Don’t try to move your website or update your theme without packing up the most essential items: Your WordPress database and all your posts and images.
Before you move your site, you must pack
It’s rare that someone chooses to move and leave all their worldly goods behind. But that’s exactly what some people do when they relocate their website to a new host or upgrade their website’s theme, or replace their existing static html site with a dynamic CMS based website.
There are two essential steps to prepare to move your site or change your hosting: back up and the creation of an inventory of all pages by creating a sitemap.
If you are going to undertake a hosting change you or your web developer must do these things in order to have an easy move.
Back up your site
By not backing up or copying your site’s content you risk losing it all in the transfer. Before doing anything, back up both your theme and your MySQL database if you have a content managed website.
You can use Filezilla to make copies of all your website directories and files, saving them to your hard drive. Or if you have a WordPress site, can use WordPress’ export tool to allow you to export all your data neatly.
Create a sitemap
Next, build a sitemap of your existing site capturing all URLs and relationships of pages to each other.
You can use Google’s Webmaster Tools to create a sitemap, or if you have a WordPress self-hosted site you can install the most popular WordPress plugin, Google XML Sitemaps. But what if your site is not a WordPress site? How do you create a sitemap? Either with Google’s Webmaster Tools or with an online tool such as XML Sitemaps.
After you move your site, you should create 301 redirects which will prevent the loss of your SERP (search engine results pages) referrals. When you setup your new site, especially if you are not maintaining an exact copy of your previous site’s structure, need to set up redirects for every page which previously existed and which no longer exists in your new site.
As with preparation for any trip, your digital data needs good planning. And tidy packing. Happy Travels!
Photo By: Drew Coffman