This post is being guest written by Missional Marketing.

When your church is migrating their website from one content management system to another, it is extremely important that you take certain steps to avoid destroying any SEO value you have built up in their website. Even seemingly minor errors in the migration process can have a devastating effect on your website’s performance in the search results.

The steps below typically represent about 20 to 30 hours of work for a developer who has web crawling and SEO benchmarking tools and understands how to use them.

One way or another, it is important for your church to take these steps.

Pre-Migration Steps

Here are the pre-migration steps you should take to retain as much SEO juice as possible:

  1. Benchmarking - Obtain crawls of the church’s website with analysis tools such as Screaming Frog and SEMrush to create a record and a benchmark.
  2. Map Content Re-Creation - Map out the re-creation of all pages, URLs, and images from the original CMS onto the new CMS.
  3. Ensure Consistency - Make sure that all file names, page titles, meta descriptions, H1s, content on the page, etc. are kept exactly the same.
  4. Linking - Retain any external links on the website and make sure those are brought over also.

Important Suggestion: The church should strive to get everything moved from one CMS to the other without making any changes to URLs and meta data. They can make changes once the migration process is complete. Also, they need to use the exact same GA code on the new site.

It is vital to pay very close attention to details when moving a website, as its SEO is like a house of cards. Removing one card can take down the whole house and cause permanent SEO damage.

Post-Migration Steps

Here are the post-migration steps you should take to retain as much SEO juice as possible:

  1. Re-Analyze/Crawl the site - Assess Google Analytics and Google Search Console data to determine if there is a traffic drop that is above the norm.
  2. Re-Benchmark - Use re-benchmark data to determine if there were any structural changes or errors in migration. If any exist, make a road map for fixing them. These can include any URL or redirecterrors.
  3. Monitor - Confirm there are no serious SEO issues from the change (this process can take up to a month). After that, your church can make structural changes or clean up the site.
  4. Sitemap - Potentially create and submit a new sitemap when warranted.

If your church doesn't have that expertise on staff, we suggest you retain a firm that specializes in Church Website SEO such as Missional Marketing.