In the entire time of a website’s existence, the toughest decision for a website owner is the choice of website migration. Given the number of online tutorials available on the Internet, migration might seem like a cakewalk. However, it can be a frustrating experience for newbie developers.
Migrating a WordPress website involves moving the entire site’s data from one domain to another, one host to another, and several others. Let’s see what kinds of migrations a website can probably ask for.
- Migration to a new Host/ Server
- Moving a WordPress multisite
- Moving WordPress from local host to server
- Moving from sub domain/subdirectory to root
Now, these types of migrations will require different types of checklists and procedures to carry out. We took the freedom to mention these types here so that you can refer to these search terms whenever you need them, like a friendly reminder. You can keep these pointers handy so that you can check them out, if there is a need in the future.
Particularly, in this blog post, we will discuss the generic checklist for non-technical people so that we can help you in the migration of your WordPress site. However, before we begin, you must be aware of the reasons why you might need to migrate your website. If you do not find your reason listed here, let us know in the comments below.
Reasons for migrating a website
There can be many reasons for rebranding your website. Your business might have grown, or you might just want a fresh look of your website. You might have to overhaul your website to catch up with a new trend or technology. Rebranding your website is always a good thing to do because it brings about a newer version of your existing website. So, if rebranding is your reason, you can move forward with your WordPress site’s migration.
Better domain availability
Not a lot of people do this, but if a better domain becomes available for your existing website, migration could be a good move. A domain name is just as important as your website’s content. A short and SEO-friendly domain name is important for any website. So, if there is an available domain name that you have been eyeing for a while, go for it and migrate your WordPress site.
If your website has been penalized for a serious number of times due to issues like keyword domains, hidden links, spamming, plagiarism etc.; now is the time to migrate your WordPress site to another one. Also, you should give up on these practices and make sure that you never commit these errors to avoid Google penalization.
So, let’s begin with the rundown.
The migration checklist
Begin with a complete backup of your existing WordPress website. This is the most important step towards a hassle-free migration of your WordPress website. Make sure that you double check the backed-up files to ensure that you haven’t missed any data.
You must also back up the theme files, uploads on the site, installed plugins, and the complete website database. If you manage to skip any of these, your migration efforts will fail and the new website won’t be completely functional.
To accomplish the backup successfully, you have two methods at your disposal. You can either backup the entire content through your website’s cPanel or use a WordPress backup plugin like BackupBuddy to help finish this process.
The selection of a new host
If you haven’t already, we suggest that you upgrade your website’s web hosting provider to a better one, whenever you are migrating. Given the fierce amount of competition in the market, you can always land up with an affordable deal where you can get the maximum number of features. The best WordPress web hosting provider will ensure that your new website is secure, speedy, and awesome.
Don’t lose your SEO rankings
Amidst all the confusion regarding the migration of their WordPress site, many website owners will forget that they need to retain their SEO rankings as well. If they fail to do so, the entire website will have to start at zero. To ensure that your SEO efforts are maintained, always use a Duplicator plugin to ease this transition time. You can follow the instruction to use a Duplicator plugin so that your website downtime is also under check.
Always make notes
There are always one-off manual settings and changes that we keep introducing to our WordPress websites to keep them running. These changes can be anything ranging from a manual change in the site’s theme or a generic change in a plugin’s code. Always note these down before you begin to take down your existing website.
Before you start the whole migration process, you must note down any issues that you specifically want to remove from your new website. If you have them in writing, you will be able to address them properly without any confusion.
In the migration process, there will be things that end up broken. Since links are crucial for your website’s SEO, make sure that you check them twice with tools like Online Broken Link Checker and get them fixed.
The 404 Page
Always design a suitable 404 page so that your existing audience is re-engaged. You can get a bit creative with the designing and work smarter so that the 404 page appears relevant to your WordPress site’s theme, design or layout.
The game of URLs
While the migration of your WordPress website will bring about some changes in your new website, you can make efforts to ensure that URLs stay the same. To keep this in a loop, you must note down your old URLs. After the migration is complete, check that your 301 redirects are working properly.
Migrating an existing website is a tough task. We agree that a lot of research and awareness can go into this process, if we want to get this done the right way. With this checklist, we hope that we have covered the basic tips that will help you with your pre- and post- website migration issues.
For a detailed migration guide, kindly refer to the WordPress codex.
If you have some website migration tips up your sleeves, feel free to share them with us through the comments below. We always look forward to receiving your feedback and suggestions.