Planning to migrate your website? Google Search Console has new tools for you.
Google Search Console has added a Redirect Validation tool to its Change of Address tool. This will be useful when changing the domain of your website. Let us see in detail how you can use it and why is it important.
Migrating a website is usually a quite stressful and resources / time-consuming task. Nobody wants to wake up to the nightmare of “we’ve moved our website to the new domain, now we have a beautiful new website, but no one knows about it as we’ve disappeared from Google and are nowhere to be found”. Sounds very scary, right? Unfortunately, this is one of the most popular reasons for companies to be hiring SEO consultants.
But it´s always better to prevent a disaster than to try to “undo the damage”. So, our main advice here would be: hire an SEO consultant BEFORE you hire a web development company and migrate your website. This way you will have a plan in place for how to best optimise your new website from the get- go and for how to correctly migrate it, minimising your losses in rankings.
But in real life it is not always feasible to hire an SEO team or, maybe, you are already in the middle of a DIY migration. In this case, it will be useful for you to get acquainted with some new tools in Google Search Console. But let´s look through some general steps of the website migration and see where those tools might come in handy.
1. When migrating your website to a new domain, the first thing you need to ensure is that you’ve set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics for both old and new domains. This way, you will stay informed about all the details of the migration process.
2. The second and most important step is to set up 301 redirects from the URLs of your old website to the new ones. If you were to do only one task during the migration this should be THE task. Skipping this point will lead you to losing ALL current rankings, basically disappearing from Google and other search engines.
3. After performing step two, you’ve migrated the website from your point of view. What´s left is to communicate to Google that you are actually moving it to the new domain, so that the new domain is “the same” as the old one.
To do this, you need to sign in to Google Search Console, click on “Settings” and choose the “Change of Address” tool. Once you’re there, you can communicate the move to Google.
Keep in mind that you do not need to perform this step if you are migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, whilst keeping the domain the same.
4. So, at this point, you would like to get some kind of feedback from Google and to know if everything is going well, or there are any errors in the setup that you need to address ASAP. And here is where the new “Redirect Validation” tool is very useful.
This tool will show you the information about your website’s top 5 URLs. Google will show you the redirect flow, validate it, provide you with some examples of the redirects in place and if there is any problem or error, Google will give recommendations on how to fix it.
5. After you've done all that, you may also check whether everything is going as it should be, by looking at the new migration reminder that will show up in both your old and new Google Search Consoles. The reminder looks like a warning at the top of the page saying "this site is currently moving to newdomain.com".
The new Redirection Validation tool and the reminder will give you feedback from Google itself, which is the most valuable information you can get, while performing any big change, like migrating your website.
So, be sure to use it, should you decide to change the domain of your website.
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