Website Migration Services: A Beginner’s Guide - 1Digital® Agency
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Website Migration Services

There are so many reasons you might be reading this, as the reasons that a website migration might become necessary are many. All the same, considering a website migration can be a scary proposition. There are many risks involved, including the loss of customer and order data, and the risks of SEO bungles that result in drops in organic traffic. 

Still, there are times when a migration becomes effectively an imperative. Here’s what you should know about when it’s time, how to prepare, and how to vet a provider of website migration services, all from a very high level, of course.

When Website Migration Services Might Become Necessary 

There are some big indicators that might tip you off that it’ll be time for you to get off your current platform sooner rather than later. These are some of the most salient.

  • Website support is ending or becoming untenable

Have you just been informed that your current platform administrator or hosting provider will no longer be able to support your website’s operations in the near future? This is one of the most straightforward indicators of all. If this happens (and it does, I’ve heard it from actual clients) then the case is not that you might need to migrate. You will have to.

  • Your current setup can’t handle your website traffic

For any of various reasons, a hosting provider or even a platform itself might not be well suited to shoulder the amount of traffic your website gets. For growing eCommerce websites and blogs, this is a serious problem that will result in a poor user experience or flat out crashes. 

  • Your platform is too limiting

Some platforms, for better or worse, are difficult to customize. This is particularly true of open-source platforms that require you to have a good deal of development experience to make even the most basic changes. In that event, it might be far more expedient for your business if you get your website onto a more amenable platform with templated solutions, sooner rather than later. 

  • There are security concerns

If your website is experiencing a larger than average number of fraudulent attempts or transactions, you might need to get onto a more secure platform or hosting provider. A situation like this can be a ticking time bomb so it’s better dealt with sooner rather than later. 

  • You need a more scalable solution 

There are many reasons that a website platform limits your ability to grow, either in terms of what you offer, how much traffic you bring in, or what changes you anticipate making to it. Either way, once your platform becomes the limiter, it’s time for a new one. The longer you put it off, the harder the migration will be in the long run anyway.

  • You want to move to an eCommerce-friendly platform 

Some websites start on open-source platforms like WordPress only to realize that there are much better solutions for eCommerce, like Shopify and BigCommerce, that are designed for managing customer accounts, order data, payment processing, and managing an inventory of products. 

How to Prepare for a Website Migration

Once you know a website migration is an inevitability, there are things you can do to make the process easier on yourself, as well as more secure for you and your users. 

Here are some of the steps you’ll want to take, again, from a high level. 

  • Set your goals 

You shouldn’t be migrating simply because you think it’s a good idea (although it may be). You’ll want to know why. Are you moving for greater scalability? To handle a heavier traffic load? To make it easier for you to customize your website? 

Whatever the case, make sure you know what the goal is so you can measure before and after success. 

  • Establish a plan 

Are you going to handle the migration on your own or work with a provider of website migration services? This is arguably the most important question you will want to answer before proceeding. 

If you’ll be handling the migration internally, make sure you have the skills on your team that you’ll need and that each person knows what their roles and responsibilities are before you get the wheels in motion. At a certain point you won’t be able to turn back.

  • Inform users of any expected downtime 

Once you decide to move forward with plan to migrate your website, make sure your users are well informed of any delays in user experience that might be caused. Send out an email and alert them on social media about the move and let them know when and if to expect downtime – if any is planned. 

  • Freeze the site and back up data 

You don’t want any changes to be happening to the data on your website while you’re working on migrating, so it will become necessary at some point to freeze your website (that means no more posting to your CMS platform or accepting new client orders) and back up all your data.

  • Setup analytics

When going through a domain migration, you’ll want to set up analytics beforehand so that you’re ready to start tracking traffic, sessions, conversions and revenue as soon as the new site is live. This is particularly important because migrations can affect SEO (search engine optimization) and generally not favorably, unless 301 redirects are implemented properly. 

  • Test redirects 

As stated, anywhere there is a change to a URL structure, a 404 error will occur in the wake of a migration. Without 301 redirects in place, this will cause a massive drop off in traffic after the migration. Test them before launching. 

  • Launch the new site 

Once you’ve backed up your data, set up analytics, put redirects in place, you can export the data from the old site to the new site – that is, perform the actual migration  – then launch the site. 

  • Run post-launch diagnostics/check functionality 

Once the new site is live, check it to make sure everything is where it should be and spot check integrations and pages for display and functionality. You won’t be able to spot check everything, but if a large set of random checks doesn’t turn up any errors, you’re likely in a good spot. 

  • Alternatively, work with a proven provider of website migration services 

While the high level pointers outlined here should give you a jumping off point for planning a migration yourself, a much safer avenue is to work with a professional provider of website migration services. A successful migration may hinge on their expertise. 

How to Vet a Company That Provides Website Migration Services 

While working with a provider of professional website migration services can help you avoid a disaster, it is equally important to make sure you’re working with one that can be trusted. Failing to do so can take a migration from bad to worse, and cost you money in the process. Here are some things to look for before signing with an agency. 

  • Ask questions to be sure of the services offered

If there’s anything you need to be known about your website or hosting environment before migrating, make sure you ask. You can’t expect anyone else to know about the unique requirements for your project if you don’t publish them, but more importantly, you won’t know if the agency can handle the job if you don’t ask. 

  • Make sure their services are SEO-friendly

Many agencies offer website migration services, not all of them are quality, and certainly, not all of them are executed with an eye on SEO. All in all, we are SEO experts here, even more than migration experts. We are no strangers to Google Analytics, Search Console, or implementing redirects. Call us and ask if you have concerns about drops in organic traffic before you enlist. We will be more than happy to explain any part of the process in detail. 

  • Ask for case studies

Case studies are, in many ways, proof of the pudding. Talk is cheap when it comes to digital marketing services. Look for case studies that illustrate the process of a migration as well as what steps were taken to ensure that the project ran smoothly and as expected. 

  • Read the scope of work 

The scope of work (SOW) will detail what the agency will be responsible and what (if anything) you will be responsible for. It is absolutely critical that you understand your role in the process before embarking. There are things an agency will not be able to do without your help. 

  • Inquire into the migration process

Never sign with an eCommerce digital agency unless they have a proven migration process. I won’t pontificate. We have one – you can learn about our migration process right here – and we’ve handled hundreds. 

  • Check reviews (offsite reviews are best) 

In the interest of fairness, I have to tell you to check reviews, and not just reviews that appear on our website. Check our offsite reviews, too. There’s no bias there, and you’ll get some insight into what clients that have actually worked with us thought of the interaction. 

Getting Ready for a Migration 

Just like so many things in life, though the prospect of a migration might be unwelcome, it’s best to just get it over and done with. Start planning the move and your reasons for it today, and if you need help, don’t be afraid to connect with a professional to shed some light on the anything that’s confusing you.


Michael Esposito

Mike Esposito is a professional SEO copywriter spurned by a love of language and creativity. When he's not at the keyboard, you may be able to catch a rare glimpse of him enjoying the outdoors or sipping fine literature.

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