Website Migration Case Study

Overview

A well-known high street retailer required a HTTPS migration that ensured they would not lose organic traffic.

The retailer’s website hosts 30k+ indexed pages and any potential drop in organic visibility could have had a major financial impact on the business.

The Risk

The main risk for the client was that if they were to suffer a -15% loss in organic visibility as expected, the revenue impact would be significant. As such, a swift recovery was essential.

There are also several potential SEO risks when switching to HTTPS including; domain level canonicalization issues, failure to redirect URLs properly, failure to update canonicals and disavow files need to be loaded to HTTPS, to name just a few!

The complexity and potential risks to a poor migration are well documented and can be explored further here.

The Process

As with any website migration, planning for the project started months before the migration took place. We worked alongside the clients developers to create a shared project plan that provided a clear overview of:

  • What we were going to do
  • How we were going to do it
  • Where and when it would take place
  • Who would be responsible for each element of the migration

In advance, we also prepared the client with educational information about website migrations from our podcast, our blog and our in-depth whitepaper, The Ultimate SEO Website Migration Checklist (Complete with HTPP to HTTPS Guide).

We also drew on our experience from having undertaken migrations with other existing clients and consideration at the planning stage was also factored in from a previous migration the company had been through a few years earlier, and also with a more recent migration with a sister brand.

The Outcome/Results 

Our initial estimate for the visibility drop in the first week, post-migration was -15%, however as the table below shows this proved much better than forecast and our return to pre-migration levels was rapid.

Timeline post migration

Visibility change versus the benchmark pre-migration

1 Week post migration

-7%

12 weeks post migration

+30%

The visibility graph from Searchmetrics below shows the migration occurring on the 9th September 2018 and its positive trend continuing for the rest of the year. (All visibility increases are away from any known Google updates).

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