Whether you’re looking to move from one home to another or migrate your client’s website to a new platform, two facts are inescapable. One, no one looks forward to the potential upheaval, whether you’re migrating website content or the contents of your house. Two, any move this consequential marks a clear opportunity for positive change.
Along with the many performance improvements that await on the other side of a migration, your clients have the chance to really take stock of their content portfolio. Physical and virtual moves require that you examine what you have, where it will go, and get rid of anything that no longer serves your needs. In the end, a website content evaluation won't just make any migration easier. It helps make it less complicated and costly as well.
However, planning a successful website migration isn’t just about purging content to save time and money. When done properly, a content audit prior to a migration must use data to ensure everything your client is bringing to their new digital home has value and will keep paying off once the move is complete.
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Data Holds the Key to Any Pre-Migration Content Audit
Cleaning house within your client’s content portfolio before a migration ensures a smoother transition. While moving everything on your client’s site isn’t necessarily always wrong, you are making a mistake if you’re planning to move any content without proper analysis.
A content audit may reveal that your client feels tied to certain articles or other site features, especially those that were complicated to build. You should encourage your clients to use data as a prime indicator of the value of a piece of content before it’s included in the migration plan.
Data reveals content performance in two ways:
Google Analytics and SEO
High-performing blog content, product pages, or other features are the first items to include on the virtual moving truck of a website migration. Whether a page ranks well for visits, time on page, or other metrics demonstrating its worth to customers or as a lead generation tool, Google Analytics provides a measuring stick.
Pages ranked high in search results should be migrated while working to retain the keywords and URLs that impact their SEO value. Conversely, content that underperforms in a review of your client’s site analytics are candidates to be left behind or reworked.
Metadata and Content Relationships
The metadata layer of your client’s content builds relationships between website pages. Before deciding that an article shouldn’t be part of a migration, you have to review its impact elsewhere on the site. When a piece of content ranks high, it may be doing so because other internal pages are pointing to it.
Metadata often goes overlooked when evaluating content performance To continue the analogy of planning a real-life move, the role of metadata within your client’s content is akin to the extension cords and cables boxed away somewhere. Their value may not be readily obvious compared with other items. But your client will need them once their migration is complete.
Make Content Migration More Efficient Through Simplification and Consolidation
When your client needs a content migration, their existing site may date back to the earliest days of their business. Not everything in their content portfolio may necessarily still apply. Rather than simply focusing on reducing the amount of content to migrate, you should find areas of content within your client’s site that are no longer relevant.
Over the years, shifts in technology, priorities, and even personnel impact an organization’s goals. Content dating back as little as two years may now be out-of-step with business priorities or factually incorrect. Consolidating relevant details from old content into newer pages more consistent with your client’s current perspective ensures that a migration only includes what’s important.
As with any move, some content items are simply the boxes stowed away in the attic. If no one knows why they’re there or hasn’t opened them in years, there’s no sense bringing them along.
How Tagging and Reorganization Streamlines Content Migration
Reconsidering how your client’s content is organized is sometimes treated as a lower priority before a migration than evaluating individual pages. But adjusting the hierarchy of site content will improve the user experience by ensuring the site is organized in a way that’s simple, intuitive, and consistent with your client’s present-day business.
Your web development partner can work with clients to categorize content under new menus or within a simplified information structure. Updating how content is tagged and how that will impact its location on the site further ensures everything will be in its right place after the migration is complete.
Know the Role of Automation in Content Migration
Streamlining your client’s content portfolio can help mitigate concerns about the complexity, costs, and effort involved in a migration. While any migration takes time and preparation to be successful, you should discuss with your clients the ways automation can reduce the workload.
Your ability to incorporate automation comes down to a question of scale. Ultimately, you need to consider how much content will be moved and what data transformations will be required to suit the new site. Manually performing these tasks provides more control over the process, but it may introduce the possibility of human error as well. Plus, the work itself may be so tedious it’s difficult to assign.
However, depending on the state of your client’s content, even an automation tool may take hundreds of hours to complete the task because the data is in the wrong format. Sometimes, deploying a team to put their heads down and cut-and-paste what’s required is still the most efficient solution.
Most likely your client will be best served by a hybrid approach. For example, automation can maybe clean parts of your client’s data that will still require more manual adjustment before migration. Or, you could migrate the content over and address any issues through a similar mix of hands-on development and automation to identify and resolve errors.
But in every case, you need more than developers to successfully navigate a migration.
Successful Migrations Require More Than Developer Expertise
Any migration is made easier by properly preparing your client’s content before the move. Put simply, migrations are not hands-off projects that your client can simply farm out to a development team — theirs or yours.
Your client’s internal teams should collaborate to evaluate and prepare content in their CMS before migration. Developers can write scripts to identify problems such as embedded video code that won’t properly render on the new platform. Then, your client’s internal teams can work to remove the code before migration happens to reduce errors.
Similarly, your client’s product or editorial team can create a mapping document that clarifies how functionality in their current CMS corresponds to the new system. As each member of their teams recognizes what keywords, tags, or fields are required to categorize and publish content, they help secure better results after the migration.
Otherwise, your client is left with a developer drawing these conclusions, and that’s not the best use of their time. To return once more to the moving analogy, you don’t want movers deciding where your belongings go or putting them in the same places once you’ve arrived at a new place. However, by enlisting the experts behind your client’s content, you can ensure a migration that leaves their business in a better place.