How to Move Your Business Website to a New Domain

Samir Sampat

Moving is never a fun endeavor. Moving homes, even when you are just going across town, can be stressful because you want to make sure that everything ends up in the new place without getting lost in transit. This is also true for those who are moving their business website to another domain or hosting provider. 

But moving blogs, website pages, images and video, and other content isn’t like packing up boxes and loading them into a truck—you’ve got to understand the steps to get your new domain settled without the stress. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to prepare for and execute a domain move. 

First, backup your website 

Once you’ve found a host and domain name, you’re going to need to get everything packed up for the move. Before you do, though, you’ll want to back up your website so that your content is protected should anything get lost in the transition. You can do this with WordPress sites by using a plugin like All-in-One WP Migration or Duplicator, which will allow you to create a package that contains the entirety of your website along with an installer to open the backup file in the new domain. 

You can also use tools like cPanel to access the control panel for the backup, or the FTP method (File Transfer Protocol).

cPanel:

  • Go to “Files” and “Backup Wizard”
  • Make partial backups of your directory, email forwarders, and MySQL databases
  • Navigate to the cPanel in the new host and restore each file individually 

FTP:

  • Sign in or use the built-in File Manager
  • Download the Public_HTML folder and its contents
  • Find the phpMyAdmin in your Databases
  • Click Export, choose “Quick Export,” and then set the format at SQL
  • Click “Go,” and a database file will automatically download
  • Reverse the process on the new domain to restore the site

Check your DNS settings

You’ll want to double-check your domain name system (DNS) settings every time you move or get a new domain. Whether you got it from an independent registrar or you purchased a domain with a hosting package, you need to ensure that it’s ready to create the record so that your domain name is tied to the server and website. Usually, records will be created in the form of IP addresses or in URL form. 

If you’re hosting and registering with the same place, you don’t have to worry about checking or editing your DNS records because they will be transferred and edited automatically. It may take up to 48 hours to complete this verification. 

Transfer the files to your new domain

As mentioned in the first step, you’ll essentially perform the steps backward that you used to back up your website to get the files on your new domain. You’ll need a database and the file archive from your original site so that the server knows where everything goes. Just as you can create backups using WordPress, cPanel, and FTP transfers, you can also add the files to your new domain with these three tools. 

Redirects and broken links

Now it’s time to do a little house cleaning. You want your traffic to make it to the new site, right? Then, you’ll need to redirect everyone from your old site to the new one. Otherwise, those pesky “404 Not Found” page errors are going to plague every visitor. You can do this by getting into your old hosting or registrar account. Then, find and edit the .htaccess file, which can be found in your home directory in most cases. 

When you open this file, you’ll need to add the code below and replace “newsite.com” with your domain name:

#Options +FollowSymLinksRewriteEngine onRewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newsite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

If you do it right, your old domain should now redirect traffic to the new site. If it doesn’t work, you may need to contact the host for assistance. 

Second in housekeeping is to fix all the broken links. In an ideal world, everything should transfer seamlessly, and that includes working links. Unfortunately, though, you may have contextual links or other content that directs back to your old website. Fortunately, there are tools to assist with this:

And yes, although it’s tedious, you have to fix every dead link one at a time. Fortunately, if you’ve done the transfer properly, you shouldn’t have too many links to go back and adjust. 

Don’t forget to tell Google 

The final step is to let Google know that you’ve moved. Just as you have to register for a change of address when you move houses, you’ll also need to register your site with Google so that it knows where to find you. You can do this through the Google Search Console, by installing the Yoast SEO plugin, or by generating your own XML sitemap and submitting it to Google for indexing.

Audit the site

Now, it’s time to go through the whole domain and make sure that everything is where it should be. Fix anything that’s missing or out of place, and make sure that your site looks just as good as it did (or better) in its new home. This is also a time when you might want to let people know that you’re making the change because it can cause service interruptions that mislead people into thinking maybe you just went out of business. Make sure your new home is ready for visitors and that visitors know where to find you. 

When the leads start coming, will you be ready?

If all goes well, you’ll be up and running with your new business website in no time at all. That will mean that you’ll want to have systems in place to field all the incoming leads, including a 24/7 answering service, so that you never miss a single inquiry. When you partner with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, you get that along with assistance for appointment scheduling and lead intake, and even your outreach campaigns

Reach out to hello@smith.ai to learn more, or schedule your consultation now.

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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