Changing names and carts - will I lose all SEO standings built up over the last 12 years?

Solved
SHOPOWNER21
Tourist
3 0 2

Hi Shopify community. TIA for your help. 

I've just taken over a website that has a 12 year history and at one time ranked very well, but has been neglected for 5 years. 

I want to change platforms from 3dcart to Shopify. 
I also want to change the name of the company (and therefore the URL). 

Question

Does it matter in what order I do these?

Should I change the name (and URL) first and do a 301 redirect and then change platforms OR should I build the site on Shopify with the new name/URL and when it goes live, do a 301 redirect from the old URL on 3dCart to the new URL on Shopify. 

Does one method help keep SEO rankings uninterrupted more than the other method? 

This is an accepted solution.

Hi @SHOPOWNER21 , this is Richard - CRO expert at PageFly - Shopify Advanced Page Builder

Moving domain can have a tremendously negative effect on your ranking so yes, the risk of losing your Domain Ranking is real. In this case, I suggest you opt for the latter approach - build your Shopify store first with a new name and URL, then perform a 301 redirect. 

Note that there are more steps involved than just 301 redirects, you have to configure your Search Console - check out this guide from Moz: https://moz.com/blog/website-migration-guide, it explained everything I want to say better and in greater details. 

If you find my comments helpful to you, like it or mark as a solution. Let me know if you have any questions. Have a nice day! Cheers

CRO Expert at PageFly - Advanced Shopify Page Builder.
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KieranR
Shopify Partner
134 10 35

Yeah dunno if I wholehartedly agree what Richard said. I've done a number of SEO ecom migrations. I'm pretty confident in saying that in most cases, SEO's will tell you keep your primary domain rather than building an entirely new site on a fresh domain.

It is true though, that there is always associated SEO risk with any kind of site migration, re-platforming or move like this, but I think a new domain with redirects will actually dilute any established link equity and is likely to do more harm than good. A good migration is about both organic search risk reduction and opportunity maximization.

A much more typical approach to SEO migrations is to build the site on a staging domain, test it etc. Then when it's good to go live, make it live on the existing (primary) domain with 1-to-1 redirects. Shopify has this built in, you can just setup a store on something.myshopify.com (noindex) and that can bee a basic staging environment.

When I've done SEO migrations in the past while working at agencies, quite often it's damage control "oh shit we did a migration and we tanked, please help". But I always recommend assembling a team of specialists: analytics, ads, seo, dev, IT, project manager to plan a co-ordinated re-platforming/migration attack in advance of a migration.

Here are some good SEO migration guides: 

Here is a good overview of the state of SEO on Shopify: 

I'm a fan of a simple spreadsheet with tabs for each phase, with a list of prioritised tasks + owner + input + output: 

  1. Pre-migration & scoping
  2. During migration
  3. Post-migration QA & cleanup
  4. Ongoing performance monitoring & response

I would usually add in these tips: 

  • Have a mechanism to quickly roll-back to the previous platform for at least a month after launch. Just incase things really hit the fan
  • Get your internal IT team direct admin access to change DNS in advance. Often relaying changes through a request to an external IT provider can bottleneck the entire thing.
  • Use a seo crawl monitor app eg: Botify, DeepCrawl, ContentKing to detect any crawl/render/index issues before Googlebot does.
A self defined Shopify SEO "expert". Sometimes I freelance outside the 9-5
SHOPOWNER21
Tourist
3 0 2

Thank you for such a through reply Kieran. There is a lot of great advice in your resonse. One thing that is not negotiable is the domain change. It's gotta happen. 

None-the-less, I will peruse the links you shared to get more familiar with the nitty gritty before beginning the work. 

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KieranR
Shopify Partner
134 10 35

One thing that is not negotiable is the domain change.

Ohhh right yeah my bad, I must have skim read your original post.

All good then, yeah if there's non-SEO business reasons forcing a primary domain change then what must be done, must be done. 

Yeah I would prepare yourself for an initial negative reaction with a domain change then, you'll have to expect to take a hit to organic search visibility, traffic and sales for a week or two until your new domain starts to re-surface.

Then there is the lingering risk that you may never quite make it back up to the same level of visibility & traffic. Fixing that is usually a case of investing time/money into updating and/or building your backlink profile to the new domain.

A self defined Shopify SEO "expert". Sometimes I freelance outside the 9-5
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SHOPOWNER21
Tourist
3 0 2
The good news is, the current site has been neglected for quite some time
so it may not be a huge loss and compared to the gain of changing names in
order to scale the business will, before long, outweigh the negatives of
the switch. I'll keep telling myself this as order volume drops for several
weeks.