What if, for one reason or another, you realize your current domain registrar isn’t meeting your needs? Maybe they’ve hiked their renewal fees, perhaps their customer service isn’t as supportive as you’d like, or maybe you’ve stumbled upon another registrar offering more advanced features.
However, moving to a new domain registrar can feel like a daunting task that could disrupt your site’s functionality or accessibility. The dread of losing data, or worse, your entire site, is palpable – but don’t worry! If you’re considering a switch, whether for better pricing, customer service, or features, we’ll cover everything you need to know in this article.
Whether you’re ready to make the move but unsure about the process or apprehensive about what a domain transfer means for your WordPress site, we’ve crafted this comprehensive step-by-step guide to assuage your concerns and arm you with the know-how to securely move your WordPress site to a new domain registrar. Even if you don’t want to get hands-on or lack the technical expertise, we have just the solution for you – hiring a Codeable WordPress expert.
Let’s get started!
Reasons for transferring a WordPress site to another domain
Given its importance, transferring a WordPress site to a different domain is a decision not to be taken lightly. It is a strategic action often inspired by a myriad of reasons, including:
- Cost savings: Diverse hosting providers offer a broad spectrum of prices for their plans. A business may opt to migrate its WordPress website to a different domain associated with a hosting provider that provides similar or even superior services but at a more affordable price point.
- Better performance and speed: Website speed and performance can greatly influence visitor engagement, conversion rates, and SEO rankings. If the current hosting provider cannot deliver the desired speed or performance, a business may decide to transfer the site to a new domain hosted by a provider known for better performance.
- Improved security: Cybersecurity is of paramount importance for online businesses. A site might be moved to a different domain with a new hosting provider that offers advanced security features like better encryption, DDoS protection, regular automatic backups, and reliable recovery systems.
- Superior customer support: Customer support is crucial when it comes to website management. If a current host lacks responsive, reliable customer support, website owners might decide to move their WordPress site to a new domain hosted by a provider that offers 24/7 support, expert advice, and faster resolution of issues.
- Scalability: As businesses grow, their websites need to evolve and scale accordingly. If a website owner anticipates significant growth in traffic or content, they might transfer their site to a different domain on a host that better accommodates future scaling needs.
- Provider’s reputation: The reputation of a hosting provider can also influence the decision to transfer a WordPress site to a new domain. A host with frequent downtime, poor customer reviews, or controversial business practices may encourage a site owner to switch to a new provider with a better reputation.
- Need for advanced features: Some hosting providers offer unique features that others don’t. These could include specialized WordPress hosting, staging environments, integrated CDN, automatic WordPress updates, or one-click installations for various scripts. If the website owner needs these advanced features, they might consider transferring their site to a new domain with a host that provides them.
That being said, if the prospect of migrating to a new domain yourself seems daunting or you lack the technical expertise, it’s best to get help from an expert to handle the entire process for you. WordPress developer and Codeable expert, Daniel Stanojevic from PixelDuo, reinforces this idea:
“Since there are many factors that go into a domain change in the database, I’d always recommend hiring an expert to do a migration instead of attempting it on your own unless you’re very familiar with WordPress. The reason being, you won’t be able to work it all out on your own if you’re not familiar with it. Now, you may find a plugin that does it all for you, and it may work or it may not work. But without manually reviewing the whole site, you’re not going to be sure either way, which is why I think hiring someone to do it for you is the optimal path.”
Preparing for the domain transfer: Preliminary steps
Before you begin the actual transfer, there are a few essential preliminary steps you need to undertake to ensure that your site remains operational and secure during the transfer process.
Codeable experts will know the following by heart, implementing all the steps of the domain migration process effectively and efficiently based on your requirements.
Evaluate your needs
Before anything else, it’s crucial to take a step back and assess your needs. Ask yourself:
- Why are you transferring your domain?
- Are you unhappy with your current hosting provider?
- Do you need more features or improved service?
By having clear answers to these questions, you will know what to look for in your new hosting provider and will be better prepared to ensure a successful domain transfer.
Choose a new hosting provider
Your hosting provider is the bedrock upon which your online presence is built; choosing wisely is an investment in the future success of your site. Research various hosting providers to find one that best suits your needs. Look for providers who offer excellent customer service, reliable uptime, and the specific features you require.
Opt for a provider that prioritizes performance and security, ensures scalability, has high-quality customer support, and offers cost-effective plans. Also, leverage a provider that offers hosting plans specifically for WordPress or WooCommerce, which will make installation and management as easy as a click of a button.
Back up your website
Before you start any significant changes, safeguard your data by creating a complete backup of your website. A backup ensures that you have a safety net for your site content, securing it against any unforeseen glitches or losses during the transfer.
The step-by-step guide to transferring your WordPress site
Step 1: Back up your WordPress site and database
This step includes backing up your website files, database, and any other associated content, which can be accomplished in two ways: manually or by using a WordPress backup plugin.
To back up your website files:
- Connect to your website via your current host’s control panel or using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client like FileZilla or Cyberduck.
- Locate your site’s root directory, often named public_html, www, or httpdocs. All of your WordPress files are stored in this directory.
- Download all these files and folders onto your local computer. Remember, this process could take some time, depending on the size of your website.
Using a backup plugin
After installing and activating your chosen plugin, use its user interface to create a backup of your WordPress site. While the process varies slightly from plugin to plugin, it’s intuitive and easy to use.
Next, we’ll back up your WordPress database:
- Navigate to your web hosting control panel, which could be cPanel or Plesk.
- Look for the phpMyAdmin option, select it, and choose your website’s database from the list on the left.
- Click on the Export tab at the top of the page to download the .sql file to your computer. This file is your database backup.
Keep your site and database backup files safe and test them to make sure they are functional and ready to use if something goes wrong.
Step 2: Upload your site files to your new domain
Similar to the initial step, you have two options for transferring your WordPress files to the new domain’s root directory: using your hosting provider’s file manager or an FTP client.
Once the upload is complete, ensure that all files and directories have been transferred successfully to the server.
Step 3: Import your database
- From your new provider’s panel, access your phpMyAdmin, and click on your new database.
- From the tab at the top, click on Import, and upload the .sql file that you downloaded from the initial step.
Step 4: Update your database with your new URL and edit your wp_config.php with your new database information
- From phpMyAdmin, navigate to the wp_options table from the left sidebar.
- Edit the siteurl and home rows and replace the old URL with your new one.
- Navigate to your site’s root folder, locate your wp_config.php, and edit the following parameters:
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘ your-new-db-host-name’);
Step 5: Update permalinks and internal links
To ensure that your site functions seamlessly on the new domain, you need to update permalinks and internal links.
Install a plugin like Better Search Replace to help you with this task. This plugin will update all instances of your old domain in your content and replace them with the new domain.
Step 6: Test and verify your site
With the transfer complete, it’s essential to thoroughly test your site on the new domain. Check each page, post, and functionality to ensure everything is working as intended. Pay attention to details such as contact forms, image galleries, and external links. This step allows you to identify any potential issues and make necessary adjustments.
Step 7: Redirect your old domain (optional):
After successfully transferring your WordPress website to a new domain, it is crucial to establish 301 redirects to ensure a seamless user experience. These redirects serve as a mechanism that automatically directs visitors from the old domain to the corresponding web pages on the new domain, preventing them from encountering frustrating 404 errors.
Implementing 301 redirects not only helps to maintain the positive impact of your previous SEO efforts but also plays a vital role in preserving the authority and reputation of your old domain. It also contributes to the accelerated growth of traffic for your new domain.
If your host provides this, you can conveniently set up URL redirects using the ready-to-use redirects feature. Alternatively, you can leverage popular WordPress SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO to create and manage 301 redirects effectively. These plugins offer intuitive interfaces and functionalities that simplify the redirect setup process, ensuring that your website remains accessible and optimized for both search engines and users.
That’s it – you’ve successfully transferred your WordPress site to a new domain!
Maintaining SEO rankings during the transfer
The last thing you want is to lose all the visibility and traffic you’ve worked so hard to build. With careful planning and execution, it is possible to migrate your site to a new domain while preserving your SEO rankings by implementing the following best practices:
- Set up proper 301 redirects: We covered this in step 7 above, but we are emphasizing the need for it here because it ensures that both search engines and visitors are directed to the right content, minimizing the negative impact on your rankings.
- Maintain URL structure: Keeping your URL structure intact during the domain transfer is essential. If possible, maintain the same URL structure on your new domain to avoid confusion and maintain the SEO value of your individual pages. This includes preserving the same permalinks and ensuring that the internal links within your content remain functional.
- Update internal links: As you migrate your site, it’s important to update any internal links that point to pages within your website. Make sure to update these links to reflect the new domain. This step helps search engines and users find the relevant content on your new domain, preventing any loss in rankings or traffic. This was also covered in step 5.
- Submit updated sitemap: Generate and submit a new sitemap for your new domain to search engines. This will help search engine crawlers discover and index your new website more efficiently. A well-structured and up-to-date sitemap is essential for maintaining your search engine visibility and rankings.
- Monitor Google Search Console: Do this before, during, and after the domain transfer process. Keep an eye out for any errors, crawl issues, or notifications related to the domain migration. Address these issues promptly to minimize any negative impact on your SEO rankings.
- Monitor traffic and rankings: Keep a close eye on your website traffic and rankings after the domain transfer. Use analytics tools, like Google Analytics, to monitor any fluctuations and identify potential issues. If you notice a significant drop in rankings or traffic, investigate the cause and take appropriate action to rectify the situation.
Remember, SEO is a long-term effort, and ensuring a smooth transition will contribute to the longevity and success of your website in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
Codeable’s team of WordPress developers knows exactly what to do when migrating sites to new domains. They’ll handle all of these complex steps efficiently, freeing you from any hassle.
Ensuring a smooth domain transfer for your WordPress site
Migrating your WordPress site to a new domain registrar may be necessary for you due to various reasons, such as better pricing, improved customer support, or enhanced security features. While the domain transfer process may appear complex, taking the time to understand the steps involved and adequately preparing can significantly minimize any difficulties that may arise.
However, it is important to acknowledge that domain transfers can still pose challenges, especially for those who are not well-versed in website management and technical aspects. In such cases, seeking assistance from a Codeable professional can be the best solution to ensure a smooth and successful transfer.
Founded with the objective of offering world-class, reliable, and high-quality WordPress development services, Codeable acts as a bridge between website owners and skilled professionals, providing a platform for seamless collaboration.
Codeable offers a vast pool of pre-vetted WordPress experts who possess in-depth knowledge and experience in handling a wide range of website-related tasks. From site customization to plugin development, Codeable.io’s experts are well-equipped to handle all your WordPress and WooCommerce needs, including the intricate process of site migration.
Say goodbye to the headaches of site migration and let Codeable’s professionals handle the technicalities while you focus on growing your online presence. Submit your task today and experience the ease and expertise that Codeable brings to your WordPress site migration process!
This blog post features Daniel Stanojevic who is the co-founder of pixelDuo, a small development agency focusing on quality over quantity and long-term client relationships. They’ve worked with WordPress and have created countless solutions helping businesses all over the world thrive for over a decade. Since 2013, they also build web applications with the Laravel framework.