The most important 6 things we learned from 10 Magento Migrations

Website migration is a lot like moving house. Finding the right place to move to can be tricky and expensive, there’s a tonne of stuff to move and even with the best-laid plans some of your things are bound to go missing.

Over the last six months, as a part of our Ecommerce SEO services, we have helped 10 Ecommerce stores perform successful website migrations, specifically Magento migration, with minimal impact on their SEO. That experience we thought that we should share with you our top six Magento migration tips that we’ve learned from these experiences.

The teachings of 10 Magento migrations

1. Choose the right URL structure

The structure of your website’s URLs can have a big influence on your overall SEO performance. Basically, just like most things in online optimisation, simplicity is key. Keep your URLs clear, concise and consistent across your site.

It may seem finicky, but even something as small as this can have an impact on your site’s overall UX and any significant change to your site’s URL structure can result in an equally significant impact on your site’s post-migration SEO.

When performing a Magento migration, there are a few things that need to be considered to make sure that you’re URLs are structured effectively. Firstly, open the Stores sidebar on your Magento dashboard and make sure that your ‘use categories path for product URLs’ is set to ‘NO’. This will help keep your URLs as short as possible by limiting the category information added to the URL when users are on your product pages.

SEO in Magento

Secondly, Magento automatically adds a .html extension to all of its URLs, make sure this is removed to prevent further issues down the line and help browsers process them efficiently.

And finally, make sure that your ‘create a permanent redirect for URLs if URL key changed’ setting is turned to yes. This will ensure that users are redirected to the correct URL when they either click a link for or research an old one. This will make sure all your old links will still serve their intended purpose which will help preserve your SEO score. This can also be done under the URLs dropdown in the Stores section of the dashboard.

2. Make sure the sitemap is up to date

A good site map is essential for search engine indexing. They are designed to help the robots that search engines like Google send out to look over your site and assess its overall quality before it is ranked. The easier you make this job for the bots, the better your score will be and the potential damage caused by your SEO Magento migration will be limited.

Sitemaps index all product pages and images, so it’s vital that they’re kept as up to date as possible. This means that every time your site’s contents changes, your sitemap has to change accordingly whether it means updating daily, hourly or even by the minute. This may sound like a lot but don’t fret, Magento Commerce makes it really easy to set your sitemap to update as often as you need and allows you to prioritise certain types of content.

Updating sitemap in magento

Simply make sure your sitemap.xml file is set to update. Furthermore, while your site is in development, you can set instructions in the robots.txt file that will speak to the search engine bots and let them know which parts of your site you want them to index. This stops them from trying to catalogue pages that are under development which aren’t ready for the real world. More on this later.

3. Set your filters correctly during the migration

Making sure that your filters are set correctly will help ensure that your SEO migration runs as smoothly as possible. Ideally, you only want to be ranked based on your site’s most appropriate and best-performing pages and setting your filters correctly can help make sure that this happens.

setting filters in magento

Your filters help the search engine bots determine which pages to rank and allow you to tell them which specific low-value pages to disregard in their overall evaluation. This can be really useful as one of the issues we’ve found whilst performing Magento data migrations is that even though all content has been moved with minimal disruption, SEO scores can be impacted by improperly configured filters on the backend.

We would recommend using a third party like Manadev to help you get the most out of your filters. Manadev has an enhanced configuration process that allows you to earmark specific low-ranking pages as either nofilter or noindex which will tell the search engine bots to disregard them.

4. Updating your robots.txt file

The robots.txt file is a very simple feature within Magento and is best thought of as the person that meets and shows the search engine bots around your site and tells them what to assess.

Keeping on top of the robots.txt file is important and like with your sitemap, should be frequently monitored to make sure your site is only ever ranked based on the pages that matter.

Updating the robots.txt file is simple enough. Just head to the Content dashboard and then navigate to the configuration settings under the Design menu and the rest is fairly straightforward.

Note, keeping on top of the robots.txt file is especially important if you have public pages that are for internal use. It would be fairly difficult for a regular user to find themselves on these pages but the search engine bots can and will find it when they comb your site. If they’re not told to ignore it then they will just assume that it’s a poorly curated part of your site and this could make your SEO migration a lot more turbulent than it should be. They are just robots after all.

5. Products have SEO friendly URLs

Just like with your overall URL structure, an Ecommerce website migration can be ruined by poorly constructed product page URLs.

Your product pages will make up the bulk of your website’s overall content and are the driving force behind your business, so it’s vital that they’re as healthy as they can be in order to maintain your site’s SEO during migration and help boost the experience you are offering your customers.

Magento makes it really easy to keep on top of your product page URL structure. There is a Search Engine Optimisation drop-down menu situated within the web section of the Stores dashboard. Within this drop-down is a section specifically for URL configuration. Here, always make sure that the ‘use web server rewrite’ option is switched to yes. Within these settings, you can also create category paths for product URLs that will make your cataloguing much easier and will save you a lot of potential future headaches.

6. Tracking setup

Everyone in Ecommerce knows that Google Analytics is your best friend when it comes to understanding your customers and how they interact with your website.

Google Analytics gathers huge quantities of data and displays it to you in simple, easy to understand visualisations.

Tracking analytics Magento

However, after a website migration, things can be a little confusing for Google Analytics as it tries to get its head around your new site. Luckily, Magento makes it really easy to configure your tracking functions without having to add any fiddly pieces of code.

Once you have access to your Google Analytics account, all you have to do is head to the Admin sidebar and open the Stores menu. From here, go to settings and then configurations. Expand the sales menu and then choose the Google API option and follow the simple instructions and you’re good to go.

Making an easy job for the bots

So, there we have it. You will notice that most of these tips are about making sure that the search engine bots have an easy time of it when they visit your site. If you remember to make their job as easy as it can be then it gives them fewer reasons to knock down your SEO score and your Magento data migration will be that much more successful.

If you need help, contact us, we’re an experienced Magento SEO agency.

Share It! Tweet it! Publish It!