Minding Your Analytics During A Site Migration

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Just as important as maintaining a consistent SEO ranking during a website’s migration process is the maintenance of a Google Analytics account at the same time. Any marketing or search engine optimization professional can attest to just how valuable the service’s statistics are, and it’s important to ensure that they are kept consistent, segmented, and planned for even as the website switches to new content management solutions, a new domain, or new e-commerce applications. Just like the planning and step-by-step approach to site migration, this is a process which requires capable planning and deliberate execution from start to finish.

Consider the Current Implementation of Google Analytics and How it Might ChangeMost websites who employ the Google Analytics tracking system start off with a pretty basic implementation of the service, and work with it over time to make it more and more complex. Thus, while it might be easy to forget all of the micro-conversions, macro-conversions, segmentation, and custom implementations, which were placed into operation over time, they must now be recalled and documented. They must also be prepared for the upcoming change.Before beginning the migration process, consider the micro-tracking features programmed into the Analytics Dashboard. This includes any download links, comment submission statistics, and even social interactions or “share” clicks going on throughout the website. Then consider so-called macro-tracking settings, like those which track entrances and exits to the website through third-party services or partners. Finally, remember which information is culled by Google Analytics and which information might be tracked by other services from third-parties. It’s important not to get these services mixed up or “cross wires” with multiple implementations.

Adapt Google Analytics to New Site Structure or Domains

The good news is that a Google Analytics account can be transitioned to a new domain name without a major change or shift in the user account itself, or in the actual Dashboard implementation. The bad news is that Google Analytics must be informed of this change and some extensive modification of the Google Analytics code, and potential the Dashboard, must be done to accommodate it. Marketing professionals monitoring the transition must make sure that the service can account for new or transitioned subdomains, especially if the website itself is switching to an entire new domain name.

Beyond that, permalink structure changes must be accounted for and this will necessitate a review of such technologies as Google Analytics goals, custom variables and segmentation strings, filters, any customized alerts or reports, and any in-Dashboard filters for administrative use. It may also be necessary to change Dashboard settings pertaining to search monitoring if a new CMS or e-commerce solution is implemented, as these settings are search-box-specific.

Time to Account for Major Changes and Ensure Success

The steps above should have perfectly prepared Google Analytics for a major website migration, whether it’s to a new content management system with new permalink structure or to an entirely new domain name. The very methodical approach to this migration should have changed each unique and relevant setting within the Dashboard so that it is prepared to monitor new domain names, monitor the conversion from old permalinks to new URLs, and report statistics on the new domain name that are directly connected to the old one.

However, even with the most careful attention to detail during the Dashboard migration process, ti’s entirely possible that something was overlooked and a certain subdomain or set of URLs isn’t being actively monitored. After the migration has been completed on the front-end of the website, marketing professionals working with the site will need to keep a close watch on the Google Analytics Dashboard interface for any noticeable drops in visitors or a complete absence of statistics. Both things might indicate that a specific segmentation, micro-conversion tracking feature, or other in-Dashboard setting, was not properly altered to compensate for the move. A quick fix will restore tracking appropriately, though it will result in a period of lost data and information.

Careful Attention to Detail is the Key to Success

At this point, the migration should be complete and Google Analytics should be reporting accurate on all aspects of a website which were designed to be tracked even before the migration began. This serves as a testament to the value of deliberate pre-planning, expert execution, and sustained monitoring of the service for a period of time after the migration of the site itself has been completed.