A website migration is a complex and often intensive process. Typically the results are worth the work, but there are several things that can go wrong. Many law firms find that their traffic drops after a site migration. It’s important to understand the reasons that sites can lose traffic after such a process – and what your law firm can do about it.
Begin by running a crawler to find a list of common issues. You can use a tool like ScreamingFrog to scan your law firm’s website and find page-specific search engine optimization (SEO) issues such as broken redirects, duplicate content, etc. Look for the following issues:
1. Canonicalized Tag Changes
Find the specific pages that have lost traffic, and then observe their canonical tags to ensure they weren’t changed in a way that can affect traffic. Tags might point to non-relevant pages or old urls that no longer exist, for instance.
2. Non-indexable Content or Robots.txt
An issue with indexing could be part of your traffic loss. Use Google’s own robots.txt tester tool to identify any issues with your file.
3. Missing Metadata
Occasionally a migration can cause metadata to be lost in the transition. For example, title tags or meta descriptions can be in a single column that gets lost in a database transfer. Review your site’s meta titles and descriptions and be sure they are all still intact and accurate. If you find that the data is lost, hopefully you have a backup or archive of the information from before the migration. If not, you may be able to Google specific pages and see what metadata appears in the search results. If you know a database specialist they may also be able to help. Unfortunately, if you aren’t able to recover metadata in those ways, you’ll need to update everything manually (which will be time consuming).
4. Loss of Page Speed
If you did a complete website migration or changed servers, you may have lost some page speed along the way. Check the page speed of the pages that you noticed are losing traffic. Verify that your content delivery network (CDN) and caching system are working properly.
5. Internal Linking Issues
Internal links are an important way to keep people on your site and they also help with a law firm website’s SEO. Perform a link audit on your new site and make sure that all links present are linking to your new site, not the old one.
6. Content Accessibility Issues
You need to understand if Google is having any issues trying to access pages on your site. Google Search Console has a record of all indexed pages on your site. Log in and go to Index>Coverage and click on “error, valid with warning, valid or excluded”. Here you can see if any urls are having any issues and click “inspect url” to learn more.
7. Broken Site Redirects
Site redirects are a critical part of any law firm website migration. Ideally you had a 301 redirect plan in place when migrating your site, because redirect issues can cause big problems when it comes to SEO and traffic. Find any redirect loops or chains and clean them up. Follow redirect chains to make sure redirections are accurate, and check to make sure old urls are properly redirected to new urls. Also, ensure that all of the old pages are redirected using 301 redirects and not 302 redirects, which won’t be permanent.
8. Lost External Links
External links are essential to a law firm’s SEO strategy. If you’ve built an authoritative site that other sites link to, it’s worth reaching out to them to update any links they have on their site. Take the additional step of setting up redirects so that those old links go to your new site.
9. Issues with Hosting
Are you changing servers or platforms as you migrate your site? If so, that can cause lots of little issues such as slow speeds or firewalls blocking search engine bots. Go over each page where you notice your traffic dropping carefully with your new platform or server vendor. Even better, make sure you totally understand the new platform or even give it a test drive before performing a full migration.
10. Image Problems
If your site receives a good amount of image traffic, it’s particularly important to ensure your image urls are properly redirected. If you have a CDN, you might be able to make one rapid change in order to change all of your images over to a new site.
11. Google Updates
Google algorithms make a big difference in several elements of search, which largely impacts traffic. If your changes also coincide with some that Google made, your site might be caught in the crosshairs. As you complete your migration, check to see if Google has pushed any major updates. The issues you’re seeing might not even be related to your migration at all.
One of your best protections against traffic loss after a migration is being prepared in the first place. Prior to completing a migration of your law firm’s website, make sure you collect and benchmark data on your overall site and each individual page. Then, keep track of any of the changes you notice after your migration process. If you’ve performed a recent migration and completed all the steps above, and still have concerns around traffic, we can help.
We help law firms migrate their websites without losing any search engine visibility and traffic. Contact us to learn more.