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.
I’m also thankful to the official Google Analytics account for sharing this post on Twitter:
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
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.
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
Redirects help to connect the page on the old domain to the page on the new domain.
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:
3. All 301 Redirects Should Point to The Canonical URLs on the Domain You’re Migrating to
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
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
Internal links are the links inside the website. After migrating to the new domain, they need to point to the new domain as well.
Make sure that all the internal links point to the new domain.
5. Additional Things to Do for a Domain Migration
These steps are very important for preserving the website statistics and communicating the domain change to Google.
- 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.
- Make sure that a Google Analytics code is installed on the new domain.
- Use the Change of Address tool in Google Search Console to let Google know about changing the domain.
- 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
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
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
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: