How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Do you wish to move your WordPress to a new domain? Here is the information you need to know before moving WordPress to a new domain without losing SEO.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Every WordPress development company must be aware of the hassles that the entire process brings. However, the change ensures massive benefits to the business website, and thus, it should be planned and executed very carefully.

While there will be some temporary fluctuations in the SEO and search rankings, but you can quickly minimize the larger impact when migrating to a new domain. Moreover, when the migration is done following the desired steps, your business can quickly regain its search engine ranking and improve WordPress site speed.

But, are you aware of the proper way or steps to follow when making the change to a new domain? If not, don’t worry, we are here with the required information. We are here to present the right way to move WordPress to a new domain without loosing SEO.

Things to Know Before Making the Change

  • The migration to a new domain will surely impact your SEO rankings; however, the impact will be temporary as the search engines need time to adjust to the change.
  • The migration will also temporarily affect your search traffic. Keep in mind that this is normal and happens when the website migrates to a new domain.
  • You should have a WordPress hosting account and understand the web hosting control panel for a smooth migration. You can hire WordPress developers to get the required help in understanding the basic concepts.

Now, with the idea of the things you should be aware of when moving WordPress to a new domain, let us look at the steps that need to be followed.

Steps to Follow to Move WordPress to a New Domain

The WordPress development company should follow these steps to ensure a smooth transition to a new domain:

1. Create a backup of your WordPress website

To begin with, the first thing that should be taken care of is creating a complete backup of the WordPress site. This duplicate package of your website will be used to create a duplicate website for convenient redirects from the old domain to the new one.

The WordPress development company uses the Duplicator plugin for maximum convenience to back up the old WordPress site. It is a free backup and migration plugin.

2. Make the required database for the new domain name

Before migrating to the new domain, your old WordPress website would need a new SQL database to unpack. Thus, you should be particular in creating the required SQL database to improve WordPress site speed post-migration.

You can skip this step if you have already created the database. To make a new database, visit the hosting account’s cPanel, scroll to the database section and click on the ‘MySQL Databases’ icon.

3. Unpack the old WordPress on the new domain

Now upload the duplicate website files to the new domain. To make this process simple, connect to your new domain name using the FTP client. Once the connection is done, make sure that the root directory of your website is absolutely empty.

After this, you can easily upload all the required files from the duplicate website to the new domain without any hassles. If necessary, hire WordPress developers to get the required help while unpacking the old WordPress to the new domain.

4. Confirm the permanent 301 redirects

301 redirects are useful to direct the users visiting your old website domain to the new website domain. They play an important role to deliver amazing SEO and user experience. Adding them to your website will automatically redirect all your customers and search engine requests to the new domain.

Make sure a WordPress development company confirms the permanent 301 redirects as soon as possible to bounce back with stable search engine rankings and SEO results. You can set up the 301 redirects by the following 2 methods:

  1. Using all-in-one SEO
  2. Manual method

5. Notify Google about your new domain

Once all the above-mentioned steps are complete, you need to notify Google about your new domain. This will help Google find your new website easily and quickly to display the same in the search results.

4 Reasons You May Want to Move Your WordPress Site to a New Domain?

I’m sure you’re wondering — if there are risks associated with migrating a website to a new domain, why do it?

There are several reasons moving a website to a different domain would be beneficial. Here are the most common ones:

  • When you rebrand: Changed the name of your business? Then you may want to change your website’s domain name, so it aligns with your new brand.
  • You purchase a better domain: Moving domains is also a good idea when you find a domain that better matches your business and vision.
  • You want to upgrade from a free domain or subdomain: Perhaps you started your website on a free domain, and now it has grown to the point that you need to upgrade.
  • Moving a development site to the live URL: Most developers prefer developing a website on a separate or local server until complete. Once done, the development site will have to be moved to the main domain.

What to Know Before You Change Domains

Before you start, there are a few things you should know.

The process of transferring to a new domain will temporarily affect your search engine rankings, since Google and other search engines will need to adjust to the changes.

Yes, this will also temporarily affect your search traffic as well. Please keep in mind that this is normal, and it happens to all websites that switch to a new domain.

However, you can dramatically decrease the SEO impact by following this guide. We will show you the right way of moving your WordPress site to a new domain name, setting up proper 301 redirects, and notifying search engines.

Please note that this guide is not for moving WordPress site to a new host. This is for switching a domain name only. While the process is similar, there are a few extra steps involved in this process. These extra steps will help you to protect your SEO rankings and traffic.

Lastly, if your old website is on WordPress.com, then you need to follow the instructions in our guide on how to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org instead.

Pre-Steps: What You Need to Get Started

In this guide, we are assuming that you have your WordPress website setup on oldsite.com, and you are trying to migrate it to newsite.com.

We are also assuming that you already have a WordPress hosting account, and you are familiar with your web hosting control panel.

You’ll also need to know how to use an FTP client like FileZilla, or how to edit files using the File Manager app available under your hosting account dashboard.

In case you don’t have a web hosting provider or are looking to switch to a new one, we recommend using Bhosting (great for small sites + comes with a free domain) and either SiteGround or WP Engine (great for larger sites or online stores).

Once you have those things in place, you’re ready to start the process!

Step 1: Create a Duplicator Package of Your WordPress Site

The first thing you need to do is create a full backup of your WordPress site. We’ll use this backup to create a duplicate of your website, so you can set up the redirects properly from your old domain to the new one.

While there are many WordPress backup plugins available, we’ll be using Duplicator which is a free backup and migration plugin.

Let’s start by installing and activating the Duplicator plugin on your old domain name. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Once activated, the plugin will add a Duplicator menu item in your WordPress admin. You need to click on the Duplicator menu, and then click on the ‘Create New’ button to create a new package, or copy of your WordPress site.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

After that, you will be asked to click on the Next button to continue.

Duplicator will now run the website duplicator wizard. First, it will run some tests to see if everything is in order. If the plugin finds an issue, then you will see a warning with instructions.

If all items are marked ‘Good’, then click on the ‘Build’ button.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

The plugin will now start creating a duplicator package of your website files. This process may take a few minutes depending on the size of your site.

Once finished, you’ll see download options for the Installer and the Archive package. You need to click on the ‘One-click download’ link to download both files to your computer.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

The archive file is a complete copy of your WordPress files. It includes your WordPress themes, permalinks settings, plugins, uploads, and any other files created by WordPress plugins.

The installer script is a PHP file that will automate and run the WordPress migration by unpacking the archive file.

Step 2. Create a Database for Your New Domain Name

Before you can move your WordPress site to the new domain, you’ll need a new SQL database to unpack WordPress on your new domain name.

If you have already created a database, then you can skip this step.

To create a database, you need to visit your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard, scroll down to the ‘Databases’ section, and then click on the ‘MySQL Databases’ icon.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Note: Your hosting control panel may look slightly different than the screenshots. However, you should still be able to find a Databases section with an option to create a new database.

Simply provide a name for your database and then click on the ‘Create Database’ button.

cPanel will now create a new database for you. After that, you need to scroll down to the MySQL Users section.

Next, provide a username and password for your new user and click on the ‘Create a user’ button. Make sure to note the username and password in a safe place.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

The new user you just created still does not have permission to work on the database. Let’s change that.

Scroll down to the ‘Add User to Database’ section. First select the database user you created from the dropdown menu next to the ‘User’ field. Then select the new database you just created and click on the Add button.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Your database is now ready to be used for moving WordPress to the new domain name. Make sure to note down the database name, username, and password. You’ll need this information in the next step.

Step 3. Unpack WordPress on Your New Domain Name

Now you need to upload the Duplicator files you downloaded earlier to your new domain name.

The Duplicator package includes your WordPress installation as well. This means you don’t need to install WordPress on your new domain.

First, connect to your domain name using an FTP client. Once connected, make sure that the root directory of your website is completely empty.

After that, you can upload the archive and installer files to the root directory (usually it is public_html).

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Once both files have finished uploading, you are now ready to unpack WordPress.

Open a new browser tab and go to the following URL:

http://example.com/installer.php

Don’t forget to replace example.com with your new domain name. This will launch the Duplicator migration wizard.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

The installer will look for the archive file. You need to check the terms checkbox and click on the Next button to continue.

Now, the installer will ask you to configure your WordPress database information.

Your host will likely be localhost. After that, you will enter the details of the database you created for your new domain name in the earlier step.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Once done, click on the next button to continue.

Duplicator will now unpack your WordPress database backup from the archive into your new database.

Next, it will ask you to update the site URL or Path. You shouldn’t have to change anything since it automatically detects the new URL of your domain name and its path.

If it doesn’t, then you can change the URL to your new domain name. After that, click on the next button to continue.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Duplicator will now finish the migration.

You can click on the ‘Admin Login’ button to enter the WordPress admin area of your website on the new domain name.

How to Easily Move WordPress to a New Domain (Without Losing SEO)

Step 4. Set Up Permanent 301 Redirects

The next step is to point users arriving on your old domain name to the new domain. This is done by setting up 301 redirects.

301 redirects are very important for SEO and user experience. Adding them will allow you to automatically redirect users and search engines to your new domain name.

In other words, whenever someone lands on a post or page on your old domain, they will be automatically redirected to the same post or page on your new domain, instead of seeing a 404 error.

To keep your redirects in place, you’ll need to keep your old WordPress installation active so it can continue to redirect to the new one you just created.

There are two ways to set up the redirects. The first method is easy and just takes a few clicks. The second method requires you to edit files manually.

Method 1. Set Up 301 Redirects With All in One SEO

For this method, we’ll be using All in One SEO (AIOSEO). It is the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market and allows you to easily optimize your WordPress website for SEO.

First, you need to install and activate the All in One SEO plugin on your old domain.

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