August 17, 2022 eCommerce Solutions

Guide 101 – Website Migration from 1 to 2

Guide 101 – Website Migration from 1 to 2

Moving is simply an inevitability of life. Your needs and priorities change, and so you need to make changes. It happens with homes, jobs, schools, office buildings, and even websites. As your business grows, it becomes necessary to migrate your website to adapt to your new needs.

Migrating your website can help support more traffic, allow your website to have more features, and overall have a more customized, robust website. A website migration could mean changing domains, upgrading your platform version, changing servers, or switching to a new eCommerce platform. The type of migration you go through depends on why you are migrating your website, such as rebranding or you need to support more traffic. While each type of website migration will require slightly different steps and tools, some general guidelines will apply to all website migrations. This guide will outline when to conduct a website migration, what you need, and how to perform a website migration.

Website migrations are delicate procedures that can lead to many errors if not done correctly. If you want to ensure your company’s website migration is as smooth as possible, set up a meeting with us today!

What is a Website Migration?

It’s easy to be confused by what a migration specifically is. The thing is, website migration is purposely a vague term. A website migration is meant to mean any event that leads to substantial changes that significantly affect your website’s visibility on search engines. It also means moving your website from one place to another.

What a website migration is really depends on who you ask, but both these definitions are accurate. You might be having to move a massive amount of data, or you might be making some tiny changes.

Website migrations are almost always tricky procedures and can be disastrous if not done correctly. If not handled correctly, you can expect:

  • Decrease in web traffic
  • Website crash
  • Lost pages
  • Duplicate pages
  • Fall in search engine ranking

I know that sounds scary, but these are worst-case scenarios if not done correctly. A thoroughly planned website migration performed by a quality website migration service that is tested will mitigate these chances. Hopefully, you won’t see any change in your website’s performance no matter what type of website migration you implement. Speaking of the kinds of website migration…

Types of Website Migrations

There are six main types of website migration:

  • Website domain change
  • Platform change
  • Content change
  • Sitemap change
  • Design changes
  • Server migration

Of course, these types of website migration aren’t mutually exclusive. There is plenty of overlap between them. Below, we go over the distinguishing factors of each type but know that sometimes you aren’t just changing the content, you are also changing the sitemap and design, or if you are updating the domain, you are likely changing the sitemap.

Domain Migration

Sometimes, you may need to change your website’s address. You could be switching from an HTTP address to an HTTPS or rebranding and need to change the website name. Either way, you are going through a domain migration.

On the surface, domain migration seems very simple. Your website stays relatively the same; the only thing that changes is the URL. In a more practical sense, it is more like moving your whole store. It doesn’t feel like it, but it’s similar to moving a brick and mortar from one physical location to another. Sure, the inside of your store stays the same, but you have a different address, and customers have to go to a different location to find you. If they go to your old address, they may get confused.

For a smooth transition from one domain to another, you have to ensure every webpage (yes, every webpage) gets an updated address. That includes landing, product, and even auto-generated thank you pages. You’ll also need an updated sitemap with the new addresses, so Google knows where all the new webpages go and how the site is structured. This way, you can also tell Google to stop sending traffic to your old site and send it to your new one. You’ll also need to review all your internal links and ensure they are updated to direct customers to the new webpage.

Advertising your domain change ahead of time is also advisable. Letting your customers know when you’ll be switching and what you’ll be switching to will ease the transition, but ultimately, some customers will still try going to your old website because they didn’t know or forgot (old habits die hard). You’ll need 301 redirects to ensure customers who continue to go to your old website don’t get lost. It’ll automatically redirect them to your new website. These will help ease the transition, like mail forwarding. But also, like mail forwarding, you don’t want it up indefinitely, as eventually, you want everyone to use the new address. Mail forwarding slows down receiving all messages, while a 301 redirect slows down your website, impacting your website health and search engine ranking.

Platform Migration

Platform migrations might be the trickiest type of website migration out there. While you want your actual website and domain to remain the same, so your customers may never see the change, you are entirely changing the back end of your website.

A platform migration is changing or upgrading the platform your website runs on. For example, you may have started with a WordPress website, but as your business expanded, you decided to migrate to Magento to support the increased traffic and be able to scale your increasing demand.

A platform migration also happens when your platform releases an upgrade and you transfer to that upgrade. The best example of this is a Magento 2 migration. Magento stopped offering support for their Magento 1 eCommerce platform, so many companies were forced to upgrade their platform, migrating to Magento 2 if they hadn’t already. They may have already migrated so they could access the new features available and have access to a stronger platform. Either way, they upgraded their platform and went through an eCommerce platform migration.

These kinds of migrations are where a website migration service comes in handy. This is a rare, massive overhaul of your website, and it takes a lot of work to transfer everything to a new system and ensure everything is transferred smoothly and correctly. Not only are you moving all your data, but it’s also getting reformatted to fit into a completely different system. While nothing changes on the front end or very little anyway, there is a massive change in the back end, and your team will have to learn how to operate a different system. I hope I’m not scaring you too much, this type of website migration is inevitable as you grow and your needs change, but I want to set a realistic picture of the scale of this type of migration and why a website migration service is so necessary.

Content Change

Content changes don’t involve complete website migrations, but they apply significant changes to your website. Content changes include:

  • Add/removing webpages

Adding or removing web pages from your website impacts the website from both a user and a developer standpoint. The sitemap will have to be adjusted on the backend (developer side), positively impacting the website’s visibility. The additional web pages should help new users find you and stay on your page longer by having new information, improving your website’s SEO.

It impacts the front end (user side) as well. They, of course, see the new webpage, but it doesn’t just affect that. Adding new web pages and removing unnecessary ones changes the website navigation and menu, which can alter the customer journey and even how they experience your website. Adding new pages and information or removing outdated or unnecessary ones will change how customers navigate your website. You could add new category pages for your products, remove ones that don’t sell very well, or even add a new blog.

  • Consolidating webpages

Consolidating web pages is another small form of website migration, but it can significantly impact your users. Consolidating web pages, or combining two or more web pages into one, can help users and even improve SEO.

To a user, it can make your website simpler to navigate and find the information they want. Instead of going to multiple pages, they can find everything they need all in one spot. Because they find information faster, the user experience is improved, making them happier while on your website and more likely to purchase.

On the backend, consolidating web pages increases your search engine ranking. Even though users find their information faster, they will spend more time on your website because they are having a good time and want to be there, and Google will notice. Besides that, consolidating web pages reduces the chance of repeated content. Having the same content duplicated on multiple web pages is a red flag for search engines, and by combining a similar webpage into one, you’ll reduce the clutter, and search engines will reward you for it.

As mentioned a few times, the sitemap will need to be adjusted, and the website will have to be re-indexed by Google. If consolidating web pages into one streamlines the information for users and reduces repeated content to search engines, it will help improve your website’s health and visibility.

  • Bringing in a new language

Updating your website for new languages, and targeting new geographic locations, can be a significant boost to your website but is also a lot of extra work. If you want your website to target a new country and be in a different language to suit that country better, you are essentially building two websites. So you effectively have double the work to maintain your site.

Since this just came up, you may also be asking how this benefits my company when I’m just duplicating my website, and search engines flag you for duplicating content. Yes, you are essentially duplicating your website, but search engines know the difference between repeated content and content meant to target an audience in a different language. They see these two websites as separate entities, especially since you’ll have different URLs for the sites. In the United States, your website will probably be, while in Canada, it would be The two sites won’t interfere with each other and will rank independently of each other.

Building different domains for different global markets is part of growing if your goal is to be a global brand. Maintaining multiple websites takes lots of work and time, but the global footprint and recognition you receive will boost your credibility and ultimately pay off.

Maintaining multiple domains is where having a website migration service backing you is accommodating. You don’t have to worry about maintaining multiple websites and can focus your energy on how to grow in each market. Check out the work we’ve done with other global brands!

  • Updating page content

No, updating your webpage content doesn’t change the layout of your website the way other types of website content migration change your site, but it still affects website performance in some fundamental ways. It can change how users go through your website, it can clarify questions they have, and it can help you rank better for SEO.

Changes in the content of your website, even subtle changes, will always affect how users interact with your website. It could change the links you use in the content; therefore, they’ll take a different path through your website, changing what pages are most frequently visited and where they spend the most time. It can also clarify questions they have. You can rephrase the content or add questions to your FAQ page if customers are coming to you with the same questions a lot or you see a rise in search traffic for a particular question. All of this will help improve your search engine ranking. This website migration can help you rank better for keywords, improve the user experience, and increase conversions.

Sitemap Change 

I know, it feels like we’ve already talked a lot about sitemap changes in terms of website migration, but it still deserves its section. Changes you make to your website’s sitemap constitute a website migration because it’s literally changing the structure and therefore affecting the presentation of your website.

A sitemap is a file in your website that, as the name suggests, maps out your website’s layout. It helps search engines learn how your website is structured and how to go from one page to another. A sitemap allows bots to crawl your website in an organized fashion and increase your search engine ranking and visibility because of the improved organization.

While sitemap changes are technically just changes to one document on your website, they reflect much larger changes to your website’s structure. A change to your sitemap, as we’ve discussed, could involve:

  • Adding webpages
  • Removing them
  • Creating whole new product categories
  • Adding new sections to your website
  • Condensing multiple pages into one

You’ll also need to change your sitemap if you go through a domain migration.

Design Change

Design changes are the most prevalent changes to users. While not much, if anything, changes on the backend, the website can have a completely different look and feel for users. These changes could include layout changes, usability changes, and color & design changes.

Changing the layout of your web pages can have a massive impact on how users interact with your website and traffic. Layout changes, especially UX-driven changes, can improve the customer experience on your website. A website migration service can help you find the optimal way to structure your web pages and information so that your customers can easily find what they are looking for.

A UX-focused layout anticipates what is vital to your customers and how they digest information so that they find what they are looking for and where they expect it in the easiest way to digest. A large part of layout changes is ensuring the website looks good and works well across different devices, especially mobile devices. So making these changes can massively improve time on your website and conversion rate, which will lead to more traffic.

Website changes like this can have a short-term negative effect, as returning customers may be confused by the new design. However, if the changes have a UX foundation, the long-term benefits will far outweigh any short-term growing pains.

Our UX experts can help design your websites so that customers enjoy their time and get what they are looking for in the easiest way possible while optimizing the site for conversions. Learn more about how we can improve your website’s user experience!

Like layout changes, website usability changes can improve the users’ experiences on your website. Usability changes focus on making the website’s function easier for customers. These changes make interacting with the website faster and easier for users. Improving the user interaction, like a better website design, will lead to happier customers, more sales in the long run, and a higher search engine ranking (improving your website speed is a massive part of this).

Branding changes like color and design are, by definition, surface and cosmetic changes, but they significantly impact users. 75% of users base their opinion of a brand entirely on their website aesthetic. You pull up a new website and form an opinion before you’ve even glanced at its content or products. Don’t lie; you know you’ve done it. Your website’s design, from structure to color scheme, needs to speak to who you are because that is what the customer will take from it. Updating your design to reflect your brand’s identity better and what your customers are looking for will boost your traffic, conversions, sales, and overall growth.

Server Migration

Server migration is switching the server where your website’s data is stored. In some ways, it’s a simpler migration even though it sounds more complicated. You don’t need to reformat your data completely; you are essentially taking the data from one server and dropping it straight into another. From a developer’s perspective, it’s simpler than migrating a website from Wix to Magento but can still have many benefits.

You can improve your website’s speed and functionality by migrating to a new server. A more advanced server can retrieve webpages faster, helping them load more quickly for the user, improving their user experience, and raising your website’s search engine ranking. Yes, like other types of website migration, you need to ensure that all the pages are in their correct place so as not to create errors.

When to Migrate Your Website

So that’s the different types of migration, but why? I mean, it’s a lot of work; why go through all the hassle? Isn’t the website working fine? Sure, it may work fine, but even if it does, you might see change on the horizon. Eventually, your needs will change, or, like a snake, you’ll need to shed your skin (current website) to grow. You might need:

  • Rebranding
  • Better Features
  • To Support More Traffic
  • To Expand Your Website
  • Better Security
  • An End to Platform Version Support

Let’s look at the most common reasons you’ll migrate your website.


It’s not every day your company goes through a rebranding, but when you do, website migration goes hand-in-hand with it. It may not be for the heavy complete website migration, but rebranding requires significant website changes that will affect how you rank in search engines.

Rebranding can come in different forms, such as Domino’s using technology and starting their pizza recipe from scratch, Old Spice appealing to a new, younger demographic, or Facebook trying to become broader and more innovative than just one platform. What all these rebranding efforts have in common, regardless of your perception of the or their effectiveness, is that a lot of work went into making some changes at the heart of who the brand is. Domino’s went from a low-end pizza to a quality pie that is fun to order. Old Spice went from a middle-aged man brand to the hottest deodorant and body wash every teenager wanted. Facebook is trying (time will tell how successful they are) to lead the next stage of the internet.

Even small rebranding efforts, such as a slight shading change to the logo, require a massive overhaul of your web presence to ensure everything matches the new look. For rebranding, you’ll likely utilize:

  • Domain Migration

If you change your company or brand name, you’ll have to go through a domain migration to change your URLs to match your new identity.

  • Content Migration

Content migration will go into effect to highlight the changes, make sure your new brand name is in place, and add/remove any necessary web pages.

  • Sitemap Migration

Speaking of adding and removing web pages, a sitemap migration will also go into effect. Anytime the names of web pages or how your website is structured changes, they need to be reflected on your sitemap.

  • Design Migration

Design changes almost always go hand-in-hand with rebranding efforts. There are ways everyone thinks of, such as changing fonts, logos, colors, style choice, etc. But it also could be changing the website layout and design to make it more user-friendly. Domino’s transition to easy online ordering is an excellent example of this, not to mention their fast-accruing customer rewards program that keeps customers looking forward to returning.

Better Features

Website functionality is essential, and sometimes your current platform doesn’t always have all the tools and programs you want or need. Tools that weren’t a priority, such as creating coupons, may become something you want or need to incorporate but can’t on your current platform.

Switching from free or low-cost platforms to more robust platforms like Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce can give you more access to features, plugins, and tools that help you personalize and improve your website. Or you may need to upgrade within your platform. You may feel compelled to migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2 to access new features, such as access to more payment methods without third-party integration. As your website grows, it’s only natural that you’ll want to customize it with more features to improve the user experience.

More Traffic

Speaking of a growing website, one of the biggest reasons companies go through a website migration is to support more traffic coming to their website. You probably started with a free, easy, basic website platform to have a web presence, but eventually, your growth goes past what that platform can support. First off, if you’ve reached that point, congratulations! The increased traffic is well-earned. However, the growing pains that come with it are real and should be addressed before the traffic starts to strain your current website platform.

Increased website traffic is a great thing, and you should be proud of the achievement, but heavy traffic, especially if the increase happens very quickly, can strain your website, even causing it to crash. Migrating your website to a stronger platform that can scale with your company as you grow so spikes in traffic and long-term growth are something to embrace, not fear.

Most commonly, you’ll go through a platform migration and possibly a server migration to support more traffic. Moving your website’s data to a new server can help transfer data more efficiently, helping reduce strain on your website. Migrating to Magento or another strong eCommerce platform will support more website visitors and customer interactions, so the site doesn’t slow down during peak times. A website migration service can help smooth out this transition and ensure everything is in place so your website will thrive on the new platform.

Expanding Store

Another type of growth, you might migrate your website to expand your store. At some point, you may run out of room to add more products to your online store on a simpler website. Migrating your website to a new platform allows you much more flexibility to increase the size of your online store. By migrating to a premier eCommerce platform such as Magento, you’ll likely never run out of room to add products to your online store.

To expand your store, you can go through a server migration to improve the amount of data you can store. A website platform migration will give you a platform that can support all the products you want to add to your store. You’ll, of course, also need to adjust your sitemap to include all the new product pages.

Improved Security

Security is an ever-important issue when running a website. You always need to keep your information secure and your data backed up. Migrating your website to a new platform can give you access to more security plugins, and features than simpler websites like Weebly can offer.

End of Platform Version Support

All things must come to an end eventually, even support for software products. In this instance, you don’t technically have to upgrade, but you won’t be able to get customer service support with any issues facing your website, which is a difficult issue to face when your business relies on the website’s online store.

The best example is the recent end of Magento 1 support offered by Adobe, so companies had to migrate their websites to Magento 2 to ensure assistance with resolving any website issue. As other software you use continues to update, there won’t be any new patches released to ensure the plugins and third-party data continue to work well with your website. Migrating to the latest platform version ensures that your website will continue to function well with software and access to new features.

How to Migrate a Website

Now that we’ve talked your ear off about types of website migration and reasons to migrate your website let’s look at executing a website migration. As we’ve discussed, a website migration can mean a wide variety of things. However, there are some steps necessary for any website migration, no matter what type of website migration you are going through:

  • Define and establish your goals
  • Create a budget and timeline
  • Crawl your website
  • Advertise your migration
  • Create 301 redirects
  • Conduct tests
  • Execute the migration

These steps apply to almost all website migrations, so let’s dissect the steps.

Define and Establish Goals

It all starts with the fundamental question: why? To migrate your website and know how to tell if it was successful or not, you need to lay out the purpose of the migration. Are you changing domains for a new brand name? Are you redesigning your website to align better with how your customers are using your website? Do you want access to new features? Maybe you’re trying to support more traffic as your business grows.

From the start, the reason for your website migration needs to be clarified, highlighted, and emphasized to everyone working on the project. This way, they know the ultimate goal and can figure out how to make their task support that larger goal.

Create a Budget and Timeline

Ah yes, the fun part. Budgeting. I know, it’s your favorite part of this process. Still, whether you love or hate it, it’s a vital part of the process. To properly undergo a massive project such as a website migration, you need transparent budgeting and a timeline so the execution of the project can go off without a hitch.

It all starts with communication. Depending on the project’s scope, a website migration can require input from many teams, including developers, system administrators, SEOs, UX designers, and designers. Bring all these teams together to discuss the project’s scope and what you want to accomplish. With everyone in the room and with their input, you’ll be confident that everyone has a clear understanding of the project, the most fundamental goal, and their part in achieving that goal.

You can also take their input to map the project’s budget and timeline. Once the teams understand what they need to accomplish, they can share the resources necessary to achieve that goal. They’ll tell you how many people are required, what they need to do, and how long it will take. By mapping out the input from every team, you’ll get a clear pitcher of resources necessary for your website migration.

Crawl Your Website

You know your goal, budget, and timeline, and your team is looped in with full knowledge of what they need to do to accomplish the primary objective—time to take inventory.

For a website migration to go smoothly, everything you are migrating must be accounted for. Every webpage needs to be carefully cataloged so that nothing is missed and will be a part of the new website. If you are conducting a domain migration, every page needs to be noted so the URL can be replaced with the new one. If you are performing a platform migration such as migrating to Magento, you need to take note of every page, so nothing gets left behind and comes up as an error after you finish the migration.

Advertise Your Migration

It’s crucial not to leave your loyal customers in the dark when conducting a website migration, primarily if it’s a domain migration or other type that will change the website from their end. Let them know the change is coming, so they aren’t shocked when your website has a new look or address. You can use your social media, emails, and even blogs to tell customers about the upcoming changes and make the transition smoother for everyone. It’s also important to let search engines like Google know about the website migration, so they correctly direct searches for your website and content.

Create 301 Redirects

It’s ultimately impossible to get the message out to every customer; some just won’t remember. Setting up 301 redirects will help customers who still try to go to your old website after you migrate. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that, in the eyes of search engines, makes the new URL equal to the old one, so it retains SEO value. The downside, however, is that redirecting users will slow down the page speed, affecting your website health and search engine ranking. 301 redirects are very important in the short term after you migrate to a new domain but can hurt your website if you use them for too long.

Conduct Tests

Testing Time! No large project can be considered done until it has been properly tested for errors. Then retested repeatedly until all issues you can find are sorted out. It can be a painstaking process, but it’s better to find and fix problems now than later when the site is live and users are trying to use it. When testing, you’ll want to do it in a closed environment that doesn’t interfere with your current live website.

Execute the Migration

Finally, it’s time to push the big, red button. For this, you’ll have to disrupt the user experience—no way around that. The website will have to be shut down, so it’s imperative to wait until you are entirely ready and to execute the migration as quickly as possible. Let your customers know when the website will go offline for the move and how long. And that’s it, right?

Test and Analyze

Wrong! Once you’ve completed your website migration and your changes are live, it’s time to watch and analyze your website. Look for any errors and places where the website doesn’t operate as expected. There will always be something that comes up no matter how much testing you do, so watching and analyzing the new website’s performance will help you find and tweak it where necessary.

Why You Need a Website Migration Service

A website migration is an enormous task that can take months to execute. It’ll only slow the process down and increase the likelihood of errors if everyone working on it has the time and attention divided. If your company does it yourself, you’ll be diverting a lot of your valuable resources and time to it when you already have many other tasks on your plate.

By using a website migration service, such as Commerce Pundit, you can rest assured that our team of experts will solely focus on ensuring a smooth website migration. We will catalog your web pages, discuss strategy with you, conduct tests, and execute the migration. Oh, and make sure everything continues to run smoothly afterward. All the while, you dedicate fewer resources and time to the migration so your business can continue to run smoothly.

Set up a meeting with us today to learn more about how we can make your website migration a breeze!

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