Many of us have seen how moving from a ‘clean tech stack’ with the likes of Magento – to a flat Shopify structure can result in Organic Search losses. In fact, recent research reveals that almost 80 percent of marketers expect to see some traffic lost when managing a site migration. However, those losses can easily be mitigated if you know what to look for. Here’s some of the SEO fails to recognise and improve.
Loss of website traffic
One of the most significant SEO risks associated with website migration is the loss of website traffic. This can happen for various reasons, including changes to the website’s URL structure, missing pages and broken links to name a few. To mitigate the risk of losing website traffic, you need to conduct a comprehensive website audit before and after the migration process. Consider:
- Performing tech SEO audits bi-monthly, and
- cleaning up soft 404s, deleted product 404s, indexing errors and more.
During the audit, review what landing pages and keywords are working well in Organic Search currently and champion their migration to the new site to help maintain traffic.
Changes in keyword rankings
Another SEO risk associated with website migration is a change in keyword rankings. This can happen if your new website has different content, URL structure or metadata than your old website. To mitigate this risk, you need to conduct comprehensive keyword research before the migration process. Tips to keep in mind:
- Correct onsite setup of Shopify’s /collections/ with clean URLs and unique H1s to target each keyword cluster,
- migrating blog posts and category page content where of value , and
- add H2 and H3 tags where needed to expand on target keywords for more competitive collections.
During the research, you should identify the keywords that are currently driving traffic to your website and ensure that they are included in your new website’s content, URL structure and metadata. You should also ensure that your new website’s content is of high quality, engaging and optimised for your target keywords.
At the same time, avoid focusing too heavily on consolidating your website and instead look for the opportunity to provide a better user experience. Through this lens, you might discover ways to enhance content or create new pages based on the topics, questions and identified needs that came to light when reviewing search demand.
Forgetting to optimise your metadata
Keyword research will uncover what your customers are searching for online and is absolutely essential to crushing your SEO. It will assist you in understanding your competitors, identifying low-hanging SEO wins, generating content ideas and understanding searcher (and buyer) intent. Consider:
- Adding a clean, SEO-friendly metadata template for product pages to optimise products in bulk,
- creating custom meta descriptions, explaining each category with unique selling points to drive CTR (click-through rate),
- customising meta/page titles to match keyword variations of the H1 while remaining engaging for users, and
- structuring data edits to fit guidelines and index all product reviews with a fast-loading, fully customisable review app like Judge.me.
Not optimising after re-platforming
SEO should be a permanent, ongoing part of your eCommerce growth strategy since algorithms are continuously changing and updating. So keep up the good SEO practices even after the switch. Remember, even if you think your site is performing well, it can always be better. Keep these tips in mind:
- Think ‘less is more’ when creating user-centric content, keeping it relevant, valuable and to the point,
- make your site trustworthy, using HTTPS,
- keep URLs short and sweet, under 75 characters with strategic use of keywords,
- add internal links into related product pages on collections, helping both bots and users,
- constantly monitor site speed and core web vitals, minimising scripts/apps and compressing files, and
- hold monthly meetings with client to cover new products, collection expansion and future enhancements.
Failing to rely on the experts
Involve your Organic Search partner in discussions around choosing platforms and ongoing capabilities in Organic Search. This is a proven strategy to mitigate any losses from Organic Search at an early stage.
Businesses rely on internal and external partners to advise and navigate them through the treacherous waters of “migration” and the Organic Search challenges that come with it. However, it’s vital to rely on “specialists” – not “generalists”.
Specialists have been there before. They’ve encountered and importantly, overcome these eCommerce-specific migration challenges before and can best assist you in doing the same. While it may cost more in the beginning to hire the experts, it’s absolutely priceless to comprehensively prepare your business and website in today’s challenging retail environment.
Roadmap backed by results
As the Search Engine Land 2022 Award Winner for SEO Agency of the Year, we know what it takes to provide meaningful results for eCommerce clients through the implementation of SEO best practices. Through our ongoing work with one of Australia’s largest supplement and sports nutrition retailers, using the tips above, we’ve:
- successfully managed the migration of its site from Magento to Shopify,
- increased its organic rankings 7x since July 2021,
- boosted its new users by 65 percent, and
- achieved the #1 organic ranking nationwide for the incredibly competitive keywords that have extensive monthly search volume.
In this migration from Magento to Shopify, we managed to mitigate the losses more than any other project in the past. Organic keywords temporarily dropped just 10-18 percent post-migration, for only four months before we succeeded in returning the site to growth. Since, the growth has been consistent and constant, which is clearly evident from the ever-growing page 1-5 keyword graph in SEMrush.
The retailer’s traffic, sales and revenue continue on a +50-100 percent increase year-on-year from Organic Search alone, making it one of our most successful Shopify campaigns to date.
While it didn’t happen overnight – SEO strategy takes at least six-to-nine months to start seeing results – this popular sports nutrition retailer not only competes organically but stands up above some of the largest players in the market when it comes to various, highly-searched categories across health and supplements.
Phillip Vo is the head of growth at Megantic.