SEO Best Practices when Migrating

It’s important to understand that the more changes you make all at once, the more likely you will see larger, and longer lasting, dips in your SEO rankings.

The more you plan ahead, the better prepared you will be to implement your re-platform.

This little blurb from Google is the closest we have to a publicly discussed timeline in terms of recovery time for a full reindexing:

"The speed at which Google bot and our systems discover and process moved URLs depends on the number of URLs and the server speed.”

It’s also important to note that in general, it can take 3-6 months for an SEO change to start taking effect and really showing impact. When doing large migrations + brand/content changes, it’s recommended to do it in stages.

Perhaps migrate first and wait for any dips to recover then complete the brand changes or vice versa.

How to proceed will always depend on your business case. If you, or your team, do not feel comfortable making such decisions and changes, you may want to enlist the help of an experienced SEO agency to ensure that there are minimal issues with your migration.

If you revise too many things during migration, then it’s hard to pinpoint the direct cause of change for any data point.


MyBrand is planning on redoing all their content (titles, descriptions, meta titles and meta descriptions) for their Products, but they are also changing their brand name, domain and URL structure as part of their replatform. Going forward, the company will be known as BrandONE instead of MyBrand.

It would make more sense for them to migrate their content and branding as is (MyBrand) and let Google index the new sitemap and get up to date on these changes. A few weeks to a few months after, they begin the process of changing the domain and other product details (title/description, etc.) to the new BrandONE moniker.

While you could still see a dip in rankings from doing this, it’s likely to have much less of an impact than if it was all done at the same time.


Google Reference

Redirects in Shopify are created as a Server Side 301 Redirect, and cannot be changed to a different redirect (such as a 302) at this time.

Redirects ensure that if anybody has your site bookmarked, referenced in a post or if they click a link from somewhere, they still go where they expected. Otherwise, they may get a 404, Not Found error.

While 404 errors are a normal part of the internet, if your site starts returning dozens or hundreds of 404 errors after a migration, this doesn’t look good to Google or to your customers and could potentially affect your ranking.

You will need to map your current URLs in order to redirect them. Refer to the next step for more information on this process.

URL Mapping

Google Reference

As different platforms have different formatting for URLs you’ll need to ensure you have done proper URL mapping from the OLD to the NEW URLs for use with the new platform.

If you have thousands of URLs, you may want to use Google Analytics (or other tool) to figure out your top pages that drive traffic and ensure those get done first.

There are a few steps in this process:

  1. Determine current URLs - You’ll want to get a list of the current URLs for your site (particularly high traffic pages) including for embedded images and videos in some cases. You’ll want to use a tool that will generate a list of all URLs for your website. Your current platform may offer an export.
    Get Helpify offers URL Scraping if you need some help.

  2. Map new URLs - You’ll need to map the old URLs to the new site structure. For example, your old URL might be:

    Whereas the new URL structure on Shopify will be:

    You’ll need to decide if any URLs will not be present, or will be modified, on the new site and where they should be redirected to instead. We suggest using the Shopify Redirect CSV Template to map your URLs so it will be easy to import.

  3. Create Redirects - If you used the CSV template in step 2 when you mapped your URLs, you should be able to import that file directly into the system. Otherwise, review the Shopify docs for URL redirects in the Admin or via the API.

Submit your Sitemap

Google Reference

It’s important to know that your storefront password should be removed before submitting your sitemap as Google needs to be able to crawl the pages to Index them.

Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) tells Google that you’re the site owner and would like them to start indexing your site as soon as possible.

Shopify generates your sitemap automatically for you, all you need to do is add sitemap.xml to your URL, such as If you have a sitemap already in Search Console, you should remove it and add the new one from Shopify.

Having Google Search Console setup provides more benefits too, including the ability to see queries that were used to find your website, how many clicks you got and where you stand in the rankings. Google will also send notifications of errors and issues if it sees any and allow you to review Insights on how people found your content.

Submit a change of address

Google Reference

Are you changing your domain as part of a rebranding? Not only will you need to do redirects to handle the path portion of URL changes, but you’ll want to tell Google about the domain change too.

Yes, Google could see this as part of it’s normal crawling, but they added a Change of Address tool specifically for this purpose, so use it!

You DO NOT need to submit a change of address request if you are moving from http to https nor would you use it to indicate a change from www to the non-www version of your domain.

Final Thoughts

Migration to a new platform can be stressful enough without worrying about losing rank in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

Planning out a strategy ahead of time can save a lot of headaches down the road and reduce those dreaded SEO dips.

Always remember that when planning your SEO, your customer should be top of mind, not Google!

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