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What should be considered before moving a website to a new CMS?

Web development

Author Val

What should be considered before moving a website to a new CMS?

May 30, 2019

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8 min read

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CMS – Content Management System or software that is made for the creation, editing, organization, structure, and management of a website.

Transferring a website to a new engine is a long and difficult process that allows to correct the disadvantages of SEO, and simultaneously conduct a technical audit of the resource.

Reasons for moving

The most common are:

  • outdated CMS;
  • security problems with the engine;
  • end of system support by the developers;
  • self-written engine;
  • website on the constructor;
  • additional expenses when trying to expand functionality.

Each of the CMS has its own characteristics (layout, database structure, etc.). The complexity of transferring a website to another CMS can be compared to the development of a new website.

That’s why it’s so important to determine the system requirements and select the right functionality.

Below is a list of recommended CMS, depending on the type of resource:

  • online store (catalog): OpenCart, Joomla, WordPress;
  • landing page (business card, business resource): Drupal, WordPress, Joomla;
  • info portal (forum): Joomla;

* Don’t forget to make a reserve copy of your project. Only after this step, you can safely move your old project to the test site. Run tests until you find and eliminate all of the errors. 

Risks that should be considered

Each CMS forms human-readable URLs in its own way.

When you transfer a project to a new engine, URLs will change. Addresses will change also if the structure of the resource is modified. This may lead to a loss of traffic. Therefore, be sure to configure by page 301 redirects. However, if a web project contains more than 100 pages, then working with redirects becomes extremely time-consuming.

cms moving

Stages of the transfer

1. Redirects

For small websites, you can do redirects manually.

For large, you can use Google Analytics. Further:

  1. parse the website and unload all the pages;
  2. remove product cards;
  3. delete the pages with the response code 404 (these are irrelevant addresses, no need for them on the new CMS).

When the list of all website pages is ready, create a correspondence table for old and new URLs.

*Make sure that pages which generate most traffic are created on the test site. 

The final step – in the htaccess file you should affix 301 redirects.

2. Content

Transfer all texts. If the project contains a large number of pages, then the work on the transfer of materials should be assigned to developers.

You can manually enter data such as: “Shipping and Payment”, “About the Company”, “Contacts”and other.

3. Metadata and Header

Title, description, and H1 should also be transferred.

4. File robots.txt

Create a robots.txt file for the new engine.

5. File Sitemap.xml

You need to generate a new sitemap file and send it to Google for review Search Console. The search engine should re-index new resource pages as soon as possible.

6. Analytics and other external services

Install the tag manager container.

Now, either through it or directly on the website add all the necessary codes:

  • Google Analytics code and others used in the work4
  • verification code for Google Search Console;
  • callback code, various pop-up’s and other third-party services that were on the old website.

*Do not forget to set up objectives, e-commerce and other parameters where the change of URL  could be involved.

7. Page with 404 error

Required to check the correctness of the display.

The error should be displayed for all URLs with an error and indicate that such page does not exist. It is good if it should contain a link to the main page of the website.

8. rel tag = ”canonical”

Set the rel = ”canonical” tag to eliminate duplicated pagination pages.

9. Mobile devices

Check out the optimization of the web project for mobile devices through the service https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

10. External links (Backlinks)

Use Ahrefs to upload all Backlinks and check if all resource pages for which donors refer to, give response code 200. If there are pages with 404 server response, then make redirect either to the corresponding URL of the website or to the main page.

Conclusion

Before deciding to move to a new CMS, list the desired technical and functional system requirements.

Create a reserve copy of a project.

Following the above algorithm for transferring a web project to another CMS, you can transfer a resource without a significant drop in traffic and losses in search engine promotion. Right after the transfer, the decrease in attendance is possible. Don’t worry its normal. In a month or two, the working process will recover. If you have foreseen everything, the project efficiency on an optimized platform will be higher.

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