B2B SaaS Website Migration Checklist
As you look to migrate your website it is recommended that you utilise a checklist to cover off the main tasks associated with the project. The below list represents a good starting point so that you cover off some of the main tasks needed.
Before you undertake a major upgrade to your B2B SaaS website it is important to have a website migration checklist in place, to work through to ensure a smooth transition. The following represents some of the key steps you should look to undertake as part of the journey. For those looking for a more detailed guide, I have included some links at the bottom.
1. Identify Top Performing Pages
Before you start, use Google Analytics and Search Console to identify the top-performing pages on your website. These are likely to be the Home page, the About us page and some additional pages from the top-level navigation. It may also include some blogs that have secured good rankings for some high-traffic keywords. It is best to ensure that changes to these pages are managed very carefully, especially the URL, meta title, meta descriptions, and H1s. It is also worth checking to assess the number of internal links to these pages to ensure you are not undermining historic efforts by negatively impacting these pages if for example, you are purging legacy pages as part of the process.
2. Crawl Your Site
Use Screaming Frog to crawl your site. They offer a free version or a paid version (circa €185 per year).
With Screaming Frog you can get an idea of your site's existing structure, pages, and assets. You'll have a better view of what pages existed before, what redirects are in place, and what the metadata currently looks like. Doing so could later prove invaluable, should there be any optimization issues on the new site.
Save important information such as:
Recommended Tool: Screaming Frog
3. Undertake Speed Tests
Once the launch of the new website is getting close, take note of the legacy site’s page loading times (key pages - home, product, pricing and About us) and top keyword rankings across desktop and mobile, so you can compare performance post-migration. If you are mostly focused on a US audience make sure to test speed on US servers rather than UK ones to ensure your primary target audience is getting a fast experience. You are primarily looking for scores under 2 seconds. This will be a benchmark you will look to improve on with the new site.
4. Save a Copy of Your SiteMap
Save a copy of the old site’s robots.txt and XML sitemaps in case you need these later. The sitemap.xml file is a document in the Extensible Markup Language (XML) format where all of the URLs of your website that you want to get indexed are listed and its primary function is to help search engine robots find and index your website's pages faster. You can use it in Google Search Console to index the site.
The robots.txt file, is a text file that tells search engine robots which pages on your site should and shouldn't be crawled. For example, pages with duplicate content e.g. landing pages, pages or files intended for internal use, etc. shouldn't be crawled. It is also known as the robots exclusion protocol.
5. Run a 404 Check
Once the new site is live you need to run a 404 check to identify any broken links that occurred as part of the migration. These can then be quickly fixed as part of the process and in advance of a new Google crawl.
Recommended Tool: Broken Link Checker
6. Reindex via Google Search Console
When migrating a site it is best to reindex the site a few days after the migration once all 404’s have been fixed. You may need to make some additional changes if you are switching domains (see Google Search Console’s change of address functionality).
If you are not using a tool like SEMRush or aHREF’s you may also want to map keyword rankings before the site migration so you can identify top pages that need to be retained. It can also be used for setting up 301 redirects.
Reindex the site using Google Search Console when it goes live so that there is a fresh crawl. You may have updated meta titles and descriptions or fixed broken URLs so again these would need to be recrawled.
Recommended Tool: Google Search Console
7. Add a Google Analytics Annotation
It is also important to add an annotation in Google Analytics as to a new site launch date so that in the years to come any successors in the marketing function have some context as to any inflection points or reasons for major changes in traffic volumes. As most site migrations are designed in part to improve performance it will be important to compare and contrast top KPI’s like Conversion Rates once the migration has bedded down.
Recommended Tool: Google Analytics
8. Undertake a Site Audit
Finally, you can run an audit using a popular SEO tool like SEMRush/aHRefs/ Uber Suggest which will expose any major issues that you can fix as part of the clean-up process. You will also want to test all forms on the site to ensure they are firing correctly, and to ensure Google Tag Manager (which will house your Universal Analytics and GA4 code) is also set up and working.
Finally, if you want a more detailed analysis / more exhaustive list of elements to consider the following guide is highly recommended.
This B2B SaaS Migration Checklist is not designed to be exhaustive. After all, if you are working with an agency or freelancer they should have their own checklist they use to support migration. This checklist does outline some of the main elements to be aware of.
Alan Gleeson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Contento, a B2B SaaS content platform that helps B2B SaaS companies scale via a best-of-breed website.