We are in a new age of the world wide web that requires more security and structure than ever before. The chances that you will have to move your site to a new URL sooner rather than later are high.
Leading search engine giants are all building a more secure web by forcing better security and structure which has caused a bit of chaos. Moving to a new URL is like moving your house instead of moving to a new house. No, I’m not talking about a trailer home but more or of a full size antiqued 1900’s Sears Catalog house. If you move it wrong, you will destroy all of the work it took to get that structure to the current time in it’s timeline. Here are a few tips on how to move the fragile house.
First of all, when moving such a big site there are risk and there will be loss or shrink. In this case, your social media counters could be reset and lost. There isn’t any way for search engines to propagate those stats from the old URL at this time, but that could change. This could have some impact on your ranking but not much because the chances that your competition is having the same issue is 99%. Moving such a large structure also takes time and can’t be done instantly without crashing your ranking. Depending on the size of the site it could take anywhere from 2 weeks to half a year. The reason for this is because search engine crawler needs to recrawl the new site which is likely going to be the same file size or bigger. Other factors could prolong the correct way to migrate, such as the crawl rate, errors, file types, and more. So in the end, remember that migrating to a new URL will be very tough and problematic no matter how good the webmaster is.
The correct way to migrate to a new site is to use a canonical ref= tag that directly points the old page to the new page. This allows the search engine crawlers to directly be told that the new content is at a new home URL. Again, depending on the size of the site and file types, this could take months. There is a way to calculate roughly how long the crawling will take. Simply divide the total size of the new site by the average crawl sampling rate found on the crawl tables in webmaster tools. Once your new site is mostly crawled it is safe to use a 301 direct on the old URL pointing to the new URL.
Structure and security is the main focus for the search engine giants. Many new platforms have risen as fast as Google at the turn of the millennium. Choosing the correct one is tough depending again, on the size of your site. The best platform for any application is one that has advanced SEO settings and is mobile responsive. The best platform also needs to be hosted natively and not by a third party or CDN. Security is a must these days. The best security that is affordable is going to be class 4 EV level encryption. There are many companies that offer these certificates, most being trustworthy. One factor that’s illusive to most is testing the TTFB from the certificate provider. You can find this with many different tools online that test what is called a “waterfall”. The first segment of the data request is the TTFB. Some companies have an awful 1-3 second TTFB which will make your bounce rates go through the roof! No one wants to wait 3 seconds before the little circle thing that shows the page is loading finally starts spinning.
Migrating to a new URL sounds tough but in reality, it is much tougher. Remember to backup everything before the transfer and to manually input the canonical referrals. If you use a 301 direct instead, it will most likely drop your ranks majorly. The 301 redirect should only be used after the search engines have found, crawled, and indexed the new URL.