Day 2: MozCon Recap for Magento - Website Migration and Customer Strategies

Day 2: MozCon Recap for Magento - Website Migration and Customer Strategies

Taking care of your customers and website migrations.

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Day 2 of MozCon 2017 is over. It did not disappoint. There continued to be action items, detailed information, and helpful pointers. The focus today was more in relation to website optimization and how to serve visitors coming to your site.

Before I continue, I need to mention one thing that I feel has regressed this year in relation to the MozCon quality: language. In my opinion, the use of profanity (by almost every speaker) is not professional.

Read Day 3's recap here: website optimization strategies

My two favorite sessions today were Better to be Thanked than Ranked by Will Reynolds and Site Migration: Redirects, Resources and Reflections by Jayna Grassel.

Better to be Thanked than Ranked

Will Reynolds shared a powerful story: as someone who runs a search-engine-optimization-focused agency, a major goal for him was to rank in the top ten for keywords relating to search engine optimization. In 2012, he got that. He was positions 2 or 3 for many related searches. In addition, he also got a lot of worthless leads that were taking up his team’s time in answering their questions. Shortly thereafter, Google dropped him from the results, and it led him to rethink his strategy.

Instead of focusing on keywords and getting to the top of Google, he switched gears and focused on what their customers wanted and needed. He built content that they appreciated and were interested in. The results? His revenue skyrocketed.

It’s all about empathy.

I think it is easy to get into the trap of thinking about us and our company. Instead, Will makes the powerful case to think about our customers as they would like to be thought of: real people with real problems that need real solutions.

He said we need to be talking to our customers and learning from them, using their verbiage to describe the problems that we solve. A good example shared was a composite decking manufacturer. Why would people pay for the significant up charge to go with this type of decking? From a company’s perspective, it might be color or engineering consistency. Instead, what really mattered to the consumer was no splinters.

How does this relate to Magento? Unfortunately, there is not a button that you can click to make your site have more empathy and relate to your visitors. This more relates to your usage of Magento and how you build your products, your categories, and CMS pages.

Here’s an idea on how to improve the content on your product pages. Chances are your customer service reps (CSRs) are answering the same questions on a regular basis. If there are such questions, that means that a customer is browsing your website, and is interested enough that they pick up the phone or change to a different program on their computer to email you. If these customers have that much patience, how many others just click “back”? Instead, what if you were to put a questions and answers section on the website? You could install a module, or you could just add it to the bottom of the product description. Creating the discipline to track these common questions and their answers will save you tremendous time and money. It will also likely increase your revenue.

Site Migration: Redirects, Resources and Reflections

Site migrations are something that are rightfully preceded with healthy respect. After all, the way that your customers find your website might drastically improve or regress. Of course, we all hope that the former happens.

Google is out of our control, and a new website can throw the smart search engine into a tailspin due to not understanding the new layout of the website.

Jayna works for Dicks Sporting Goods. In January 2017, they released a new website. The scale at which they did this was massive, but the lessons they learned can be applied to all.

One major aspect of a proper site migration are the url redirects. With many site migrations, there is a platform change. This means that the new system will likely understand different URLs. Since Google will be sending traffic to the “old website” for some time, we need to redirect our visitors (and Google) to the corresponding new page.

How do you do this in a Magento site migration? There are a number of ways (.htaccess, custom scripts), including using Magento’s URL Rewrite system. When to use each is a separate article (wait for it!).

Magento’s rewrite system, while limited, can accomplish everything you need. It is found in the admin panel, Catalog menu, URL Rewrite Management item.

To create a new rewrite:
  • Click Add URL Rewrite
  • For most cases, you will want to use the Custom rewrite type. This allows you to specify any original location (the originally 404 page due to the new website) and the destination.
  • You will be presented with another form. Here is what to enter:
    • ID Path: this is the name of the redirect. Usually I just copy the original url here, as most often, this isn’t helpful.
    • Request Path: this is the URL that your visitor is wanting to visit. Because of the new website, they can’t visit this page anymore.
    • Target Path: this is where you really want them to go. Copy the path of everything that is after your domain name. For example, in, enter “new-product-page” into this field.
    • Redirect: Choose Permanent (301). This tells Google that this is a permanent redirect and that it won’t change. The other option is a temporary 302 redirect.

The overarching message that Jayna shared was to be prepared but also patient. Do everything you can do for the migration: redirects, canonical urls, robots.txt to name a few. But also be patient.

It will take 3 months for rankings to stabilize.

After the new launched, their search rankings tanked. It took three months for Google to learn the structure of their new site and return the rankings back to original, or even better.


Day 2 of MozCon was great. There was tremendous content and brilliant speakers. The challenge is that unless we put into action what we have learned, learning does us little good.

What content do your visitors need? Are there unanswered questions that they have when visiting your website? Maybe your competitors are answering their questions, but you aren’t. Giving your visitors the information they need when they visit your website is exceptionally important.

An important part of a website migration or transition to a new platform is ensuring all of your pages are redirected. Magento has an easy technique for doing this. Please make sure you know that all redirects are in place before “flipping the switch” on your website.

Other MozCon 2017 Recaps to Read:
Read Day 1's recap here: email and video tips
Read Day 3's recap here: website optimization strategies
SwiftOtter, Inc.
It relates to Magento 2.
Joseph Maxwell - president / senior developer at Swift Otter

President / senior developer at SwiftOtter - @josephmaxs