Site migration is a scary yet exciting prospect. Scary because it requires a lot of work which may go down the drain due to one tiny mistake. Exciting because it opens a new chapter in one’s online life, providing new possibilities and opportunities.
That is why when our client from the health supplement niche asked us for help with migrating their website, we were ready for the challenge ahead of us. We got straight to work, and once the dust settled, the client ended up with a brand-new website and a 61% traffic increase.
The client approached us, having already decided on migrating their website. They wanted a fresh start, this time created with SEO in mind. And we were asked to help them achieve that. However, site migration is not an easy feat, which is why we had to carefully plan out how we would approach this problem.
The goal was simple: migrate the client’s website while ensuring its original ranking and traffic don’t drop, and then build their authority in the industry by creating high-quality content and adding E-E-A-T signals. Finally, we had to build the new site’s external linking, which we achieved through HARO link-building strategy.
The client has an online website selling natural health supplements in the United States. They sell their product in powder, capsules, and drops. When they joined TSI, they had an outdated website with lots of content that wasn’t driving their desired results. They believed migrating their site would allow them to unlock their website’s full potential and establish their brand as one of the leading providers in their specific niche.
Issues Holding Website Back
The client wanted to go through with the site migration due to a dated website. However, we also noticed several other issues holding the website back, such as:
- Lack of authority within the niche. Although the client had some content on their site, it wasn’t extensive enough to help them establish topical authority within the niche. That was something we had to address to ensure the migration turned out successful.
- Low-quality product descriptions. Product descriptions on the old website weren’t optimized or engaging. We had to address that by optimizing all product and category descriptions to fit the new site’s style and to generate traffic and conversions.
- Lack of E-E-A-T. E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. These signals show Google that the website’s content is high-quality and helpful. We’ll cover E-E-A-T in more detail later, but the clue here is that the client’s content wasn’t as high-quality as many of its competitors.
- Inappropriate backlinking strategy. Since the client’s link-building strategy wasn’t effective, we had to create a new one. Due to the health supplement niche specifics, we decided to use the HARO strategy.
Course of Action
The primary objective of our campaign was, of course, to perform a successful site migration. Site migration is the process of making profound changes to the original website’s structure, technology, and design.
Actions we can categorize as site migration include creating a new domain, establishing a new framework or CMS, switching to a new server, and building a mobile site.
What’s vital to understand when migrating a site is that it requires thorough research and planning. Even the tiniest mistake can have severe consequences, negatively impacting one’s ranking, traffic, and overall website performance. And even if you avoid that, the next step is to ensure your new website maintains and further builds its visibility.
So yes, when the client approached us with the site migration task, we had to be careful about how we would tackle this challenge. Our recommendation here is always to follow our effective site migration checklist.
Following the steps below should do the trick and ensure an SEO-friendly migration:
- Pick a smart migration date. When you migrate your site matters. Our recommendation is always to pick a date when the potential impact of the migration would be minimal. Measure the data to see during which periods your website’s traffic is the lowest and use it to decide when to migrate.
- Crawl your original website. Crawl the existing site using any of the available SEO crawling tools (i.e., Screaming Frog or SEMRush). This will ensure you have a comprehensive record of all your URLs, metadata, and existing redirects.
- Backup your site. Creating a backup of your original site is always a good idea, as it will allow you to return to your original website in case something goes wrong during the migration process.
- Create a staging website. The next step is to create a so-called staging site (be sure to block Google from accessing it). Using it, you can test and revise all the changes you make to your original site, giving you a better idea of how it will perform once your new site is live.
- Map your URLs. By mapping your existing URLs, you can match them with the new site’s URLs and implement the necessary redirects correctly. This is where the data from crawling your original site will be helpful as it ensures no pages will be missed out.
- Migrate your content. The next step is to start migrating your existing content, including HTML files, images, videos, etc. We recommend doing that in small chunks rather than all at once to minimize the possibility of a mistake.
- Implement 301 redirects. 301 redirects allow new pages to receive traffic and page authority (i.e. PageRank) from old URLs, ensuring your new site doesn’t lose its rankability.
- Update internal links. Besides redirecting URLs, you must also remember to update your internal linking by changing all the old internal link URLs to new URLs to avoid unnecessary redirects.
- Update your backlinks. Be sure to reach out to external sites linking to your site and ask them to change old URLs to new ones. Do the same for any links on social media platforms (if you use them).
- Update DNS settings. When migrating to a new server, contact your hosting provider to update your DNS settings so that it points to your new IP address.
- Request a domain change via Google Search Console. Use the “Change of Address Tool” on your Google Search Console to inform Google about your new domain and help search engines index your new pages.
- Remove temporary website blocks. Update all your robots.txt files for the new site to ensure they don’t block Google from accessing your new URLs. Be sure to also remove any other protections and noindex tags. Otherwise, Google won’t be able to crawl and index your new pages.
- Create and upload your new XML site map. With all the URLs redirected and internal links updated, the next thing to do is to create and upload a new XML sitemap to Google Search Console. Doing this will inform Google to start crawling all your new pages.
- Resubmit disavowed links to GSC. If you’ve set up a new GSC account for your new website, you will have to resubmit disavowed links from your old domain. Essentially, a disavow file is a document that contains all the backlinks and referring domains linking to your old website that you don’t want to count to your new domain’s SEO.
- Test the performance of your new website. Check the loading times and how responsive your new domain is. The faster your website, the quicker Google will crawl and index your pages.
- Monitor your SEO performance. It’s not uncommon for new websites to experience temporary drops in rankings. That’s because crawling and indexing take time. However, if your rankings don’t recover to their pre-migration state, it might indicate you made a mistake. That is why monitoring your website’s performance and responding immediately is so important.
The health supplement niche is a tricky one to write about. It requires skill and attention to detail, restricting writers from making any claims which may result in a potential lawsuit. It’s also an industry where only authoritative and respected sources can succeed. And to prove our client is a trustworthy provider of health supplements, we had to implement strong E-E-A-T signals when designing their content strategy.
What is E-E-A-T? It’s an acronym that stands for:
- Experience - it emphasizes the importance of demonstrating first-hand experience in a topic or niche;
- Expertise - it refers to a high level of knowledge and skill a brand displays within the niche;
- Authority - it refers to the website’s recognition within the industry;
- Trustworthiness - it shows whether a website publishes content that is a trustworthy and reliable source of information.
E-E-A-T is not a direct Google ranking factor i.e. it’s not a part of Google's algorithm. To “measure” it, search engines use various signals that determine whether the content is helpful and written by an expert in the field.
E-E-A-T has a massive significance in niches that can directly impact users’ well-being, finances, health, etc. Health supplements fall into that category, which is why we had to do everything possible to create content that shows Google the client is a trustworthy and authoritative source.
How do you establish strong levels of E-E-A-T? There are several effective ways to do that, including:
- Make it easier for users to contact you and find essential customer information; e.g., you can create a dedicated contact us page and include contact information within the main header navigation.
- Optimize the “About Us” page to display your brand’s history, expertise, credentials, etc. It builds trust and proves your credibility.
- Provide the author’s credentials when publishing a content piece to show readers and Google that an expert wrote it.
- Ensure your content is up to date by updating the modification date, page titles, and update logs.
- Improve your online reputation through consumer reviews from various sources and client testimonials.
The client’s old product descriptions weren’t informative or engaging enough to generate conversions. We needed to address that and include product page optimizations as one of the primary goals in the content strategy.
We did that by taking the existing descriptions as a base and expanding the content while also ensuring that it would increase conversions. For example, we added key information on the top, along with engaging graphics and visible CTAs.
When creating product descriptions, the goal is to make them as informative as possible without boring the potential customer. To do that, you can implement tables and graphics that display all the product specifications and essential information in a more readable and engaging way.
It’s also essential to display the product’s benefits. You must show your consumers how your product can benefit them. You need to convince them that your product is that missing puzzle piece needed in their life.
All that while ensuring your every product description is unique. Client’s product descriptions, for example, included a lot of duplicate content, preventing it from ranking high. That was another issue we needed to address, ensuring that every product page we optimize is unique without losing quality and engagement.
Building Topical Authority
Another part of our content strategy was increasing the client’s topical authority. For that, we had to create content demonstrating the client’s proficiency within the niche of health supplements. We decided to approach this problem by creating topical power hubs (or content hubs).
A power hub is a collection of thematically related content that consists of one primary pillar page supported by several supplementary pages. All pages within a power hub are linked together through hyperlinks.
When executed correctly, a power hub strategy can be incredibly effective for your SEO. Some of its most significant benefits include:
- Increasing the visibility of keywords with informational or commercial intent;
- Building brand awareness and authority within the niche or the covered topic;
- Attracting a wider audience by writing on topics not just your usual users might be interested in;
- Keeping interested parties on the site for longer thanks to all power hub pages being linked;
- Providing the website with more ranking opportunities.
And that’s precisely what we did, creating topical power hubs within the health supplement niche and, as a result, expanding the client’s reach and building their authority.
Executing HARO Link Building Strategy
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a popular platform that connects reputable journalists looking for reliable information about a specific topic. That makes HARO a golden opportunity for websites to obtain quality links from some of the most renowned online sources, such as The New York Times, The Economist, Forbes, etc.
To use it, you will need to create an account and fill in some essential information. Once you’re all set up, you will start receiving requests from journalists searching for information from your particular niche. You can then pitch to journalists requesting information about the chosen topic. If your pitch is well constructed, the chances are the journalist will use your website as a source, providing you with a beautiful and high-quality backlink.
Due to the importance of E-E-A-T in the health supplement niche, we decided to implement the HARO link-building strategy in the client’s case. This way, we were able to further establish the client as a reputable source while expanding its backlink profile.
Here are a few tips on how to successfully use HARO for link-building purposes:
- Choose correct queries relevant to your industry and that you understand and are qualified to answer while adding unique value to the request.
- Set up filters and alerts to be notified when a journalist sends a query relevant to your industry.
- Filter domains you want to obtain links from.
- Ensure you craft an engaging and informative pitch that displays your expertise.
By performing a successful site migration and implementing the above strategies, we grew the organic traffic by 60.99% in just over six months.
The number of keywords the site ranks for in the top 100 positions of Google increased from 1,405 keywords to 2,288 - that’s a 188% increase!
All that perfectly shows that site migration can be incredibly advantageous when performed correctly and boosted with an appropriate content and backlink strategy. Even for a website in a niche as highly demanding as health supplements.
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