Here’s the complete guide to migrating (or moving) your wordpress website to a brand new domain name, without:
- sacrificing seo
- losing all your link juice
- or dramatically decreasing the amount of traffic you get.
A few things you might want to know before we get started:
1. You will need to buy the Backup Buddy wordpress plugin to follow this guide.
2. Switching to a new domain name will affect your search engine rankings as Google adjusts to the changes.
3. You will lose domain authority which is also important in ranking highly on Google.
The great part is that you can dramatically decrease the negative effect the migration will create by Doing It Right – and this is what this guide is for.
3 Reasons Why You Might Be Looking To Migrate
1. Rebranding Purposes – Maybe your blog’s brand has gotten a bad rep throughout the years and you’re just looking to start off with a clean slate. Moving to a new domain that no one is familiar with might be the first step.
2. Widen (or Narrow) the Scope of the site – Some bloggers start off with a domain like YogaFitnessForKids.com and may find that their market actually consists of busy moms looking to get into Yoga.
The blogger then decides to widen the scope of the site to attract more busy moms and calls it YogaFitnessForAll.com – or vice-versa.
3. From Personal to Brandable – This was my reason, with a bit of number 2. You may be running a site that brands you (like I was) and want to switch over to a domain that fits better with the things you’re talking about on the blog.
I wasn’t just writing about blogging here. I discussed building an audience of people using search engine traffic as well as social media; while optimizing your site to convert more visitors into subscribers.
When I looked at the entire site from a 10,000 foot view, it all fell nicely into one simple concept that I’ve come to accept and believe in. Which is…
Inbound Marketing… the process of using non-intrusive media strategies (blogging, seo and social media) to get your audience to come to you; as oppose to blasting out email ads, paying for flashing banners, and using interruption marketing to get attention.
If you’re considering moving to a new domain, what’s your reason for doing so? Let us know in the comments below :0)
The 10-Step WordPress Migration Guide
IMPORTANT: Before we get started, please note that this guide is not for moving your wordpress site to a new server or web host. Some of the steps are the same but there’s more to that process.
This is for you if you want to go from YourDomain.com to YourNewDomain.com on the same server and hosting company. Great – let’s get to it…
Step #0. Domain & Hosting:
I’m creating this with the assumption that you already have your new domain registered and that you have applied hosting to it. If you haven’t done this step, this is the time to do it.
- Get a brand new domain name
- Get it hosted and then move on to step #1.
Step #1. Perform a Full Back-Up
I used the Backup Buddy wordpress plugin to do this step. The plugin isn’t free, but it is awesome and easy to use.
All you have to do (after you install it and activate it) is click on Backup and Restore under the Backup Buddy settings.
Once you reach this screen (screenshot below) simply click on ‘Full Backup‘ and the plugin will begin creating a file with all of your content, posts, pages, plugins, comments, files, images, media, etc.
and step 1 is done!
Step #2. Download the Backup to your Computer
Depending on how much content you have on your site, the backup can be done quick (a few minutes) or it might take a bit longer.
Once the backup is finished, you’ll see the link to your backup in your Backup Archives. You’ll find that on the same page you’re on now. (screenshot below)
Click on this link to download the backup file to your computer and save it on your desktop for easy access. You’ll need this backup file for step #5.
Bam.. Step 2 down!
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Step #3. Download the Import Buddy Script
Your backup file is most likely downloading right now, so let’s do step 3 and 4 while we wait.
The backup buddy script is what makes Backup Buddy an awesome plugin. We’ll be using this script later to restore our wordpress blog on the new domain.
All you have to do now is download it to your computer (on the desktop again for easy access) and move on to step 4. The download link is on the same page as step 1 and step 2 – it’s titled “ImportBuddy”
Step #4. Create a New My SQL Database
Depending on which hosting company you’re with, this process will be a bit different, but the end result should be the same.
- Database Name:
- Database Username:
- Database Password:
This info will be needed when we’re running the import script on your new domain and importing your blog. If you get stuck creating a database and attaching a username and password to it, contact your hosting provider and they should be able to help you out.
Step #5. Upload the Backup File & Import Script
At this point you should have the backup file and the import script downloaded on to your computer’s desktop. Now it’s time to get it on your new domain.
Open up Filezilla (or your favorite FTP software), log in and go to the root of your new domain. Drag your backup file and the import script to the root of your new domain and let it upload.
…and that’s it for step 5!
Step #6. Run the Import Buddy Script & Follow The Instructions
At this point both the Import Buddy script and the Backup File should be uploaded on to your new domain. The rest is super easy. Just run the import buddy script and follow the steps.
Make sure you have the Hostname, new Database Name, Username & Password in hand because you’ll need this information. (but you knew that already)
To run the importbuddy script just go to: www.YourNewDomain.com/importbuddy.php
Step 1 of 6: Select the backup file you want to import (it will most likely detect the file automatically)
Step 2 of 6: Select MIGRATING
Step 3 of 6: Backup buddy will extract all the files – Press next step when it’s finished
Step 4 of 6: Enter the Hostname, New Database name that you created, as well as the Username and password.
Step 5 of 6: Once you reached step 5, the migration is done and you can click on “Delete Backup File”
Step 6 of 6: Congratulations, it’s done.
But we’re not done yet… let’s go to step 7.
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Step #7. Install the Search and Replace plugin.
Your new domain might still have content that direct visitors to your old domain. This plugin makes it easy to search for that text and replace it with your new URL.
So once you activate the plugin on your new wordpress site, run a search for YourOldDomain.com and replace it with YourNewDomain.com – this is a pretty simple process, it should take you about 3 minutes to do.
Step #8. Check Everything – not once, not twice but 5 Times.
Check the links. Check the posts. Check the navigation bar. Check the images. Check the opt-in forms to see if they still work. Check everything to make sure your site is an exact replica of the old one.
…and make sure that the Search and Replace actually worked by seeing where the links take you. Here’s another issue that you might encounter. I noticed that all of my apostrophes turned into diamond symbols when I migrated.
This literally took me hours to figure out and thanks to a blogging buddie, Brankica, who led me in the right direction, I found two lines of code that fixed the problem.
Here they are: and all I had to do was add these lines to my wp-config.php file and presto – it was as good as new.
- define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8′);
Step #9. This is the BIG Step – Permanent 301 Redirect
Once you’ve checked everything, you need to perform a permanent redirect from your old domain to the new one.
This is extremely important because it will let the Big Gorilla (Google) know about the changes you’ve made – AND every visitor that lands on one of your old posts will be redirected to your new site.
Awesome! Here’s how you do it.
Open up Filezilla and go to the SERVER tab. Under the SERVER tab you’ll see the option to ENABLE > “Force Showing Hidden Files” – This will allow you to see and access the .htaccess file that you need to edit to perform the redirect.
Open up the .htaccess file on your OLD Domain and copy and paste this code (with your domain in it of course) on the very TOP of the file:
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.ENTER-YOUR-NEW-DOMAIN-HERE.COM/$1 [R=301,L]
Then simply save it and visit your old Domain to witness the redirect for yourself.
Step #10. Let Google Know About The Change
I highly recommend going to your Google webmasters account and submitting a change of address. To do this, click on your verified site and on the left hand menu, click on Site Configuration. (Screenshot to the right)
Under Site Configuration, you’re going to click on Change of Address. Just enter your new domain, verify it and you’re done!
Leave them in the comment section and if you found this guide useful, please share it
Here are a few of the people who’ve used this guide to successfully move their wordpress site to a new domain.
Ali Macaluso says:
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! You just saved me some serious time and aggravation! Plus, you mentioned my girl Brankica so I knew I could trust you This is great!!!
Step by step and really informative tutorial …. I migrated it for the first time and succeeded without a single mistake. Thanks a ton !!
Claire Seet says:
Thanks for this. The plugin recommendation has saved me from going blind trying to copy and paste into phpmyadmin directly.