Managing 301 Redirects & 404s When Migrating to Shopify

Managing 301 Redirects & 404s When Migrating to Shopify

October 19, 2018

When you’ve made the decision to replatform and migrate your store to Shopify from another provider, one thing you need to make sure you have is a plan for is maintaining any SEO you’ve managed to establish.

While there are many factors that contribute to search engine rankings, and a number of things to keep in mind when replatforming, here we’ll focus specifically on handling the redirect process.

As far as redirects go, you need to make sure you have a plan in place to:

  • Set up 301 redirects
  • Monitor and rectify any 404 errors

Set Up 301 Redirects

301 redirects let search engines know that content that used to exist at a former URL, now exists at a new URL. Similarly, if your former URLs exist elsewhere, such as a backlink on someone else’s blog, 301 redirects point users to your new URL, instead of the non-existent former one.

It’s extremely important you look after your redirects properly. While it would be great if you could simply keep the same URL structure across platforms, it’s highly unlikely to work out like that.

For example, your current site might have a product listing with a URL structure such as:

www.mywebsite.com/product-title

Whereas Shopify’s URL structure uses:

www.mywebsite.com/products/product-title

If some clicks on a link to the old URL, and a redirect hasn’t been set up, they’ll receive a 404 error, as that content no longer exists at that location. 404 errors are what you want to avoid when working to preserve your SEO.

Thankfully, there are a few different ways you can handle implementing redirects properly in Shopify. You can look after them:

  • Through Shopify’s Settings
  • Using an app

Redirects in Shopify’s Settings

Setting up redirects in Shopify is relatively simple. Just head to Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects.

Shopify 301 Redirects dashboard

Here you can choose to create individual redirects or import a CSV to look after the redirects in bulk.

Shopify dashboard screenshot.

If you click on the “Create URL redirect” button, you’ll be taken to this screen, where you can simply paste in the old URL, and where on your new site you’d like it to direct to.

Shopify URL redirect setup.

If you’d rather upload a CSV and redirect multiple pages at once, (which is typically much more efficient), click on the “Import redirects” link, and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can upload your CSV file.

Having some comfort with Excel or Google Sheets will make your life much easier when it comes to formatting your CSV for import. Regardless of which platform you’re migrating from, you should be able to export a spreadsheet of all of your current URLs. You can then individually paste in the corresponding new URL in a separate column, or, if you’re comfortable using spreadsheet formulas, you can make inputting the new URLs more efficient.

Once you have a CSV with the old URLs matched up to the new ones, you’re ready for import.

Using an App

You can also use an app like Easy Directs. As far as setting up the initial redirects, the process is pretty much the exact same using the app as it using Shopify redirect system.

Monitor and Rectify 404 Errors

Where an app like Easy Redirects comes in really handy is in helping you monitor 404 errors. You can connect the app to Google Search Console, and have it notify you if it detects any users encountering 404 errors. That enables you to quickly set up a redirect for the problem URL, and ensure no one else receives a 404 error if they encounter it.

We recommend using an app like this to monitor for 404 errors for at least a few months after completing a migration and setting up your 301 redirects. Even if you’re diligent and thorough, it’s easy to miss some old URLs, and for a low monthly expense, you can be sure things are being monitored.

Conclusion

While there are a number of things to keep in mind when migrating from another platform to Shopify, hopefully, this helps answer any questions you may have had about looking after redirects and 404s.

If you have any questions or think you could use a hand looking after domain configurations, redirects, or a complete store migration, don’t hesitate to get in touch!




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