If you’re considering re-platforming to Shopify, our website migration guide details the exact steps you should take to ensure a successful migration. At Eastside Co, we regularly move clients to Shopify from other platforms such as Magento, and have developed a tried and tested process that works every time.
If you want to jump straight into the guide or ahead to any specific chapters, you can find the links below. (More detailed information about the importance of migration and the tools we use are further down the page.)
Before we begin any migration work, we complete a mini-audit on the site. This discovery phase makes sure SEO is integrated into the entire project plan. We also gather crucial learnings about the existing site which guides the rest of our migration process.
It’s important to define the site structure early on. In this phase we design an information architecture that transitions the old site into Shopify’s architecture.
Redirects are the most important part of the migration process. In this chapter we introduce tools and processes we’ve developed that streamline managing thousands of ecommerce redirects.
Uploading content and optimising it to capture the same traffic as your old site is a crucial part of the migration process. We’ll show you systems to make this process easier.
Transferring the tracking from your old site to new and how to correctly integrate your analytics with Shopify.
Our extensive QA process is designed to mitigate the risk of errors. We share our 35 point checklist to ensure migration success.
When it comes to launch day we have a set process we go through for every launch. These actions happen before, during and after launch.
Whenever you move all or part of your website from one place to another, that’s a migration. There are different types of migration:
A replatform is the most common type of website migration. Replatforming is when you change the CMS or technology that runs your website. A prime example is migrating from Magento to Shopify.
Changing your domain name requires a different type of migration plan. Whilst your website and technology will largely stay the same, the domain used to access your site will change. You need to take steps to help search engines understand that your site exists on a new domain.
Migrating your website onto a new server introduces a new set of challenges which can disrupt how your website is shown to search engines.
When it comes to platform migration, there are many processes to follow to avoid any negative impact on how Google and other search engines view your site. These processes form the guidance in our 7 migration chapters: following these will reduce the risk of any negative SEO impact (on traffic, visibility and ranking) following the move to Shopify.
Shopify as a platform performs well from an SEO perspective, ticking a lot of boxes. It has all the features your store will need to perform well in search. Shopify is mobile-friendly, automatically generates sitemaps, is excellent for site structure, and has all the tools to rank highly in general, image, and shopping-specific searches.
It's worth bearing in mind that there are lots of other onsite and offsite SEO factors, external to the platform, that need to be managed by merchants to ensure SEO success (or our SEO team can assist of course). But moving to Shopify in and of itself is not a negative factor from an SEO perspective. In fact it can be a great opportunity to take a fresh look at your site and improve its SEO: a good time to optimise your store to improve the experience for your customers, and the bots that crawl it.
When you make big changes to your website (like a migration), there is a risk of damaging your search engine rankings.
This is because your website has an established presence on search engines. Search engines have crawled your website, indexed your pages, and understand what topics and audiences your content is relevant for. Google’s crawlers probably revisit your site every day looking for new or updated content and the crawlers are familiar with your site structure.
As soon as you migrate, search engines are presented with a different website. This can disrupt the established relationship your site has with search engines. Think about all the the things that can change when you replatform:
New URLs - Shopify websites use a standard URL structure so all your old URLs have to change.
Internal Linking Structure - Because your URLs have changed so will your internal links. The new website might also have a new information architecture.
HTML - It’s likely that your new site will have different HTML. The new HTML needs to be processed by Google’s indexing system (this is called Caffeine).
Server - Shopify websites are held on Shopify’s servers. This means that when you replatform to Shopify, your site will be served from a new server.
Content - For a website rebuild it’s likely you will make changes to your content.
You can see how many changes a replatform involves. Search engines have to process all these changes and recalculate how and where your website should rank.
This is what can cause disruption to your rankings. If SEO planning isn’t factored into your migration, then it can become confusing when Google’s systems try to process all the changes. The outcome is that when all the SEO signals are recalculated, your organic visibility has declined.
For many websites, organic traffic is the most important acquisition channel. A big drop in rankings (and then traffic) can have a catastrophic effect on the business. This is why it’s so important to integrate SEO planning into your Shopify migration.
It’s important to establish realistic SEO goals during a migration project. For us, the priority is always preserving existing SEO value. Success is maintaining consistent organic traffic with minimised effect on search engine rankings.
That’s not to say you can’t gain organic growth through re-platforming. A new website with better technical foundations and improved information architecture should perform better on search engines.
The focus needs to be on managing the transition from old website to new. Helping search engines process all the changes and rank your new URLs in place of your old ones. Preserve your existing rankings and keep to reduce description to your business.
Throughout this guide we will make use of various tools:
Full access to Google Analytics and Search Console for the site you’re migrating is an absolute must.
There will be a lot of data analysis and manipulation so you’ll need a spreadsheet tool.
Other SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush are useful for getting additional keyword and link data.