Although this guide is for Podpage, most of what we discuss can be applied to any time you are going to move your website from one service to another.
If you are considering moving your established website from one service to another (whether that's Wordpress to Podpage, or Podpage to Squarespace, or Squarespace to Wix), one thing you really consider is how to not lose all the SEO history you've built up with Google. This guide will walk you through it.
First, let's talk about what SEO history means.
What is SEO history?
Google's technology is crawling the web 24/7 building an enormous index of every website in existence. When it comes to your site (www.yourdomain.com), it will essentially click every single link (www.yourdomain.com/contact, www.yourdomain.com/about, etc...) and read the page. It does this to get a full understanding about what all the pages on your website are.
It then uses this information in its search engine. So when someone searches for your podcast, it can tell the user not only that your website exists, but direct them to specific pages on your website that are most relevant.
So, let's say you're on Wordpress, and two pages on your website are:
When someone searches Google for your podcast and the word contact, they will direct people to www.yourdomain.com/wp/contact.
That establishes your SEO history with Google.
Why moving websites can confuse Google
If you move websites to a different service, the new service might have a different way of organizing content, and these page addresses could be
Contact Page: www.yourdomain.com/contact (does not have /wp/)
Episode 1 Page: www.yourdomain.com/1 (does not include /episodes/)
The problem this causes (which is easily fixable) is Google is now directing people to a page that doesn't exist. And when that happens, Google removes that page from their index. And you want all your pages in their index.
How to avoid this
There are a few strategies to help Google find new content, and again these can be used when transferring a website from any provider to another. We'll use Podpage screenshots but most likely any service will have it.
Set up 301 redirects for all (or the most important) pages
A "301 Redirect" is a way of telling Google that a page has permanently moved to a different web address (the 301 means permanent). So, you're explicitly letting the Google Robot know two things:
1. www.yourdomain.com/wp/contact/ can now be found at www.yourdomain.com/contact/
2. This is permanent, so make a chance to your index
This allows Google to just update the index, instead of removing the page. It lets you maintain your SEO (assuming the content on the new page is the same as the old one).
To do this on Podpage, in the Dashboard go to Website → 301 Redirects and click New Redirect.
You'll now set the old and new paths. A path is basically anything after the www.yourdomain.com. In this case, you are redirecting the old page
/wp/contact/ to the new path
Save that link, and Podpage will automatically redirect anyone who goes to the old link, including Google. Do that for all the pages that are important to you.
Within a week or so, you should see this change automatically updated on Google search.
No SEO lost!
Submit a new Sitemap
Make sure Google knows all the pages that are on your new site and submit a sitemap.xml file to them with all the pages. If you're a Podpage user you dont need to do anything here. We automatically create the page and submit it to Google.
Monitor the change in Google Search Console
We have a whole article about Google Search Console and Podpage, but basically, Search Console gives you an insight about what Google sees when they look at your page.
So, if you have a website you care about, definitely set up a Search Console account and add your website. You'll see Google starting to see the new page and redirecting the old ones to it.
That's really it!
Losing SEO isn't something to worry about when moving websites if the new service allows you to set up redirects!