A Quick Incoming Link Test for Site Migrations

Both at work, and personally, I’ve been involved with a number of site migrations. Obviously, you want to make sure that all your redirections are working before you pull the trigger on something like this. This is particularly important for SEO reasons, as you don’t want to hand the GoogleBot the HTTP equivalent of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Ultimately, it would behoove you to put together a comprehensive test suite, hitting all your urls, and checking the returned pages details, and this is what I’ve ended up doing in the past. However, you can also throw something together really quickly if you have your site in Google’s Webmaster Tools and Apache’s free JMeter tool either as the starting point for a test suite, or an additional SEO sanity check.

Get the Incoming Links

Webmaster Tools gives you access to a piece of Google’s picture of what’s linking to your site (a component of how they rank your site). We’re gonna need that data, so from the main menu on the left: Search Traffic > Links to Your Site. Then, under “Your most linked content” click the “more →”. That page will list a max of your top 1,000 incoming links. Click the “Download this table” button and you’ll get a a CSV file. Here’s a few screenshots if you need them:

How I Roll (from computer to computer)

As I’ve been going through the process of switching over to a new MacBook Pro this week, I’ve been noticing that it’s a lot less painful process then it was once. I think a big part of this is the use of new-ish technologies that allow me to not only move from one computer to the next with ease, but work on multiple computers at once as well. Let’s take a look:

Mail

Although it may seem trivial to most people these days, the fact that I don’t have to move any mail (and contacts, and calendars) around when I switch computers is a convenience that most of us take for granted. We use Exchange here at work, and I’m a Google Apps user for my personal mail. So, for migration I connect Mail.app to exchange and I immediately have all my email, contacts, and work calendar. For my personal mail, I just install the Google Notifier app, and use the web client. Now I’ve got my mail, I’m getting my mail, and we move the next step.

Firefox

Yes, I’m still a Firefox user, and I’m currently using the 4 beta. For a long while, I had been a beta user of their sync functionality, which at the beginning was called weave. Anyway, you just set up an account, pick some (hopefully strong) encryption passwords and keys, and like magic everywhere you use Firefox and add a bookmark, it will be synced to the cloud, and back to every other instance of the browser you use. This is unbelievably convenient. FYI – Chrome has a very similar functionality called Chrome Sync if you are so inclined. I’ve never tried it, but would if I switched to that being my primary browser. So, back to migration: fire up the machine, install Firefox 4, username/password entry, bookmarks synced. Moving on.

OSS Software

There are a fair amount of my day-to-day tasks that require the use of some open source software. To this end, I’ve been using the Homebrew package manager on OSX. Although this isn’t in sync with my old machine, it makes finding and installing a lot of the software I need quite trivial. For example, to install git I type “brew install git” into the terminal. I probably had a lot of stuff installed on my old machine I never use, or only used once, so in this case I prefer to start clean and add as I need. With some of the base software I needed installed, we’re on to the next step.

Version Control

My job involves a fair amount of coding, and to that end, I’ve got all sorts of folders full of source code on my machines. Working with that code in multiple places is extremely easy if you embrace source control. All of the major projects that I work on are in subversion, but I must say my favorite system is now git. In fact, it’s so damn easy to set up, I’ve put pretty much all of the little projects I’m working on into it as well, and sync them to another box I use. If you’ve never used it, definitely check out Brian and Hector’s tech talk and give it a shot. So to migrate to the new box: just check out the projects as needed to the new machine. Easy!

Non-Code Files

If you’ve never used Dropbox before, you’re seriously missing out. It’s another one of those tools that have become an integral part of the way I work. The basic idea is that you have a folder on your computer that is synchronized across every machine you install it on. If I’m working on anything non-code related that I want to have with me when I switch computers, it just gets dropped into my Dropbox, and when I fire up the next machine it’s there. In addition to full machine to full machine, I’ve found that Dropbox is also my go-to way to get files to the iPad, whether it’s a few images I want to show some, PDFs I’d like to read, or a presentation I’d like to review. If you’re not a user: Get an Account (and as a bonus, I get a little additional free space if you use my link!) So, for migration: install Dropbox, files appear. And on we go.

Note: I’m not a security expert, and I haven’t done a lot of personal investigation into the overall security of Dropbox, so I base my claim that it is relatively secure on the facts on their page about the topic. Having said that, the way I feel safest if I have to store any personally identifiable or sensitive information on there is to use a TrueCrypt drive that resides inside my Dropbox folder. This way, if it is somehow compromised, there’s a whole other set of hoops someone would have to jump through to get at my info.

Conclusion

At this point I’ve done very little work, and am nearly completely functional on my new machine. All that’s left is to install the software I use on a day to day basis, and my migration is complete.