a migration and rebranding guide – WAU

In the world of digital marketing, a lot of reasons can lead you to migrate a website, blog, store etc. However, this involves many uncertainties. So many, that many companies simply give up or delay important structural changes for a web business. Will I lose rankings on Google? My traffic data? I can commit some […]

In the world of digital marketing, a lot of reasons can lead you to migrate a website, blog, store etc.

However, this involves many uncertainties. So many, that many companies simply give up or delay important structural changes for a web business.

Will I lose rankings on Google? My traffic data? Can I make a fatal mistake for my business?

To shed light on all these doubts, I will teach everything I learned when we received a mission here at Websites Are Us. This challenge was nothing short of transforming our old blog dedicated to editors – Write For Web – in a place made for the freelance community from all over London.

And so the Websites Are Us Community blog was aired. See all the subjects that we will cover with this true epic of marketing.

  • Domain migration and redirection: we were written for web.com and became community.rockcontent.com.
  • Addition of SSL: we didn’t have the green lock yet.
  • Treatment of results via Google Search Console: this tool was already essential, and now it will give strength to SEO recovery.
  • Rebranding: change of visual identity and blog name.

The result? It was laborious, but successful!

We spend 80% of the time on planning and 20% on execution, and recover lost traffic in just 30 days. And you can learn everything now. Check it out below.

From Write To Web to Websites Are Us Community

If you have been following Websites Are Us’s work for a long time, you may know Write For Web. It was the name of our blog dedicated to the acquisition of freelance writers for our marketplace!

Write for the web

However, over time we expanded and started to offer jobs for other types of content production: revision, creation of guidelines, design and others. This automatically made us a large community of content producers in London.

We felt that the blog needed a radical change, motivated by this and other points:

  • We wanted to bring the Community of Freelas closer to the company Websites Are Us.
  • Become a freelance authority in London.
  • Install SSL across the domain.

That’s how we changed our name, domain and expanded our editorial calendar.

Rock Content Community

On April 18, 2017, with around 500 posts and a monthly traffic of 20,000 sessions, we transformed the writesparaweb.com.br into community.rockcontent.com.

New look for the Rock Content Community

How to plan a full domain migration

The best way to organize this process is with planning. In this case, I would say that 80% of the time was spent coming up step by step and anticipating all possible problems. Only 20% of the time was spent on execution, and only when we were ready.

Therefore, I recommend that, before performing a migration, keep this in mind.

Mess with URLs, change of domain, server etc. It will impact your ranking. Today, that is a fact.

What you should think about is: how can i minimize the impact generated by a domain migration?

That’s how we created the guide to follow. Check out:

Step # 1 – Backup your entire database!

If we are going to work with the source and destination of a website’s data, it is better to have an immediate restore point in case something goes wrong. Therefore, the first step is to perform a recent and updated backup of everything.

This can be done in several ways, depending on your technical limitations. So I have listed some possibilities below.

But I already say that my favorite way to backup is using the ManageWP plugin. As it is a WordPress blog, it had all the backup and migration features that we used in the process.

First option: Backup via cPanel – done through the hosting server

CPanel is a very popular website hosting control system. It has a graphical interface that contains several tools to manage your server.

Although not present in 100% of hosting services, cPanel is very common and can be found in most of them.

If this is the case, you can perform a backup using a specific wizard: Backup Wizard.

Backup via cPanel

Option 2: Backup via WordPress plugin

Several WordPress plugins can perform the backup for you. In this case, if you have other directories within your domain, it may be insufficient.

But, if you only have a WordPress site or blog, they can be an agile alternative to save your data.

Here are some possible plugins to perform WordPress backups:

Option 3: Backup via ManageWP (recommended)

Finally, this was the option I used. ManageWP is a plugin that can give you a complete and secure experience.

Don’t worry, the installation is 100% free, as well as several features. In addition, it has other paid self-service features and at very fair prices, without the need for a subscription.

I already used it to schedule regular backups and keep my data always protected, and making a recent backup was quite simple.

Anyway, the installation of ManageWP is recommended, as this plugin will be used soon. The explanation follows.

Backup via ManageWP

Once the backup is made, store this data in a safe folder or device. Also, think about how you will restore this data after migration.

This process shouldn’t be complicated, and we can move on to the next step.

Step # 2 – Get your new domain ready for migration

Time to prepare the ground.

In that case, until people got used to his new address, it was necessary to keep the old website up. Thus, the old address (escraparaweb.com.br) always redirected to the new one (Comunidade.rockcontent.com).

We will see this in detail later. Before, some conditions have to be met:

  1. You will need a new hosting, such as SiteGround, NameCheap, WP Engine, GoDaddy or any other service you use.
  2. You will also need to purchase your new domain – Registro.br, GoDaddy etc.
  3. Install WordPress on the new server.

We know that ranking in search engines suffers a little in this process. So, until you recover your post-migration SEO, you will need to keep the old address on the air.

Step # 3 – Install a TSL certificate (HTTPs in the new domain)

TSL or Transport Socket Layer is an encryption protocol for communicating your website with the internet. Basically, it is a layer of security that you add to your domain. That famous green lock that is in the address bar of your browser, accompanied by the https protocol that goes in the URLs.

It is already proven that Google considers TSL / HTTPs as a ranking factor and, as we did not have before, we have included this step in the migration process.

Let’s Encrypt is a free option for a basic certificate. This option exists on most website hosting services. In addition, you can install it manually using the instructions on the official website.

Let's Encrypt

Installing Let’s Encrypt can also be done using a WordPress plugin, WP Encrypt!

WP Encrypt

Step # 4 – ManageWP Setup

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, ManageWP will help with the backup process and, in addition, will perform the migration safely.

In fact, this is a paid feature of the app, but today it only costs $ 2.00. Nothing more than this.

Between wasting time and taking risks using other methods, we opted for the one that is guaranteed and extremely cheap. He is able to create exactly the same and functional copy of your WordPress on another domain, without headaches with uploads and database – which is a job that can last for hours and has a high risk.

Therefore, follow the steps below:

    1. Go to http://managewp.com, register for free and access the app.
  1. Install and synchronize the ManageWP Worker plugin on both sites. Both old and new.

WordPress Plugin ManageWP Worker

After installing ManageWP, access your control panel at managewp.com and synchronize the two sites. Just follow the steps in the image below.

ManageWP installation

After adding your website’s URLs and having them synchronized by ManageWP, we now have the power to create a copy of your old website on the new server.

Step # 5 – Migrate!

It’s time!

Within your ManageWP control panel, follow the instructions below:

    1. Go to the “Backups” tab and click on the “Clone” button.
    1. Now, in the “Clone Type” section, we will select the option “Existing Website in ManageWP”.
    1. Select the URL you want to migrate as “Source”.
    1. And the new URL as “Destination”.
    1. Start the cloning process. This can take a few minutes or hours (depending on the size of your website or blog).
    1. That done, visit both URLs and check if everything is ok.
  1. Ready! You now have two identical sites on different domains. Time to think about redirection.

Redirect in ManageWP

First, let’s go through the TSL configuration step, which is very brief. Check out:

Step # 6 – Force TSL (HTTPS) for the entire domain

If your domain did not have HTTPS before the migration, the links will all be referenced as HTTP and your website will not be protected.

Now that HTTPS is present in the new domain, we use a plugin that redirects all links in HTTP to HTTPS – The Really Simple SSL.

Without this correct redirection, you will not enjoy the “green lock” or the ranking benefits on Google.

Really Simple SSL

Remember that this is just a redirection of the security protocol. It is not the same as Redirect 301, which we will use to send all traffic from your old website to the new one.

This is what we will see now.

Step # 7 – Redirecting your old website to the new one!

Not all blogs or websites want or need SSL, so this step is optional. In the case of 301 redirect, it is vital to your blog.

Type 301 redirect means permanent. It will let search engines know that your site has migrated for good.

If you want to safely redirect your site, first read this complete tutorial with all the information.

Now, redirect all pages in your domain.

301 redirect via hosting server

Hosting services usually offer support via chat or email. If you are new to redirects, this is highly recommended.

Even if your hosting service has cPanel installed, it has a super simple option to redirect.

URL redirection via hosting server

301 Redirect via Yoast

WordPress plugins like Yoast also allow you to permanently redirect your URLs. However, this is a manual and more laborious process. It is not the most recommended, but it can help in some cases.

Yoast SEO

Go to your old domain, install the Yoast plugin (available at the plugin store or here) and, in your settings, select “File Editor”.

Yoast SEO File Editor

When opening the text window, enter the URLs to be redirected manually, following the syntax described below:

  • Redirect 301 / old-url / https://novosite.com/nova-url/

In the case of the Write To Web / Community migration, it would look something like this:

  • Redirect 301 / errors-of-London / https://comunidade.rockcontent.com/erros-de-portugues/

Redirect 301 via Yoast

Then click on “save changes”. Remember to do this with all the URLs on your website or blog.

However, if it has a lot of posts and URLs, it is best to think of some alternative.

301 redirect via other WordPress plugins

There are several plugins that help you to redirect 301 from your website or blog. You can browse through them until you find some interesting alternatives. Two examples are Quick Pages and Simple 301 Redirect.

But remember, if you need to redirect a lot of URLs, consider doing so at the server level. It will be easier and faster.

Step # 8 – Installing Search Console

If you have a property created in Search Console for your old website / blog, let Google know!

Change of address in Search Console

Now, let’s create ownership of your new site in Search Console!

If you feel like you have little or no ownership over properties, redirects and Google Search Console, I recommend you read this complete tutorial.

Before proceeding, he will give you security not to make any mistakes on the way.

When accessing your dashboard in Search Console, click on the ‘create property’ button.

Add a property - Search Console

You will then be taken to a confirmation screen. To connect your domain, install the verification HTML code on your root domain.

Google code on the original domain

Step # 9 – Create a Robots.txt file

This document communicates directly with the search bots and defines some indexing settings. If you don’t want a particular page to be indexed, for example, you can do it through it.

But, as a blog generally does not have these particularities, our robots.txt file is very simple.

For most cases, just create a file named robots.txt in the notepad just like the Community blog.

Then just upload it to your root domain. So: https://comunidade.rockcontent.com/robots.txt

Now, use the Robots.txt Testing Tool within Google Search Console:

Robots.txt in Google Search Console

Step # 10 – Creating a new Sitemap

The Sitemap, as the name implies, is a file that shows the address of the pages, posts and media files within your domain. It is updated automatically and makes it easier for crawlers to work.

Creating a Sitemap can be done using the YOAST plugin again. Access the specific XML section in the WordPress menu.

XML Sitemaps at Yoast SEO

You can now choose which media types to map. Both posts, pages and media (images, audio, etc.) can be listed. This will help Google find and index these files.

XML Sitemaps at Yoast SEO

Once the settings are saved, the plugin itself generates the file and uploads it. You don’t have to worry about a lot.

To test whether it’s working, just use the Search Console test tool, found in the Tracking> Sitemaps menu.

Configuring new sitemap in Google Search Console

Step # 11 – Testing the 301 redirect

Use a tool to test redirects, such as redirect-checker.org and check if any errors were found in the redirect.

Testing the 301 redirect with Redirect Checker

Use a tool to test redirects, such as redirect-checker.org and check if any errors were found in the redirect.

<img class = "aligncenter size-full wp-image-13747" src = "https://rockcontent.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/image10.png" alt = "Checking the 301 redirect" width = "629" height = "194" srcset = "https://rockcontent.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/image10.png 629w, https://rockcontent.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/ 02 / image10-300×93.png 300w, https://rockcontent.com/wp-con

By |2020-03-08T13:38:16+00:00March 8th, 2020|Digital Marketing|