While there are numerous rationales for migrating a website from one domain to another, there are specific questions site owners should always investigate prior to initiating any type of website migration. If your organization is currently considering migrating to a new domain, consider this website migration checklist first.
Explore the Available Options for Web Hosting
It generally pays to start planning a website transfer well in advance of the anticipated date for the move. One of the reasons organizations routinely consider a website migration is an unhappiness with the current provider. That means any provider selected must have the capability of meeting the organization’s current needs and, almost more importantly, have the capability to meet future needs as well. A successful website migration strategy must anticipate future needs and ensure the new provider has the capability of adapting to new technology and software.
Backup All Existing Website Files First
To avoid losing valuable data, back up all files to a safe location before starting the website migration process. Consider using experts to ensure the backup process goes smoothly. While there are numerous plugins and applications available to assist with the process, it pays to work closely with a professional to prevent problems from developing. Having a complete backup available is a safety measure and should not be ignored under any circumstances.
Transfer Data Files and Website Files
Here’s another place where the assistance of experts can be helpful. All files must first be uploaded to a public_html directory using the new web hosting account. It’s vitally important that every step in the process be completed correctly to avoid issues when establishing the new website. The ultimate goal is to ensure the new site runs properly once the website migration is complete. When all necessary steps are completed correctly, the new site should function exactly as the old one did. If changes are being made to the site, discuss how to best implement those changes with a website expert.
Transferring the Domain Name
Here is another issue commonly causing issues during a website migration. In many cases, an organization’s domain name is registered along with the existing web hosting company. If that’s the case, the host should provide a guide outlining the steps required to successfully transfer the domain name. Determining how best to register a domain name when migrating can be complex, and there are a couple of options available. It pays, at this point, to discuss the pros and cons of each option with website migration experts, as doing so can prevent future complications and, in some cases, save money.
Moving Email Information to the New Site
The majority of site owners elect to have their email accounts managed by their hosting company. If that’s the case, there is also a procedure available to ensure all email is transferred properly. If you’ve elected to host your email accounts elsewhere, the transfer process is simplified, as only the DNS information will have to be modified.
Finalizing the Process
Once the files are transferred to the new host and any required modifications are made to the configurations, the process is nearly complete. At this point, it’s vitally important to verify the site functions properly. Testing procedures are used to ensure all the site’s features are functioning properly. Hosting companies routinely provide some assistance with this process, but the onus to make sure all aspects of the site operate as needed is normally on the site owner.
If everything functions properly, now is the time to end the relationship with the former hosting organization and delete all files from their old locations. If all the files were properly transferred during the website migration, the site should operate seamlessly, with visitors being completely unaware of the changes. However, it’s common to encounter some issues during the migration, suggesting it is advisable to have some level of expert assistance available to deal with any problems encountered during the migration or when testing the site in its new location.
Once the website is up and running, it pays to continually monitor it to quickly identify potential issues and ensure the site’s search engine rankings don’t suffer. SEO efforts should continue unabated to further ensure the site fulfills its objectives.