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How to Migrate Your Website to WordPress Without Hassle: Migrating an existing website to WordPress can seem like a daunting task riddled with potential pitfalls. But it doesn’t have to be a headache!
By following the proven tips in this guide, you can streamline the transition to WordPress and avoid all the common hassles and hangups.
We’ll walk through smart strategies for moving your content, redirects, images, users, SEO, themes, plugins, and more over to WordPress smoothly. Whether you’re transferring from an old CMS or static HTML site, you’ll find invaluable advice to make the shift seamless.
Ready to move your site to WordPress the easy way? Let’s get started!
Choose the Right Migration Method
The first step is deciding on the best migration method for your particular site:
For simple sites, a WordPress migration plugin may do the trick. Popular options include:
- CMS2CMS – Supports transfers from many platforms like Joomla and Drupal.
- WP Migrate DB Pro – Migrates databases to WordPress.
- Duplicator Plugin – Exports and imports site files and database.
- All-in-One WP Migration – Allows WordPress site-to-site migrations.
Migrator plugins provide an easy option for smaller sites. But they can fall short on complex builds.
You can migrate manually for total control. This involves:
- Setting up a fresh WordPress install
- Copying over posts, pages, images, PDFs etc.
- Installing a compatible theme
- Redirecting old URLs to new locations
- Importing users and comments
- Tweaking SEO elements and metadata
It takes more effort but allows meticulous reconstruction of your site.
Hire a pro
For business-critical sites, hiring a WordPress agency to migrate it is smart. Their experts will:
- Audit your existing site
- Create a migration plan
- Handle the heavy lifting
- Thoroughly test everything
- Ensure no downtime
- Provide ongoing support
The cost is well worth it for complex, high-traffic sites where problems can be disastrous.
Migration Method Conclusion
How you migrate depends on your specific circumstances. For small sites, a plugin may suffice. Bigger sites may warrant manual migration or using an agency. Evaluate your needs and pick the method that fits best.
Inventory All Site Content and Assets
Before actually moving your site over, take time to thoroughly inventory all existing content and assets. This includes:
- Page and post content
- All image files
- Documents and downloads like PDFs
- Video, audio and multimedia files
- Theme files and CSS
- Important database tables
- Metadata like titles, tags and captions
- Users, roles, permissions
- SEO elements like sitemaps and robots.txt
- Analytics tracking code
- Any custom scripts, code snippets or shortcodes
Document everything so you know exactly what needs to be ported over to WordPress. This content audit ensures no resources get left behind.
Set Up 301 Redirects from Old URLs
To avoid broken links and 404 errors after migrating, you need to set up 301 redirects that route from old URLs to new WordPress URLs.
There are a few ways to handle redirects:
- Use a redirection plugin like Redirection or Simple 301 Redirects. This lets you manually redirect old URLs to new ones.
- Add 301 redirect rules in your .htaccess file. You can programmatically redirect entire site sections this way.
- Include redirects in your DNS settings using options like Redirect Mapping (cPanel).
- Manually redirect pages you missed after launch by creating dummy pages that redirect.
Plan your redirects carefully to maintain SEO rankings. Don’t just let links break!
Import Content Into WordPress
Once you’ve installed a fresh WordPress site, it’s time to bring content over:
Import text content
- Use the built-in WordPress importer for blog/CMS content. This pulls in posts, pages, comments, etc.
- Try a plugin like CMS2CMS or PieSync for easier bulk migration if needed.
- Manually create pages in WordPress and copy/paste content from old sources. Add images and formatting.
Bring over images
- Upload all images to a new WordPress media library in batches.
- Run a tool like Velvet Blues Update URLs to update image references.
- Manually fix image URLs embedded in content if needed.
- Re-upload audio, video and documents like PDFs to the WordPress media library.
- Update any links pointing to these files to the new URLs.
Migrating content takes patience but prevents losing valuable assets. Use both automated tools and manual transfers for best results.
Install Your Theme and Plugins
A key step is getting your WordPress site looking and working like your old site:
Find a similar theme
Browse the WordPress theme directory and commercial marketplaces like ThemeForest to find an ideal theme that matches your old look and functionality. Test themes thoroughly.
Install essential plugins
Make a list of key site features powered by plugins. Install WordPress equivalents with comparable features like contact forms, galleries, ecommerce, etc.
Import custom CSS
If you have custom CSS, you can import it into WordPress by putting it in the theme editor. Or create a child theme to hold your CSS.
Recreating your site’s frontend experience helps retain familiarity for visitors.
Verify SEO Elements Carried Over
Search visibility relies on specific SEO elements transitioning properly to WordPress:
- Check that metadata like page titles and meta descriptions carried over accurately.
- Make sure your XML sitemap is present along with robots.txt directives.
- Verify that 301 redirects were implemented so rankings pass to new URLs.
- Submit new sitemap to search engines and update your Google Search Console property.
- Ensure internal links properly connect site content together for crawling.
Don’t lose your hard-earned SEO! Confirm the key elements made the move.
Migrate Email Lists and Users
Retaining your website users and email subscribers makes the change transparent:
- Export email lists and import to a WordPress plugin like MailPoet or ConvertKit.
- Use a tool like User Importer to transfer over your users and match previous roles.
- Manually recreate any custom user meta during import.
- Send emails announcing the move and how to login/subscribe in WordPress.
Keeping users and subscribers onboard prevents losing your audience. They’ll appreciate a smooth transition.
Stick to a Rollout Schedule
When launching your migrated WordPress site live, follow this rollout schedule:
- Turn on maintenance mode on old site a week before launch.
- Redirect all traffic to new WordPress site for first 2-3 days.
- Keep old site’s DNS active at original URL in maintenance mode during initial period.
- After a few days, switch DNS settings to point to WordPress site.
- Shut down and remove the old site once fully retired.
This gradual rollout allows you to closely monitor the new site and avoid downtime. Take it slow!
Migrating your website to WordPress doesn’t have to be a migraine inducing process. By planning it out properly, inventorying your content, redirecting links, verifying functionality and features, transferring over users and data, and sticking to a rollout schedule, you can make the transition seamless.
Follow the advice in this guide and you’ll move your site to WordPress smoothly without all the common hassles. In no time your visitors won’t even notice a change happened! They’ll just enjoy the powerful benefits and flexibility that WordPress provides.