I rebuilt the website in a live production environment which goes against traditional convention. But I wanted to see in real time how GenerateBlocks would affect Google rankings and I didn’t want to just “go live” with a 100% brand new dev site and risk tanking the rankings. This was a high revenue e-commerce site with about 25 sales pages and about 40 landings pages.
Here’s the process I followed…
I would go into each Avada page individually and clone it. I would open the clone and force Gutenberg to load, and I would rebuild the layout by hand while remaining in Draft mode. I saved common elements to reuse later which made future page rebuilds easier. In many cases, I was just duplicating pages and tweaking the guts. Once the page changes were done, I would swap out the page slugs, go live with the GenerateBlocks version and store the old Avada page builder version in Draft mode. (It’s always nice keeping a backup.)
I only made 1-2 page changes initially and waited 2 months to see how Google liked the page. So the site existed in this weird Avada/GenerateBlocks hybrid mode for a few months. The layout spacing looked wonky because Avada just didn’t play well with the GB page builder.
After I saw Google was fine, I started rebuilding all the pages one by one using the same steps. Clone, rebuild the clone with GB, swap page slugs and go live. It was a painful, page-by-page migration. All the while, I kept an eye on Google to make sure it liked the changes.
Once all pages were done, I finally swapped the Avada theme for the GeneratePress theme during low traffic hours. I had previously installed GeneratePress in a test subdirectory and tweaked the CSS so I had all those tweaks copied in Notepad and going live was a matter of pressing a few buttons, changing logos and colors, changing page layouts on salespages to full size, and pasting the CSS.
Other miscellaneous stuff I did…
- Over the years and upgrades, Avada had filled the WP database to almost 180mb of useless wp_postmeta, wp_options and other junk data. I went through the WP database and performed a thorough cleanup using MySQL scripts. I did not use a plugin for this!! That dropped the database down to around 50mb which further improved response times. I also cleaned up a lot of deleted plugin junk along the way. MySQL queries are your friend.
- Avada left behind SO. MANY. BROKEN. SHORTCODES. Especially on the blog. My database cleanup included finding those broken shortcodes and removing them. Again, MySQL scripts are your friend. Just make a backup of MySQL before you start!
I’m currently running with a Pagespeed score of 97 mobile/100 desktop and the results are reflected in Webmaster Tools as can be seen below. Can you see the date Google picked up the final changes?