What To Do If Your Hosting Provider Isn’t Cutting It
A hosting provider is the backbone of your online presence and business. It allows you to host your files 24/7, so your website is consistently accessible and functioning optimally for those who want to visit. However, you may be one of the unlucky website owners who must deal with a hosting provider that just isn’t meeting your expectations, or the expectations of your potential online visitors, forcing you to make a switch. To avoid further stress, potential loss of website traffic (and revenue, depending on the nature of your business), you may find yourself wondering how to migrate your website.
If you’re dealing with website downtime on numerous occasions, slow load times, or crashes, it may be time to switch to a new hosting provider. In this article, we’ll show you how to migrate your website, what that entails, and the common site migration pitfalls so that you can avoid them.
What is a site migration?
Commonly used by SEO professionals, site migration describes any occasion in which a website goes through substantial transformation(s) that affects search engine visibility. These areas include – but aren’t limited to – the site’s location, UX, design layout, platform, or content. Site migration often gets a bad rap as the process can lead to a significant loss of traffic and revenue resulting from the negatively impacted search engine ranking. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance that you approach site migration with a strategy, as well as a recovery plan.
How to prepare for site migration?
There may be several reasons you’re choosing to migrate your website, but you must be clear about the objectives and strategy from the get-go. This will assist with setting goals and managing pitfalls. It’s the perfect opportunity to take care of any legacy content issues, as well.
Before you migrate your website, you must engage in pre-launch testing. Ensure that you:
- Review your page templates. Make a list of all essential SEO features and make sure you’re optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, headings, image alt text, robot directives, canonical tags, hreflang tags, and AMP tags.
- Take stock of your content. This includes quantitative, qualitative, metadata, and copy review, as well as media review. Ensure you’re looking for duplicate pages and 404s throughout these reviews. You can use a tool such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
- Review internal links to ensure that you include main and secondary navigation, body content links, header/footer links, cross-site links, or pagination links.
- Review the technical SEO. We’ve put together a checklist, so you don’t miss any marks:
- Crawl-time issues
- Mobile setup (the app, AMP, or PWA)
- Cloaking issues
- URL structure
- Structured data (you can use Google’s tool!)
- HTML & XML sitemaps
- Main and secondary navigation
- Test site speed (for desktop and mobile)
- Internal linking
- Custom 404 page
How to move your website to a new hosting provider
By now, you’ve researched and chosen a new host provider that you’re happy with, launch day is approaching, and you’ll need to move your data. But don’t fret, here’s what to do in preparation:
Download your website files
These are your optimized website files that house your website’s structure. These files are quite large and the data is important, but downloading these files is made simple with FTPs (File Transfer Protocols). Download an FTP program, connect your hosting account, and proceed to download your content.
Export your database
If your website is static, you likely do not have a database, so this step doesn’t apply to you. However, if you have a dynamic website located on a CMS (i.e., WordPress), you’ll need to export your database and import it into your new one. cPanel is commonly used and you can easily export your database using the PHPMyAdmin tool. Once you open the tool, select the database for the site you’re exporting. Click the “Export” tab on the database you’re exporting. Your export settings may remain as “Quick” and the format as “SQL.” Then, click “Go.”
Import your database
This process will vary from host to host, but your new hosting provider will tell you the details so that you may do this successfully. With that said, you can expect to use the same tool: PHPMyAdmin.
Login to your new hosting account and create a blank database. Open the PHPMyAdmin tool and navigate to the “Import” tab. Click “Choose File” and select the SQL file you exported from step 2.
Test, test, and test again!
Once your files are transferred into your new database, test your website to ensure it’s functioning correctly. You may encounter a “development” or “staging” workspace or a temporary URL that allows you to preview your site for testing.
Common Pitfalls to Consider Before You Migrate Your Website
Hopefully, by now, you understand what you must do and have an idea of what some of the common pitfalls are. Site migrations vary in their complexity, but there are common pitfalls behind the most unfortunate events. The most typical reasons why site migrations fail are:
- Lack of strategy and planning
- Poor pre-launch testing
- Little to no SEO/UX consultation
Migrating your website may seem nerve-wracking at first, but if you follow our checklist and tips, you’ll save yourself the hassle of dealing with a migration catastrophe. Switching your hosting provider may take a bit of preparation and strategy time, but once your files are settled into their new home, you can rest knowing your site will be running smoothly.