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How to migrate your legal website without affecting rankings

Migrating a legal website can be a daunting task for law firms, with common concerns including potential traffic loss, fluctuating search engine rankings, and even the possibility of losing important backlinks.

However, by approaching the migration process with careful planning and a solid understanding of SEO principles, it’s possible to navigate these challenges effectively and maintain your website’s visibility and performance.

Understanding common concerns

When legal companies contemplate migrating their websites to a new platform or domain, several issues commonly arise:

Potential traffic loss

One of the greatest fears is losing significant traffic during and after the transition. This can result from broken links, poor redirection strategies, or reduced visibility in search engines.

Fluctuating rankings

Search engine rankings might fluctuate as search engines re-index the new site. Temporary dips in rankings can impact client acquisition and brand visibility.

Backlink preservation

Ensuring that valuable backlinks are preserved during the migration is crucial, as losing them can negatively impact SEO efforts and reduce domain authority.

Despite these concerns, legal organisations can successfully migrate their websites by following detailed and strategic steps that focus on SEO best practices.

Conduct a thorough site audit

Before embarking on the migration process, it’s essential to conduct a comprehensive site audit.

This audit will help identify potential issues that could affect the website’s overall performance and ensure that nothing important is overlooked.

Inventory of current assets

Start by listing all your current URLs, content, backlinks, and metadata. Tools such as Screaming Frog or SEMrush can assist in creating a detailed inventory.

Performance analysis

Evaluate your existing website’s performance metrics, including load times, bounce rates, and conversion rates. This data will serve as a benchmark to measure the success of your new site.

SEO audit

Examine on-page and off-page SEO factors, including keyword usage, meta tags, alt texts, internal linking, and backlink profiles.

Identify any existing SEO issues that need rectification before the migration.

SEO-driven website structure design

When designing the structure of your new website, an SEO-driven approach is paramount to ensure the website remains visible and rankable.

Consider the following aspects:

URL structure

Maintain a consistent and logical URL structure that mirrors your old site as closely as possible. This continuity helps search engines understand the relationship between the old and new URLs.

Content hierarchy

Design a clear and intuitive content hierarchy. Use header tags (H1, H2, H3) appropriately to organise your content and improve readability, making it easier for search engines to crawl.


Ensure that your new site is mobile-friendly, as mobile usability is a key ranking factor for Google.

Page load speed

Optimise for faster page load speeds. Compress images, leverage browser caching, and minimise JavaScript to improve user experience and SEO.

Technical steps required for migration

The technical steps involved in migrating a website are critical to maintaining your SEO rankings. Here are the key steps:

Develop a comprehensive 301 redirect plan

Implementing 301 redirects is crucial to transferring SEO value from your old URLs to the new ones. A 301 redirect signals to search engines that a page has permanently moved, preserving the link equity:

Map out all old URLs to their corresponding new URLs.

Ensure that every old URL has a direct 301 redirect to prevent losing valuable backlinks and to maintain search engine rankings.

Update internal links

Update all internal links to point to the new URLs to avoid broken links and provide a seamless user experience.

Submit an updated sitemap

Once the new site is live, create and submit an updated XML sitemap to search engines like Google and Bing via their respective webmaster tools. This action assists search engines in indexing your new pages accurately and promptly.

Update Robots.txt file

Ensure your robots.txt file is updated to reflect any changes in your new site structure and to guide search engine crawlers efficiently.

Monitor crawl errors

Use tools like Google Search Console to monitor crawl errors and fix any issues that arise post-migration.

Check analytics and performance

After the migration, closely monitor your website’s analytics using tools like Google Analytics. Track changes in traffic, bounce rates, and user behaviour to identify and address any issues promptly.

Post-migration best practices

After completing the migration, it’s important to follow best practices to ensure continuous performance.

Regular audits: Conduct regular SEO audits and performance checks to maintain optimal performance.

Solicit feedback: Gather feedback from users regarding the new site’s functionality and usability, and make necessary adjustments.

Content marketing: Continue producing high-quality, relevant content to attract new visitors and engage existing ones.

Ensure your new site will thrive

While migrating a legal website presents challenges, a meticulously planned approach rooted in SEO best practices can ensure a smooth transition.

By conducting thorough pre-migration audits, designing an SEO-friendly structure, executing precise technical steps and following post-migration best practices, your law firm can maintain its hard-earned search engine rankings and continue to thrive online.

Ascensor are an award-winning digital agency based in Leeds that can help you migrate your legal website.

Let us know how we can help you in ensuring a seamless transition without compromising your SEO rankings.

We’ve got a proven track record of helping legal practices get more from their digital assets.

Get in touch with the Ascensor team to discover how we can help your firm grow.