The correct transfer of organic traffic from the old system to the new one is one of the most important stages of migration. If we take care of its proper course, we will not be exposed to drops in organic traffic. Before starting the migration of the store, we must consider which elements of the old e-commerce system are most important to us.
The main factors that are taken into account during migration
- Customers database
- Product database (if products are stored in the shop system)
- History of orders
- Organic traffic (transfer of organic traffic through URL mapping or 301 redirects)
In the Case Study below, we will focus only on what was most important to the client, i.e. on the transfer of organic traffic. We will discuss the course, present the results and solutions that were used. It is worth noting that an incorrectly carried out SEO migration can have very dire consequences for the online store, which include:
- Loss of phrase position and visibility in search results
- Organic traffic decline
- Significantly reduce the number of transactions and the amount of revenues
- 404 errors
- Loss of brand credibility and loss of loyal customers
SEO migration from OpenCart to Shopify
The purpose of the migration was to change the system from Open Source, which required constant programming support, to a SaaS system, the maintenance and updates of which are included in the subscription price. Another factor influencing the choice of Shopify was the easy ability to scale sales with new foreign markets, the number of built-in and free integrations and a wide app store.
We have divided the SEO migration into several key elements:
- Transfer of SEO elements such as: titles, headers, content, internal linking, image ALTs
- Google Analytics code implementation
- Mapping URLs (when it is not possible to create a redirect map, i.e. a redirect plan from current addresses to new ones)
- Generating a new sitemap
- Securing the website with an SSL certificate
- Performing 301 permanent redirects for changed URLs
- Submit a sitemap in Google Search Console
- Monitoring for possible errors 404
In a specific case, the greatest challenge was to prepare and adjust the redirect map. The category structure in the new Shopify store was significantly different from the old one. So each link was manually matched. Another error resulting from an oversight in the initial stage of development of the OpenCart store were incorrect URLs, which contained a large number of special characters in their syntax, which later generated a large number of import errors and was detrimental to the store’s SEO.
Thanks to a correctly prepared redirection map, the migration of the store was quick, without a decrease in organic traffic. The very moment of switching the domain over was also not visible to customers of the online store.
The old store based on the OpenCart engine has been secured with a new domain to maintain easy access to old content and order history.
SEO visibility before migration:
SEO visibility about one month after migration:
The SEO migration was successful, thanks to the instant domain switch and a correctly prepared redirect map, the organic traffic was transferred practically 100%. Invalid URLs with a lot of special characters have been replaced with new SEO-friendly URLs. 404 errors of old, defunct pages were also fixed during migration. On the other hand, thanks to the Shopify system, it was possible to easily scale sales to new foreign markets.