WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different web design platforms, which are frequently misused by web developers, especially by newbies. Both systems make it possible to launch various types of web projects, covering an extensive range of tasks.
The difference is that WordPress.com is a DIY website builder, while WordPress.org is a world-popular Content Management System. This is the reason why the services utilize diverse approaches to the process of website creation.
Many users get puzzled when choosing between the systems and often give preference to WordPress.com instead of WordPress.org, which is a more preferable solution in their case.
As they start working on their startup project, though, they soon realize that using WordPress.com is much more difficult than it seemed from the start. They face problems with code editing, website promotion – this is not to mention hosting-related nuances (or the process of moving between the hosts) and domain name choice, which is not provided by default in WordPress.org. These are only some of the most popular reasons to switch from one platform to another.
to Move Your Website!
How to Transfer a Website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org – The Ultimate Guide:
- Preparing for the Migration
- Setting Up Hosting
- Backing Up Your Content
- Design and Theme Transition
- Extending Functionality
- SEO and URL Structure
- User Accounts and Permissions
- Performance and Security
- Testing and Troubleshooting
- Finalizing the Transition
- Post-Migration Tips and Resources for WordPress.org Users
If you are right about to switch to WordPress.org, you will also be interested to find out its key advantages:
- Self-hosted WordPress grants absolute control and ownership over the website. When using the CMS, you own your website, its content and its data;
- WordPress.org offers a plethora of SEO plugins and tools to boost your website’s search engine rankings. You have the power to optimize your site’s structure, meta tags, and content, ensuring that your website is discoverable to your target audience;
- While security is a concern for all websites, self-hosted WordPress allows you to implement security measures tailored to your needs. You can choose the best security plugins, employ advanced security protocols and perform regular backups to protect your site from threats;
- Websites powered by WordPress.org offer unrestricted access to analytics tools. You can integrate with platforms like Google Analytics to gain valuable insights into your site’s traffic, user behavior, and content performance;
- The WordPress.org community is vast and supportive. Whether you need assistance with troubleshooting, guidance on customizations or just a piece of advice, you will be able to find like-minded people to help you.
Taking into account the diverse nature of the platforms, it may take time and effort to properly transfer your web project from one system to another. It’s also crucial to keep in mind the result you wish to obtain in the long run in order to leave you satisfied.
Preparing for the Migration
Migration from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is quite a responsible, time-taking and complex process that generally involves several steps. Before you actually proceed to the transfer process, let’s figure out and evaluate the major reasons for the switch:
- Realization of the inability to master the website management process from the technical point of view sooner or later triggers the need to start looking for a simpler, more convenient, affordable yet feature-laen web building tool. This is where switching from the familiar self-hosted WordPress.com to WordPress.org proves to be a reasonable solution.
- WordPress.org makes it possible to create feature-laden web projects with powerful integrated functionality. The platform grants you absolute website ownership rights and freedom of actions.
- The CMS boasts advanced integration and design customization options and it also lets you pick a trusted hosting provider of your choice based on your current requirements, budget and skills.
Assessing Your Current WordPress.com Setup
To ensure a smooth website transition and to get ready to it, you should make up a plan that involves the must-have steps, namely:
- Content Backup – Back up your content, including posts, web pages, media and comments. Fortunately, WordPress.com export tool will help you cope with the task.
- Domain Transfer – Decide on the domain name you would like to have for your website. You can either keep the existing domain or buy a new one.
- Templates and Plugins – If you are using any plugins and themes with WordPress.com, take your time to check whether they are available on WordPress.org. If not, choose the alternatives in advance.
- Content Review – Review the content to make the required improvements or updates during the migration process.
- User Accounts – If you manage a website with other users, take your time to ensure their accounts and data are ready for the migration.
As mentioned above, domain choice is one of the most essential parts of the migrations process. Actually, you have several options here:
- Transfer the existing domain: If you already own a domain, you can transfer it to your new self-hosted WordPress website, following a list of steps and recommendations;
- Get a new one: If you plan to start a brand new website from scratch, you can purchase a new domain. Make sure it reflects your site’s purpose and content.
In case you wish to maintain both a WordPress.com presence and a self-hosted WordPress.org website, experts recommend using a subdomain. This is useful for gradual transition and maintaining the online identity of your project.
Setting Up Hosting
Before you get started with your website migration, you need to find a reliable hosting provider. Likewise, you should look through the plans, terms and subscriptions it offers and pick the one that comes up to your current website development and promotion needs.
When it comes to hosting choice, you will come across multiple providers available out there. They all differ in integrated functionality, packages and terms offered, types of hosting suggested, pricing policy and other related features.
Start by researching the most popular hosts. Look for reviews and recommendations from trusted sources, compare the features, pricing and performance of different companies. You should also take into account your website requirements. Whether you are running a small blog, a business website (our hosting rating) or a large eCommerce project (our hosting rating), this will eventually affect the hosting type to go for.
Experts recommend opting for hosting providers with a high uptime guarantee (99.9% and higher) to ensure your website is accessible to the target audience 24/7.
Selecting the Right Hosting Plan
Once you are done with hosting choice, go ahead to select the right hosting plan that aligns with your project needs. Here are some common hosting options for you to consider:
- Shared Hosting (our rating): This is a nice pick for small websites. The hosting involves sharing server resources with other users, being a cost-effective solution for beginners.
- VPS Hosting: A Virtual Private Server offers more resources and control yet it is also more expensive than shared hosting. This is a good choice for medium websites.
- Dedicated Hosting (our rating): If you require maximum performance and control, consider dedicated hosting that offers an entire server dedicated to storing your project.
- Cloud Hosting (our rating): This is quite a flexible option that makes it possible to scale resources as required, thus being a smart solution for growing websites.
The majority of hosting providers offer separate groups of subscriptions for each type of hosting. Take your time to pick one that adheres to your needs most.
Registering a Domain or Updating DNS Settings
If you don’t have a domain name yet, you can register it with a selected hosting provider or a domain registrar. In case you already own a domain and wish to preserve it, you will have to update DNS settings to point it to the new platform. This usually involves changing the nameservers provided by your host.
How to Transfer the Domain Name
Generally, the process of domain name transfer encompasses two major stages: getting the domain away from WordPress and transferring it to the new hosting provider. We recommend using Bluehost as a reliable host for your WordPress website as the platform is officially recommended for this purpose. Are you ready to get started? Then follow the steps listed below:
- Prepare the domain for transfer. Mind that it’s not possible to move the domain to another registrar for 60 days since the registration date or during 60 days after a previous transfer (if any). This is an obligatory requirement provided by the ICANN ((the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). If everything is ok with that, make sure to change the name servers to the new host before initiating the transfer procedure. This will simplify the task.
- Login with the account associated with your domain. This is where you will be able to reach the Domain Management section to get ready for the transfer process. Select the site you wish to move (if you own several domains) and have a look at its settings, options and other related info.
- Select the Transfer Domain section to see the available options that let you move your domain to another registrar, site or user. Then pick the Transfer to Another Registrar button and read the message that tells you how to unlock the domain and how to deactivate Privacy Protection option. Then you should click the Update Settings and Continue button and proceed to the next page.
- Get ready to receive the confirmation email with a transfer code also known as EPP code or auth code. It usually takes around 15 minutes for the system to send the email. As soon as you get the code, save it along with the Authorization Info to further submit it to the new registrar.
- Now you are ready to transfer the domain name to the new registrar (Hostgator in our case). Login with your Hostgator Domain Manager and click the Transfer button in the submenu found at the top of the page.
- Enter the domain name you wish to transfer to the new account without www. And then click the Continue button. The system will check the current domain status to define whether it is ready for transfer. If it is locked for some reason, the transfer won’t be approved.
- Provide the EPP code you’ve received from WordPress and click the Continue button. Bluehost has the two-step verification process, so, you will also have to enter the code received from the domain administrator. Proceed to the next step.
- Check if you need to change your name servers to Bluehost, set renewal options and add/update domain privacy. Finally, make sure to tick the box to agree to the Terms of Service and activate the Add to Cart button. Make the payment as required.
- Take your time to check the process status. It generally takes up to 5 days to complete the entire domain transfer procedure. Upon the end of this period, you will be able to check the domain transfer status manually. To do that, login to your Bluehost Domain Manager, click the Transfer button in the submenu at the top of the page and view the transfer progress in the Details section. Then click the link to get more information.
That’s it. As soon as you do that, your old WordPress.com website will be properly transferred to your Bluehost account. This will help maintain your website search engine ranking and traffic volume.
Backing Up Your Content
As soon as you are done with hosting choice, you may proceed to another crucial step of WordPress.com to WordPress.org migration process, namely content backup.
Exporting Content from WordPress.com
Sign in to your WordPress.com account and reach the dashboard of your website. Access the WP Admin section and click it to open the admin area. Then go to the “Tools” section and then to the “Export Page” area.
When you click the button, you will be redirected to the new page, where you’ll be offered to pick either Free or Guided Transfer option. We recommend choosing the free option and then click the “Start Export” button. Right after that, you will get to the next screen, where you’ll have to select the data elements you wish to export. Choose the “All Content” variant, if you intend to export all content at once and then press the “Download Export File” button.
If you do everything correctly, the export tool will offer you to download the XML file (which will contain all your images, posts, categories, tabs, web pages, comments, navigation menus and other fields) to your computer so that you could further import it to the new website.
Importing Content to Your New WordPress.org Site
If you haven’t already, set up a self-hosted WordPress.org site. Install and configure WordPress on your web hosting server. Mind that some hosting providers (like Bluehost – review or HostGator – review, for example) offer 1-click automated WordPress installation that takes a couple of minutes only and does not require your effort. Otherwise, you’ll have to install WordPress on your own, but this is also quite easy and fast – just follow the guidelines and tips the system generates, while you are completing the task.
As soon as you are done with your CMS installation, you may proceed to the content import. To do that, you’ll need to access the admin section of the new website, reach the “Tools” section and then the “Import” page, where you will be offered to activate the “Install Now” button to run the importer tool.
Upon the completion of the step, you will be redirected to the new screen, where you’ll have to upload the exported XML file you’ve downloaded to your computer in the second step. While completing the task, the system will offer you to create a new user or to assign the imported content to the current user. You will additionally be offered to import the old attached files. It’s a must to check this box to import your image files correctly.
Having completed content transfer, you will need to invest effort and time into correct domain name migration to the new hosting.
Handling Images and Media Files
While exporting and importing content, images and media files are also transferred. These files are typically stored in your media library. Ensure that all images are available there and displayed correctly in your new WordPress.org site.
Sometimes, the file paths to your media items may require an update. This often happens if you are changing your website domain name. Use a plugin like “Velvet Blues Update URLs” to update file paths in your content automatically.
If you have a large media library, it makes sense to backup the files available there. Use FTP or a backup plugin to do this.
Design and Theme Transition
While content transition is crucial, quality design replication matters a lot as well. Start by exploring the vast array of themes available on WordPress.org or through third-party providers. Consider your project specialization, goals, target audience and other important requirements.
Select a theme that is responsive by default. This is a nice way to make sure your project looks and functions as needed on various devices. Opt for a theme that prioritizes performance and speed. A fast-loading website is essential for retaining visitors and achieving better SEO results.
Mind that not all templates may be compatible with the latest WordPress version and installed plugins. Check the selected theme for compatibility to ensure your site remains secure and functional.
Customizing the New Theme
New theme customization encompasses several important steps. Customize the layout and structure of your template to match the available content.
Then adjust colors, fonts, styles and imagery to make them consistent and adhering to the single brand identity. Customize sidebars, footers and navigation menus as required.
Configure widgets and menus to ensure easy navigation and present important information to your visitors. Finally, adjust typography settings to match your brand’s font choices.
Retaining Consistency in Design
As mentioned above, you have to retain design consistency to make sure the available content, images, web pages, posts, formatting and multimedia files remain consistent throughout the entire website.
The next step here is to resize and optimize images/media to ensure they fit a new theme and load quickly on web pages.
Take your time to test a website before going live with it. Mind that your project will require regular updates. This mostly concerns plugins, themes, security features and functionality parameters.
Extending your website functionality is a key factor when it comes to maintaining a successful web presence. To do this, you will have to take care of plugin installation, integration of SEO/Analytics tools and adjusting social sharing/commenting options.
Installing and Configuring Essential Plugins
The choice of plugins should basically depend on the functionality you expect to get from your website. There are multiple plugins specially developed for WordPress available in the repository. These include eCommerce extensions, contact forms, marketing, performance optimization etc.
Once you’ve chosen the required plugins, reach the WordPress dashboard and install them there. Go to “Plugins” and select “Add New.” Search for your desired plugin, click “Install,” and then “Activate”.
Many plugins require ongoing configurations. Take your time to view each plugin separately and to customize it to match your project needs.
Implementing SEO and Analytics Tools
It’s no secret that SEO matters a lot for any website. Thus, it is crucial to install SEO plugins to adjust the required parameters there. One of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress is Yoast SEO. Install and configure it to improve the search engine visibility of your website, including meta tags, sitemaps and stats tracking.
Speaking about stats tracking, Google Analytics will help you to adjust the required settings. Integrate it into your site using a plugin or manual tracking code injection. The tool will provide valuable insights into your project performance, user behavior and traffic sources.
To regularly monitor your website indexing, detect crawl errors and improve search engine rankings, go ahead to connect your project to Google Search Console.
Managing Comments and Social Sharing
Comments moderation and social media sharing options are set up in WordPress via plugin integration as well. You have to independently install and configure comments and social sharing plugins.
Encourage user engagement rates by reacting to comments and holding discussions on your content. This helps increase user returning rates in the long run.
SEO and URL Structure
SEO and URL structure have direct relation to the way your website will be ranked by search engines and then displayed to the target audience. When you are done with your website migration to the CMS, it will be high time to adjust SEO parameters.
Maintaining SEO Rankings
SEO rankings can be significantly affected by changes in URL structure. To preserve your website’s search engine rankings during any structural updates, ensure that the new structure aligns with the best SEO practices and consider the potential consequences.
Take your time to set up 301 redirects for old URLs to new ones. This will notify the search engine bots that your previous website content has permanently moved and your rankings should also be transferred.
To reflect the new URL structure, it is important to review and update internal links. This helps get rid of/avoid broken links after the migration process.
Setting Up 301 Redirects
301 redirects are essential when you need to change the URL structure of your website. If you don’t know how to set them up, reach the WordPress dashboard and pick plugins like “Redirection” or “Yoast SEO” to manage your 301 redirects. Install and activate the selected plugin after its integration.
Reach the settings to add the old and the new URL. Make sure to select the 301 (permanent) redirect option. Test the redirects to ensure they work correctly. Regularly monitor your website for any new URLs that may require redirection.
A permalink is a specific URL for each website page and post. Their optimization matters a lot as well for SEO and user experience. To optimize permalinks for your new website, reach the WordPress settings, select a custom permalink structure that should basically include keywords to your content. The “Post Name” structure is often recommended in such cases.
When creating new posts or pages, use descriptive and keyword-rich titles, which will automatically be included in the URL. It is important to keep URLs short and clean, avoiding special characters and excessive words. This is because such URLs are easier to browse and to detect for the search engine bots.
User Accounts and Permissions
To properly manage website access and security settings, it is crucial to adjust user accounts and permissions first.
Migrating User Accounts
For efficient migration of user accounts between the platforms, start with backing up the data. This includes usernames, emails, passwords and any other user-related information. Ensure that the data structure of the source and destination systems aligns. Create a mapping document that specifies how data from the old system will be transferred to the new one, including any required transformations.
Don’t forget to inform your users about the migration process in advance to make them aware that they may encounter account changes for some time. Find and share details regarding downtime, temporary login credentials (if any) and other potential functionality issues.
Never hurry to close previous user accounts until you make sure they are transferred accurately. Verify them along with your project performance.
Configuring User Roles and Permissions
Define user roles that align with your website requirements and specifications. Widespread roles include administrators, editors, authors and subscribers. Assign users to these roles based on their responsibilities.
Create a hierarchical structure of permissions. This means that the higher-level roles should have broader access and control compared to lower-level roles. For example, website administrators typically have full access, while subscribers have limited access.
In some cases, custom permissions that are tailored to your specific requirements may be needed. This could involve granting access rights to specific data standard roles do not cover.
Remember to review user roles and permissions from time to time to ensure they remain relevant. If not, remove access from users who do not need it anymore and assign new roles as your project develops.
Performance and Security
Performance and security are those factors that have an impact upon your new website success. Among the aspects that contribute to these factors, it makes sense to review speed optimization, security measures and regular backups.
Speed Optimization Techniques
Speed optimization is the result of quality image optimization, caching, CDNs use, content prioritization and minimization of code use. To correctly optimize images, compress and resize them. This will eventually reduce load times. It also makes sense to use responsive images that adjust to various screen sizes.
Implement browser and server-side caching to store static resources and reduce the need for repeated downloads, resulting in faster page loading. Use CDNs to globally distribute your project content across multiple servers. This helps reduce latency and accelerate content delivery.
Implementing Security Measures
Security is what matters most for reliable website performance. To enhance project safety parameters, you can install a web app firewall in order to filter out malicious traffic and prevent widespread threads like XSS or SQL injection.
Another way to improve your project security is to implement SSL or TLS certificates to encrypt data in transit and to secure confidential info. Make sure to regularly update plugins, software versions, templates to deal with potential vulnerabilities. By the way, it makes sense to schedule automatic updates (if possible) to complete them on time.
Setting Up Regular Backups
When it comes to managing WordPress websites, it is crucial to conduct regular backups. This is needed to be able to restore the previously saved website version if something goes out of order.
Take your time to configure automated backups to regularly save your project data to a secure location. This includes databases and files. Mind that a special plugin or backup solution will be required for this.
If you feel that your website servers may not be quite reliable when saving the data, it makes sense to take care of cloud storage or external servers.
Regularly test your backup copies to ensure that they are functional and that you will be able to recover your project in case of data loss.
Testing and Troubleshooting
Migrating from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is an interesting yet time-taking process that requires control over the website and its performance. Mind two important aspects below.
Testing Your New WordPress.org Site
Right after you have completed the transfer process, don’t hurry to delete the previous website. Instead, take your time to check and text the following elements:
- Content (posts, web pages, comments, images etc.);
- Compatibility of themes and plugins;
- Links (external and internal) and permalinks;
- User access and roles (administrators, contributors, authors etc.);
- Website speed and performance;
- SEO attributes.
Common Migration Issues and Solutions
Whether you are a beginner or a WordPress expert, you should be aware of the common migration issues you may encounter during the transfer process and ways to solve them:
- Broken Links: If you detect broken links during migration, use a broken link checker plugin to explore and fix them. Make sure your .htaccess file is configured properly as well;
- Theme or Plugin Incompatibility: As mentioned above, some plugins and themes may be incompatible with the WP version because of coding nuances. To resolve this, consider the use of alternative templates and integrations that are 100% compatible with WordPress.org;
- Missing Media: If some media files are missing, you may need to re-upload them manually or use a plugin to regenerate media links;
- Page and Post Formatting: If formatting looks inconsistent after migration, review your content and adjust it as required. Pay attention to headings, lists and multimedia elements;
- Redirection Set Up: Adjust proper 301 redirects for web pages and posts if your permalink structure has changed. This allows maintaining SEO rankings;
- Performance and Speed: If you observe slow loading times, there are several ways to optimize the project. What you can do here is leveraging caching plugins, optimizing images and picking a reliable hosting provider that can improve this parameter.
Finalizing the Transition
Suppose, you are almost done with your website transfer process. To finalize the transition, you have to complete several more steps, though.
Notifying Subscribers and Followers
Informing your subscribers and followers about the transfer, you can use several methods. For example, you can send out an email newsletter to your subscribers, explaining the reasons behind the move and providing clear instructions on how to re-subscribe to your new self-hosted WordPress site.
Another option is to create a separate post on your WordPress.com site, explaining the transition and redirecting visitors to your new project. Don’t forget to include a link to it.
You can also use social media platforms to inform the target audience about the move. It makes sense to post some notifications several weeks before the transition and after it.
Finally, implement 301 redirects from your old WordPress.com site to your new WordPress.org site. This is a surefire way to make sure the visitors of your old previous project will be automatically redirected to the new one.
Updating Marketing and Social Media Links
Having notified the audience about website migration, take your time to update marketing and social media links. Update your email templates and signatures, business cards and other marketing materials, adding your new website URL. Then change the links on your social media profiles to point to your new self-hosted WordPress site.
Pay special attention to the Google My Business listing, if your company has a physical location. Update the link to your new website there as well. The same is about online catalogs, business listings and directories.
Going Live with Your Self-Hosted WordPress Site
That’s it! You are ready to officially go live with your new WordPress.org website now! Once again – test its functionality, check SEO settings, security measures and content available on all pages. Click the Publish button and enjoy the result!
Post-Migration Tips and Resources for WordPress.org Users
Migrating from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is only one crucial step. However, the process does not end on this. Listed below are several post-migration tips and resources to let you get the most out of your new website.
Ongoing Maintenance and Updates
As mentioned above, your new website will require regular backups. This is needed to protect your data from unauthorized access and accidental loss. Trusted backup plugins can automate this process, ensuring you’re always prepared for unforeseen issues.
Software updates are important as well. Always try to keep your WordPress core, templates and plugins up to date to avoid bugs and security threats.
By the way, it is also essential to invest in security plugins, strong passwords and web app firewalls to prevent various types of online dangers.
Take your time to regularly check SEO settings, monitor search engine rankings and enhance optimization techniques to improve your project visibility.
Additional Resources for WordPress.org Users
As an open-source CMS, WordPress is quite a complex software to master. Thus, you may have multiple questions regarding the system use, management, optimization, website maintenance etc.
Fortunately, there is a powerful and extensive online community providing numerous resources for the software users.
When browsing the web, you may come across the following resources:
- Forums (StackExchange, Reddit, Quora, Themeco One, WooCommerce Community of Slack );
- Blogs (Beginner Blog, WPBeginner etc.);
- Official documents;
- YouTube channels like WP Buffs, WordPress, WP Crafter, WebTegrity, Upload WP, Let’s Build WordPress etc.;
- Local WordPress meetups and WordCamps;
- Niche tools like Developer Resources, WordPress podcasts and other support options that help you get answers to all the questions you might have.
If you encounter the need to expand your website functionality, go ahead to explore the extensive plugin repository available in stock. There are multiple extensions for eCommerce, security, marketing, social media sharing and other website-related features.
The same is about template choice. The Themes Directory on WordPress.org grants access to the broad array of themes for different niches and purposes. Whether you’re looking for a free or premium design, you’ll definitely find options to cover your needs here.
Migrating to WordPress.org unveils multiple opportunities and advantages to the software subscribers. To start with, the CMS does not have the same functionality limitations the WordPress website builder has. Instead, it provides users with absolute control of their websites along with the ability to customize the projects with regard to users’ needs.
The self-hosted WordPress platform offers extensive plugin and template customization options, opportunity of scaling websites with regard to users’ requirements, versatile monetization solutions, advanced SEO configurations, improved security features, abundance of analytics tools and enhanced performance.
Whatever your reasons to migrate from WordPress.com to WordPress.org are, you should carefully get ready for this responsible and time-taking process. If you have enough time, skills and knowledge, you can try moving your website independently, but this may take time and effort. There is also a risk to face problems on any stage of the migration process you won’t be able to solve on your own.
To prevent such situations, you can hire professional web developers who will do that for you. You will be satisfied with the result as this option is trusted, safe and effective. Hopefully, the tips and recommendations listed in the post will help you cope with the task in the best way possible and get the expected result.
And one more thing: don’t hurry to deactivate your WordPress.com account until you make sure your new website is running well and all the SEO positions are preserved as they are. Good luck and may your website migration experience be a success!