How to Migrate WordPress Website to a New Domain And Retain SEO Score?

Many website owners at one point in time need to migrate their WordPress website to a new domain. While the process is easy and straightforward, the main complication arises with SEO or Search Engine Optimizations. If you’ve spent money on your SEO efforts and are enjoying higher rankings, then those could get wiped off within minutes of changing your domain. But there is a way with which you can retain those hard-earned SEO metrics for your new domain.

Preparations before WordPress Website Migration

Before you initiate the migration process, there are few things you need to keep in mind. First is that you cannot eliminate temporary effects. Your search rankings will be affected for some period of time because search engines need to adjust to the rankings. Thus, do not get scared if you see slump in your SERP rankings or traffic. But over time, you’ll see improvements.

Also before you migrate, it’s recommended that you take a backup of your existing site. This is to ensure you can always recover your website if anything goes awry.

You can either use FTP or a plugin software to take this backup and download in ZIP archive.

Migrating WordPress Website to a New Domain (Without losing SEO scores)

After the backup is out of the way, you can start with migrating your WP website to your new domain in a way that it doesn’t affect your current SEO scores.
  • Create Database for your new domain
The first thing have to do is create a database that will store your website files and make it access to your visitors. If you’ve already created the DB, then feel free to move to the next step.

You can create the database from your account cPanel dashboard.
  • Log in with the credentials and visit the “Databases” menu.
  • From the option, select “MySQL Databases” since WP uses MySQL as database.
database.png

  • Create the database and give it a name.
database1.png

  • Next, create an user or users that can access the newly-created database by clicking on “Create a user” button.
database2.png

  • Now complete the “Add a User to a Database” section which will give the users access to the database
Now your database is set and ready to be accessed by the users.
  • Upload and Unpack your ZIP file
Once you’re done with the database part, you need to upload the files for the new domain. The best way to do is through an FTP. Connect to you domain through FTP and navigate into your root directory. Make sure the directory is completely empty, otherwise they may interfere with the WP files.

Start uploading the ZIP package and installer files onto the root directory. Now it’s time to extract the files. Visit mynewdomain.com/installer.php and replace mynewdomain with your domain name.

Just follow the steps and you’ll successfully unzip the package.
  • Set up 301 Redirects
To retain SEO scores, it’s very crucial to set up 301 redirects for your old domain. This is a permanent redirect and informs Google and other search engines that they should transfer the SEO juice and scores to the new domain. If you do not set it up, nor Google your website visitors would be able to find your new domain.

To set up the 301 redirect, you need to edit your .htaccess file.

Connect to your old side using FTP and open the .htaccess file that is present in the root directory, just below the core folders. Paste the following line of code at the beginning:

Code:
#Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newwebsite.com/$1
[R=301,L]
Save the changes and exit. To check the implementation was successful, head over to your old domain from your browser. If it automatically redirects you to the new domain, then you’ve set it up correctly. If not, you might have to recheck for typos or something.

Now you’ve successfully migrated your WP website to a new domain. The 301 redirect will ensure your SEO scores recovers faster than usual.
  • Update on your Google Search Console
The final thing you need to do is update the Google Search Console. With this, you’re asking Google to index your new website.

Log into the GSC and put in your new domain name. Now switch over to the older version of GSC because we want to make some changes to the old domain.
  • From the gear icon, select “Change of Address”
  • The console will ask you the newer domain from the drop down menu
  • Now to test 301 redirect, click on check button
  • Hit the submit button to confirm the change of address request
So that’s about it. If you have an email subscriber list, you can send them an email regarding change of domain. You’ll see an initial slump in rankings, but should recover in longer term.
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