Whether you’ve had your site forever or just a little bit, there are legitimate reasons for wanting to change your url (aka domain name) to something else. Moving your site from one url to another means you have a lot of technical stuff you have to do so you don’t lose any data. Please refer to WordPress’ codex documents Moving WordPress for a complete ‘how to’ on doing this safely.
I’m a graphic/web designer. Moving WordPress is even scary for me! Don’t worry if you are freaked out. It happens to the best of us!
If you don’t think you can handle it at all and as long as your are staying with the same host, you can you usually can pay a fee at your hosting company to do it for you. If you are changing hosts and URLs, you would have to hire a web guru OR ask your new hosting company if they offer that service.
If you think you can do it all by yourself, there are a couple of helpful WordPress plugins when changing URLs that you can use before, during and after your site migration.
Pro Tip: WordPress comes with a Import/Export Tool already built in the admin panel. It’s located in Tools > Import/Export.
If you only want to save your blog posts and don’t have media files/themes/plugins/settings you want to transfer, this method would be the easiest method of migrating. Here is the WordPress codex for importing/exporting.
Helpful WordPress Plugins When Changing URLs (Before, During, After)
Before You Migrate
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
The VERY first thing you need to do before moving your WordPress site is back it up. Do not proceed if you haven’t. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Seriously, don’t risk it. UpdraftPlus is my favorite backup plan. They do have a paid version that can automatically schedule backups, but the free version is fine.
UpdraftPlus does have ‘site migrator’ tool for about $30. I bought it, but eventually got a refund. The Clone Site/Migrate tool wasn’t user-friendly for me so I just did it the super-techy old-fashioned way. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work, it just didn’t work for me. (See below for another option for site migration)
ProTip: Keep this plugin even after migration and remember to keep regular backups of your site just in case something breaks. You can connect this to your DropBox to save your files online.
If you don’t know how to migrate your site, the Duplicator plugin promises to give WordPress administrators the ability to migrate, copy or clone a site from one location to another. The plugin also serves as a simple backup utility. I haven’t used this but it has high ratings.
Pro Tip: Watch the tutorial videos for Duplicator.
Easy Pie Maintenance Mode or WP Maintenance Mode
I recommend doing all your heavy moving for your URL at a time when your site doesn’t have a lot of traffic, probably after midnight. For those few late nighters that might be pinging your new URL, you can put up a ‘sign’ that tells them that your site isn’t quite ready yet.
Pro Tip: Remember to ‘deactivate’ maintenance mode once your site migration is complete!!!
Once your Site is at New Url
Velvet Blues Update URLs
We all have links inside our posts that might refer our traffic to the old URL. This Velvet Blues Update URLs plugin was a life saver for me and it could NOT have been easier to use! I didn’t have to comb through hundreds of post to find my old URL and replace it with my new one.
Pro Tip: Along with typing in www.YourOldURL.com, also type in other variations in the find/replace (like YourOldEmail@YourOldURL.com, http://YourOldUrl.com or YourOldURL without any http or www appended), that way it finds any reference to your old URL.
Broken Link Checker
When moving to a new URL it’s a good idea to download the Broken Link Checker plugin and keep it on for a couple weeks to make sure your site is working properly. If you have a broken link it will display it in your WP Dashboard and on the side navigation as a little bubble with a number indicating the amount of broken links it has found.
Pro Tip: I don’t recommend leave this plugin on long term as it eats away at your load time, BUT turn it on from time to time to check things out!
If you are moving URLs and updating your theme, you might notice your thumbnail images look a little skewed. The Regenerate Thumbnails plugin will help you to batch process your thumbnails to match the new default thumbnail size of your theme.
Pro Tip: This plugin also helps when you’ve made changes to your default image sizes in your Settings > Media.
Other Pro URL Migration tips:
- Make sure that your email ‘incentive’ link isn’t broken, you don’t want a bunch of pissed off subscribers emailing you because you forgot to check this very important link!
- Don’t forget to tell Google.
- Don’t forget to tell your users via social media or email update.
- Don’t forget to change all your URLs on social media.