Every business eventually has to undergo the process of site migration. It is a broad term which describes an event when several aspects of the website could be changed. Website migration cases can be of moving a host, changing domain, changing URLs, moving to a new server, changing UI/UX of the site, or simply moving from HTTP to HTTPS. One of the most common migrations that businesses undertake is changing the web hosting provider. These could be simply due to the availability of a better hosting plan that might be offering an existing hosting plan for a better price with more features.
Whatever the reasons may be for migrating your website to a new host or transfer hosting, it is crucial for you to do it right. While Google’s support guidelines do not cover a lot about the impact of migrating web hosting providers, one wrong move may result in a significant loss in traffic and revenue. These could last for weeks or even months before your website starts receiving the normal traffic. It could also gravely hamper your SEO which may prove catastrophic for your business. To ensure that you do not run into any such problem, here is a checklist of seven essential tasks that you should consider while migrating your web hosting provider.
- Calculate the Risks and Be Prepared for any Eventuality
There are many risks involved when you plan to migrate the website to a new host. As a website owner, it is essential to calculate the underlying risks and plan for any unexpected situations. Website migration is not as easy as it appears on the surface. You should list the things that can go wrong while migrating your web host, such as fall in SEO ranks, loss of crucial data, major service interruption, and be prepared with a backup plan. Your IT admin should be ready with an alternate plan if things were to not go as per the original roadmap.
- Create a Backup of the Data
While migrating a website from one web host to another, it is necessary to have a backup of everything. You can download the data as a local copy or upload it to cloud servers such as Google, OneDrive, etc. If anything were to go wrong during the migration process either due to a manual or technical error, this backup would allow you to restore your website to its previous state. Not creating a backup will prove to be a fatal error for your website if things were to go south during the web host migration process.
- Database and Website Files
Before the migration of the website to a new web host, the database and the website files need to be transferred to the new web host. The database and files will have to be imported to the new web hosting account. The website files can be uploaded with the help of FTP into the public_html directory. It is crucial to remember that if you are using plugins for migrating databases, it might not cater to images, media files, plugins, etc. You will have to download them separately and upload to the new web host account.
- Transfer Domain Name
While technically not necessary, transferring your domain name can make things easier to manage. After you move your web host, you can choose to either continue using the domain with the previous web host or transfer your domain name too with your new web host. The former will require you to switch the DNS so you can continue with a new web host while the domain is registered with the former web host, while the latter will require you to switch domain name registrars so that all your settings remain the same, but the billing and customer support is transferred.
- Remove Broken Links and Errors
Migrating to a new web host is refurbishing the website without losing the data and the domain authority that you have gained over the years. So, it is essential that while doing the web host migration, you remove the flaws present in the earlier website. These include broken links which were present in the earlier website. You should not transfer them to the new web host and ensure that these are identified and removed or redirected as required.
- Setup a New Robots.Txt File
This is one of the most important technical aspects for the migration of a website on a new host. If the website is being migrated to a new web host with the same URL, then the robots.txt file may not be changed. However, it is possible that the older robots.txt file may have been blocking the redirects. In that case, you may want to update it to ensure optimal results. If the website is also being transferred to the new URL along with a web host, then you definitely have to set up the robots.txt file to get the best results.
- URL Structure
It is imperative that you ensure that the new URL structure does not hamper your SEO. It is essential that you also update your internal links immediately after migration to help your users jump from page to page on your website. Having too many redirects will slow down the server impacting your SEO while also resulting in a negative website experience for your users.
Migration of a website is a difficult task, and the process needs to be carried out with utmost care. In case of an error, you can lose anything from your SEO to all your data. Having said that, with the right migration, your website can get benefits of better web hosting services which could increase its speed, security, SEO, etc. If you are not confident of executing these tasks, it is always better to turn to professionals or reach out to your new web hosts for guidance. These precautionary guidelines should help you in safely migrating to a new web host without having to worry about losing your data, SEO, or your customers.
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