Moving your web site

In this post, I explain the two main risks that you face in moving your web site and how moving to the new server/platform can be done efficiently and effectively by undertaking the process properly and following the rules.

The two main risks when moving your website are:

  • Your page and posts have new URLs so all existing links are broken and you lose the traffic coming in from those links.
  • Your search engine rankings suffer as pages get dropped when the search engine robot re-visits the page it gets a “404 not found”.  After a few attempts, the search engine will drop the page.

An opportunity, not a problem

If you are moving an existing site to a new platform like WordPress it is almost certain that your page names and the URL path to those pages will change.   This will cause the problems listed above.  In fact, this is an opportunity rather than a problem, providing the site transfer is carried out properly.

A change in the URL could be of benefit.  e.g a page  is not great from an SEO point of view. A URL that was /tax-planning/inheritance-tax/ is better.

The solution supported by search engines – The 301 Re-direct

So how do you deal with this?  It is quite simple, Google and the other major search engines will follow an industry standard set in the headers of the page.   When a browser or search engine requests the original page (inheritancetax.html) it is re-directed to the new page.  This re-direct is in a special form with a code indicating a 301-redirect.   This code in the headers of the page not only re-directs the browser to the new page it also tells the search engines that the page has moved permanently to the new address.

This means that any links to the old page (inheritance tax.html) that are clicked will arrive at the new page (/tax-planning/inheritance-tax).  Search engines will start to show your new page in their results.  The fact that the page address has now been optimised for search engines will bring extra benefits.

A seamless and efficient transfer.

Done properly it is possible to transfer a site to a new server and platform seamlessly with little or no effect on the rankings.  There is an excellent plugin for WordPress that does all of this for you for every page.  Combined with a plugin that tells you anytime a request is made for a page that does not exist will quickly allow you to correct any errors or missed 301 re-directs.

Do not let the fact that you have an existing website with content put you off considering all the benefits and cost savings that would apply to new Word Press that gives you full control would bring.

If you would like to discuss how I can help in moving your website to WordPress please use the contact me.