Managing a full website migration through to completion, whilst mitigating any significant decreases in traffic and visibility, is an exceptionally complex task. When it comes to website consolidation/merger projects, a lot of the tasks undertaken will be the same as for a typical website migration however there are a few key tasks that need to be considered and prioritised.
At Semetrical, we undertake a number of website migration projects a year and recently have been spending a lot of time supporting clients with large scale website consolation projects. The 7 tips discussed below have underpinned our successful approach to these types of migrations. They include:
Tip 1: Audit all websites involved in the project
Tip 2: Find the corresponding URLs & missing pages between websites involved
Tip 3: Decide which URLs do not need to be migrated
Tip 4: Signpost to users why they are being redirected
Tip 5: Build a page to rank for branded search queries of the merged sites
Tip 6: Identify keywords gaps between the old URL and the new URLs
Tip 7: Have patience when the website merger goes live
In the pre migration phase of a merger or consolidation project, you should undertake audits of all of the websites involved, This includes the parent website (the website which all other domains will be merged into), alongside auditing the other domains that will be migrated.
Audit the parent & migrated domains:
You want to make sure that the main domain has strong technical foundations. This will be the domain that search engines will be reviewing once all websites have been merged so it is really important to undertake a thorough technical audit of the parent domain. The main areas of review should be identifying and fixing:
- Crawlability issues, such as a poor crawl path
- Duplication of URLs, such as duplication content or parameter based issues
- Speed issues, such as slow server response times
- Web vital scores to make sure the domain is future proofed
- Bugs that the developers are not aware of
The migrated domains should also be audited to ensure that no technical issues are migrated across to the parent domain and crawlability issues are addressed. These audits do not need to be as in depth as the parent domain review but it is good to know what issues you are dealing with when merging multiple sites.
Historical penalty analysis
When merging websites, some of the websites you are dealing with could have historically had a penalty which has caused a traffic drop. If you merge these websites into the new parent domain, those penalties could be transferred across, so it is important to review the Search Console accounts of these websites to see if there has ever been a penalty. In addition to this, we also recommend reviewing historical traffic trends in Google Analytics and third party tools to see if any significant traffic drops align with updates.
Disavow file analysis
It is important to identify all of the disavow files that are present across all of the domains and cross reference the migrated websites’ disavow files to the parent’s. When undertaking this analysis you are ideally looking to identify domains that are not included on the parent domain’s disavow file but are included on the other websites’.
Once you have identified the domains that are missing, combine them with the pre-existing disavow file and re-submit it in Google Search Console.
Once you have merged domains, low quality links that pointed to the other domains will now be pointing to the parent domain, so updating the disavow file will make sure Google will dissociate those low quality links with the new parent domain.