How to Recover from Web Migration Disaster?
Sometimes changes to web pages or migrations of any kind, are made without giving a second thought to SEO best practices. It can lead to website losing traffic, but how to repair this worst-scenario is a challenge for SEO professionals.
SEO experts never modify a URL without employing the 301 WordPress redirect as well as ensuring that the XML sitemaps, links, and canonical tags are updated. Unfortunately, during website migration, there can be issues of traffic loss. You need to identify what action was ignored during the migration, and fix it before you start a full audit.
You may just have basic information on the steps taken while making changes. You will not have access to previous logs crawls, and ranking data. Hence, you will need to depend on new crawls and historical ranking data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
How to identify critical issue and repair?
Confirm that traffic loss is due to web migration
With information from the website owner about the particular changes made during migration, you will be able to detect the actions missed. Check whether the time of traffic loss matches with migration to validate if it was the real cause.
If the matching factor differs, then consider a full analysis and audit. Don’t forget to backup the WP files before making major changes. You might have to restore the files if you choose to reset WordPress.
Identify pages that dropped significantly in traffic, rankings, and conversions
After confirming that the cause of traffic loss is due to migration, focus on identifying the areas that were hit hard from the perspective of traffic, rankings, and conversions. Compare per page organic search traffic, before and after web migration, by using Google Analytics.
Identify keywords, which had these pages ranked
In the majority of cases, the problem can be technical. It is, therefore, necessary to detect the keywords responsible for the ranking of these pages in the past, but lost viability post-migration. Monitor them and verify improvement, after fixing the issues.
Crawl pages with dropped traffic and full website to detect gaps
Comparing issues in dropped traffic pages with currently linked ones will help you identify the gaps including –
- Which pages weren’t included in the web crawl now, as they were not redirected, but had been receiving good organic search traffic?
- Is the protocol erratic in the crawls?
- Do canonicalized pages point towards irrelevant URLs?
- Are traffic loss pages now blocked or non-indexable?
- Are redirects transferring to relevant new versions of old content?
- Are there indirect loops hindering search bots from hunting the destination page?
- Why are redirected URLs still being crawled?
- Are duplicate content problems involved in lost traffic pages?
It is the time to fix identified issues
After getting answers to all the questions asked above, you need to re-configure and update the pages that lost traffic. Remember, if there was a need for a drastic change in web migration, traffic loss and rankings could be experienced for a short term. Fix problems before changing things that are not related directly.