Website Migration to WordPress – Case Study on Google SEO Fail and Fix
Original post: July 2015 – Updated October 2020
One of my clients www.racenightservices.co.uk had always been a strong contender in Google over the years for numerous page 1 keywords relating to race night DVDs and more importantly Race Night Downloads.
It was a critical business decision since April 2015’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ update by Google – their old website was in immediate need of being mobile-friendly together with retaining the various Google page 1 rankings.
As the sole source of income it was paramount that this was handled effectively, everyone knows with an Ecommerce site you have to be Google page 1 for the best sales and profit.
I was solely responsible for this project, and I have to admit, I was a bit nervous – despite having carried this out before – so thought I would document this project as a case study.
The website was being moved over to WordPress, with WooCommerce and Yoast installed.
Before work started we created a spreadsheet of all the current rankings, search phrases and positions in Google.
This is to benchmark so that when migration has taken place we can accuratIy verify whether there was an SEO drop.
I advised the web developer to create the new pages in WordPress using the identical URLs that are currently in place, when the switchover happened I ensured everything was in place in Yoast, Google Webmaster (Search Console) verification, together with Bing and Alexa verification that were in place with the old design.
Following this I utilised the Yoast ‘Bulk Editor’ tool to manually create unique and keyword rich titles and a nicely written sales pitch for each of the meta descriptions. Every pages’ content was tweaked for SEO and had relevant keyword H1 and H2’s.
Once this was complete, I used the ‘Fetch as Googlebot’ on all options, and checked the sitemap was up to date. Then, we watched, and we waited.
One Keyphrase Bombed in Google – Why
After 4 days all keywords were still holding on Google page 1 – except one which was “Race Night Downloads” which dropped in rankings to halfway down Google page 2.
Very worrying, but also very weird, how come all of the other phrases retained rankings?
Upon investigation I spotted that the URL was http://www.racenightservices.co.uk/product-category/download-races/ when the old URL was simply http://www.racenightservices.co.uk/download-races/ which appeared to be a small oversight – within WordPress the WooCommerce settings had changed the URL structure.
Additionally, the content that appeared on the old page was stripped out as it was a category.
Solution and Regain Google Rankings
Fortunately I had a friendly developer on the project, and I requested a 301 redirect with this single URL from the old to the new.
I then re-added the text content to the product category, together with H1 H2 and H3 to suit and in 48 hours the page had recovered to lower Google page 1.
Nina was highly responsive and acted with my best interests at heart, with an ecommerce site selling race night downloads for years, we simply couldn’t afford to lose our rankings, but it was critical we had a mobile responsive website to comply with Google.
– Gavin Wadeson, Race Night Services UK
2 Simple SEO Rules
- Benchmark your current Google rankings
- Ensure all URLs are 301 redirected from the old ones to the new ones.
- Read more of my case studies for platform and domain migration with SEO and Google rankings being of paramount importance.
I’ll need a few things to provide an accurate cost quotation:
- How old is the domain?
- How long ago was the website first launched?
- Have you had any previous SEO work carried out?
- When people use Google what search phrases would you like clients to use to find your website?
- Do you rank in Google already for any of these search phrases?
- When are you looking to migrate your website?
Search online for “SEO Freelancer UK” and see my website ranking on Google page 1 at the top at position 1. This took 3 years of specific SEO targeting. SEO is not a one-off, it’s an ongoing process.
SEO 2020 – Race Night Services is still a client after 5 years – Google page 1 for Race Night DVDs