Maintaining consistent online visibility requires substantial resources and well-coordinated efforts from a business. That said, business owners and stakeholders might be reluctant to make significant changes to their website, such as migrating, for fear of its negative impact on their current keyword and search engine rankings. This move would ultimately result in reduced organic traffic and impressions.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be the case. With a well-executed SEO migration strategy, you can preserve your organic traffic and maintain your online presence. Here’s the ultimate site migration SEO checklist to migrate with minimal impact.

Website Migration vs. SEO Migration

Site migration and SEO migration may sound similar, but they are not.

A website migration refers to a significant change in a website’s structure, design, platform, content management system (CMS), URL, or design. Even something seemingly minor as changing your site's layout, URL structure, or switching to a new domain, qualifies as a website migration.

An SEO migration has more to do with a website’s ranking on search engines. It involves transferring your website’s search engine results pages (SERPs) ranking, indexing, and authority after a significant change in your site or its URL structure.

SEO migration ensures your visibility on search engines with regard to traffic volume, and SERP rankings don’t drop after a website migration.

See also: Why Migrate Your Online Store to Shopify.

The Cost of Ignoring SEO During Website Migration

Why does eCommerce SEO migration matter? The short answer is—Visibility.

Search engines like Google have bots whose function is to crawl websites. These bots analyze your website, its content, its respective sources, and its structure to determine whether it will benefit potential visitors.

In order to do this, search engines look at your sitemap and interlinking and then use that information to determine how relevant your website is to internet users. Any modifications you make to your site modify that information as well. This could result in your site losing visibility on SERPs, which takes a long time to build. Rising through Google ranks takes time. It doesn't happen overnight.

If you fail to plan and implement your website migration properly, many of your interlinked site pages will morph into 404 pages. This can be catastrophic for your website’s SEO, which spells instant death for your rankings on SERPs, leads, and traffic volume.

Before you can even consider doing a website migration, you must develop a foolproof SEO-first strategy to ensure your hard-earned eCommerce SEO gains don’t end in lost visibility. An SEO plan should be the first and most important consideration for migrating your site.

Hot to Migrate Website Without Losing SEO: SEO Migration Checklist

So far, we’ve established that a poorly planned website migration without a solid SEO migration strategy can kill your online presence. Imagine the painstaking process of optimizing your website, waiting patiently for months or sometimes years to finally make it to the top page of SERPs, only to lose those gains in weeks because of a poorly planned migration.

Fortunately, with the correct approach, you can save your hard-earned SEO equity and maintain site visibility on search engines after migration. Here’s a foolproof SEO migration checklist to help preserve your position and rankings on Google and other search engines.

1. Pick an Appropriate Date to Migrate

When choosing the day and time to migrate your website, you want to do it when traffic volume and engagement are at an all-time low. Look at your site analytics and find out what day of the week you experience the lowest number of visitors. Once you do, narrow down the time.

The whole idea is to reduce the potential for any disruption during migration. How disruptive the site migration process will be comes down to the data transfer method you employ. Manual migration methods are highly disruptive and might result in you having to disable your site temporarily.

On the other hand, employing automated migration tools like Cart2Cart allows you to run the site migration in the background while allowing your visitors to browse and shop without interruption.

Even then, doing it during low traffic and engagement periods is still better.

2. Do a Site Back Up

Backing up your site data before initiating any website migration process is one of the most important things you can do. Many things can go wrong during migration. The worst case scenario is losing all your product, customer, order, and payment information.

By doing a site backup, you have a fallback plan if the migration process goes awry. That way, you can change back to your previous website and return to the drawing board.

3. Create a Staging Site

A staging site is a duplicate or replica of your new website that is only visible to you. It allows you to analyze the site and test changes you intend to make. A staging site gives you time to comb through finite details of your website, review its functionality and content appearance, implement 301 redirects, and test every facet of the new site before launch.

It also lets you update internal link URLs and the XML sitemap to ensure everything works seamlessly before and after your website goes live.


4. Break Up Your Migration Process Into Stages

As tempting as it might be to migrate your entire website at a go, this would be a huge mistake. Imagine how hard it would be to troubleshoot issues once you launch. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

The best approach is to split the process into sections and then migrate each property in stages. That way, if any issues crop up after, you can easily pinpoint where the problem lies and resolve it easily.

If you're using an automated data migration tool like Cart2Cart, you don't have to worry about breaking the migration process into stages. The software does this for you on the back end by migrating individual entities from the old platform to the new one.

Once the migration concludes, you can review the results and see which entities were migrated. If anything goes wrong during the process, you'll also see it in the results.

See also: eCommerce Platform Migration and Why You Need It.

5. Run an Organic Health Check of the New Platform

If you embark on a domain migration, check your new domain’s organic health first. Due diligence is key here, so do your research beforehand. Here’s what you need to find out:

  • Was the domain previously owned?
  • Has it ever been penalized for spammy content, backlinks, or fraudulent activity?

Taking over a domain with such issues can harm your new website. A great way to assess the organic health of your new domain is through an SEO tool like Moz’s Domain Authority checker. You can also use Wayback Machine to determine the content type a domain's old website hosted.

6. Crawl Your Website

Many website owners skip this very important step when migrating their sites. Crawling your website allows you to see it the way Google and other search engine bots see it. It will give you a full content and URL inventory of your website, and you can then use this information to:

  • Prioritize the content you need to transfer
  • Identify the internal links that need updating to reflect the new site’s URL structure
  • Map the URLs of the old site to new ones in the updated 301 redirect map
  • And more

ScreamingFrog is an excellent resource you can use to do this.

7. Organize Site URLs Based On Their SEO Importance

When you crawl your site, ensure you extract all the URLs in your live domain and use analytics tools like Google Analytics and SEMRush SEO Toolkit to compile critical data about them. This exercise aims to rank content on your website based on its search engine value.

In other words, which pages of your site rank higher on Google, Bing, and other search engines?

That way, priority can be given to these pages when setting up 301 redirects, removing duplicate content, and identifying which ones need to be updated, consolidated, or removed entirely. Organizing site URLs based on their SEO importance ensures that high-ranking site pages maintain their position.

8. Implement 301 Redirects

Implementing 301 redirects is crucial to SEO migration. It ensures that URLs on your old website all point to the respective URLs on the new one. It also ensures that all internal links which may have been missed are redirected appropriately to the new website.

The best way to implement 301 redirects to ensure nothing is left out is to create a 301 redirect map and then crawl it before implementing the redirects. That way, you don’t end up with any broken links. You’ll want to do it both before and after you launch to ensure all links redirect as they should.

A convenient way of implementing 301 redirects, especially if your site has tons of content with embedded links, is to use an automated migration tool like Cart2Cart. The software creates the 301 redirects for you, so you don't have to.

9. Update Your Site’s Internal Links

Updating your new site's URL structure is only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to check that all internal links are up to date. You don't want any broken links or internal redirects. ScreamingFrog is a great resource for identifying internal links, their associated anchor text, and their respective locations on your new website.

10. Customize the 404 Page

404s no longer have to be the plain, boring pages users would see when encountering a broken link. You can create a fun, upbeat, engaging page that redirects visitors to the homepage or other site pages. That way, they can find what they were looking for in the first place.

A detrimental mistake would be leaving your 404 page blank, making it impossible for visitors to navigate to other website sections. In most cases, it always ends in them leaving your site—forever.

11. Update Your Business Listings

If you migrated to a new domain, remember to update the information on citation pages such as Google My Business. Optimizing your business listings on search engines is critical to your SEO strategy and part of a successful SEO migration.

Search engines use these details to verify the legitimacy of your business, subsequently using them to rank your website. If your business domain has changed, update the new URL on your online listings.

12. Create an Updated XML Sitemap

Once you migrate your website to a new platform, you must update your XML sitemap. Ensure you account for every URL on your website, create a new XML sitemap, and upload it to your Google Search Console.

A sitemap helps Google, Bing, and other search engines find your product, service, or business pages. That way, search engines can index and display new URLs on SERPs. Create an updated version of your XML sitemap as soon as you launch your newly migrated website.

13. Update Your Domain in Google Search Console

Once you migrate to a new domain, you must let Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster know. You can do this via the Change of Address tool in Google and the Site Move tool in Bing. Once you do, both search engines can begin indexing your new site's URLs.

14. Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Google adopts a mobile-first indexing approach. It means that before it can feature your website on its desktop SERPs, it first checks if it works properly on mobile devices.

Now, you don't want to build an entirely different website that can be viewed across mobile devices. You want a responsive design that adapts based on the user’s device.

A great resource you can use to assess whether your website is mobile-friendly is the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Use the recommendations it gives you to improve your website's mobile experience.

15. Implement Schema on Your Website

Google, Bing, and other search engines have standard data markup opportunities, collectively known as Website owners can use Schema to help search engine bots crawl their sites and understand the information contained within the web pages.

While Schema doesn't directly affect how high your website ranks on search engines, many SEO experts believe it can. For one, it can create Rich Snippets on SERPs, resulting in higher traffic volume to your website. If you don’t have Schema implemented, it would be a good idea to do so.

16. Update the Robots.txt File

Robots.txt is a file that tells search engines crawling your site which files or pages they can or cannot request from your website. You can find the file by typing your domain URL followed by "/robots.txt."

For instance, if your site domain name is, you’ll find the file at

Once you migrate your website, ensure you update robots.txt. That way, Google and other search engines know which sections of your website to crawl. While at it, add your website's XML sitemap to make it simple for Google bots to find it. That’s always good for SEO.

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17. Update the Backlinks

If your old website racked up some domain authority throughout its existence, chances are, it has several backlinks pointing to it. Backlinks are key when it comes to SEO. If search engines view your website as an authority, they’ll deem your content relevant to users and, as a result, will up-rank it.

You don't want to lose these backlinks. Log in to Google Search Console or any other backlink tool you prefer, and identify the websites backlinking to yours. Next, get in touch with the respective site owners and request them to update their backlinks to point to your new domain.

It might take a while. Patience is key. The point is to retain as much backlink equity as possible once you migrate.

18. Hold On to Your Old Domain

Once you’ve migrated your website to a new domain, don’t let go of your old one. If you do, someone else can take it over and publish their own content, causing you to lose all your backlink equity. Instead, keep ownership of it and retain as much search engine value as you can.

See also: How eCommerce Will Change in the Coming Years.

19. Do a Site Migration SEO Audit

Before you embark on a site migration, you should conduct an SEO audit and repeat the process after launching your new website. Here’s what that looks like:

  • Crawl your website and check for duplicate content, broken links, broken images, page redirects, missing meta-data, and meta-tags, inaccurate canonical tags, etc.
  • Ensure that Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are properly installed on your site and working as they should.
  • Confirm that your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Test to make sure all your integrations and plugins are functional.
  • Update all your social profiles and ensure your links are up to date.
  • Update your business listings on Google My Business and other search engines.
  • Analyze your website for broken backlinks and reach out to the respective site owners, requesting them to update them.
  • Ensure your website meets Google’s SEO best practices as far as its performance goes.

20. Measure Your Site’s Post-Launch Performance

Measuring your new website's performance post-launch will tell you whether you're on the right track. Right off the bat, check to ensure that your website has launched properly and that you’ve gone over every step of the checklist outlined so far.

From there, monitor your analytics and look out for potential red flags in performance. Here’s how to do it:

  • Check that your web pages are receiving search traffic.
  • Check your page loading speeds across various user devices.
  • Monitor your target keywords and the level of organic visibility they’re getting.
  • Track your site’s organic traffic to check whether the numbers on your site’s main pages (homepage, product/service pages, and blog) are increasing, maintaining, or decreasing.
  • Analyze Google Search Console reports to identify potential ranking, indexing, and crawling issues on your website.
  • Check whether all your backlinks are working as they should to ensure they are not redirecting or broken.

How Long Does SEO Migration Take?

If you’ve recently migrated your website to a new platform or domain, don't expect it to appear on search engines immediately. It takes roughly three months to fully transfer your previous SEO equity to your new site.

Keep in mind that the duration it takes also depends on the scale of your site. If your site has 3,000+ pages, it will take significantly longer than if it had, say, 100 pages. The more content you have to migrate, the longer it will take.

You must also consider the amount of SEO preparation required beforehand. You’ll need to do an SEO site audit, develop a staging site, implement the migration, and then do a post-launch site migration SEO audit. Each of these processes takes time, and if you have a monumental amount of content to deal with, it can take several months to complete your SEO migration.

5 Common SEO Migration Issues and How to Avoid Them

Despite your best efforts, things could still go wrong with SEO migrations. The good news is—there are ways to fix them to avoid losing your ranking on search engines. Here are some common SEO migration issues you might encounter and how to avoid them.

1. Loss of Organic Traffic and a Drop in Search Engine Ranking

It is common to notice an instant decline in your ranking on search engines immediately after a site migration, so don't be alarmed. The only issue is if the decline continues over an extended period.

The key thing to remember when migrating to a new domain is that the new one won't be as strong as the old one—not for a long time. This is due to losing your domain authority. If you had several backlinks pointing to the old domain, that's what gave your old website authority, which, in turn, resulted in higher rankings.

The solution would be to identify your backlinks and contact the respective site admins. Request them to update the links to point to your new domain.

Before migrating, consider using an automated migration tool like Cart2Cart, which automatically creates 301 redirects to your new website. It is the easiest way to implement them.

2. Broken Internal Links

A broken internal link is any link on your website that doesn’t work. Broken links usually return 404 pages. That's bad for SEO. While you can spruce up a 404 page with cool designs and funky characters to redirect users to other sections of your site, your goal should be not to need them entirely.

Crawl your website using tools like ScreamingFrog to identify and fix broken links. Broken links end up in a poor user experience. As a result, people visiting your website may leave and never return. There’s also the not-so-small issue of Google penalizing you, which means no one will ever find your site.

That's why doing a thorough pre-migration SEO audit is so important. It allows you to identify broken internal links, giving you a chance to fix them.

3. A Decline in Conversion Rates

If you run an online store, your sales might take a nosedive immediately after a site migration. There are several reasons for this:

  • You’ve re-platformed and redesigned your website at the same time, the result of which may have thrown off your customers.
  • You’ve added extra layers to the purchase process, which customers now find tedious and inconvenient.
  • You've changed the form fill box's colors or design.
  • You’ve incorporated pop-up ads on your site that visitors find highly intrusive.

Before migrating to a new platform or domain, you should analyze how your existing customers interact with your website. Find out how they’re engaging with the ad pop-ups. Are they clicking on them? Do they interact with the form fill box? How many users complete the purchase process? Where do most of them drop off?

These analytics will help you decide what aspects of your website to retain and what you should switch up after the migration beyond simple aesthetics.

See also: How to Import Products From Shopify to Facebook.

4. Manual Action Penalties

You may notice a Manual Action penalty displayed once you migrate to your new site and set up Google Search Console. This warning simply means that your website contains unnatural links.

An unnatural link is a fancy word for a “spammy link.” Usually, these links come from websites deemed malicious or with low domain authority. Google picks up on these links and lets you know that it doesn’t like the association.

While backlink equity is good, ensure that only credible and authoritative sites link to yours. Before migrating, analyze your backlinks, identify the spammy ones you don’t want to transfer to your new site and disavow them.

When disavowing backlinks, ensure you don't accidentally unlink important ones that might be tied directly to your position on SERP pages. Doing this may do your website more harm than good.

5. Indexation Count Issues

Once you migrate your website, it is not unusual to see some discrepancies in the indexation count of the URLs in your new domain. However, if you log into Google Search Console and don’t see your website indexed entirely or notice a significant difference in the indexation count, it might point to a bigger underlying issue.

One of the details you need to check for is whether your previous domain is still being indexed or whether you have more URLs being indexed due to duplicate content. If your old site is still being indexed, you must de-index it immediately. If your new site isn’t being indexed, you need to go to your site’s robots.txt file and check that it’s not blocking access to Google crawlers.

A great resource to use is the robots.txt tester on Google Search Console. Use it to check whether you can access the important pages on your site. If you can, then you’re home free.


There you have it—the ultimate site migration SEO checklist to help you maintain your business's online presence without negatively impacting your lead volumes and conversion rates. Remember, a robust data transfer tool equipped to handle all the heavy lifting and minimize the website migration SEO impact is at the heart of any well-executed migration.

Cart2Cart is one such tool. It fully automates eCommerce website migration with minimal disruption to business operations. With a few easy clicks, you can migrate your entire website without shutting it down and have it running in minutes or hours, depending on the size of your online store.

Register for a free demo today to see Cart2Cart in action.


How do I migrate my SEO to a new website?

When migrating your site to a new platform or domain, here's how to migrate your SEO as well:

  • Do an SEO website audit and back up your data
  • Create a staging site to test out different aspects of your newly migrated site
  • Run an SEO organic health check of the new platform
  • Crawl your website and implement 301 redirects
  • Update your website’s internal links and business listings on SERPs
  • Optimize your website for mobile viewing
  • Implement Schema and update your XML sitemap
  • Update the robots.txt file and backlinks
  • Do a post-launch SEO audit of your migrated site
  • Use analytics tools to measure your new site’s SEO post-launch performance

How long should an SEO migration take?

It can take a few weeks to several months before your newly migrated website regains all the SEO equity it previously had. The overall time it takes depends on the size of your site. If your website has 3,000+ pages, it will take significantly longer to migrate your SEO than if it had, say, 100 pages.

How much does an SEO migration cost?

The true cost of an SEO migration depends on the project's size. If you have loads of content to transfer, several 301 redirects to set up, lots of links to update, and so forth, hiring expert SEO migration services to do this for you will likely drive up the costs. Going the automation route and using a data migration tool like Cart2Cart will cost significantly less and save you time.