How to migrate to Drupal 8- A four step guide

How to migrate to Drupal 8- A four step guide

One of the leading open-source CMS, Drupal caters to giants like Al-Jazeera, UNRWA and Georgetown University. Armed with a strong network of committed developers, shifting to Drupal can be a move towards higher efficiency, provided the move is undertaken with care. A constant concern while migrating is to ensure that the SEO and content value is intact. Prior to making the shift, you must not only pin down the optimal migration solution but also initiate a content audit and make strategies to uphold the SEO value. Before you begin the venture of shifting into a newer Drupal version, make sure all the modules are updated correctly. With proper updated versions, they can be smoothly added to the Drupal installation. If the updates are not available, then you will need to disable them from the source-site and redesign them again.


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Re-visiting or a trip for the first time? Installation and Upgrading

Generally, Drupal distributions are starting points to build a new website. The easiest way to use a Drupal distribution is to carry out a fresh installation. In this case, you will be choosing content from various sources and migrating them to Drupal. While some migration would be simple (copy-and-paste tasks), there could be others where you might need writing of custom migration scripts or using modules like Feeds and Migrate.

Those who are already part of the Drupal system and have a website can do a direct upgrade for exercising the distribution. This will keep the content, users and customized functionality intact. Upgrading to a distribution involves technical skill for troubleshooting and custom data tasks. When you want to upgrade your site to Drupal 9 from Drupal 6 or 7, you have two options: Migrate Upgrade UI and Drush.

Migrate Upgrade UI method is the simpler one carried out through the Drupal site. However, you will have less control on the migration. With Drush, you can select the migration features through extra modules. Also, Drush is run through the command line.

It is ideal to build your own migrations to prevent challenges of data loss and have more control. Make a list of differences in the PHP installation and check through the Backup and Migrate module. Here is a Drupal list of things-to-do before you migrate to the new site.


Mapping the Journey: The Migration Plan- When, where and how

Having a migration plan in place before you begin the process will give you an idea of the financial demands. Make sure you meet with questions that will largely determine success of the migration. What is the time-period for undertaking the migration? Who will lead the team working on migration? Within what timespan will the company expect ROI on the migration? Is the content, metadata, users and tags classified according to the degree of importance to be migrated? What are the challenges you could face? Carry the answers to these questions to the Drupal Development Team. This will allow significant lowering of management and developers’ time, which implies lowered costs.

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Building Blocks for the Website: Content Auditing

Content auditing will allow you to transfer relevant data and give you an idea of the content your website is missing. There are broadly five factors which must feature in your content audit: the kind of content (text, graphic or fusion?), the source of content (curated, original?), the sources of audience, performance-meter (unique visitors, returning visitors, referrals, bounce rate, load time, keywords/ranking, outbound links, location and conversions) and content currency (the value of content in context of the company’s current state- updated or obsolete content?). You can also use online tools like Screaming Frog which will scan your website and create a list of all the page URLs.


Making Home for your Brand: Maintaining SEO Value

When you shift to a new website, you need to carry the website presence and inbound links along. If you fail to do so, then the built-over-a-long-time reputation of the brand will fade away. When content is reorganized for the new website, there could be changes occurring in the page URLs. This implies that they will be dodged by the search engines. To avoid this, make a list of all the URLs which are altering and build permanent 301 re-directs to maintain the SEO strength.


Remember that it is not possible to skip a Drupal version. If you wish to use Drupal 8, then you must travel through the previous versions to land on it.

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Author : Sahana Rajan Date : 07 Sep 2016