How to Successfully Migrate a Website Without Harming SEO [Checklist]

How to Successfully Migrate a Website Without Harming SEO [Checklist]

An outdated website won’t represent your brand well.

Web design experts recommend a site redesign every 2-3 years to keep up with web standards and design trends. This can often be accomplished with a simple facelift or re-skin. However, in some cases, you may be up against a site migration.

Access Now: 21 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2021

The end result of a site migration may include a cleaner interface, a new or improved user experience, an easier editing experience, and more. However, the choice to migrate your website should not be taken lightly. If executed poorly, you could end up with status code errors, negatively impacted SEO performance, and even irritated website visitors.

Why might you migrate a website?

Here are the circumstances in which you might need a site migration over a simple redesign:

  • You need to move your site’s location from one server to another.
  • You are changing the CMS platform your site operates on.
  • You are changing your domain name or URLs.
  • You need to make major changes to your site’s architecture (not just aesthetics).

Website migrations can be done on your own or professionally. (For example, HubSpot offers migration services to customers switching to HubSpot’s CMS.)

If you’re considering a website migration, keep in mind that you must leave yourself time to prepare and execute. Migration specialists usually take about three weeks, so plan accordingly. Now, let’s get into the details of migrating a website.

Pre-Migration

1. Crawl the existing site.

A website crawler retrieves the URLs and markup on your site, “seeing” this information similarly to how Google would.

Performing a crawl gives you a starting point for your URL mapping (more on that later) as well as a list to refer to in case something gets lost in translation. You can crawl your website yourself with a third-party tool such as Screaming Frog.

2. Record your benchmarks.

In some cases, analytics data can get erased during a site migration, and this historical benchmarks can be valuable, so it’s best to retain it.

You should also take the time to review your analytics and ensure you know how visitors currently navigate the site and which pages are your most valuable. This context can help inform your redesign and site architecture decisions.

3. Map your URLs.

If you’re making major changes to the URLs on your site, you’ll need redirections in place to guide Google and your website users from your old URLs to your new URLs. 

  • From a usability standpoint, if a page no longer exists, you don’t want your users to get a 404 status code error. Instead, they should be guided to the page that has taken the old page’s place. 
  • Improper redirects can mean a big hit against your SEO. They tell search engines and visitors of your website that a page has changed, whether it’s been removed, or no longer exists. They also tell search engines what new pages have replaced old ones.
  • From an SEO perspective, you don’t want to lose all of the history, backlinks, and (in essence) “authority” that the old page built up. A redirect tells Google where to attribute those signals instead. 

To get redirects implemented, you must first strategize by mapping your URLs. This involves building a spreadsheet with two columns: one for the old URL and one for the corresponding new URL. 

Don’t be concerned if there aren’t “perfect” replacements for every piece of content. Just do the best you can to direct your users based on their original intent.

If you have tons of pages, manual mapping probably isn’t in the cards for you, so to save time, look for patterns in your URLs that can be redirected in groups or sections.

Existing redirects should be migrated as well. Try to keep as many existing redirects as possible to lessen the workload, and make sure your URLs are mapped before you test redirects, to make sure you have backups if you lose them.

For more information on how to update URLs, check out this article.

4. Make sure you’re retaining titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup.

Recall that website migrations help with website organization. As such, pages should be uniform and contain the same information as they did before. To illustrate, if the HubSpot Marketing Blog underwent a site migration, the content and descriptions for each blog post would be the same, just look different.

You can always update or rewrite titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup, but you should still ensure that each page includes the proper information. 

5. Try out the new build on a test server (aka sandbox).

Seeing mockups or testing in a local environment will not give you a full picture of the new site’s functionality and implementation. For a seamless transition, take it online for a test drive before the official migration.

6. Choose the right date for the migration.

Hiccups will happen no matter what, but you can minimize them by avoiding peak hours.

Day of Migration

7. Prepare to update your site’s DNS settings.

If you’re moving your site to a new server, part of the process will include “pointing” to the site’s new location. Coordinate with your web/IT team and/or your hosting providers (new and old) to accomplish this.

8. Launch.

Set up your forwarding redirects, unpublish, and implement.

If DNS changes were involved, the site may be down momentarily.

If you’re not switching servers or platforms, the migration should be nearly instantaneous.

9. Crawl the new site.

Once the new site is live, you can do a crawl to see if it has been migrated how you expected it to. One thing you want to look for is proper indexability and crawlability.

10. Identify and resolve missing and duplicate content.

Using the crawl report, see if you find any anomalies, including duplicate content or 404 errors and broken links. In addition, you should click around the new site and look for issues.

11. Check for redirect chains.

Now that your site has been migrated, you have a lot of new redirects on your hands. If redirects already existed, chains may have been created.

Here’s what I mean:

If you were already redirecting A to B, your migration may have added a redirect from B to C.

This creates a chain of redirects: A to B to C.

Redirect chains can slow your site down and impact performance. You can avoid this by breaking the chains, redirecting A to C and B to C.

12. Ensure Google Analytics and Google Search Console are implemented.

To avoid any gaps in data and reporting, these should be up and running the same day.

13. Mark the date in Analytics.

Google Analytics allows you to make “Annotations” of important dates or events. This can help you contextualize the data and measure performance pre-and post-migration (unless you opted for a new Analytics setup).

14. Submit sitemaps.

Once everything is up and running, ensure your XML site map has no errors. Then, you can submit the sitemap in Google Search Console to invite Google to crawl the new implementation.

Post-Migration

15. Monitor performance.

While temporary dips in traffic are common after a migration, you should still be keeping a pulse on your analytics to ensure nothing big was missed that could be affecting performance.

16. Run site audits.

Sometimes, third-party tools can find issues you didn’t know about. SEMrush’s site auditor is excellent in situations like this.

17. Update your platforms.

If you have ads running or other platforms that may be using old URLs, be sure to add fresh links.

18. Have publishers update backlinks.

If your redirects have been implemented correctly, you’ll still get traffic and authority from your backlinks. However, it’s still best practice to use the freshest URLs possible. With that in mind, reach out to the publishers of your highest value links to notify them of the swap.

Website migration can be a lengthy process, but it’s not impossible. With preparation, you can have a migration that’s successful and friendly with your existing SEO efforts. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Find & Add Nofollow Links to Your Website [Step by Step]

How to Find & Add Nofollow Links to Your Website [Step by Step]

Ever watch those game shows where contestants have to find the designer product in a sea of knockoffs?

Watching the contestants squint to examine the products is my favorite part. One, because I love game shows, but also because upon first glance, you really can’t tell the difference.

Well, nofollow links are kind of like that. You can’t tell them apart from regular links just by looking at them.

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As Google continues to prioritize links in its ranking criteria, keeping track of them should be on your SEO to-do list.

So, how do you check for nofollow links and add them to your webpages? All those answers, and more, below.

This matters because links greatly impact your search engine ranking. And whether you’re linking internally or externally, doing so tells Google the destination page is valuable. This, in turn, may increase the page’s ranking — it’s called “link juice.”

The better your link building, the better your chances of ranking higher.

So, when you tell Google to ignore a link, the destination page will not get any link juice. For instance, let’s say a food blogger uploads a blog post. The blogger can add a nofollow attribute to the comment section to tell Google, “Hey, any link included here isn’t associated with me and I don’t vouch for it.”

With Google tightening up its linking requirements, it’s important that brands understand how they work.

How To Tell if a Link Is Nofollow

To find a nofollow link, you can follow one of two routes: Use a tool that will do it for you (jump to that section here) or check it yourself. For the DIY option, here are the steps:

1. While you’re on the page, right-click and select the “Inspect” option.
Right click inspect tool

2. Hold Command + F or Ctrl + F to search for “nofollow” in the code.

Search "nofollow" in the code

3. Scroll to find the highlighted nofollow attributes. It should look something like this:

Nofollow Link Example

How To Make a Nofollow Link

Making a nofollow link is as simple as adding rel=”nofollow” to the anchor tag within the HTML code. If that made no sense, no worries. Here’s the breakdown:

The code for a regular hyperlink looks like this:

 
The linked text goes here

When you’re adding a nofollow link attribute, the attribute will go between the destination URL and the linked text, like this:

 
The linked text goes here

Here’s an example using the HubSpot Blog:

 
Head to the HubSpot Blog

Once you have the link, you can add it to the appropriate section of the source code on your content management system (CMS).

How To Make a Nofollow Link in WordPress

When making a nofollow link in WordPress, you have two options: manually inputting one into the HTML code or using a plugin. Find the steps for each below.

Making a Nofollow Link in WordPress Manually

1. Select the anchor text you want to add a link to.

2. Click the link symbol to add a link into the field.

Red arrow pointing to link symbol

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3. Click on the three dots and select “Edit HTML.”

Red arrow pointing to "Edit as HTML"

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4. Add the rel=”nofollow” attribute and you’re all set.

Nofollow attribute within HTML tag

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If you’re using an older version of WordPress, you may have to access the source code through the “Text” tab.

WordPress text tab

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Then, manually add the nofollow attribute.

WordPress source code

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Once that’s done, go back to the “Virtual” tab and continue editing the post.

Making a Nofollow Link in WordPress With a Plugin

When making a nofollow link with a plugin, the steps will vary depending on the plugin you install. However, here’s an example of how it works using the “All in One SEO for WordPress” plugin.

1. Start by downloading the plugin and making it active.

2. Create or edit a post or page.

3. In your editing text box, select the anchor text and click on the link symbol.

Add link symbol in WordPress

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4. Paste the destination link into the field.

Field to paste destination URL

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5. In the same box, you’ll also see additional options for the link, including the “Add ‘nofollow’ to link” option.

Adding Nofollow links in WordPress

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6. Make sure this option is selected, and you’re done.

Pro-tip: A lot of SEO plugins have the nofollow link feature included. So, if you’re looking to optimize your site, you can install a plugin with multiple SEO features.

1. MozBar

This free Google Chrome extension, created by the SEO software company Moz, highlights all of the nofollow links on a page in one click.

MozBar NoFollow Link Tool

It also tracks followed, internal, and external links as well as keywords on the page. MozBar identifies each link type by color, making it easy to quickly scan the page and find what you’re looking for.

One thing to keep in mind while using the extension is that nofollow links under dropdown menus will not appear as you scroll down. You’ll have to click the menu to reveal the nofollow links. Confused? See the GIF below.

MozBar NoFollow Tool

2. Varvy

With Varvy’s free nofollow tool, finding nofollow links is as simple as entering the page’s URL and clicking “Test.” It doesn’t offer a visual for where the nofollow links are located on the page, but it does tell you how many there are.

Varvy NoFollow Link ToolThis is one of the simplest ways to get an idea of how many nofollow links you have. From there, you’ll have to find other tools to accomplish your next steps.

3. NoFollow

NoFollow is a free extension available on Chrome and Firefox. Similar to MozBar, it identifies the nofollow links on the page and highlights them using a red dotted box.

NoFollow Chrome/Firefox Extension

As long as the extension is active, it will work on every page you visit without prompting. Just as with the MozBar, if a link under a dropdown menu has a nofollow attribute, you won’t see it until you click the dropdown menu.

So, think of yourself like a game show contestant. To win the SEO game, you have to take a closer look at your website links. This will keep you on Google’s good side and increase your odds of landing (and staying) on the first page of the SERP.

link building

Website Investing: How Mo Mullah Invests in and Grew a Website from $2,800 to $24,000 in 1 Year

Website Investing: How Mo Mullah Invests in and Grew a Website from $2,800 to $24,000 in 1 Year

Website investing and digital properties are becoming a little bit more like physical property investments, especially when it comes to the ways people are profiting from the assets.

Just as physical real estate properties are flipped, renovated, rented, or invested in for passive income, we see similar trends with online digital properties.   

We’ve covered flipping websites in a previous guide, but what if you want to hold onto the digital asset as a long term investment but don’t want to manage the day to day operations?

In real estate, this type of arrangement is completed by a property manager. An investor would invest in a real estate piece and hire a property manager to run the day to day operations. 

Website investors can run their website or digital asset investments with a similar strategy. With online properties, the person who would run your websites’ day-to-day operations, similar to a property manager, is often referred to as an “operator.”

Whether you are looking to purchase a website as an investment opportunity or have someone take over your current website, an operator service may be a great option. 

We caught up with Mo Mullah, a website operator specializing in flipping and investing in websites for some website investment advice

Tell us a little about you and your website investing background?

Hey, I’m Mo, I’ve been buying and flipping websites for a few years now. I run a bespoke site operator service that gives clients the opportunity to work with a professional and well-rounded site operator. 

I usually work with a variety of clients, including those that have just started in the online business world, and also cater to more experience websites flippers who have larger portfolio’s and need a professional site operator to successfully manage their sites.  

Today I own a variety of business in the online marketing world and by diversifying my income across multiple niches have a sustainable income that helps me travel the world, live in the Caribbean and importantly sustain a big family. 

What’s your backstory, and how did you start making money online?

I graduated with a law degree about a decade ago but ended up turning away from a career in Law. The hours were long, and most tasks were very monotonous. I longed for a more time-friendly way to earth passive income and spent years looking for it. 

Prior to operating in the website investing world, I set up a lucrative email marketing business that still pays dividends now. I promoted numerous affiliate campaigns that regularly profited me over $30,000 a month by promoting bespoke high ticket affiliate products.

Now I spend the majority of my time growing and investing in websites (both content and affiliate sites) The ability to exit at over 30 times monthly revenue is a powerful reason to get involved in buying and running content sites online. 

What has worked for you to drive traffic to your website investments?

The best way to grow traffic to your sites is by doing very good SEO. Traffic doesn’t just end up on your website without having to first put the time in. My specialty lies in very good keyword research, a systematic approach to onsite SEO, and a meticulous approach to building backlinks. 

An excellent example of this is when I recently purchased a website for $2800 and flipped it for $24000 in under a year.

My approach to this was efficiency, scalability, and keeping costs low by doing all the hard work myself. 

When I first picked up the site, it was in poor shape, so I immediately did a link audit and a content audit to strip away any broken parts.

I then rebuilt parts of the site, including content and built new links over a 12 month period in a systematic way.

Website Investment Example

Spike in backlinks in June: 

Here are the trending months: 

March-May – Pageview went up 5x

I also diversified the monetization outside of amazon and used additional affiliate platforms as well as ads to create more revenue

Additional affiliate network: 

New Ads Network: 

Amazon Sales:

March 

April

May

June

 

Lastly, I carried out extensive backlink building using guest posts and used a fine-tooth comb to go over all my link prospects. Link building ended up being the main reason why the website sold for a 10x increase.

Upward growth in referring domains from 2019 – 2020

Through your website investing have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The biggest thing to watch out for in this industry is buying websites that you don’t fully understand the risks.

Doing the correct level of due diligence is vital to having a sustainable asset and business. If you do the correct amount of due diligence, ask the right questions and negotiate correctly, you can very smartly bag yourself a bargain.

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  • Learn how to build white hat links to your site without headaches
  • Finally have a proven method to finding profitable niches
  • Get access to our foolproof keyword research methods
  • Learn how to outsource high quality content

Get The Authority Site System

If you, however, fail to do this and get shiny eye syndrome or only focus on the top line revenue or the potential to grow it, you risk buying something that is destined to give you more trouble down the road. 

Examples of this are knowing your risk profile and avoiding any deals that fall outside these lines. PBN (Private Blog Networks) are a perfect example here.

Also, asking the right questions to the current owner, like, “if you decided to keep the website, what would you do to continue growing it?”

Google Algorithms and affiliate commission cuts are just a few things that are outside of your control but should be factored in any serious website investment

I learned the hard way the importance of due diligence and nearly got burnt buying my first website without doing proper due diligence.

I purchased the site on the strength of the revenue but when a major Google update hit this page lost it’s page rank in the SERPs and the website loss value immediately. I struggled to get recover from it, and ultimately, it was a bad investment

The lesson I learned…. Never buy a website that relays too heavily on 1 or 2 pages. (30% of traffic going to 1 page is too much for me) 

What types of website investments are there?

Website investing can be broken down into 4 main investment categories. The first is the cost of the website itself. The second is the cost of content. The third, the cost of backlinks (or the outreach to obtain those links), and the last is the cost of plugins, tools & other VA costs to help manage and run it. 

The highest cost is, of course, the cost of acquiring the sites (including broker fees and wire fees), next usually the cost of links and costs of content will take up a large chunk of your budget. Lastly, the costs of tools (i.e., AHREFS) will take up the remainder of your budget.  

However, the biggest investment isn’t usually financial. For me, the biggest investment was my time in each project.

You can always make more money down the road, but you can’t get your time back. This is why growing or purchasing the correct website is essential. 

There are many ways to pick a niche. If it’s your first time setting up a website and running it, then my advice would always be to pick something that you have an interest in.

While you don’t need to be an expert in it, chances are you’ll be spending a ton of time figuring things out, writing some content and doing some type of outreach. If you pick something that you understand, it will make this process a whole lot easier. 

I run websites full time, so for me, that’s 8 hours a day 5 days a week. This works for me as each website has a specific growth plan and exit timeline.

Also, importantly my time is compounded down the road as the revenue starts to trend up. 

Having a smart exit strategy is a must and most full-time website flippers know roughly when and for how much they are looking to exit their website or portfolio before they spend all the money or time to set it up. 

How long did it take you to begin making money with online websites?

The first website I created took a few months before it made any revenue. It made about $12 after around 5 months. While that sounds like a kick in the teeth, for me it was a milestone.

Making your first few dollars is always the hardest part. Once you do, the strategy is just to continue to replicate what you did to generate that first few dollars, but on steroids!

A smart strategy for those starting out is to focus on a commercial post and monetize it with amazon. This is a very predictable way to make money and will help to prove the concept works.

Once you’re making a few hundred dollars a month, then it’s time to start looking into additional affiliate networks and also checking your traffic to see if you qualify for ad revenue.

There are multiple ways to monetise a website. The more established website dip their toes into as many monetization streams as possible. Video ads, sponsored posts, email marketing, and selling digital ebooks are just a few you could incorporate.  

What platform/tools do you use for your websites?

There are a plethora of tools and plugins you can use to fast track your growth and success when buying and selling websites. These 5 are ones that I would recommend:

  • AHREFS – For competition analysis, Site auditing, Keyword research, and a variety of other incredible tools. 
  • HUNTER – For outreach and obtaining and verifying email prospects and link targets. 
  • TOTAL UPKEEP – For website backup and security. 
  • WP ROCKET – For website speed and optimisation 
  • AAWP – For quick and easy amazon comparison tables 

What is your philosophy or strategy when it comes to link building?

Link building is the hardest part of any successful campaign. It’s one of the most critical growth metrics and is very often done incorrectly. It’s difficult and very time-consuming and even when done correctly can still be very expensive and eat into a large budget.

There are a variety of services that will build links for you and these services offer a wide variety of things.

However, my advice is to try to build links yourself first to understand the process. Only once you have some experience in what it takes to build a single link, will you understand if or why it’s worth paying someone else to.

The key to link building is correct prospecting and fine-tuning an outreach process that allows you to stand out from all the noise in the inbox.

The most creative link builders have an airtight strategy for each niche. Each website is unique to that campaign. 

I do 80% of my link building myself and pay an outreach manager to do the rest. I also pay for a VA to “clean up” my inbox and only leave in up to date and relevant link prospects.  

Advice for other online entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out in website investing?

Making money online by flipping website is a long, tiring process that sometimes doesn’t bear any fruit. It’s riddled with traffic fluctuations, site’s crashing, hosting issues, affiliate terms changing, revenue instability, and dealing with large teams who may not always follow precise instructions. 

On top of that, you are constantly in competition with other website owners who are working diligently to knock you off the top SERP positions and steal your revenue away. 

It can sometimes be a daunting task where the odds are stacked against you, especially in highly competitive niches (ever tried to build a website from scratch in the hosting niche! OUCH!)

With that said, with the right strategy, the right team, and a realistic exit plan, buying, growing, and selling websites have a huge potential, and as an industry, it’s only getting started.

It’s a young asset class, and more and more investment firms are entering the space to take advantage of the growing ROI’s

My advice will always be to start out slow, build one project from the ground up, make a ton of mistakes, and then iterate and solve problems as you go along. This is a practical way to learn the industry while keeping your risk level low. 

Sign up for a few free (or paid) courses and video courses and find a mentor. This will fast track your success and enable you to learn from other people’s mistakes, which will shortcut your learning curve and increase your chances of more revenue faster. 

Mo is offering a site operator service for anyone interested in a hands-off investment to building their affiliate business.

This operator service is perfect for an investor who has picked up a website and is looking for a passive income investment and a great fit for a website portfolio owner who doesn’t have the time to scale up 1 or more of their businesses. 

For a set fee the website operator service includes: 

  • Hands off Project Management 
  • Full On-Site SEO, including a full site audit. 
  • Full content audit and additional Keyword research, 
  • Finding Content, Formatting & Adding content 
  • Finding reputable links agency or webmasters & Ordering it 
  • Theme, Plugin & Site speed optimization 
  • Overall site maintenance & monitoring
  • Full Scalability and growth plans
  • CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) across all high traffic commercial & Info pages/posts.
  • Premium Content & Premium Links (included with the premium package – please inquire for more details

For more information please contact Mo here:

Email: [email protected]

Messenger: https://www.facebook.com/mo.mullah.77