How to Move Your WordPress Site to Another Host (And How to Avoid Screwing Up)

There are very few people in this world who find migrating a WordPress site from one host to another to be fun, stimulating, or rewarding. Yet sometimes it’s the only logical option. And if you find yourself in this set of circumstances, you need to ensure you know what you’re doing.

Generally speaking, there are two major types of WordPress migrations. You’re either migrating your WordPress site to a new host and keeping your current domain name. Or you’re migrating your WordPress site to a new host and a new domain.

Let’s take a look at each one:

How to Migrate Your WordPress Site to a New Host (But Keep Your Domain Name)

This is the most common type of WordPress migration and also a lot easier than the alternative. By keeping your existing domain name, you avoid one of the more frustrating aspects of the migration process and can focus on a simple shift to a new host.

The migration from one host to another will differ slightly depending on the parties involved. If you’re migrating to Bluehost, for example, you’ll need to follow a specific set of steps that are different than if you’re migrating to another host.

Having said that, here’s a basic look at the steps involved:

  • Step #1: Choose a new web host.
  • Step #2: Backup all WordPress files.
  • Step #3: Set up your new hosting account and migrate
  • Step #4: Switch DNS record settings

Granted, each one of these steps requires some time and technical work. However, the overall process is much easier than you’d assume.

How to Migrate Your WordPress Site to a New Host and New Domain

If you’re migrating to a new host and switching domains, things are a bit trickier. Here’s a brief rundown of what this process looks like:

  • Step #1: Choose your new web host and registrar
  • Step #2: Backup all WordPress files on your current site
  • Step #3: Create a new hosting account, then migrate your site and domain
  • Step #4: Establish all 301 redirects from the old domain and inform Google that you’ve changed your domain name.

That’s obviously an oversimplified look at what needs to be done. But it should give you some much-needed perspective as you move forward with everything.

WordPress Migration Mistakes to Avoid

Depending on the circumstances you’re facing in your WordPress migration, you may be prone to any number of issues. Here are three common mistakes that you can and should avoid:

  • Failure to plan. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Gather your team and make sure everyone is on the same page. At the very least, this dialogue will facilitate a smoother handoff.
  • No SEO strategy. SEO is one of the biggest risks/most sensitive aspects of a migration. Unless you have extensive knowledge as it pertains to the latest SEO best practices and principles, you’ll want to consult an SEO expert before making the move. They can outline the exact steps you need to take before, during, and after migrating.
  • Inadequate testing. Your job isn’t done after moving your site and watching it go live. You need to test everything from SEO and page loading speeds to redirects and website functionality. Inadequate testing could leave you with undetected issues that suppress your website’s performance for months to come.

You can’t control everything, but you can certainly plan ahead, develop an SEO strategy, and perform thorough testing. And if you do these three things, you’ll give yourself every chance of being successful.

Make Your Migration Smooth and Effortless

No website migration goes off without a hitch. It’s a challenging process with lots of moving parts. But you can make it smoother and more effortless by following a migration checklist and keeping everything intentional and orderly.

A good migration checklist will pay special attention to key elements like:

  • Verify that all content is in the proper place. This includes headlines, body copy, meta data, images, etc.
  • Are all new URLs mapped correctly? Are your redirects following proper protocol?
  • Technical checks. Stay on top of things like robots directives, robots.txt, canonical URLs, XML sitemaps, page speed, etc.

Carefully consider the unique factors affecting your website and plan accordingly. The more you prepare in advance, the less problematic issues will be when they arise.

Here’s to a happy, smooth, and fruitful migration!