One of the most exciting days when migrating an ecommerce website to a new platform is the day you take the new site live. As you’ve spent hours rebuilding your website, I don’t blame you for wanting to push it live once it’s complete, but you need to understand your site’s traffic patterns to pick the right time to go live. With the right tools in place and knowing which reports to study, identifying the best time to migrate a site is easy.

Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are incredibly useful tools that you should be familiar with. Once a Google Analytics tracking code is added to your ecommerce site, you’ll get vital information regarding your traffic sources, top landing pages, visitor locations, on-site behavior and more. Webmaster Tools is a control panel for a website’s health. After a site is verified, you can submit an XML sitemap directly to Google, check the site’s index status, identify pages with the most inbound links and more. If you have these tools in place, perfect. If not, do so today and allow data to collect for a few months before migrating.

To see customer traffic, open Google Analytics’ reporting view. The Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels report is where you will see the visitor count as well as the traffic numbers broken down by organic search, direct, paid, social and referral traffic sources. Play with the reporting date ranges to identify a particular time of year and day of the week when your organic traffic is at its lowest. This is when we schedule the migration.

Every site operates in a different industry with varying purchasing trends, so it’s best to rely on your own data when picking a date to migrate. Avoid migrating in the middle of a historically lucrative season. If the holiday season drives 50% of your annual revenue that is definitely NOT the time migrate.

If you do not have years of historical traffic data, use Google Trends and your sales reports. Once you update the site’s DNS records to resolve to your new store, it may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days until customers begin to reach the new site. Online stores that rely on sales during normal business hours Monday-Friday should make the DNS switch Friday evening so the new site is ready to take orders Monday.

Your Checklist #3:

Ensure Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are installed on old store
Study past Google Analytics data and pick time to migrate when traffic is low
Do not migrate right before or during an important sales season

Appendix

Part 1Migrate Content to New Ecommerce Site

Part 2Implementing 301 Redirects and 404 Error Pages

Part 3Find the Right Time to Migrate with Google Analytics

Part 4Taking Your New Ecommerce Site Live

Part 5Moving Forward After Your Ecommerce Platform Migration

About 

Dan Smullen is an SEO Team Lead at Volusion, where he applies his seven years of online marketing experience to drive customer traffic to ecommerce websites. He is passionate about the technical side of SEO, platform migrations and coaching clients on SEO best practices. Outside of the office, Dan can be found hanging out at Zilker Park, camping all over Central Texas and following professional football, basketball and hockey.