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Site Migrations

  • 12th Oct 2018

Hand holds a cube with the letter S with the word http. Changing the protocol for security and transfer of hypervistext, increasing the security of websites. Certification of security on the Internet

Due to the ‘Not Secure’ message that browsers are putting in the address bar now, we have been migrating clients over to SSL a lot lately.

Moving your site URL can be a cause for concern to ensure that you don’t suffer too much of a blip in rankings and traffic. Quite a lot of sites are making the move from http to https, which is also classed as a site migration since every URL on the site will change.

 

Checklist:

  • Obtain SSL certificate and install on the server
  • Ensure sitemap.xml is in place and up to date on current site
  • Update all of your hard-coded links to https.
  • Redirect users and search engines to the https pages with server side 301 redirects using a regex in the .htaccess file.
  • Update any custom scripts so that they point to https versions, including third party hosted scripts. Scan the website for any non-secure content.
  • Update the robots.txt file to remove any hard-coded links or blocking rules that may still be pointing to http directories or files.
  • Ensure to embed only https content on https pages
  • Put the https version of your site live. Ideally choose a low traffic time for migration
  • Add https versions of your site to Google Search Console and set your preferred domain status.
  • Submit your sitemap on Search Console for the new version of the site
  • Verify that site can be crawled and indexed and that it is not blocked by robots with no meta “non-index” tags
  • Use Fetch as Google to check Google Bot is functioning as it should
  • Update your Google Analytics profile from http to https in Admin and Property Settings. This way you won’t lose any history.
  • Check that correct http status codes are being returned for the pages as you would expect
  • Monitor search performance for targeted keywords but expect fluctuation for a few weeks

 

On large sites, when you migrate a site to a new URL thats a different name or subdomain altogether, you can find yourself in the situation where you have done all you can to ensure things change over smoothly but there are some links elsewhere on the internet which might not get crawled and re-indexed quickly so your 301 doesn’t get picked up. We had this situation recently with some strong university and edu websites that were very authoritative but seemingly not crawled often.

The links were placed on the blog and the post submitted via search console with ‘Fetch as Google’.

The site that changed subdomains was
https://theconferencewebsite.com/

These were identified as key link partners using Moz Link Explorer.

A university in Hawaii
http://www.ahec.hawaii.edu/cme-3/

The University of Mexico
http://sem.facmed.unam.mx/?q=node/47

An Academic website in Aukland, NZ
http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/en/faculty/pgsa/conferences.html

A medical body site
http://bsaci.worldsecuresystems.com/links

A respected human-edited directory
http://hotvsnot.com/www/medical_conferences/

As you can see a pretty random selection, but trusted sites. Getting these key links picked up quickly was important in ensuring a fast recovery in the SERPs.