A GUIDE TO MOVING PLATFORMS TO SHOPIFY
At Seventyfour Design we want to make it as easy as possible for our clients to successfully achieve ecommerce business goals like migrating your online store to a more user-friendly platform such as Shopify. In this blog, and as Shopify experts, we will take you through step-by-step to make this move as seamless as possible.
FIRST STEP – REVIEWING YOUR CURRENT SITE
This first step is to your review your current site. To do this well, you’ll need to navigate through all the different parts and learn how they work separately and as a whole ecommerce site. For this initial step you want to gather as much data as you can, which in turn will inform your move. When you are gathering insights think about SEO, keywords, search, content analysis, backlinks and things that are not working or are broken on your site.
Let’s break it up into these above groups:
- SEO – Looking at how SEO works on your current website is super important. To avoid having problems with SEO after you migrate to Shopify, reviewing it to see if migration will interrupt how search engines are used to working on your site, is crucial. In addition, looking at how the migration will affect your website domain is also important. All, this intelligence needs to be noted and then integrated into your migration plan.
- Keywords – What you’re looking for here are the most important keywords on your site, and how they rank. A good way of finding the keywords which bring the most traffic to your current site is via a tool such as a search console.
Search and content analysis – To review your current website from a ‘search’ perspective, learn which pages are the main ones pushing information around your website and note them down. Keeping data on these key pages will assist in an effective migration process. A Google Search Analytics tool is a great helper to use for this task, for details. Aside from knowing that your homepage is often the most important traffic pushing page on your site, make sure to analyse your data by the percentage of total search traffic generated by a group of your key pages. For detailed information on how to calculate this.
To effectively analyse the content on your website a crawler tool lends a good helping hand. For some of the best crawler tools. Crawler tools will search for key website components like page titles, page headings and meta descriptions. After you have successfully extracted your content make sure to then group this content into categories like duplicated content, content that has no clear purpose, extraneous pages that lead nowhere, pages that are over optimised and so forth.
Backlinks – These are links from a page on your website to another website, and in terms of how important they are in affecting search engine rankings, they rate highly. For example, if one of your blogs is talking about something on Spotify, and you hyperlink the pertinent words to the Spotify site from your blog page, then these words routinely have a backlink from your site. Make a point of jotting down the backlinks you consider most important. To identify which backlinks are the most important on your list there are of course tools to use such as SEMRush and Aherfs. For a guide on these including pricing.
- Issues on your website – Comb through your current site and make a comprehensive list of what is not working, broken links, buttons and forms that lead nowhere. To do this you’ll need your crawler tool and a Search console (see above). Make sure to look at the size of your website, as well as the information architecture or internal structure of your website. Drawing a sitemap by hand is a great way of visually showing how your webpages are linked to each other. Other important things to note while you’re doing this are ‘redirect’ pages, international hreflang targeting on your site and the type of Schema markup code your site is using.
SECOND STEP – PLANNING THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR NEW SHOPIFY SITE
While we have already touched on the topic of information architecture and looking at the inner workings and structure of your current website, in this second step it’s time to map out how your new website will be structured. This way you can view the sites side-by-side and see if the migration is doable without losing too much of anything in the process. In other words, both current and new site plans should not be wildly different.
How are websites structured on Shopify? – Shopify sites structures follow a specific pattern which includes pages for categories and products, no HTML pages sitting inside other HTML pages and pages that carry simple URLs. Webpages on Shopify sites will usually all link to the site’s main navigation and typically to get to most webpages it doesn’t take more than 3 clicks from the homepage.
In addition, a Shopify product page generally displays one product only and custom pages comprise ‘other’ information such as Shopping/Postage/About/FAQs and so forth. Blogs, however, have their own system and you can click here for more detail on how to migrate these. For general information on site structures go to the Shopify website here.
- What do you need to include in your new structure? – Firstly, make sure to get rid of all the pages or collection of pages that you do not need, for example the pages that don’t have a clear purpose. Then note down all the URLs of product pages that are definites and need migrating. Here you’ll need to categorise these pages into collections of main and sub-pages. Try to stick to only main collection pages and nothing that will weaken this content like other unnecessary linking pages. Keep this new structure as simple as possible and all the content strong and purposeful.
- Secondly, make sure to integrate your keyword data making sure your new site structure plan echoes your keyword research from your current site.
- Thirdly, have a sound idea of how many product pages you have on your original list and then build a list of the collections that you’ll be migrating over to your new Shopify online store.
- Fourthly, make sure you have the best information architecture possible for your new site, that is your new structure should not compromise keyword searches, SEO and so forth.
THIRD STEP – REDIRECTS
A redirect is what happens when you search for a page on Google and it comes up as a certain URL, you then click on it thinking you’ll go to that page, but you end up being redirected to a different URL or webpage. Redirects come in two groups - 302 redirects which are temporary or 301 redirects which are permanent.
Managing redirects is super important because after migration is complete, they are what will keep your customer base intact and visiting your new site. For example, if a loyal customer has saved a page/URL from your current site, once your new site is live, they will automatically be sent to your new site via that old link. Not dealing with your redirects appropriately can potentially stuff up your migration and lose you loyal customer market. Learn about how to handle redirects below.
- How to map redirects – Similar to how you organised your audit, the best way to map redirects is take your original list of redirect URLs and put them into a spreadsheet. Then copy and paste in the new Shopify URL that will corresponds to each current site URL. You can find the URL redirects in your Shopify site in the account settings.
- Setting up URL redirects when migrating – You can manually group URL redirects by collection or product listing page (PLP) redirects, individual product URLs and so forth. Remember you already have these lists from when you were planning your new site structure. If you are time poor or want easy steps to do this via your new Shopify site, visit the Shopify website, here. This link will also show you what to do on your new Shopify site if you have a huge product list.
- Further tips on redirects – Make sure to prioritise your important pages that drive traffic to your site when mapping your redirects. Also try and make your URL redirects apples for apples rather than apples for pears, make sure to use permanent 301 URLs so you don’t risk losing customers or traffic to your new site, make your redirects simple like one redirect only from current to new, and try and make your URL redirects spread throughout your site and not just redirected to the important pages on your new site like the homepage.
FOURTH STEP – OPTIMISING YOUR CONTENT DURING MIGRATION
Knowing how to best use content on your current site within your new Shopify site is also important. Here are some best practice tips…
- Not losing your current content during the migration is key.
- Reusing as much of your good content is the best way to go. If some of your current content is a bit thin on information and needs padding out for higher search engine rankings, then do so but carefully.
- Don’t completely transform the information otherwise search engines will not pick it up in the same way.
FIFTH STEP – REVIEWING YOUR CONTENT
Once you have all your content in place in your new site, what you need to do is to first check for any content that is missing and then create it. After that, follow these steps for all content on your site (plus new content before publishing it):
- Tag pages according to categories and make sure all metadata is in position.
- Check that things like forms, surveys, subscribe buttons are working properly plus internal search functions.
- Make sure your linking structure is not hugely different from your original site and ensure it all works systematically.
- Check that your URL redirects are being used throughout your site, and not just heading to your homepage.
- Crawl via a crawler tool (configured to disregard admin URLs) through your website and make sure everything is working properly.
- Ask yourself these questions when looking over your new content: Do your new site pages use the same (or similar) content and page titles as your original site? Is the content on your most important online store pages still optimised to maintain original search traffic?
STEP SIX – TRACKING CONTENT AND ANALYSING PERFORMANCE
Before migration happens, you must transfer the tracking from your old site to your new Shopify online store and then ensure that your analytics are properly integrated with the new system. The main things to set up here are Google Analytics, Search Console, Google Tag Manager and the tracking of your keyword rankings.
Another key part of this is step is tracking keyword positions. Track the positions of top keywords and make sure to pull together your ranking data before you migrate over. By doing this you will be able to compare your rankings before and after your move. If your rankings drop, you’ll know to make the appropriate changes to keep the integrity of your rankings.
STEP SEVEN – LAST REVIEW
Until now you have done the hard yards that is for sure, so to protect all your work it’s best to go through some final checks before migration commences.
- Check all redirects, are they going to the right Shopify URLs and so forth. Be thorough and use tools that can help you with this.
- Have a careful look through your heading hierarchy, in particular check that your main headings are kept and are being used appropriately.
- Review your SEO, we at Seventyfour Design can help you with this and the more techy checks on schema, canonicals and hreflang.
STEP EIGHT – MIGRATION AND POST
You are finally ready to press play and migrate from your now old site to your new Shopify online store. Make sure to plan this at a time when it will least compromise your online business sales.
Things to check after migration – again we at Seventyfour Design can assist here
First we check that there are no SEO issues which includes again testing your most important URLs and checking they are redirecting appropriately, checking your Google Analytics, Search Console and so forth are performing soundly. We also look for any ‘noindex’ tags to get rid of, we verify your canonical tags are referencing the correct URLs and we will also perform further backend tests of the full structure of your website. Lastly, you can fun by pretending to be a customer and go through the full purchasing journey making sure the cart and checkout system are squeaky clean and speedy.
Ongoing post launch work
This is where we remind you that post migration work can take quite a while (a few weeks possibly longer). This is because to takes Google time to do its thing and scan through your whole new Shopify site. There are different reports that you’ll need to keep across during this period of time such Coverage, Performance and Schema Reports. Optimisation will also take place, remembering this kind of maintenance work is ongoing as long as your new site is up and running.
Monitoring your new site traffic
Carefully monitor your rankings after you launch and compare to the rankings of your old site. This is where Google Analytics and Search Console will do its thing and produce in-depth reports on visits and traffic your new Shopify site is receiving. Don’t worry too much if these numbers change a bit because like anything, it will take time for your site to stabilise and for Google to comb through all the nooks and crannies of your new online home. Like your rankings, you may experience some fluctuations in traffic as Google (and your customer base for that matter) adjusts to your new site.
Post migration communication work
Remember the new content you may have created for your new Shopify site that was missing from the old site. Now is the time to make sure to distribute internal and external communications for that as well as any ongoing business promotion activity. In addition, now is the perfect timing for you to plan and launch a new digital marketing strategy for your new site as well as a sound PR strategy to promote your new site and customer selling incentives moving forward.