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LEET: How to Migrate an eCommerce Shop from a News Site?

I would think that I saw so many migration projects that nothing can surprise me. Wrong. The migration project of the LEET eCommerce shop was such an experience: full of (positive) surprises, which I have never seen before. Which is strange, considering I could’ve seen it coming.

I will talk about this project in this case study. Plus, I’ll tell you about the surprising positive outcome that we experienced during the migration, due to a quite simple reason. In summary: it was a smooth migration, and the traffic remained on a solid level so as did the rankings. This is how you migrate an eCommerce shop from a news site!

About the Client

LEET Gaming Ltd was founded in 2011 – according to my sources, it started as a hobby project. The website started out as a news site on the topic of gaming & everything geek. The site was later expanded with an eCommerce branch. Despite being only a hobby project, it quickly turned out that the team is doing something quite well: the website experienced enormous & continuous growth in the forthcoming years.

By the year 2020-2021, it was becoming a more serious player on the market, so the team decided it was time to navigate the website in a more professional direction. They started working with more professional journalists and professionals, and it was a time when they decided to invest in search engine optimization as well. This is when I came into the picture.

The Challenge

In the summer of 2022 LEET Gaming Ltd decided to migrate its eCommerce shop to another, more professional platform called UNAS. The reason was that they wanted to better satisfy the growing user needs. Previously the eCommerce shop had been running on WooCommerce.

LEET homepage
This is what we see if we open the LEET homepage – Source: leet.hu

So the task was a typical migration project. With the difference that we needed to migrate only a part of a whole website, instead of a whole. So we wanted to split the site into a LEET News Site and a LEET eCommerce shop – the latter would be running under a subdomain.

The Solution

From a technical perspective, we needed to migrate the category-, subcategory-, and product pages. Fortunately, the URL structure remained the same in the case of the product pages, so we just needed to change the prefix of the URLs from https://leet.hu/ to https://shop.leet.hu/.

In the case of the category and subcategory pages the task wasn’t this trivial, because first I needed to create and validate the new landing URLs with the management. Without this, we wouldn’t have been able to know where to redirect these pages with a 301 redirection. But the good news was that the URL structure of the current (sub)category pages – /products/[the name of the category] – remained on the new website. This made the whole task a tad less difficult.

New Navigation Structure

The project has a unique objective: the management of LEET wanted to completely rethink the current menu structure. This was the most difficult part of the project. Considering that the number of available products amounted to thousands (if not more). Not to mention that it was quite diverse as well.

I’m not going to lie, it was a very challenging task to create a new menu that satisfies the following criteria:

  • Keyworded, SEO-friendly
  • CRO-friendly (conversion rate optimization)
  • Matches the business priorities of LEET
  • Takes into consideration LEET’s most important product categories
  • The categories and subcategories are properly big sets
  • And these sets are properly homogenous (meaning that we wanted as little overlaps between the categories as possible)

I needed to accomplish the following tasks in order to create this new navigation:

  • Competitor analysis focused on their navigation structures
  • Keyword research – in order for us to know how should we name the categories
  • Analysis of the current navigation from a structural perspective (do they include a sufficient amount of products?)

Based on these analyses I created the new navigation structure, which – apart from some minor changes – remained in the original form:

Navigation on the LEET Shop website
Navigation on the LEET Shop website – Source: Shop.leet.hu

If you, dear Reader see some category pages which still include only a handful of products, my answer is: yes, we know about it. The reason that we created them is that we either A) could not place them in any other category, B) these categories were crucial from a business perspective, or C) we expected the number of products to grow in the future.

Other SEO tasks

As an additional task, I needed to create custom titles & meta descriptions for these categories. This meant a hell lot of pages (appr. 135 pages) – and we couldn’t even use ChatGPT back then! Despite the fact that we could’ve used the scalable, automated meta-generating solution in UNAS, I insisted on creating custom-made titles & meta descriptions.

Before the actual launch of the new website, I had to take care of another business: what to do with those categories and subcategories that weren’t needed anymore? Should I delete them altogether or merge them with other classes? This made the whole migration project a bit more complicated because apart from the aspects mentioned above I needed to bear in mind relevancy, too, when I decided to merge certain categories.

But from a technical perspective fortunately it was a quite “simple” migration project at the end of the day. Most of my capacity was spent creating the specific redirects, plus writing the titles & meta descriptions.

This new eCommerce site launched around 20th November 2021, when we triggered the 301 redirects.

The Results

The actual migration was frictionless. Every redirect worked perfectly, without any redirect loops or accidental 404 pages. You can see the original (news) site’s performance between October 2022 and February 2023. You can see how the average position as well as the level of organic traffic changed during and after the launch in the following images.

Average position of LEET pages
The average position of LEET pages changed little during the launch – Source: Google Search Console
Organic clicks of LEET pages
Organic clicks of LEET pages showed no decline during the launch – Source: Google Search Console

Here you can see the performance of the eCommerce pages of the whole site using a REGEX filter. As you can see, the level of organic traffic practically remained at the same level during the launch.

Organic clicks of LEET pages without shop pages
Organic clicks of LEET pages (without shop pages) showed no volatility during the launch – Source: Google Search Console

The average position was a bit volatile for a couple of days, but after that, it bounced back to its original level.

Average position of LEET pages without the shop pages' performance
The level of average positions of LEET pages (without shop pages) showed no volatility during the launch – Source: Google Search Console

And now let’s see the performance of shop.leet.hu after the launch! The average position of the new subdomain has firmly gone to a specific level quite rapidly after the launch. It was performing at the same stable level until March 2022.

The organic traffic of the new website started to grow and similarly, it reached a stable level & remained there for a long time. Not to mention the upward tendency we can see in the number of clicks.

Organic performance in terms of clicks and avg position of shop.leet.hu after launch
Organic performance of shop.leet.hu after launching the site – Source: Google Search Console

(note: unfortunately, there was a decline in the new site’s performance starting from March 2023. I wanted to emphasize that after we finished the migration – so after November 2021 -, no SEO work has been done on the new shop.leet.hu website since.)

An Unexpected Positive Effect

I had seen many times on the “old” LEET website that the site speed (and therefore its Core Web Vitals performance) of the eCommerce shop part of it was quite poor. But not the news site part, its load speed was absolutely good.

When the eCommerce part of the website moved to a new subdomain altogether, these poorly performing pages were practically removed from the whole website as a set. Consequently,

the organic traffic of the remaining news site – now without the eCommerce pages – started to increase remarkably. Why? Because now the less quality pages are gone!

(note: unfortunately, when this article is being written, the Core Web Vitals data from November-December 2022 is not available anymore. Thus, I can’t underpin these statements with proper screenshots from the Google Search Console. My apologies!)

This is seemingly surprising, but according to the official Google Page Experience documentation, it was bound to happen. And it did happen as the poor-quality pages were gone.

And if we think about it, it’s kind of logical. If we talk about News site SEO, the strategic goal is to keep the user within the site as long as possible. Or in other words: we have to make users consume as many articles as they can. This is the quality signal to Google.

A site with excellent page load speed underpins this goal. This provides a good user experience, which is awarded by Google in the form of better rankings.

Of course, this would not necessarily happen on other types of websites, but in the case of a News site, we now have another piece of proof: if you improve the user experience of your site, or in other words improve the site from a Core Web Vitals perspective, then higher traffic can be expected.

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