Apr 12, 2021, Consulting

E-commerce platform migration – save your SEO

Aneta Skoczewska Business Consultant

If you have your SEO campaign done right, you probably love all of the miraculous results it brings. Your traffic mounts up, people who visit your store are actually interested in what you’re selling, and the magic of the highest positions in organic searches works to your advantage. But the idyll can’t last forever. There’s a sneaky meddler ready to interfere with this arcadian picture – a reckless e-commerce platform migration. However, as scary as it may sound, it shouldn’t make your blood run cold. There’s a quick and painless remedy to save your SEO from annihilation. Get to know its intricacies, and you won’t suffer a fall.

Make friends with the Google bots

Let’s tame the Google bots for the sake of explaining how they work and imagine them as a bunch of cute R2-D2s from Star Wars. Their uttermost task is to crawl your website and collect a set of valid data which is then submitted for the process of indexation. Google algorithms subject it to an in-depth analysis and determine if the site should appear in the search results for a given phrase. Little R2-D2s and their algorithm fellas work mainly for the benefit of users, providing them with the most valuable and relevant content. If you get along with this peculiar group, it’ll work for your advantage, too. 

Code your way into good SEO

You have your e-store perfectly optimized, right? OK, let’s say I believe you. But there may be some aspects that slipped your mind and are crucial from the Google bots perspective. Don’t put yourself at risk and check the list for potential shortages:

  • Valid XML sitemap added to Google Search Console shows the detailed structure of your website and should be updated with every change
  • Robot.txt files for every page with low factual value from the Google search results perspective (privacy policy, regulations, etc.)
  • CSS/JS optimization and asynchronous CSS/JS files loading
  • Pictures optimization: files compression, proper naming, alternative ALT text 
  • Plugins and external libraries in reasonable amount
  • Rel=”canonical” for the parent page
  • Proper HTMS semantics: <main>, <header>, <footer>, <article>, <aside>
  • Breadcrumbs – clickable menu which shows the website’s structure on every page (not food)
  • Language version: hreflang attribute placed in the page section, return links, correct regional codes, full addresses (with protocole)
  • Http protocol updated to 2.0 
  • Simple URLs structure – with proper keywords and no unnecessary signs, digits or letters
  • Unique meta titles and descriptions for every page
  • <h1>, <h2>, … headers in an accurate structure (only one <h1> per site)
  • No-follow linking applies to the pages of lower value within the website and every external link

If you’re not a website developer, it probably looks a bit scary but you surely have a person to check it for you with ease. Pass the article to your reliable devs and let them tackle it themselves.

If, in turn, you are a website developer, have fun and don’t swear on Google that much. Remember about the cute, little R2-D2s eager to crawl your page.

Beware of the new algorithms

Yes, there’s more. Google doesn’t want you to get bored and every now and then comes up with some new, revolutionizing ideas. This time, there are two most crucial changes to shake the world of SEO in 2021.

1. Mobile only index 

Google has a thing for mobiles and that’s for sure. Actually, it isn’t that surprising if you consider how many people browse the internet via their smartphones. Maybe you’re one of them right now? Either way, the new algorithm favors mobiles even more, making them the most essential version of your website. That’s why now Google pays a much significant attention to consistency between your desktop and mobile page. To make things simpler – they need to be exactly the same and every single letter of the content counts! Optimization should be equal, too.

2. Core Web Vitals

The tremendous three – Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability – is the core of the second crucial algorithm ready to strike your website right in the heart. So, what’s it all about?

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) should be loaded in less than 2,4 seconds
  • First Input Delay (FID) states that the time that it takes to interact with your page should be less than 100 milliseconds
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures content shifts during page loading – preferably they should be less than 0,1 second

Have enough? We’re only getting started. 

Optimization before migration

So, if all of the above conditions are met, here comes the terrifying moment of migration. But stay calm, it’s really not that bad. 

  1. First, you need to remember to transfer all of the content along with meta tags and descriptions from the previous version of your page to the new one. 
  2. Take care of your website’s code – optimize it according to the tips mentioned above.
  3. Test version website should be in robot.txt, but don’t forget to take it off as soon as you’re done with the process of migration.
  4. Implement a new XML sitemap to Google Search Console.
  5. Verify if your new website loads quickly enough and improve its performance if needed.
  6. Don’t underestimate the power of mobile friendliness. Just deal with it and your website won’t get hurt.

301 redirect is your king

Make sure you have the old URLs mapping scheme ready before migration. The current list of addresses should be available in a regularly updated sitemap, among landing pages listed in Google Analytics, in server logs, or after scanning the website with a special crawler, e.g. Screaming Frog.

Yes, you need to redirect them all. At least it’s a preferable option. If your store is extremely complex and expanded, focus on the URLs that are most crucial from your customer’s point of view. 

An old page doesn’t have its equivalent in the new version of the site? It should report the 404 or 410 status

And lastly, remember that it’s not recommended to redirect a load of addresses to the same place, e.g. the home page. Google can interpret it as an apparent 404 error.

Don’t sleep in – track and analyze

Phew, the migration’s all set and you’re ready to move on with your life. Well, not so fast. Now, it would be great if you tested the new store’s performance and monitor the volume of traffic to new destinations. Do the links work? All of them? Be sure to check them out. Diagnose potential problems with Google Search Console – it will show you the indexation errors and indicate your website’s visibility in search results. It’s also essential to maintain data continuity in Google Analytics or other similar tools you’re using.

And… That’s it. You can breathe the sigh of relief. 

If you want to refresh your store and migrate it seamlessly with your SEO intact, we’ll happily do it for you. Contact us for more information!