This post gives you the exact instructions for migrating a WordPress website to a new domain name. This is commonly done when a business name change or rebranding is being executed. This strategy allows for all external links to remain intact while search engines learn to attribute the SEO rank to the new website.
The Domain Change Strategy
This approach involves setting up a second website on the new domain name and redirecting everything to the new domain. This is different than some strategies which simply change the domain name on the existing WordPress website to the new domain. The benefit of this approach is the ability to keep all the good back links and search engine results positions you've earned over the years.
General Approach Features:
- No website downtime
- Keep all search engine ranking placements
- Transfer search engine ranking to the new website
- Keep the existing website available for a time in case there is a problem
Pro Tip: If the website is integrated with any 3rd party systems or has a store through WooCommerce or another shopping cart, this guide is not for you. We recommend you seek Professional help to make sure the data stays in-sync on both sites throughout the process and to make sure all the integrations continue to work.
Instructions For Moving The WordPress Website To A New Domain
- Old Site: Take a backup of the existing WordPress installation using the "All In One Migration" plugin and save it to your computer (Note if the size of the file is over 500MB you will need to purchase the Unlimited extension to this plugin to restore it)
- Old Site: Install the plugin: Redirection
- New Site: Setup a blank WordPress installation on the new domain name
- New Site: Restore the backup on the WordPress installation running on the new domain
- New Site: Test that absolutely everything is working and appearing correctly on the new website
- Old Site: Go to Tools | Redirection and setup a new redirection as follows:
Source URL: /(.*)
Target URL: https://newsite.com/$1/
The result is that all public pages on the old site now redirect to the new website and keep the URL intact so that all links properly forward to the new domain
- Update various other systems to use the new domain name: Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Facebook, Google My Business, other directory listings
- Eventually you will want to deactivate the existing hosting account and simply forward the old domain to the new domain. When this is done all SEO benefit will be lost so make sure the new website is ranking in search results before completing this step. We recommend waiting at least 4 weeks, but this is more about the traffic shifting to the new domain rather than a number of calendar days