I am faced with many people e-mailing me every day, wanting to know how to export an existing website and import it into WordPress. I know how they feel as I did this with many of my websites a few years ago. It was absolute hell with some websites, and others were really easy. It all depended on where the websites were coming from, and how they were set up in the first place.
This is definitely not about moving your website into a free WordPress blog, it is about how to export an existing website or blog onto your own Web hosting and using WordPress, the free content management system to run your website.
In this tutorial I am going to give you a few tips and share my experience on how to export an existing website and import it into WordPress.
Firstly I’m going to mention why people want to move their websites into WordPress.
Why export an existing website and import it into WordPress?
- Getting your own hosting means that you are in control of your own website. Free Web hosting just absolutely sucks!
- Google loves WordPress websites, even more than their own Google blogger blogs. (Yes I have moved Blogger blogs to WordPress!)
- WordPress is very easy and can do things that make you look very professional.
- WordPress has millions of WordPress plug-ins that will perform functions for you and save you a lot of time.
- WordPress has millions of WordPress themes to choose from. This means you can make an e-commerce store, real estate agents website, the directory website, photography website, and the list goes on.
- Using other content management systems gives you a distinct disadvantage.
- I am not the only WordPress freak. The are millions of people that will tell you WordPress is the one and only.
What do I need to export an existing website and import it into WordPress?
- You will need Web hosting that is compatible with WordPress. The best Web hosting that I recommend is Hostgator, as it has 24/7 online chat support. One of my friends even logged in to the online chat support before buying their hosting. I cannot tell you how fantastic it is to get instant chat support! If you already have Web hosting, you need to make sure that it is using a Linux operating system and has free WordPress installation available.
- You will need to either create an export file or backup your HTML files from your HTML website. You would also have to have a copy of your images.
- If you exported your blog by using an export file, then the images are usually imported into WordPress automatically.
- You will need to change the name servers of your existing website to point to your WordPress installation, or buy a new domain name for the occasion.
Can I keep my website page rank when I move into WordPress?
Yes and No. You can definitely keep your page rank for your main domain name or homepage. You can also possibly keep the page rank for your actual pages that you have created. However when it comes to your posts, it will depend on how you have structured your URLs.
In most cases the exact structure of the URLs can be recreated by adjusting the permalink structure
What happens when you export blogger blog and import it into WordPress?
Many people want to know how to export blogger to WordPress. You would not believe how many people are doing this. It seems that people start a blog on blogger because it is free, then later get serious about it, and import it into WordPress. This is the trend. you are probably wondering why people would want to move from blogger to WordPress? The answer is simple, the blogs and websites that you make with WordPress do so much better than all of the other platforms. I have had both a blogger blog and HTML website and imported both of these into WordPress. The performance of these websites was amazing after putting them into WordPress, it’s like I breathed life into them.
- Examine the URLs of your posts that you have on your existing blog. What is the permalink structure? Here is an example of one from my blog http://www.101pctips.com/2011/08/installing-social-media-icons-on-your.html
- Examine the URLs of your pages that you have on your existing blog or website.
- Recreate the Permalink if possible.
- Note that the tags used in Blogger will become the categories in WordPress.
How to import a website into WordPress?
Now that you have your export file, you can easily import this into your new WordPress installation. You might want to import a WordPress website into another WordPress on a different server, or you might want to import a blog from blogger.com into WordPress. Either way we need to go to the tools menu in your dashboard of your new WordPress installation. Then you need to click on import.
WordPress gives you a number of options. If you want to import a blogger blog then press on that option. If you want to import a WordPress blog then press on that option.
What happens when you import a HTML website into WordPress?
Ouch! Hopefully we are not talking about 1000 page HTML website like I had to do. unfortunately there is no magic wand to convert your HTML website into WordPress. The best and most reliable way is to transfer each post individually. Of course you will need to take note of the URLs once again, but on a hand made HTML website, there is no pushbutton export to use.
If you have a small business website with the main pages, such as services, site map, products, and so on, this can be an easy process. All you would have to do is install WordPress and create these pages. You would also have to do change the permalink structure to suit what your HTML website had.
For example if you had a page in your old website that was called http: //yourdomain.com/about.html then you would create a post called about and change the permalink structure for the whole WordPress website to /%postname%.html which would replicate that url exactly. The reason I did not make a page is because the html was on the end and WordPress will not add the extension to a page.
When I moved my HTML website to WordPress, I went ahead and created pages instead of posts and then redirected the old URL to the new URL. After a while I took the redirects off as Google realized that the page was the new version.
I had every individual article placed in to my new WordPress website by hand. At the same time a category was created to replicate where the post resided on the old HTML website. For example I had a folder called articles. An old URL to an article would look like this: http: //yourdomain.com/articles/post-title.htm and therefore my permalinks had to become /%category%/%postname%.htm.
Lets see how to manipulate the permalink structure in WordPress
This is one of the most important aspects of exporting an existing website and importing it into WordPress. You want the URLs of the old website to look the same as the new ones in WordPress. The permalink is the URL Structure.
I learned about this a few years ago when I tried to import a handmade HTML website into WordPress. My URL’s were not easy to reproduce. All circumstances are different and I will do is give you a few tips that may help. First we need to know where to change the permalinks.
1. Go to your WordPress dashboard.
2. Click on the settings menu in the left column.
3. Choose Permalinks from the menu that appears.
4. The Permalink settings will appear, and this is where you change them.
Now there are many options for Permalink settings and I am just going to list a few examples.
/%post_id%-%postname%/ – http://www.yourdomain.com/123-the-post-title/
/blog/%postname%/ – http://www.yourdomain.com/blog/the-post-title
/%postname%/ (This is the one I use) – http://www.yourdomain.com/123-the-post-title/
/%category%/%postname%/ – http://www.yourdomain.com/category/the-post-title/
/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/ – http://www.yourdomain.com/2011/12/the-post-title/
/%category%/%postname.html (Adds .html to the end of the url) – http://www.yourdomain.com/123-the-post-title.html
/%postname%.htm (Adds .htm to the end of the url) – http://www.yourdomain.com/123-the-post-title.htm
If you set the Permalink structure right, you will end up the same URLs you had on your other website. For example here is a post URL from a blogger blog http://www.101pctips.com/2011/11/how-to-build-website-for-non-technical.html. To recreate this URL in WordPress I would use this permalink: /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html
Get someone else to do all the work for you?
I was browsing my favorite hosting website, Hostgator, and I stumbled across an offer they are making. If you are bringing your website from another hosting company to theirs, they will transfer your website free. For example if you buy the basic shared hosting you will be eligible to get one website transferred either manually or automatic. If you buy reseller hosting, Hostgator will transfer up to 30 websites for you. If you are worried about moving into WordPress and moving your website safely, you should definitely visit the Hostgator website and enter into a Live chat session with a Hostgator employee. The link for live chat is at the bottom of the Hostgator website under the help and support menu.
Clone your WordPress website
Yep we are into cloning. We started cloning our computer operating systems and setups, and now we are cloning entire websites. Of course we need a tool for this as it is beyond the average webmaster to get that technical. The tool I use is WP Twin. This is an amazing tiny script that clones your WordPress website exactly, with all settings, users, plugins, comments, posts, absolutely everything!
I do not just use this tool for backups though, I also use this for reproducing websites on any server I like. For example, I use Thesis, so I setup a typical foundation for a website. I install all the plugins I like, configure them, configure and tweak thesis, and made an overall basis for a website that I like. Then I cloned it with WP Twin. Now when I make a website using Thesis I simply install the clone. This totally adapts everything to the new domain name so it is a stand alone website. I also cloned every other theme I own, even sales page themes. This is amazing for me and is saving me loads of time! If you are a web developer you cannot do without tool like this.
Notes on how to export an existing website:
- When you use /% category%/ in your permalink structure you must be aware that if a post belongs to two categories then the one with a top category ID will be selected as the category name.
- I like to avoid using dates in my permalinks because it shows a posts age. This is not only when I export an existing website, I use this on all new websites too!
- Image credit. Grabbed this PSD file and edited it in Photoshop. Absolutely nothing to do with how to export an existing website.
WordPress is highly customizable and it is at made it easy to export an existing website and import it into WordPress.