The Quick & Simple Site Migration Checklist for Retailers

By Tinuiti Team

Migrating your ecommerce site?

That’s a good thing, particularly if your current site just isn’t up to par for today’s impatient mobile shoppers. But as anyone who’s been through the process can attest, it’s also complicated, and can create a lot of headaches.

Conversions could drop. Reporting could be off. SERP rankings could tank.

Don’t let those things happen to you.

We sat down with Erick Smith, Lead Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy, to compile this checklist for your next site migration so you can avoid common pitfalls.

Build & Optimize a New Master Feed

Switching platforms most likely means a new master feed.

Whether you’re working with an agency or managing your feed in-house, keep a copy of your existing feed as a sample that your developers can use when building the new feed.

And if your current feed is missing useful information, now is the time to include that additional information.

More resources:


Maintain Existing Product IDs if Possible

This is probably the most important part of your migration.

A product’s history on Google and other channels is tied to its product ID, so if the product ID changes, relevancy may take a hit.

If possible, maintain your existing Product IDs or SKUs. As new products are added to the feed, they should receive the new IDs.

Get more details about how to avoid losing feed relevancy during a migration.


Re-Install Tracking Pixels & URL Verifications

Most likely, when you switch platforms, you’ll need to re-install tracking pixels.

Send your tracking pixels with installation instructions to your developer to be installed ASAP so you don’t miss out on valuable data.

Frequently, the verification tags needed for Google/Bing Merchant Centers get lost in the shuffle, so make sure to keep those copied in a safe place.


Check Referrals in Google Analytics

Check Google Analytics to ensure all referral sources are accurate (no cross-domain or self-referrals).

The biggest culprit here tends to be Paypal.

If you start to see “Paypal” referring sales, you’ll want to follow these steps from the Director of Technology at CPC, Tien Nguyen:

  1. Within Google Analytics, go to:
    Admin>Tracking Info>Referral Exclusion List>+Add Referral Exclusion
  2. Type in “” (or the source you want to exclude)


More resources:


Update Landing Pages & Site Structure

A new site might look and function better, but we’ve seen conversion rates take a hit because:


In terms of site structure, be careful if you carry products with size and color variations.

We’ve had examples where the “child” variants that are listed on site changes and leads to a decrease in conversion rate.

For example, you may have previously listed all child variants in their own URLs, but your new structure may add them all to one page. This can decrease conversions simply because products are harder to find (SEO) and navigate on site.

One final note about your redesign–make sure you’re testing landing pages for usability amongst your target market.

Here are some sites that are helpful for generating user feedback:


If the site is not easy to navigate, even if your pages look pretty, your conversions report might not.

A Note About Mobile Optimization

We could write an entire section about mobile optimization. In 2015, one report showed “U.S. adults spent 59% of their time on mobile and 41% on desktop, but just 15% of their dollars on mobile and a staggering 85% of their dollars on desktop”.

However, that’s not because users didn’t want to make a purchase on mobile. Instead, it’s likely that the site’s mobile experience was too slow, hard to navigate, or glitchy. Make sure that’s not you.

More resources:


Take Care of Technical Errors

A site redesign is also a great time to take care of some technical spring cleaning. What we mean:

As you migrate your site over and your developer generates 301 redirects page-to-page, make sure to generate a list of 404 errors on pages. You can use the Google Search Console to monitor the status of your pages.

This is a good time to optimize your images for the web if you haven’t already–especially for mobile users. You have to strike a balance here between usability and site speed. Large file sizes for images can bog down a site, but you don’t want to sacrifice image quality. After all, your visitors will want to zoom into a picture in order to see more features. Compress images enough so that they speed up your site loading time without sacrificing quality.


Optimize the Checkout Process

Similar to landing pages, the checkout process will often change when switching sites.

While it’s often improved, we’ve had instances where conversion rates decrease after a platform switch.

Some factors that could impact your conversion rate:


The moral of the story: Not all checkouts are created equal. Make sure you know how your current checkout process performs, and make sure to keep an eye on your new checkout process to ensure your customers aren’t hitting walls along the way to completing a purchase.


Avoid Common SEO Issues

Certain CMS platforms aren’t SEO friendly.

Hidden behind the flashy design of the site, there’s a ton of code.

Some platforms limit code bloat while others are excessive. This can slow down page load times and add crawlable content that is mainly noticed by search engines.

A strong developer can and should clean a lot of this up, but most of the time it’s overlooked.

Here are a couple keys to maintaining your site rank on the SERP:




More resources:


Site Search

Site visitors who use your search bar are closer to buying your products than the average visitor. Most site search plugins pull from content within each page: Categories, headers, paragraphs, tags, etc. If you keep all of those consistent, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Pro-Tip: Implement a site search plugin or plugin that will give you the ability to see user queries. This will give you a clue about what your users want to see most.

KPIs to Monitor Post-Migration

Here are some basic metrics to keep an eye on post-migration. These metrics can alert you to negative effects from your changes. Make sure you keep track of what these metrics were on your old site for comparison:


Have a Backup Plan and Test, Test, Test

In the flurry of changes during a site migration, don’t neglect to implement a fallback plan.

As Hiram Cruz, the Lead Graphic Designer and website development guru at CPC Strategy points out, you should always develop your new website in a “dev” or test environment, not on your actual site.

In addition, if you have a high volume of organic or paid traffic, don’t roll out changes all at once. Implement A/B tests across portions of your population using a tool such as Optimizely.

Finally, keep your old site files as a backup. That way, if things go awry, you can revert back to your original site.

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