The Ultimate SEO Migration to Shopify Plus Guide

The Ultimate SEO Migration to Shopify Plus Guide.jpg

Switching to Shopify Plus? Here’s What You Need to Know About Your SEO Migration

Shopify Plus is a fantastic platform for ecommerce businesses that are ready to scale to new heights.

With greater bandwidth, additional features, and around-the-clock support, this platform provides everything you need to boost your traffic and sales.

Unfortunately there is a major risk involved when you go through any type of SEO migration: the possibility of losing your search engine rankings.

The SEO of your website is something you build up over time, so it’d be detrimental to your business to accidentally wipe the slate clean when migrating your site to a new platform.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through why SEO matters so much during a site migration, as well as how to prevent a catastrophic rankings drop when you move to Shopify Plus.

Shopify Plus – The Leading Platform for eCommerce Enterprises

If you’ve chosen to migrate your website to Shopify Plus, you’ve made a great choice.

Shopify Plus is a multi-channel enterprise ecommerce platform built for ultimate scalability and functionality. However, like any platform, it’s not immune to the risks associated with a site migration.

Your existing website has likely built up some SEO juice over time – climbing in the rankings, attracting backlinks, and faring well in the eyes of Google.

But if you don’t take the necessary precautions during your migration, all of that authority and traffic can drain away.

This is 100% preventable if you consider SEO even before you start your migration.

Below we outline what you need to know before, during, and after your Shopify Plus SEO migration.

Click here to download the free ecommerce SEO Site migration checklist

Preparing for Your SEO Site Migration

Before starting on your website migration, we highly recommend consulting an ecommerce SEO specialist.

While some web developers may know SEO, this is far more the exception than the norm. You will want a strong team on your side to ensure that your SEO is maintained throughout the entire process.

Therefore, the primary steps for preparing for a site migration are:

  • Confirm that Shopify Plus is the right platform for your needs

  • Find a competent, reliable website developer

  • Consult an ecommerce SEO specialist

Once this has been accomplished, you will go on to preparing for the SEO site migration itself.

SEO Work Before Your Shopify Plus Migration

The main SEO work of a site migration involves ensuring that all data, content, links, and other site elements are accounted for. Your SEO expert and web developer will be able to handle all of this for you with ease.

This work includes taking stock of all the details on the old site, however small they may be, so that you have a record of them before switching to a new platform.

These elements include:

  • Google Analytics code – Take note of what type of implementation is being used and what the correct code is.

  • Backlinks –  Take an account of all backlinks to the site (can be found using a tool such as Ahrefs).

  • Analytics data – Save analytics data from a full year, including all URLs generating traffic. This will provide both a record of URLs and comparison data in case Analytics somehow gets messed up during the migration.

  • Google Search Console data – Data for a full year. This will provide ranking data for comparison, as well as crawl data to match up for before and after moving your site.

  • Keyword rankings – Identify all past and existing ranking keywords using a tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs.

  • URLs – Take account of all URLs on the old site and confirm which will be moved over to the new site. Make sure you consult all the Analytics/Backlinks data pulled to make sure all URLs are accounted for - especially those that generate organic traffic. Look for any weird URLs in the Analytics data, such as search results and parameters, to be sure you redirect them properly.

  • Redirects – Weird parameter URLs can be accounted for by implementing a “wild card” redirect (your developer will know how to do this), which combs the old site URLs for the query strings and redirects to one static link, usually the new homepage. Create a redirect map taking into consideration the points above.

  • Site audit results – Perform an audit of the old site - looking for things such as 404 Errors, 301 redirect chains, duplicate content pages, and short/long/missing metatags and H1s. You'll want to fix these things on the new site to make sure you stabilize (or even increase) traffic upon moving.

  • XML sitemap – Make sure the old XML sitemap is submitted to Google Search Console and contains the URLs that you want moved over and shortens any redirect chains.

If this task list seems a little daunting, have no fear.

By working with a skilled SEO specialist, you’ll be sure that all of these elements are accounted for and in place before you ever start migrating your site. This is the best way to avoid a traffic drop catastrophe.

SEO During a Shopify Plus Migration

Surprisingly, little SEO work is done during the site migration. If all of the before steps are taken care of, you should be set up for a smooth transition.

Create a Test Site

However, it’s highly recommended that you have a “test” site that reproduces what the new site will look like so that you can identify any issues before making the actual switch.

On the test site, you should:

  • Fix site audit issues – Make sure all the issues found during the site audit of the old site are fixed. A new audit of the test site is also recommended here.

  • Follow SEO best practices – Make sure the new site features, layout, and design reflect SEO best practices - i.e. URLs keyword optimized, text not buried in unreadable code, images appropriately sized and tagged, breadcrumbs implemented, etc.

Having a test site allows you to preview the site before you make the transition.

You can ensure that all site issues are fixed and that you have a solid SEO foundation from the beginning. This prevents having to fix a bunch of things after the real site is moved over.

What to Expect After Your Shopify Plus Migration

Success! You’ve migrated your website over to the Shopify Plus platform. But the work isn’t done yet. There’s a bit of SEO to be done to ensure that your website ready for organic traffic.

First, you’ll want to confirm that nothing “broke” during the transition. Next, you’ll make a few SEO tweaks to ensure that your website is crawlable by search engines.

Free Post-Migration SEO Checklist

  • Check Google Analytics –  Make sure Google Analytics is configured properly and is picking up on website traffic. You can have someone who has an un-blocked IP address go to the new site to make sure the tags are firing properly.

  • Set up domain in Google Search Console – If moving to an entirely new URL, establish your new domain in GSC and submit the XML sitemap.

  • Crawl old URLs – Perform a crawl of the old URLs in your redirect map to make sure everything is redirecting properly.

  • Crawl the new site – Perform a crawl of the new site to double-check all the issues from the old site (or test site) have been resolved.

  • Check Google Search Console – Check weekly for crawl stats, any issues with your sitemap submission, or any other errors.

  • Compare Analytics data – Compare data for 2 weeks, 1 month, and 2 months after the migration to compare and contrast organic traffic and revenue numbers.

Get the full Shopify Plus SEO migration checklist below to avoid losing traffic and revenue after your migration:

Click here to download the free ecommerce SEO Site migration checklist

Start Your Migration with the Help of a Shopify Plus SEO Expert

Transitioning to Shopify Plus is an exciting time for your business. You’re taking a big step toward scaling up your business through generating even more traffic and revenue.

Don’t put your SEO at risk while migrating your site. Preserve your rankings and traffic by working with a skilled ecommerce SEO specialist.

At Whitecap, we’ve helped countless ecommerce business owners migrate their site smoothly and without stress. Plus, many see an INCREASE in traffic after their migration due to the optimization we do during the process!

Whitecap performed a full site audit providing key insights to grow traffic from search engines and alerted us to technical issues with our site and server configuration that were hurting SEO. The Whitecap team has also assisted us with site changes based on the latest Google mobile algorithm updates, as well as responsive site migration as it relates to SEO!
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