Migrating a website is easier than it has ever been, thanks in large part to an array of newer helpful online migration tools. But this doesn’t mean that website transfers are a task to be taken lightly, either. There are still all sorts of things that can go wrong, chief among which are the mistakes you simply don’t know to check for!
In this post, learn about the 9 biggest migration mistakes most webmasters make and how to sidestep them.
Mistake 1: Choosing a new host that uses a different type of platform
Whoops! You got a great price, all the customer testimonials are 5 stars, the company won all kinds of awards last year…what could go wrong?
Plenty, when you don’t first verify that the new host uses the same basic site tools (databases, scripts, software, plugins) your old host used.
What to do: Before initiating a transfer to a new host, verify that your site will run successfully using the tools provided.
Mistake 2: Not doing a FULL website backup before initiating the transfer
Why is this so important – critical, even? One reason is because not all hosting providers are as gracious when you leave as when you arrive.
Sometimes, a host may even try to make it difficult for you to access the files and information you have stored on their server.
What to do: Perform a routine full backup of ALL files before transferring a website to a new hosting provider.
Mistake 3: Terminating your services with your outgoing host prematurely
Sometimes your experience with a hosting provider is such that you are chomping at the bit to move on. Or you could just be eager to avoid double paying on services with two different hosting providers.
Even so, there are benefits to keeping both services active and overlapping during a migration.
What to do: In addition to keeping your files accessible if you happen to need them, keeping your email service active at your outgoing host ensures you won’t miss a critical message during the transfer itself.
Mistake 4: Choosing a new host with sparse IT support
No matter how well versed you are in transferring a website or all things web, you will still confront an unavoidable learning curve when you change hosts.
So the last thing you want to encounter during a transfer or post-transfer is a host of obstacles to obtain the technical support you need.
What to do: Verify up front (pre-transfer) that your new host offers a reasonable level of IT support via email, phone and/or chat.
Mistake 5: Not verifying you have your own ownership details for your domain
Many different types of companies now offer domain registration. Some hosting providers even include registration of a “free” domain name along with purchase of a hosting package.
Where the trouble starts here is when you want to leave that hosting provider and they don’t want to give you access to your own domain name registration so you can verify ownership.
What to do: Verify in advance that you are listed as the domain name owner and that you have full access to your user name, password and all administrator-level privileges.
Mistake 6: Failing to check that your SEO tools still work post-transfer
There are 4 essentials to ensuring your website is as fully accessible to visitors post-transfer as it was pre-transfer. Those 4 essentials are:
- Putting 301 redirects into place.
- Putting up a 404 page.
- Updating your site map.
- Checking your meta tags.
What to do: Be sure these 4 tasks are on your checklist and that all are done before you terminate your services with your old host.
Mistake 7: Forgetting all about email in the migration
When you migrate your website from one host to another host, this includes a number of additional connected services. The most well-known such service is typically email.
If you cut off your services at your old hosting provider too soon, you risk losing potentially valuable emails that are sent during any migration-related downtime.
What to do: Keep both host services running at least for the same of making sure you get all of your emails. Then, run plenty of email tests to verify your new host email is working before terminating services with your old host.
Mistake 8: Choosing the wrong time to do the migration
Think about times when your website has experienced high traffic volumes. You probably enjoyed higher sales and more business during these times too.
So imagine how it might affect your business if you inadvertently began a website migration just when customers were lining up to visit your website!
What to do: Carefully plot out your slowest time of year – including time of day and day of the week. Plan your migration for this time period.
Mistake 9: Trying to do a migration and a redesign all at the same time
If you think simply migrating a website has a lot of steps and checks, just wait until you add in a site redesign as well.
Not only do you remove the option of checking your newly migrated site against a mirror of the original site, but if you change URLs or site structure significantly, it may take Google much longer to index your new site, which can hurt your SEO rankings and site traffic.
What to do: First, migrate your site and then redesign it. This way, you are sure you have a firm foundation for the redesign.
By learning from other webmasters’ mistakes, you can plan a smooth migration for your site. When your web migration is so seamless your customers don’t even realize you have moved, you know you’ve done a great job!