SEO Go Live Checkup for a Site Migration

SEO Go Live Checkup for a Site Migration

Go-live SEO Checkup

It’s launch day for your new website. We’re assuming that you have read all the other posts in this series and have gone through your website migration planning with SEO in mind throughout - from keyword research and 301 planning to internal linking optimisation and staging site performance optimisation. Now all that’s left is the post-launch check up!

Once your site has been launched there are a few key items you should check before you can be absolutely confident that everything has gone to plan from an SEO perspective:

  1. Robots.txt checkup
  2. Domain verification on Google and Bing
  3. XML sitemap submission
  4. 301 redirect testing
  5. Crawl depth review
  6. Page performance review
  7. Canonical tag checkup
  8. Schema.org markup testing
  9. 404 page test

1. Robots.txt checkup

The first thing you need to check once a website goes live is the robots.txt file. Make sure that:

  • There are no unnecessary disallow rules left over from the staging site file. This ensures that you’re not telling search engines to ignore important content.
  • There are relevant disallow rules for internal login pages and other sensitive pages that should not be indexed.
  • There is a sitemap reference which points crawlers in the direction of your xml sitemap (e.g. “Sitemap: https://www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml”)

2. Domain verification on Google and Bing

Next, you should verify your domain (if you haven’t already done so) on Google Search Console and Bing. Verification of your domain on these platforms allows you to easily monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site's presence in Google Search results and Bing Search results respectively. This is extremely handy in the days post-migration as Google will flag errors indicative of a flawed migration e.g. lots of 404 pages or lots of pages that are being blocked by noindex tags, messy canonicals, etc.

3. XML sitemap submission (to Google Search Console and Bing)

First things first here - you need to ensure that your dev team have included an xml sitemap. Usually this will be found at https://www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml. If it’s not, check in with your dev team to ask whether it has been added and, if so, where it can be found. 

Once you know the URL of the xml sitemap, you will want to submit it to both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

4. 301 redirect testing

We’ve already discussed the importance of 301 redirects in a previous post. To recap, correctly configured 301 redirects will:

  • - Send users (and crawlers) who attempt to access content on your legacy site to the equivalent content on your new site
  • - Ensure that any authority (built up through inbound links) is passed from URLs on your legacy site to the equivalent URL on your new site

So to ensure that your users and crawlers are not getting lost and to make sure that you’re not losing all your hard earned SEO value built up on the previous version of your site, you will want to test that your redirects have been implemented correctly. 

You have a few options with regards to how you choose to do this. You can:

  • - Manually test your redirects by going through you redirect mapping document and visiting all of the “legacy” URLs and making sure that you end up on the equivalent URL on the new site instead. To quickly verify that the correct type of redirect (301) has been implemented, you can use a plugin like Ayima Redirect Path plugin for Google Chrome.
  • - Use an online tool like https://www.redirect-checker.org/

5. Crawl depth review

You’ve already checked the staging site to ensure that crawl depth is not a big issue. But it’s always safer to check again once your site goes live. Check out our post on Reviewing Your Staging Site for detailed instructions here.

6. Page performance review

Again, you’ve already checked this on the staging site but it’s prudent to ensure that the page performance optimisations have been carried through to the live site and nothing has been added to the site that is slowing down pages or affecting Core Web Vitals negatively. Check out our Staging Site Performance Review for SEO post for detailed instructions.

7. Canonical tag checkup

As part the SEO checklist that you provided to your developers way back at the beginning of this migration project, you explained the importance of canonicalization on the new site that references the new site and not the old.

At this stage you should test that important pages on your site have canonicals that point to themselves, rather than pointing to other pages especially not to their equivalents on the old version of your site.

You have a few options with regards to how you choose to do this. You can:

  • - Manually test a sample of pages (or all pages if your site is not too big) and ensure that their canonical tags reference their own URL. You can check this manually by either:
  • - Using Chrome dev tools to inspect the page source code and searching for “ rel="canonical"
  • - Using a chrome plugin like the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar

8. Schema.org markup testing

Structured data in the form of schema.org markup helps Google to better understand your organisation, your site and your products and helps you to gain richer results on the SERP for higher CTRs.

In our SEO checklist at the beginning of the site migration process, we recommended to add schema.org structured data markup to your website in order to specifically explain to Google your sites association with specific topics, brands, products, services, people and other entities.

S0me types of Schema.org markup and their SEO benefits:

Schema.org Markup Type SEO Benefit
organization Enriches your companies Knowledge Panel on the Google SERP and provides Google with a better understanding of your company, it’s expertise and relationships with other entities (e.g. organizations and people) on the web
product Qualifies your product pages for richer results in the Google SERP and organic shopping tab which tends to lead to higher CTR, traffic and, ultimately, sales
article Provides Google with more context around your articles (e.g. headline, date published, author) and increases the likelihood of higher CTR via richer results on the Google SERP
breadcrumbs Visually indicates your pages location / path on the Google SERP which gives users greater context about the page content which may lead to increased CTR
recipe Encourages Google to include your recipe content in Recipe Rich Results at the top of the Google SERP which tend to have much higher CTR than regular SERP results
event Provides extra information to Google (e.g. date, location, price) which can appear in reicher results at the top of the Google SERP

After having gone to the effort of adding schema.org markup to your pages, you can test each page individually with the Schema.org Validator. Google Search Console will also flag issues with Rich Results via the Enhancements report.

9. 404 Page Test

A custom 404 page allows users to easily navigate your site and find something useful if they land on a page that no longer exists. 

As part of your Technical SEO checklist you will have requested that your devs ensure that if a page does not exist on the site, the user is presented with the custom 404 page (whilst maintaining the URL that the user tried to access). 

You should also ensure your 404 page is engaging and user friendly and, critically, that it triggers a 404 response code.

A quick test to see if broken URLs are properly serving a 404 response code:

1. In Google Chrome, go to a URL on your domain that you know does not exist e.g. www.adaptiveco.io/bla-bla-bla 

2. Right click, select Inspect to open the developer tools

3. Select Console tab

4. Reload the page

5. You should see a message something like “GET https://www.mysite.com/bla-bla-bla 404”

Alternatively, you can use a Chrome plugin like Ayima Redirect Path plugin.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve completed your SEO Go Live Checkup, your site migration is complete! I’d like to say that the work stops there but unfortunately SEO is not quite as simple as that. Over the next few weeks you will want to keep an eye on your Google Search Console for errors, your web analytics for any glaring traffic drops and your rank tracking tools for any significant dips in rankings.

And of course, you’ll want to put in place an SEO strategy that includes ongoing content creation and link building tactics as well as keeping on top of the technical aspects of your site. If you’d like to chat about developing an SEO strategy for your website, feel free to get in touch with our SEO team!

In the meantime, check out the other blog posts in this series on SEO for a Website Migration:

  1. Technical SEO Checklist for a Website Migration
  2. Keyword Research and Existing Content Audit for a Website Migration
  3. 301 Redirect Planning and Redirect Mapping for a Website Migration
  4. Crawl Depth and Internal Linking Review (of your UAT site) for a Website Migration
  5. Staging Site Performance Review for a Website Migration
  6. SEO Go Live Checkup for a Website Migration

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