The domain transfer is done! Shuaism is now JoshSPeters and I’m going to kick it off with a post about the 5 step process of moving your WordPress blog from one domain to another.
- Purchase your new domain from a reputable host like Blue Host or Dream Host.
- If you don’t have them already, setup a Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools accounts. If you previously didn’t have a GWT account add your old blog to it because you’re going to need it later. Do this right away.
- This is also when you would want to setup Google Docs or Gmail for your new domain if you were using it with your previous blog. Or if you weren’t then now’s a good to time to start.
2. Install WordPress on The New Domain
Most hosts have a quick and easy WordPress install that only takes a button click or two. After that it’s all settings, plugins, themes, and widgets. If you aren’t lucky enough to have one of those hosts you can find all of the directions you’ll need for an install on WordPress.Org.
There are dozens of settings that can be optimized in WordPress by default and adding a premium theme can add even more, but there are some basic ones which can be used to help optimize your new blog.
- Users – Make sure that your admin profile is setup properly. Check the name, the email, links, and bio are all setup the way you want it to be.
- General – Setup your site title, tagline, date, and time settings.
- Writing – Check out your writing settings to ensure your posts will look they way you want them to.
- Permalinks – By default WordPress numbers all posts so your links looks like this joshspeters.com/123 which isn’t very descriptive or useful for SEO. Change it to include title of your post.
One of WordPress’s greatest strengths is it’s ability to be transformed and enhanced by plugins. There are tens of thousands of plugins available. The list of plugins below are WordPress plugins that I consider to be essential and two of them are necessary when moving your WordPress blog from one domain to another.
All of these can be installed by searching for the name of the plugin in the the “Add New” Plugins area or by clicking on the links below, downloading them, and then uploading them via the same “Add New” Plugins area.
- Akismet – This one comes with WordPress by default and helps reduce spam. To get yourself an Akismet code go to WordPress.Com or the akismet site and sign up.
- Google Analytics – This plugin makes using GA on your blog easy as copying and pasting a code.
- Google XML Sitemap – Automatically creates an XML sitemap that you can submit to Google Webmaster Tools.
- HTML Page Sitemap - Automatically creates an HTML sitemap that you can submit to GWT.
- Remote Database Backup – Get a backup of your site emailed to you or linked for download as often as you would like.
- Sharing – I prefer ShareThis, but AddThis is another popular way to enable sharing on your site.
- WordPress Download Monitor – Easily manage any and all files you want to have available for downloading from your blog / site.
- WordPress Importer – This is a vital plugin as it will help you easily import your old blog to the new blog.
- WordPress Mobile Pack – Makes your blog mobile friendly without having to configure a lot of options or settings.
- SEO – If you’re not planning on using a premium theme that has SEO options built in then I would recommend using All In One SEO or Yoast to help with your blog’s SEO.
- Commenting – Using a 3rd party commenting system can increase the functionality of your commenting. I prefer Disqus, but Intense Debate and Facebook Comments are other popular options.
- Redirection - A plugin that helps makes 301 redirects so you can get everything pointing to the new blog (installed on your old blog not the new one).
Themes come in 3 broad categories. Free, Premium, and Custom. Free Word Press Themes can be found on WordPress.org or under the Appearance / Themes in your WordPress dashboard. For the majority of bloggers a free theme will do just fine and many have customization options to keep it from looking like everyone else.
If you desire more options, features, and versatility you might want to use a Premium option like Headway Themes (aff), which is what I use. It’s incredibly versatile, has built in SEO features and a “drag and drop” design editor. Finally there are people out there than can make you a custom theme that suites your needs and tastes.
These are the items that make up the right, left , or both sides of your blog. If you have custom widget codes on your previous blog then you will want to copy that code over to your new blog so that everything is setup to look and feel as much like your old blog as you want.
3. Export and Import Your Blog Content
On your old blog go to Tools -> Export and export all of your blog posts. If you have other files, images, etc. that do not get collected here for the export then you will need to log into the file manager with your host or use your FTP access to move content from your WP-Admin and WP-Content folders on your server (I had to do that with the Seth Godin ebooks). After you have all of your content exported and or moved sign in to your new blog and go to Tools -> Import to import your blog posts.
I spent about 10 hours (2 hours a day for 5 days) setting up 301 redirects for everything on Shuaism to redirect to the corresponding post on JoshSPeters using the Redirection Plugin mentioned above. I did this for all posts, pages, categories, and tags. The old root URL (shuaism.com) was redirected to the new root URL (JoshSPeters.com) using the cPanel at my domain host.
I did this manually for several reasons. I changed the URL structure a little to make it more SEO friendly. I also removed some pages and wanted links to their URL to point to a new pages. I also did it manually because I didn’t know about this nifty little WordPress 301 htaccess trick.
Now that you have all of your content moved over, your blog looking and feeling the way you want it to, and all of your redirects done you’re in the home stretch and the last bit of this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two at the most.
If you’re using a service like Feedburner to publish your blog’s feed then all you need to do is log into your Feedburner account and change the blog address and the feed name and you’re done. If you’re using something else then you’ll have to check with your provider or use this as an opportunity to start using Feedburner.
Change of Address
Google Webmaster Tools has a feature in it to help you help Google know that your blog has moved to a new address. Sign in to GWT and click on the name of your old blog. On the left hand side click on Site configuration followed by Change of address and fill out the form.
After you have everything done, redirected, setup, changed, and forms submitted you need to go and update your blog and your blog’s feed on all of your social profiles. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, aggregators, and anywhere your feed was being republished through. This will ensure that all of your new posts get published out and linked back by all of your existing social media and online properties.
Email your friends, family, coworkers, associates, etc. that would be interested to know that you have moved your blog to a new address. Send out Tweets, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. updates and bookmark your new site on all of your favorite bookmarking and linking sites. Get the word out and maybe you’ll even attract a few new readers.
That’s it! You’re done! While this can all be accomplished in the span of a single Saturday with maybe a bit of Sunday morning thrown in, but if you’re as busy as I am lately then this process will take you a week or two. Celebrate by kicking back with your favorite beverage and bask in the glow of your new found ability to move a WordPress blog from one domain to another.
Thanks for reading,
Josh S Peters
p.s. If you have any tips or advice on doing this more efficientlyplease put them in the comments below. Thanks.