Q and A: How Do I Prepare for a Large Site Migration?

QuestionHi Kalena

I work for a medium sized hospitality chain (in the marketing dept) and our leading chain of hotels is about to undergo a brand change. I’ve just found out that management has approved a full domain name change for each of these hotels and scheduled it with our IT department to happen next month. My General Manager bought the domain name without consulting IT or marketing.

I’m freaking out a little because I’ve been given the task of making sure the change goes smoothly and doesn’t impact our Google rankings or traffic, which I’ve spent years building up. There are 3 different regional hotel properties that will be affected and the content will be transferred over to a single domain! What should I expect? Is there anything I can do to make the transition go smoothly?

Regards
Belinda

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Hi Belinda

Oh boy, I don’t envy you. Yes, you are right to be freaking out – at least a little. Site migrations are a royal pain in the you know where and can result in masses of lost traffic and lost search engine rankings.

By the sound of things, your site migration will be complicated by the fact that there are multiple domains shifting to a single domain. Now before you start hyperventilating, there are some things you can do in preperation:

1) Read this terrific presentation about site migration by Aidan Beanland of Yahoo and then read it again. Create a plan for your own migration situation.

2) Go spend some time with the IT department. Hopefully you get on well with them because you’ll be spending a lot of time talking to them over the next few months. Provide them with a copy of Aidan’s guide so they know what to expect. You’ll need to find out their strategy for the roll-out, including pre-switch benchmarking, 301 redirect integration and testing, specific dates for content transfer, the big switch and final DNS propagation.

3) Consider shifting the content of each individual hotel into distinct region-based sub-domains on the new site e.g. Dallas.HotelBrand.com, Austin.HotelBrand, Houston.HotelBrand rather than trying to combine all content into a single site. This way, you can optimize the sub-domains as distinctive sites and retain the location-related Google rankings you have spent so long building up. If you can prove large traffic losses will occur if you don’t do this (and they will!), it should be easy to get IT and management onside.

4) Take an active role in the pre-migration benchmarking process, particularly in relation to site analytics, most popular content and search engine rankings. Ensure your company keep ownership of the old domains and keep all sites live until the new domain has fully propagated.

5) Be prepared with other online/offline marketing activities to promote the hotels in case of sudden traffic loss.

6) Make sure your manager and stakeholders know what is within/beyond your control! Make it very clear what can go wrong during the move and protect yourself by warning them ahead of time of the potential negative outcomes.

Good Luck!

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Google Launches Analytics App for Android

Attention Android fans, Google has just launched a Google Analytics App for Android-enabled mobile phones.

Google Analytics App for Android  is a mobile app that delivers essential analytics data to you anytime, anywhere, provided you have an Android-enabled phone. In a meeting and need traffic or sales figures quickly? No more having to wait until you can access your desktop PC to see important stats – with the Analytics App, they are all now at your fingertips.

You can see real time statistics, customizable dashboards and intelligence reports directly on your phone with the Google Analytics App. It allows you to access the same accounts and profiles you see when you open Analytics from a desktop browser, but the reports are delivered in an optimized format for your phone.

The following *swipe through* reports are available:

  •     Real-Time: See the number of visitors you currently have and a list of the pages (for websites) or screens (for apps) that are currently popular.
  •     Dashboard: Monitor the KPIs and user metrics you care about the most. By default, you’ll see your Daily Unique Visitors and your Goal Conversion Rate, but you can customize the dashboard to change which reports, metrics, or segments you see.
  •     Automatic and Customized Alerts: Google Analytics detects statistical anomalies in your data and can send you an alert when something unusual happens. See automatic alerts, or customize your settings to send alerts based on your own benchmarks.

The Google Analytics app is available from here and currently has an average user rating of 4 stars, based on over 400 reviews.

Find Ms Parker July Competition

Hey guys

To spice things up a bit during what can be an otherwise boring time of year, we’re resurrecting the monthly Find Ms Parker competition on Search Engine Wiki.

Find Ms Parker is a good old fashioned hide and seek competition, with regular clues posted on our Facebook page and tweeted via @sewiki. Your task is to Find Ms Parker – our resident librarian – who is hiding on a page somewhere in our resources library at Search Engine Wiki. There’s a picture of her in this post so you know what she looks like.

It’s easy to win. Just find a pic of Ms Parker somewhere on Search Engine Wiki and tweet @sewiki with the page URL and *I found Ms Parker!* in your tweet, as well as the hashtag #FindMsParker so we can track it. If you don’t have a Twitter account, send the URL to us via our Contact Form and put *I found Ms Parker!* as your subject line.

The first person to find her and notify us as per the rules receives a training voucher to the value of USD395 to use towards any course/s at Search Engine College.

So what are you waiting for? Go find Ms Parker!

CLUE #1 : I keep a diary with entries typically displayed in reverse chronological order.

Update 2 July 2012: Ms Parker has been found! Congratulations to David Gall in Brisbane, who found her lurking here. Well done David, your training voucher will be sent out shortly.