How my team & I mitigated SEO risk for a client’s massive (17,000+ pages) e-commerce site migration.
• Business: deliver a bulletproof case to delay the site migration project — or risk a significant drop in organic search traffic & revenue
• SEO: preserve and even build on the site’s web authority, average keyword rank and traffic via best-practice migration SEO
The Way Forward
June-July 2016: In one of my first large projects with ArtLiveMedia, we were faced with a bit of a daunting challenge/learning opportunity in the form of a e-commerce client who had:
• A mobile-friendly site migration underway by a 3rd-party developer who we didn’t have a clear line of communication with
• 17,000+ uncategorized/miscategorized product pages being redirected in staging to a new categorized URL structure
• Numerous errors that I uncovered in the staging environment (special characters in URLs, capitalized URLs, missing robots.txt, remaining uncategorized URL’s, etc.)
And, of course: the biggest issue was that the responsive “switch” was scheduled to happen in a matter of three weeks. My first SEO recommendation was to delay the launch date (once we re-established communication with the development firm). We had to make the case on the client side, as well.
Excel & Screaming Frog were essential tools for this project. I did a crawl of the massive staging site using Screaming Frog, and created an Excel doc to solve for the URL issues, self-referring canonicals, and robots.txt file… and capture existing 301 redirects so we didn’t create redirect loops.
Next, on the client side our goal were to 1) summarize the tasks in a clear, step-by-step plan of attack (so, not in Excel), and 2) effectively communicate the impact of non-action to the developer.
In other words, it was a lot of work. ☺
But more importantly, a tremendous learning opportunity…. and I’ve got some valuable migration SEO experience I can use to help clients anticipate and avoid similar pitfalls.