Migrating a website, CMS or even E-commerce platform is something that practically all websites will have to do from time to time. It’s a natural process of evolution as businesses, technologies and best practices advance, but in the OEM and automotive world, that can be a monumental task, to say the least.
As experts in the Automotive and Tech industries, this is something that RockarTech has had to deal with countless times over. As a result of that, we’ve managed to refine a process, highlighting some of the pivotal steps involved in the process to help you get a better idea of how to protect one of your most valuable assets.
To put it into an easier to follow process, we’ve split our suggestions into three separate areas; pre, mid and post migration. The timing of these activities is just as crucial as the actions themselves, so thinking about a process is just as important as the process.
Without a doubt, any big change that is going to be made should be subjected first to a full backup of the existing site. This can take multiple forms, but having a backup of the site means should anything drastic happen, there is minimal impact or downtime. It may seem obvious but it can also help fill in any gaps down the line too.
Backlink Check In
Another very sensible thing to do before a site migration takes place is to take a look at your backlink profile. By seeing all the links that you have from other domains, and more importantly, where they are leading to, you can get a good idea of the URLs that you have in play that may be even more pivotal still to remain the same (or get proper redirects at the very least). It could be certain assets, images, pdfs, pages, and everything in between that could be helping your authority and helping those things to rank.
In much the same way as backlinks, understanding where your traffic is coming from as it stands currently is also a good way to understand the most important pages on your site from an SEO perspective. While KPI performance from the traffic is also of course good to know, just understanding where most of your sessions are beginning and why can help you to determine which URLs or areas of the site may need special attention. You might even find some pages that really shouldn’t be bringing in traffic doing some of the heavy hitting, in which case you might find new areas to expand into or develop.
Migrate content and metadata
Once the main part of the migration begins, often the first thing to do is to move across all of the existing content and metadata from various areas of the site. It could be done by category, like pages, then subdomains, then models, or perhaps a simple clone and URL change… The options are very tailorable to you and your unique circumstances, but by doing this, you should get all of your metadata too, saving a lot of time and more importantly, protecting your existing SEO performance.
Like for like links
Without a doubt, one of the most if not the most important things to consider when migrating your site to a new platform as an automotive power is to make sure your links are protected. Domain and authority go hand in hand with sites as powerful as an OEM’s, so making sure to keep your links identical to where you intend to keep the content that was within them is vital. Search Engines see each different URL, even just a character as a new page in most circumstances, meaning you could well lose a huge amount of indexation if this isn’t performed.
301 removed content & Copy existing 301 redirects
It’s always possible that not all content or all links will be involved in the migration process. Perhaps some content is outdated or irrelevant, shouldn’t have been there in the first place or is simply not in line with the current brand, and that’s fine. Where that is the case,
Replicate or update robots.txt
With a new CMS, especially for larger sites like that of an OEM, it’s very likely that a robots.txt file will need to be moved across and then updated. Doing it in this way you’ll likely protect all of the sensitive or unfriendly content that you have already, but you’ll also be adding the new areas or features of the new CMS that should also be nocrawl.
Replicate or update the sitemap and resubmit
As you move and remove content, change platforms and in some cases, add entirely new content in the process or even change the nav or site structure, chances are that there are going to be some changes to the sitemap, and this is something to be on the ball with as an OEM. Whether it’s model pages, customer information, content marketing, or anything in between, it’s important to make sure that your sitemap is fully ready to be used on your new platform. This is also a prime time to make sure that your high value URLs are exactly the same as they were previously, and that nothing is missing. This can then be added to search engines like Google Search Console to help with indexing your new content.
Check tracking is still in place and working
Once finished with the moving of content and supporting resources like .xml and .txt files, the next best thing to do in this case is generally to check that your previous tracking requirements are still validated. It could be code for social media marketing, Google or Bing tracking, PPC codes, and anything else that you could possibly be using. For minimal disruption to data and marketing efforts, it’s a great idea to check this is all still present and working, with triggers in place to record the data you need.
Consider media/file URLs and backlinks
Finally, with everything else done and in place, one final often forgotten part of site migration in this space is to consider media and file URLs. While not often considered core areas of a site, as an OEM or large retailer, it is highly possible that things like images are able to rank, as well as often having a large collection of backlinks from other sites as they reference your products or brand. By making sure these URLs are the same as they were previously or restoring the previous structure they had, you may well further protect your rankings and authority.
In summary, a site migration is a very common process that takes place in the world of automotive and SEO. It is a necessary part of evolving in line with the technological changes we see every day, and with new platforms and more efficient ways of selling cars even from an OEM perspective arising every day, it’s more important than ever to get a process refined and ready to use whenever you need it most.
This content is meant as a guideline to migration and is not advice from RockarTech