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Overview of How to Replace an Existing Site with a New WordPress Site

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In this session we give an overview of how to replace an existing site with a new WordPress site. The development is done on a development domain and made private so that Google doesn’t index the site during the development stage. We also discuss cataloging the existing site’s pages and the importance of setting up redirections for each of the existing pages to the new pages.

Video Transcript

I’ve got a site that’s online now but I’m wanting to redo it into a WordPress site. So the domain’s being used by that site. What’s the best way to create a site even though you got one that’s already out but you want to totally rebuild it in WordPress? You want to leave that site up until it’s done but then you want to be able to help people find it with the old one.

Well you know, I’m actually doing that as a case study right now. We did a session last Wednesday night and then Wednesday morning and Wednesday evening last week. And we’re doing one tonight and probably wrap it up next week some time with a real site. But the answer is you start off by doing your development on a development domain, whether it’s a subdomain or what have you, just some place where you can develop it and when you’re done developing you can transfer. So you get this site developed the way you want it. Did you have another question? Go ahead.

The question was like… alright so if I just take… I mean, I’ve got plenty of domains that aren’t being used right now.

Sure.

If I just take one of those you know, not worrying about the title, I’ve just got WordPress and Thesis on it, go ahead and build the site, is that a simple thing, just to change the title of the site when I want it to go live or what?

Well, there’s no reason why you need to change the title of the site. When you create your development site, whether it’s on an existing subdomain or not, doesn’t really matter. I mean, on an existing domain or on a subdomain or on a new domain is not really relevant. It’s just on a different domain. You could create the site exactly the way you want it so with the right title and everything else. While you’re creating it, you probably want to make it so that it’s private, that is, that Google doesn’t index it so it’s not being indexed in its development stage but you get it all the way to where you want it.

When you get it all the way to where you want it, before you move it, you need to catalog the pages that exist on the existing site and figure out what your correspondence is between the old page and the new page. If there is no correspondence then determine what you want the old page to link to. It could just link to the homepage for that matter, right? Nevertheless, you want to make sure that you have a 1 to 1 correspondence between existing pages and some place on your site but you need that list before you make the transfer.

Then you take the old site down and it’ll just delete the files. Clone the new site and move it to the old site’s location. You can either do that manually or you would use a tool like BackupBuddy which is what I would recommend because it’s simple. If you use BackupBuddy then it changes all the database entries for you right off the bat. O

Once that’s done then you would install a redirection plugin and you would set up redirections for each of those existing pages to the new pages from that list that you created so that those old links still resolve to something. Once you’ve done that, you may need to go under custom CSS file and change a couple of URLs for background images or go into plugins and change that. You may have to find the places on your site where you’ve got reference to the old URL that wasn’t automatically fixed. When you do that, you’re done. It’s a relatively easy thing to do.

Okay. Basically, what I’m doing is taking my old corporate site which has everything on it, I mean, my store, everything is on it. It’s on a Google site and I’m creating a new corporate site. Basically, all my corporate site’s doing is a way for people to come to my old domain and the store’s got a separate site. I got separate sites that are running courses and things like that. So this domain, this main site is really just going to point people to sites, other sites that I’ve built. Now am I still going to have index much back…

I would still set up redirection. It would just redirect those pages either to a specific page on the corporate site or you’d redirect them to the corresponding pages on the other sites. You don’t have to redirect to the same domain, right? With Winning in Mind as a product on your corporate site, you could redirect that product page to your With Winning in Mind product page on your store site.

Okay.

What you want to do is you want to pass Google’s indexing on. You want to take advantage of what indexing Google has done and don’t throw that away. And that’s what the 301 redirect is for.

Okay so one more time, how do I make the list for these redirect 101’s are going to come from? How does that happen? How do I do that?

Well, you need to manually make a list of all the pages on your site.

Okay.

There’s no automated process for that.

Okay, so you just manually make a list of all the pages on the site.

Right. I do it in a spreadsheet so I have the old URL and the new URL and I create a spreadsheet before I make the transfer that will specify the relationship so that as soon as I’ve made the transfer, I can quickly enter that into the redirection plugin.

Okay, and that redirection plugin again is what?

I think it’s called WP Redirection. I don’t have anything on my site today about how to use it but I’m sure by the time you’re ready to make your transfer, those things will all be finished and posted and on the site.

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