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Embarking on a website migration can feel like navigating a legal case. The stakes are high, and every decision counts.

When transitioning to a new website, one of the critical decisions firms face is what content to migrate from their old site. While it may seem straightforward, this process requires careful analysis and consideration. We recommend starting with an analysis of your site’s current pages and visitor data. Discover which pages deliver value and traffic, and which ones languish unnoticed. 

Done correctly, a content migration can preserve your online presence and elevate it to new heights. Done incorrectly, your rankings could tank and you might get some angry messages from confused users who can’t find what they need.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the steps involved in how to determine which content to migrate and how to best preserve your online reputation.

Start by assessing your existing content

Before diving into migration, begin by evaluating the content on your current website. 

Here’s how to approach this.

Organize: Sort your existing content into organized categories with a site map that shows the structure and hierarchy of your content.

Assess: Are there any redundancies? How about outdated pages that shouldn’t be migrated to your new site?

Pull data using Google Analytics to understand the traffic each page is receiving. This can help you identify which pages on your current sites are actively seeing traffic and which are not (and may not need to be migrated). For instance, firms may find that half of their web pages get zero traffic. There’s a good chance Google doesn’t even have these pages indexed, leading to the lack of traffic.

Migrate content if it aligns with your goals

Now that you have a clear understanding of your current content, you’re much better prepared to make informed decisions about migrating.

Ask yourself three questions to determine if a given piece of content should be migrated. This content value assessment stage is absolutely critical. It’s also the perfect moment to be ruthless with scrapping content that doesn’t contribute to your firm’s branding, expertise or services.

Is it providing value to my audience?

Does it align with my firm’s goals and messaging?

Is it relevant and useful?

Of course, you can also identify content improvements during this process. Some may be entirely scrapped, but some might be salvageable. Evaluate whether any existing content could be improved to live up to its full potential. Could you update, refresh, or redesign it to better serve your audience? 

Commit to only migrating content that reflects your firm’s current positioning, messaging and branding initiatives. 

URL structure changes

This is a big one!

You’ll need proper redirects to help keep people and search engines from getting lost. A new website doesn’t always mean a new domain name, of course. But there are guaranteed to be some structural changes to your site. 

If your new website will have a different URL structure, make sure you work with a developer to implement proper redirects.

  • 301: This indicates “moved permanently.” It automatically directs users and search engines from an old URL to the corresponding new one. If your page has a new home on the same site, use a 301.
  • 302: This is a temporary redirect. It points users and search engines to a new URL for a temporary time, until the 302 is removed.

The site structure you created earlier will come in handy right now! Carefully map out your redirects to ensure that visitors are seamlessly guided to the appropriate content. This minimizes the risk of broken links and lost traffic.

Seriously, save yourself the trauma of investing in a beautiful new site and then watching your rankings drop and the bad reviews pour in. Embrace the power of redirects.

Of course, be vigilant about monitoring and testing in any website migration.

Regularly check on the performance of redirects to make sure they’re doing what you expect them to do. Address issues promptly to preserve the integrity of your website’s user experience. 

Long story short, keep a trusted web developer on speed dial because migrations can get messy

Review and next steps

Migrating content to a new website is a strategic process that requires careful planning and execution. 

By assessing the value of your current content, making informed migration decisions and handling URL structure changes effectively, you can ensure a smooth transition and maximize the impact of your new website for your firm and its audience.

Get help with a migration and breathe easy. OneFirst builds websites and offers hands-on (or hands-free) support to lawyers who want an affordable and impactful digital presence.

About the Author
The team at OneFirst Legal has built websites for thousands of law firms across the United States. Fueled by data and whole lot of creativity, OneFirst helps law firms make a powerful first impression online with websites that convert visitors into clients.