Site migration can be a very demanding, detail-oriented process.
What do you do first? Should you hire an expert?
How do you ensure a smooth, seamless transition?
How do you back up your content?
How do you prepare for the worst?
And even if you migrate your site successfully, there are always lingering questions.
One of those questions was submitted to the English Google SEO Office-Hours that was held around November 19, 2021.
At around the 41-minute, 58-second mark, Google’s John Mueller, who usually hosts these sessions, read a submitted question.
(The video below is queued to the appropriate spot, and it’s followed by my best interpretation of what was said.)
The question was:
“We migrated our site about seven months ago to a new domain. Should I remove the old site map from the old site?”
John Mueller replied:
“So usually, when you migrate a website, you end up redirecting everything to the new website. And sometimes, you keep a second file of the old URLs in Search Console with the goal that Google goes off and crawls those old URLs a little bit faster and finds the redirect. And that's perfectly fine to do in a temporary way.
Google’s John Mueller continued:
“But I think after like...a month or two, it's probably worthwhile to take the sitemap out, because what also happens with the sitemap file is you're telling us which URLs you care about.
“And if you're pointing at the old URLs, then you're almost saying, ‘Well, I want my old URLs findable in search.’ And that can lead to a little bit of a conflict in our system in that we say, ‘Well, you're pointing at the old URLs, but at the same time you're redirecting to the new ones. Which one do you really want to have indexed?’
“And at that point, you essentially want to remove that conflict as much as possible. And you can do that by just dropping that sitemap file and giving us all the signals that you can that point at your new pages so that once we've seen that redirect, we can just focus purely on the new pages that you have on your website, or the new domain, or whatever move that you've made.”
If you’re reading this article before doing your site migration, you’re in luck, because as you read, John mentioned a few steps that can be taken during the migration process.