How To: Move Your WordPress Blog to a New Domain

Last Friday I announced that our site has moved from Hack WordPress.com to where we are now, at WPHacks.com. Towards the end of the post we got a lot of positive feedback from people wanting to know what all was involved with the process, so I’ve decided to attempt to document it here.

Here are the initial steps you’ll want to take when moving to a new domain name.

Existing Domain:

  • Export Your WordPress Posts – You can find the Export option under the Manage tab in your WordPress dashboard. You’ll want to save the file somewhere on your hard drive where you can find it a little later.
  • Download Your wp-content Folder – This step requires FTP access.  You’ll want to copy over your wp-content folder on to your hard drive or place it somewhere you can find it later so that you can upload it to your new domain. This should grab all of your existing plugins, themes, uploads (pictures), etc.   You’ll also want to download your favicon and Robots.txt file (if you have either).
  • Sub Domains and Sub Directories – This won’t apply to everyone, but if you’ve set up any sub domains or sub directories for your blog, you’ll want to grab the same files from them as well.

New Domain:

  • Install WordPress on the New Domain – This can be done manually or via Fantastico if you have CPanel.
  • Upload Your wp-content Folder – This requires FTP access to complete.  Just override the existing wp-content folder from your fresh WordPress install.
  • Import All WordPress Posts – You can find the Import option under the Manage tab in your WordPress dashboard.  When it asks for the import file, use the one that was exported and saved on your hard drive earlier.
  • Activate Your Theme & Plugins – Head into the Design and Plugins tabs and make sure you have the same theme and same plugins activated as the old domain name.
  • Update Your Settings to Match the Old Domain – Update all of your settings to match the old domain, including all of your plugin settings you just activated.
  • Inspect Your Theme – View your theme with your plugins activated and settings in place to ensure that everything looks like it matches the old site on the new domain.  Test some of the functionality as well to ensure everything is working properly.
  • Upload and Run the Update URL’s Plugin – The Update URL’s WordPress plugin is brand new (just came out this month) WordPress plugin and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me!  Once activated, simply enter your old domain URL and the new one.  It will go through all of your old posts and update the domain part of the URL with the new one, and it only takes a matter of seconds.  Note:  I won’t update anchor text, only the domain in the URL.
  • Repeat Steps for Sub Domains and Sub Directories – Upload and setup your sub domains and sub directories using the same steps above.

Domain Move Troubleshooting:

  • For some reason, since WordPress 2.5, the export/import feature of WordPress works great but sometimes causes problems with an unresponsive script error whenever you access the Write panel. I will be publishing a post tomorrow that explains how to fix this error, so make sure you are subscribed to our feed.

Once the move is completed and everything seems to be working well, here is a mini checklist of extra things to do before making the move official:

  • Update Your Feedburner Feed – You need to edit your feed details in your Feedburner account with the new domain’s source feed
  • Update Your Email Address – This one is optional.  Setup an email account on your new domain name (for example, I setup Kyle AT WPHacks DOT com for the new site).  I recommend using Google Apps which makes it really easy and lets you take advantage of the Gmail spam guards that Google has in place (plus all of the other Gmail features).
  • Update Your Gravatar – This one is optional as well.  Log in to your Gravatar account and add the new email address you just setup.
  • Update Your PPC Campaigns – If you purchase PPC advertising with AdWords, Yahoo, or whoever, you’ll want to update the destination URLs.

Once you’re done, all that is left is to go to your domain registrar and forward the old domain to the new domain (also known as a 301 redirect). Depending on your registrar, this is usually really easy and self-explanatory.  I would also wait 6-12 hours to make an announcement on the new domain name so that the DNS can resolve at the new domain name (it can sometimes take up to 48 hours). Depending on your web hosting, you may also be able to do the forward there to avoid this problem.

Doing this will cause all links to your old domain name to be redirected to the equivalent URL on the new domain name (assuming you use the same URL structure on the new site). It will also let Google and the other search engines know you have moved. Usually within a week, depending on the search engine, they will have gone through and updated their index with the new domain URL’s.

This of course means that you shouldn’t use any human traffic, but you will take a hit when it comes to your search engine rankings. This is because the links are pointed towards the old domain name, so when Google determines your rankings, they will see the new URL has zero backlinks. This is why it is beneficial if you can get people to update the links in their sidebars or posts to the new domain URL.

Any questions?  Need clarification on anything?  Please let me know in the comments below!


Hack WordPress Rebrands as WPHacks.com!

Wow, what an exciting couple of weeks this has been!  This is a very exciting day for me personally as I have just finalized the move that took the blog formerly located at HackWordPress.com over to its new home at WPHacks.com.  

After months of trying to acquire a “WP” domain that I felt was suitable for this website, I actually ended up acquiring the best one I could have possibly hoped for at an affordable price.  I feel very fortunate as I had made offers much higher than what I ended up spending on domains that weren’t as good of a fit as this one.

So, what are the reasons behind the switch to this new domain name?  Here are a few reasons, ranked in the order of importance:

  1. Having WordPress in your Domain is Trademark Infringement – At the time I registered HackWordPress.com, I was not aware that the term WordPress was trademarked.   I was aware of trademarks of course and know that most products are trademarked, but WordPress was open source so I guess I just assumed it wasn’t.   A few months after launching this blog I found out that it was in fact trademarked, but there wasn’t a lot I could do at that point.   I had already established a blog and a brand of my own on that domain name.   I had a brief discussion with Matt Mullenweg & Lorelle and learned that they were unhappy with my domain name, though to their credit I have never been actually asked to move to a new domain name. 
  2. Better Domain Name – Though I will lose a little bit of that keyword value the old domain name carried (and all backlinks), this new domain name is a MUCH better domain in my opinion.   I’ve dropped from 13 letters down to only 7, and I feel having the word “hack” after WordPress (WP) sounds much better than having it before.   This new domain is also quick to type and very easy to remember.

A couple of things of note to our readers about the domain transfer:

  • The feed URL will remain the same (which I’m sure will be a relief to all the sites that steal our content via our feed each day). 
  • Monday I plan to publish a very detailed post on how to transfer your blog to a new domain, so keep an eye out for that. 

How Can I Help Your Transition to the New Domain Name?

From a readers perspective, nothing really should change.   You’ll still get our content via our feed and the old URL will redirect to the new domain.   The one thing you could do to help us out is to update your links on your blog to the new domain (or updating the domain part of the URL to the new domain if you linked to a specific post).   All permalinks remain the same with the exception of the domain name itself.

Questions about the change?   Thoughts on the new domain?   Let us know in the comments below!


Automattic Acquires PollDaddy

With all the acquisitions lately by Automattic (the parent company responsible for WordPress), you almost have to wonder what is next.   Well, today that question was answered when Matt Mullenweg announced that Automattic has acquired PollDaddy.

Unlike the past few acquisitions, there is a good chance most of you are already familiar with PollDaddy, who is currently considered to be the leader in internet polling.   They are the polling service of choice by most bloggers because they are easy to build, can be integrated into your blog, and allow people to vote from most feed readers (increasing the number of votes you’ll receive).

Here is a quote from Matt’s post (linked above):

As we started to look at building out our own service for this, it became more obvious that, while on the surface it’s a very simple problem, there’s a lot of hidden complexity and opportunities for some really powerful features under the hood. There are probably a dozen companies addressing this space right now, but as we started to survey the space I was struck by how often I’d see this “PollDaddy” thing pop up.

Two guys in Ireland with a quirky company name were cleaning up with some of the largest and most respected websites using their service on a daily basis. They weren’t the biggest, but they had the high end of the market. It seemed to be the WordPress of the polling space.

According to their announcement, it looks like WordPress.com blogs are now fully integrated with PollDaddy and a PollDaddy WordPress plugin is now available for WordPress.org users. The PollDaddy plugin for us is similar in that it allows you to create and manage your PollDaddy.com polls from within your WordPress blog’s administration area!

What do you guys think about this acquisition?


How To: Build a Categories and Archives Drop-down Box

Over the past couple years I’ve really enjoyed monitoring trends in the blogosphere and one of the trends that has come up recently is blogger’s cleaning up their sidebars by adding drop-down boxes.

If you’d like to build drop-down boxes for your categories and archives on your WordPress blog, here is the code you need:

Archives Drop-down Code

<select name="archive-dropdown" onChange='document.location.href=this.options[this.selectedIndex].value;'>
<option value=""><?php echo attribute_escape(__('Select Month')); ?></option>
<?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly&format=option&show_post_count=1'); ?> </select>

Categories Drop-down Code

<form action="<?php bloginfo('url'); ?>/" method="get">
<?php
$select = wp_dropdown_categories('show_option_none=Select category&show_count=1&orderby=name&echo=0');
$select = preg_replace("#<select([^>]*)>#", "<select$1 onchange='return this.form.submit()'>", $select); echo $select; ?>
<noscript><input type="submit" value="View" /></noscript>
</form>

I think something like this can be a good idea if done with the right theme, but I have also seen it on a few sites where it didn’t look very good, so keep that in mind if you decide to move your categories and archives to a drop-down box!

To see other code snippets we’ve featured here over the past year, check out our WordPress Code page!


Improving Your Blog with a Partial Redesign

Last week I announced the Hack WordPress anniversary contest, and with the announcement, also mentioned a redesign of Hack WordPress. The thing that I think made this redesign unique and interesting is that it was built upon the old design, with only some stylesheet changes, different images, and a bunch of added functionality.

So, why did I decide to go with a redesign instead of a completely custom new design? In a recent post over at Pro Blog Design I think Michael pretty much summed it up best when he explained how to redesign and still win.

When a reader visits a blog day after day, they get used to it. They know how the home page is going to look, they know what they will find in the sidebar and they know what decorations to expect around their comments.

The familiarity does wonders in helping them get around your site quickly, but there are no surprises for them. There’s none of the spark and interest you get when you come across a great looking new site.

It only takes one change to break the monotonous familiarity.

Though Michael’s example is focusing on changing one part of your blog (only the sidebar, header section, comment section, etc.), I think the general idea holds true to our situation.  At some point your blogs growth stalls, and sometimes changes need to take place in order to spark interest and hopefully see that growth continue.

If you find that your blog has stalled a little bit, why not make a change to your design (no matter how small)?  Even something as simple as redoing your logo, revamping your website’s header section, or making some changes to the sidebar can go a long way.