team, you should be able to migrate URLs without incurring any rankings losses. To ensure that the whole process goes smoothly, you just have to make sure that you maintain a good relationship with the web development team to ensure all onsite work is completed. You should also make sure that all parties involved are on board. Remember, the key to a successful URL migration is careful planning and thorough testing. Each website is unique, so adapt these steps based on your specific circumstances. Additionally, staying informed about the latest best practices in SEO and website migration is crucial for a successful outcome.

If you're unsure of what to do or would rather have a pro help you, feel free to get in touch with us at Go Mungo SEO and we will be more than happy to help.

Alex Mungo Founder Of Go Mungo SEO
Alex Mungo

Founder of Go Mungo SEO Alex has a passion for SEO, enjoying sharing his knowledge and experience through his writing.

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