Move WordPress Blog to a New Domain

Few days back, I moved Techthumbs.com to RoadToBlogging.com. The whole process was a bit rough, though it didn’t cause much difficulties. Some steps were a bit tricky. While these steps are still on my brain, I thought it would be better to write the whole process for others who are willing to move their WordPress site to a new domain.

I run my blog on WordPress. It’s probably the best Blogging software. In this post I will be writing how to move your WordPress blog to a new domain. At first glance, it sounds scary. But actually it’s not that grimy. If you follow the steps correctly, there is almost no chance that your contents will get messed up. Though I must admit, moving the files was little scary to me. Hostgator did that task for me. Their support is really praise-worthy.

Let me describe the steps to you. Follow these steps correctly in order to regain your blog’s SEO aspects. Most importantly, you won’t lose your organic search traffic. Now let’s focus on how to move your WordPress blog to a new domain.

How to Move WordPress Blog to a New Domain

Step 1 

Backup your site completely. So that you can restore everything just in case something goes wrong. You can use Backup Buddy plugin. It’s a premium plugin. With this plugin, you can backup not only your database but also all your files. Other plugins backup only the database.

Step 2

Go to your old domain’s Dashboard. Go to Tools from the left Sidebar and Click on “Export”. Now Select “All content”. Selecting this will export all your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, nav menus and other custom posts.

Download the .xml export file. Save it somewhere on your PC.

Step 3

Grab a copy of “wp-content” folder of your old site. You can find this folder in the root folder of your domain. All your themes, plugins and other uploads are placed in this folder. You can have this folder in two ways –
(a) Go to your domain’s File Manager through cPanel. Compress the folder and Download it to your computer.

(b) You can also get this folder using any FTP application like FileZilla. It will require you an FTP account.

Step 4

Now install WordPress on your new domain. You already know how to do that. After installing, login to your WordPress Dashboard using http://www.yournewdomain.com/wp-login. Change “yournewdomain” with actual name of your domain.

Step 5

After logging in to your new domain’s Dashboard, go to Settings – General and set up WordPress address and Site url to be the same – either with or without www. Now go to Permalinks settings and Set permalinks EXACTLY the way it was in the previous domain. This step is very important. Later on you will have to redirect the old domain to the new one. If you don’t set permalinks correctly the redirection won’t take the visitors to the corresponding post or page. So Be careful with this step. Permalinks for both the domains should be SAME. Otherwise your post and page links will be all messed up.

Step 6

Now you’ll have to upload compressed wp-content folder to your new domain. Extract all files in wp-content folder. This new folder will be created while Installing WordPress on the new domain. Actually you’ll be overwriting the new folder with the old one. You can upload this folder the way you downloaded. Either through cPanel or FTP client. This will take much time if you have a lot of posts, images, plugins, themes.

Step  7

Go to Tools – Import from your WordPress dashboard and then select “WordPress” from the list. You’ll be asked to install a plugin “The WordPress Importer”. Click “Install now” and then click “activate & run importer.

On this screen Choose the .xml file you exported from the old domain. Upload the file. Once the file is uploaded, you will have all your posts, pages and comments from your old domain.

Step 8

Activate your theme- the one which was activated in your old domain. You can activate different one if you wanna change the design. Activate all plugins which were activated previously. Don’t forget to check out plugin settings. (this shouldn’t be a problem anyways, but do check them for safety).

Step 9 

Now you need to change your urls – the urls you use in your new site. This could be the urls that reference to your old domain as links within your post, category links in a custom category bar, links in navigation bar and so on. Don’t worry. You don’t have to update them manually. These can be updated with a plugin. Update URLs WordPress Plugin will update links automatically.

Step 10

Now double check everything in your new domain. Check whether everything look exactly like the old domain and your new site is a replica of your old site. Also check your links whether they point to the new site. If everything’s alright, now it’s time for the 301 redirection. 301 is a permanent redirect which notifies the search engine bots that the site has been moved permanently to another domain or link. It is highly recommended by Google and other search engines for moving a site. You must use it if you don’t want to lose your SEO aspects of the old domain. 301 redirect also bring forward SEO benefits of the old domain to the new domain.

To do a 301 redirect open .htaccess file of your old domain and add the following snippet to the top of the file. Save the file.

#Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www. yournewdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Now go to your old domain and you’ll notice you are redirected to your new domain. If you visit any other page of your old domain you’ll get the corresponding page on the new domain.
Voila, You just moved your WordPress site to a new domain. There is one last task you need to do. You need to tell Google that you’ve moved your site. You must have a Google Webmaster account and also your old domain verified on that account. Now add the new domain and verify it following the guidance of  Google Webmaster. In your Webmaster dashboard, click on the old domain; on the left expand Site Configuration and click on “Change of address”. You will have 4 items. 3 of them will be covered while completing above steps. Item 4 is where you give your new domain.

Add your new domain. Now Google will crawl your new site and index pages. Don’t forget to Submit your sitemap in Google. This will help Google index pages quickly.

That’s it. You are all set to rock with your new domain. Don’t worry about SEO, traffic and other stuffs. You will achieve them within a short span of time.
Here are some articles you can check out for your newly installed WordPress blog :

Let me know if you face any difficulties while moving your WordPress blog to a new domain. I will try to help you.  Share the post with others if you found this heplful. You can also Subscribe to RSS feed for daily updates.

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Istiak Rayhan
 

Istiak Rayhan is the founder of RoadToBlogging.com, a blog that aims to make bloggers' journey easier. Istiak loves to help newbie bloggers to build a better blog. Here's more about him.

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