A website migration can be a stressful and time-consuming project for businesses. If you’ve been unable to steer clear of common SEO mistakes during migration, such as improperly configured redirects and not protecting your external links, your online performance can quickly plummet. It can also result in a loss of conversions, revenue, and traffic.

The key is not to panic if you see a minor drop in rankings or traffic. Google has to process the change and carry out a heavier crawl than normal because of the redirects from the old site to the new site. As a general rule, it takes a few weeks for a brand-new, medium-sized website to be crawled and indexed by Google — larger sites can take even longer.

However, if you’ve been the victim of a huge traffic drop after a site migration, you must try to repair the damage that has been done. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to entice users and get back to where you were pre-migration.

Determine what has caused the drop

If you’ve experienced a decline in traffic post-migration, don’t automatically assume the migration is the culprit. Check external factors like algorithm updates and keyword cannibalisation that can affect the flow of organic traffic to your new site. If you can confidently rule these out, then it’s time to look at migration issues.

Crawl your new site

Conduct a thorough site crawl of your new site to help you pinpoint the issues plaguing your new site. Great tools for scanning your site include Ahrefs and Screaming Frog. Use them to analyse your website’s health, the site structure, and any technical issues that could be the cause of your slide down the rankings. These tools will bring deeper insights and alert you of potential problems, including:

  • broken links
  • duplicate content
  • missing metadata
  • redirects
  • URLs blocked by robots.txt.

Using these tools helps you rapidly discover technical SEO issues and gives you data for comparison if you performed a major scan and data backup on your old site before your migration went ahead.

If you have seen a huge traffic drop after a faulty site migration, it is important to take action straight away to recover and minimise any further damage.

Identify pages with the biggest traffic drops

You will want to check the top-performing pages from your old site have successfully transferred.

Use Google Analytics (GA) or Google Search Console (GSC) to research which pages were the top performers on your previous site. Analyse current and historical data to look for pages that had the most clicks, highest-ranking positions, impressions, link equity, and amount of organic search traffic. You can then ensure their content and metadata are exactly the same as they were on the old site.

Gather all the affected pages in a database or spreadsheet so you can see what has changed. Prioritise the pages that had the highest level of conversions and traffic and have lost the biggest percentages in traffic.

Look for what has caused the traffic drop

To bring your failing pages back to life, you’ll need to find out what went wrong in the migration and use the data generated from your earlier crawl to find the issue that has caused the traffic loss for each page.

Let’s take a look at some common reasons why websites lose traffic following migration and how you can resolve them.


Managing your redirects correctly is imperative for successful site migration. The integrity of your URL structure is maintained if you verify that every URL has been redirected correctly to the new location. Failure to do so will result in users being led to the infamous 404 page after clicking a link on your old site.

It’s not just visitors that get lost in the process — you’ll also be deemed untrustworthy by Google as it won’t know where your site has migrated to. Without any indexing or crawling, you’re essentially non-existent on the internet, as well as in both paid and organic searches.

Don’t forget external links that direct traffic to your site also need updating so you can reclaim the traffic they were sending to your site. Use a backlink tool to gather this information and prioritise the pages that generated the most traffic. Then reach out to the webmasters of the linking websites and request they update their links to the new URL.

Poor redirecting can create unwanted redirect loops and lead to duplicated content. The latter occurs when the HTTP to HTTPS redirects aren’t site-wide and permanent, or when your links aren’t pointing to solely the WWW or non-WWW version of your site. This can negatively impact your traffic as Google becomes confused about which of the identical pages it should rank in the top results.

How to resolve redirection issues

Here are some steps to take when redirection issues occur:

  • Confirm all redirects are 301 (permanent) redirects and not 302 (temporary).
  • Prioritise fixing redirects that go towards canonicalized, error, non-indexable, or 404 (not found) pages.
  • Make sure redirects are going to the correct page destination. It should feature similar and relevant content and have the same purpose as the one redirected.


Canonical tags let Google know which URL represents the master copy of a page. Analyse the canonical tags of your pages to see if they were changed in a way that impacted your traffic. They could be pointing to non-relevant pages or URLs that no longer exist. Keep an eye out for any programming issues, such as a missing trailing slash.

Canonicalizing the old site is potentially a critical issue as it could prevent your new site from being indexed.

How to resolve canonical issues post-migration

Ensure your pages are either self-canonicalized or canonicalized to where they should be and not to non-relevant URLs like the homepage. If they’re not being canonicalized to where they need to be, it’s a quick fix to have them pointing in the right direction.


You should always carry your best content across.

The content on your new site needs to be organised properly with headers to give it structure and allow users to easily navigate. Page titles and meta descriptions can also be accidentally left off core site pages following a migration, so make sure those are brought across to the new site.

Ideally, the content and descriptions for each blog post should be the same, but just look different on your new site design.

How to resolve content issues post-migration

If you’re experiencing content issues after your site migration, try the below to see if you can resolve the issue.

  • Update or rewrite HTML markup, meta descriptions, and title tags.
  • Remember, there isn’t always a “perfect” replacement for every piece of content. If there is a piece of content on the original site you need to remove, direct your users to a page based on their original intent.
  • Check on-page SEO items are correctly configured — H1 tags, image sizes, etc.

XML sitemap

Submitting an XML sitemap to GSC that contains all the new site’s indexable pages makes Google aware of your new site’s URLs, so it knows which ones to crawl. However, it’s a common issue for old URLs not to be picked up by Google and consequently transitioned to the new URLs.

How to resolve XML sitemap issues post-migration

XML sitemap issues can be resolved if you try the following:

  • Check your XML sitemap to ensure it covers all the essential URLs to index for the new site.
  • Only include canonical pages — exclude pages with no organic value to site visitors or other pages you don’t want to be indexed.
  • Create a second XML sitemap that includes all the old site’s indexable pages and submit it to GSC. This enables Google to discover and follow the redirects in place so they can update your standings in the SERPs quicker.
  • Remove the sitemap containing the old URLS once the crawling process is complete, as it’s pointing at URLs that don’t matter to you anymore.

Source code

Source code is what powers your site but is also the human-readable text that Google reads to determine whether and how your web pages should be indexed and how they should appear in the SERPs.

Metadata and important schema mark-up can get lost during the transition. If this occurs, Google will struggle to understand what your website and content are about, affecting your site’s rankings and traffic.

How to resolve source code issues post-migration

Try the following to fix potential source code issues:

  • Use your earlier crawl to establish if any meta or markup is missing on your new website that was available on the old one.
  • Check for any content or link accessibility issues — use the URL inspection tool to “test live URL” and identify any issues that Google and your users might be having when attempting to access/view the page. If content is missing, cooperate with your development team to make it visible.

Page speed

It’s no secret a faster page speed results in a better user experience. If your new site is pedestrian compared to your old one, users will quickly go elsewhere. A loss of page speed is common if you’ve carried out a full website migration or changed servers.

How to fix slow page speed issues

For page speed issues, try the following:

  • Use Screaming Frog to give you page speed insights and identify the pages affected.
  • Avoid multiple page redirects that cause visitors to face additional time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete.
  • Other best page speed practices include minifying your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript code, using a content distribution network, and optimising images.

Fixing platform issues post-migration

If you have re-platformed or moved servers, there are a few issues to keep an eye out for:

  • Check if firewalls are blocking search engine bots.
  • Check if the platform is using JavaScript to render the page, as this can make it difficult for bots to crawl the content of the page.
  • Make sure to review any country restrictions.


Did your site receive high levels of image traffic pre-migration? Make sure to take steps to check whether your image URLs have been properly redirected post-migration.

How to resolve image issues post-migration

Things to look out for are making sure:

  • image URLs are linking to the correct images.
  • image URLs are linked to the new domain.

It is also a good idea to check whether your CDN allows you to make one quick change to all of the images on the site, which can save a lot of time.


Once you have fixed the old URLs and internal links on your site, it’s time to secure your backlinks. Backlinks are an important signal to search engines and if old links are broken or direct the users to your old site, which can create issues for the search engine.

How to manage your backlink profile post-migration

To manage your backlink profile, try to:

  • reach out to the site owners and ask them to update their links to your new site.
  • redirect broken links to your new site’s similar or same page

Traffic recovery

Going forward, you can take anything you have learnt from this article to guide you on how to migrate without losing traffic for any future migrations.

If you have taken the steps to go through your site, identify specific solutions and make the necessary corrections, you should be able to see some recovery in traffic after a few days or weeks.

Keep in mind, correcting all of the issues on the site will require patience and time. If you are still struggling to identify the traffic drops, please get in touch with our consultants.