A Domain Migration Checklist And Ultimate Google Data Studio Dashboard


Migrations might not be easy. But if you have all the right things in place, you can mitigate risks. Moreover, you should have a way to quickly analyze how your domain migration went. And this is exactly what I’m going to show you today.

I’ll share a quick domain migration checklist that you can download and then I’ll share the Data Studio Dashboard for domain migration analysis.

An SEO Checklist for Domain Migration 

This is going to be a checklist with the main steps that you will need to take during a domain migration. If all of them are done right, your migration will be successful.

1. Map up The Old URLs to the New URLs

Overview

The goal of such an approach is to make sure that all signals and history that each page on the old domain has acquired will be transferred to the new domain. 

Moreover, a user should be able to see a page on the new domain if they follow a link to the old domain.

Recommended Action

Each old URL should have the final destination on the new domain. For example:

  • domain1.com -> domain2.com
  • domain1.com/inventory -> domain2.com/inventory
  • domain1.com/about-us -> domain2.com/about-us

This means, all the redirects should be set up on a page-by-page basis. 

If a page existing on domain1.com will no longer be available on the new domain, it should still be redirected to the best matching option. For example:

  • domain1.com/inventory/qwerty -> domain1.com/inventory 

2. Set up 301 Redirects from the Old URLs to the New URLs

Overview

Redirects help to connect the page on the old domain to the page on the new domain. 

Recommended Action

Set up a 301 redirect from each page on the old domain pointing to the final destination on the new domain defined in the step above. 

Important: each of the following website versions on the old domain should redirect to the new domain:

  • https/http
  • www/non-www

3. All 301 Redirects Should Point to The Canonical URLs on the Domain You’re Migrating to

Overview

A canonical version of the page is the only version that should be available to users and Google. For example:

  • https://www.domain2.com vs domain.com
  • https://www.domain2.com/inventory vs https://www.domain2.com/inventory 

Recommended Action

You first need to identify the canonical version of the pages on the domain you’re migrating to. There’s generally no difference between the following variations:

  • Www vs non-www
  • URLs with a ‘/’ at the end and without it

I’d recommend sticking to the pattern the initial domain has so that you won’t need to make any additional changes except for the domain name. For example:

  • https://www.domain1.com/inventory/ -> https://www.domain2.com/inventory/ (not: https://domain2.com/inventory/ or https://www.domain2.com/inventory )

4. Set up Internal Links on the New Domain to Reflect the Changes

Overview

Internal links are the links inside the website. After migrating to the new domain, they need to point to the new domain as well.

Recommended Action

Make sure that all the internal links point to the new domain. 

5. Additional Things to Do for a Domain Migration


Overview

These steps are very important for preserving the website statistics and communicating the domain change to Google. 

Recommended Action

  1. Check if the website on the new domain has the right meta robots directives (index,follow) and that its crawling is allowed in robots.txt.
  2. Make sure that a Google Analytics code is installed on the new domain.
  3. Use the Change of Address tool in Google Search Console to let Google know about changing the domain. 
  4. Use the Google Data Studio Dashboard to track the domain migration

You can download the checklist in a Google Doc format below:

A Few Words About the Change of Address Tool

The Change of Address tool helps to notify Google that you’re moving to the new domain/subdomain so it can pick up the changes quicker. Domain migration is a perfect example of when you should use the Change of address tool.

The tool is located under Settings > Change of address

Change of address toll gsc

Use the Change of Address tool in Google Search Console  when:

  • You migrate from one domain to another
  • When you migrate from one subdomain to another
Change of address tool in google search console - website is moving

Don’t use the Change of Address tool when:

  • You migrate from http to https
  • You migrate from/to www
  • You just change a few URLs within a website
  • You move to another hosting

In order to use the Change of Address tool: 

  • You should be added as an owner of both websites in Google Search Console
  • You should set up 301 redirects from the old website to the new website
Change-of-address-verified-min

An Ultimate Google Data Studio Dashboard to Track Domain Migration

I initially created this GDS dashboard to track domain migration fo my client. But then I asked the SEO community if they would be interested in getting the Dashboard. The feedback was insane:

Google Data Studio - domain migration analysis - LinkedIn feedback
Google Data Studio - domain migration analysis - Twitter feedback

Dashboard Overview

Here’s the full Dashboard, just click to open a big image in a lighbox and scroll:

google data studio domain migration dashboard preview

Below are the details for each part of the Domain Migration Analysis Dashboard.

Date Ranges 

  • Data source – Google Search Console, Google Analytics
  • Segment – no
  • Filters – no
  • Blended data – no
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-date-ranges-min

Old Website Impressions/ New Website Impressions

  • Data source – Google Search Console
  • Segment – no
  • Filters – no
  • Blended data – no
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-website-impressions

Both Websites Impressions

  • Data source – Google Search Console
  • Segment – no
  • Filters – no
  • Blended data – yes
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-website-impressions-blended-min

Old Website Clicks/ New Website Clicks

  • Data source – Google Search Console
  • Segment – no
  • Filters – no
  • Blended data – no
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-website-clicks-min

Both Websites Clicks

  • Data source – Google Search Console
  • Segment – no
  • Filters – no
  • Blended data – yes
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-website-clicks-blended-min

Both Websites Traffic

  • Data source – Google Analytics
  • Segment – yes (organic traffic)
  • Filters – no
  • Blended data – no
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-website-traffic-min

Old Website Queries/ New Website Queries

  • Data source – Google Search Console
  • Segment – no
  • Filters – no
  • Blended data – no
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-website-queries-min

Old Website Queries/ New Website Landing Pages

  • Data source – Google Analytics
  • Segment – yes (organic traffic)
  • Filters – yes (hostname)
  • Blended data – no
marketingsyrup-domain-migration-dashboard-website-landing-pages-min

Note: the Dashboard uses Sample data for Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Since there’s only one sample data set available for each data source, the blended sources will work only after you’ll connect the second GSC.

How to use the Domain Migration Analysis Dashboard

Here’s a video where I showed a full overview of the Dashboard and how to copy and use it:

There are a few things you’ll need to do:

  • Copy the Dashboard
  • Connect your Google Search Console (for the old domain) and Google Analytics sources
  • Add Google Search Console for the new domain
  • Fix the 2 cards with blended data from 2 Google Search Console sources (the old and new websites)
  • Adjust the hostname filters for ‘Landing Pages’ based on your Google Analytics data

Back to You

Hope it was helpful for you! Let me know in the comments.


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