Any kind of moving can cause headaches, but moving to a new web host is seriously stressful – made worse by not moving your site properly or not understanding how to move the type of site that you're currently running. If you don't know how to move your site at all, I recommend hiring someone that does.
Before you do that, though, make sure that the person you hire has:
- Experience moving the type of site that you're running (blogs are different from eCommerce sites)
- A proven track record
- A clear plan
Without these things, don't spring for that new hire – it could cost you dearly in the end. What happens if you don't move to a new host properly? You can lose all of your current site rankings. You can lose any credibility you had with Google. All of your SEO efforts will go out the window. You may lose your site readers or customers. Yeah, that's not where you want to wind up.
Steps to Take
Here's what you need to do (in order) before you move your site (if you are moving it on your own, that is):
Sign up with a solid new host and choose the right hosting package. To do this, conduct your research, ask around to find out what friends and family members use, and always compare rates and packages before you decide on any one company. You can also read reviews on this site.
- Back up your current site on the new host.
- Make sure your DNS points to your new host.
- Make sure that Google recognizes the change.
- Shut down your old site.
On paper, this looks simple enough, but so many things can go wrong when it comes to backing up your site. Because we don't want you to fail at this task, here are some additional pointers – but you'll really need to get precise and professional help if you have no idea what any of this means!
- Backing up your blog means backing up your MySQL or whatever other databases you currently use to backup posts.
- Backing up a static site means moving the entire file structure.
The goal is to have two identical copies of your site in two different places before you shut down your old site. Otherwise, you'll close your old site and lose a ton of information from that site – information that can never be found again. So, yeah, this is tricky business.
A Domain Change
It's not a great idea to change domains if you can help it. If you can't help it, make sure that your old site directs to your new site. How? By using a 301 redirect. Just add that redirect to every page on your current site, so that visitors are automatically redirected to your new domain. Is this time-consuming? Kind of. Is it necessary? It is if you want your current site visitors and clients to find your new home. Again, moving domains isn't always a great option, but sometimes it's unavoidable.