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Google Shares Advice on Site Migrations

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Google Shares Advice on Site Migrations


Google published a new video about site migrations. John Mueller offered insights into how Google handles website migrations and how long they can take. The major takeaways are that site migrations can be difficult and that a comprehensive plan needs to be in place before the migration.

The video begins with a question:

“We’re currently going through a site migration and we’d also like to restructure the URLs on the site. Does this impose any risks?”

Migrating a site typically means changing the domain name, sometimes because the company is merged with another one or because the branding changed.

Joining two sites together are the trickiest because you have to choose what URLs will remain and which will be merged into existing pages that are similar.

John Mueller answered:

“Unfortunately, while this may at first sound like a small change within a website, it’s not that simple for search engines.

In particular, search engines like Google store their index on a per-page basis.

So if you change the address or the URL of a page, that page’s data has to be forwarded somehow, otherwise it gets lost.

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It doesn’t matter if you’re completely rebuilding a website or if you’re just removing a slash from the end of URLs. These are all essentially site moves.”

John Mueller Offers Site Migration Tips

1. Research the Options and Potential Effects

Site moves can be disruptive so it’s important to plan out the move by mapping one site to another. One way to do it is to divide the two sites into sections and see if sections can map to each other.

From there it’s a matter of mapping URLs one to one and deciding which URLs cannot be moved to the new site and should resolve to a 404 response, which can be tough if there are links pointing to those pages. Which is why it’s important to plan ahead, thoroughly.

Mueller advised:

“Since these changes take time and have ranking effects, it’s also recommended to consider the timing of when you make a move.”

Screenshot of Google’s John Mueller

2. Create a List of Old and New URLs

This is an important step.

According to John:

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“…This tip will help help you to track and check the changes afterward.”

A good practice is to create a spreadsheet of URLs, which can easily be done with Screaming Frog.

Once you’ve got the redirects in place and the new URLs up, you can check the work by uploading the list of the old site structure to Screaming Frog so that it can crawl the URLs.

This is easily done by selecting Mode > List then clicking on the Upload drop down menu tab and selecting the type of file being uploaded.

Screaming Frog will crawl the old URLs in the list and show you which URLs are redirecting to the new URLs and which are not and returning a 404 page not found error response code.

The 404 URLs may be the URLs that didn’t make it over to the new site (if they aren’t the URLs planned on being purposely dropped).

You’ll have to determine if the 404 is the correct response (you meant to do that) or if the URL was unintentionally left out of the site migration and needs to be mapped to a new URL.

3. Implement the Migration

Mueller advised:

“301 redirect all the old URLs to the new ones, also update all internal mentions such as:

  • links
  • forms
  • structured data
  • sitemaps
  • and the Robots.txt file”

4. Monitor the Migration

Mueller advised using Search Console for this:

“Check all pages for the redirect. In Google’s search console report you should see a quick change for the most important pages and then a slower change as our systems reprocess the rest.”

Mueller cautioned that this last part can take months to finish. He’s talked about how determining overall site quality can take months. Google has to basically learn what a site is about, including site quality and to understand where the site fits within the Internet.

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John recommended leaving the redirects in place for at least one year.

In my experience, it may be necessary to consider leaving the redirects in place for longer than a year. The reason is because old URLs that have links from other sites pointed at them will become broken links if the redirects are removed.

You can create an outreach to contact sites that are linking to you and ask them to fix the links to point to the changed URLs.

But you have to be aware that doing this kind of outreach can backfire because some sites, for many reasons, may decide to remove the link altogether.

Also, there may be links out there that you don’t know about, so you can never be sure that you had all the inbound links updated. So for that reason, it may be necessary to keep those redirects in place and be ready to update them should some of the URLs change again, to avoid creating chained redirects.

A chain redirect is when an old URL redirects to another old URL which itself redirects to another old URL before it redirects to the final URL. Over the years this can create a chain of redirects which becomes problematic for crawling.

Site Migrations are Tough

As Mueller advised, it’s important to plan ahead. Map similar pages together and be conscious about link equity from inbound links. Site migrations can result in a site losing search presence but it doesn’t have to happen if it’s preceded with a thorough migration plan.

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Watch John Mueller Offer Site Migration Tips

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SEO

How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

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Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

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Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

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Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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