2 Major Problems (with Solutions) I Had When Moving Sites

Last Updated on: September 2nd, 2016

pic of street sign with street names "website" and "blog"

Moving a website from a free platform such as WordPress.com to one that is self-hosted can be a nightmare. (Just ask me. I know. I did this recently!) Problems will arise, but solutions can be found, if you know what to do and who to ask for help.

I was faced with several problems when moving from my old site to my new one. Some solutions were found simply by asking for help but others were found through trial and error. In this article, I will reveal two major problems I faced and the solutions I found. It is my hope that you can learn what to do and what to expect when moving your website by using my personal experience as a model.

Moving Posts – the easy part

I’m pleased to announce that I was able to move all of posts from my old site to the new one in about two minutes. It was actually easy.

All I had to do was:

  • go to my dashboard, and choose Tools then Export,
  • select what I wanted to move (Posts, Pages, or both),
  • download the file to my computer,
  • go to the dashboard of my new site, choose Tools then Import,
  • and upload the file from my computer to my new site.

I opted to move only my posts and not my pages, as part of the reason for having a new site was to design things a bit differently!

Redirecting – the hard part

My  blog was formerly called “Lorraine Reguly’s Life” but it is no longer accessible. If you try to visit it, you will be brought to “Wording Well” instead. Why? Because there is a redirect in place, which I purchased through the Store on WordPress.com for a cost of $13 per year.

screenshot that shows site redirect information

screenshot for site redirect info

From the above screenshot, one would think that the redirect is actually working. It was, to a certain degree; it brought visitors to the new site, but it didn’t bring them to the post they were looking for, even though I moved all of my posts from “Lorraine Reguly’s Life” over to this site.

The Problem: URL Structure

The problem with the redirect occurred when I opted to change the permalink (URL) structure on the new site. I did not want the date to be a part of the URLs; I wanted them to be customized and static.

This is not an option bloggers have if they blog on WordPress.com but it is an option on WordPress.org! (The URLs on WordPress.com contain the entire title of the post, whereas customized links can be shortened so that they will rank higher in search engines.)

Although I did not customize the URL for the post I wrote for the official rules for the Liebster Award, you can see that the date has been removed from the permalink on my new site:

OLD URL: http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/the-liebster-award-the-official-rules-my-first-blog-award-and-a-few-personal-secrets-revealed

NEW URL: https://wordingwell.com/the-liebster-award-the-official-rules-my-first-blog-award-and-a-few-personal-secrets-revealed

Because of the difference in URL structure between the old site and the new one, problems arose. Visitors were not brought to the pages they wanted to see, and I had to turn to my web host, Alan Langford from Abivia, for help. This guy is awesome!

The Solution to the Permalink Problem

Alan is, indeed, one smart guy. He did all of the technical work to make this site visible to the world, he provided me with excellent answers to my many questions in a language even I could understand, and he made himself available to me at a moment’s notice.

I phoned him several times using his toll-free contact number and we spoke so much the first week of site set-up that I eventually just identified myself as “Lorraine” (instead of “Lorraine Reguly”) and he knew immediately who I was! 🙂

Honestly, I could not have asked for anyone better when I was looking for a web host. (I really should have complimented him more when I mentioned his company in the informative web hosting guide I created!) Alan’s been a true gem.

We also connected on Skype several times, too. When I realized the redirection was not working, I called him explained the problem. He said he’d let me know when or if he could fix it. I was grateful and surprised when, mere minutes later, I got a message via Skpye comments that a solution had been found.

Here is our exact conversation (please excuse the informal language and lack of capitalized letters; it was a chat, after all):

[email protected]: ok, your links should work now. Geek magic 😉

lorraine reguly: ok i will check

lorraine reguly: so sweet – how did you do that?

[email protected]: geek explanation: a regular expression match in your .htaccess file.
Non-geek: Apache has a way to change a requested URL and tell the browser it has moved. Regular expressions let you pattern match URLs, so I did one that matched yy/mm/dd/ and just removed the date codes.

He also sent me a link to an article on customizing and optimizing permalinks (which is too techie for me to comprehend but he understood quite easily).

This is only one example of the excellent support I have received from Abivia, too!

Problems with Followers and Notifications

I had many followers on WordPress.com, when I posted to “Lorraine Reguly’s Life,” but I don’t know for sure how many of them are following me now that I’ve moved over here and re-named my blog as “Wording Well.”  I suspect that a lot of people haven’t bothered to follow me over here – yet.

I am getting notifications of new user registrations every day (which makes me happy!) but I am still unsure of who is getting notified when I publish a new post here.

I have received a small amount of feedback from several people and have determined this: followers of the old site are not being notified of new posts unless they are following me here.

Because I can still publish posts to “Lorraine Reguly’s Life,” my followers from there will get a notification that a post was published IF I PUBLISH A POST THERE, but if they try to visit the old site, they will be brought here (because of the redirect) but they might a message that says something like, “Whoa! You broke something!”

So, my solution for the first little while is to publish a post with the same title on both sites. At least, for the next three posts, anyway. (I just hope I don’t upset anyone by doing this.)

image of many people (also known as "followers")

My Solution to Getting My Followers Back

Even though many people know that I’ve moved to a new site, I posted the following “Quick Note From Lorraine” to “Lorraine Reguly’s Life” to update those who don’t:

Hi. I just wanted to let you know what’s going on.

If you try to read this post on Lorraine Reguly’s Life, you will be brought to the new site and get a message that you “broke something” even though you really didn’t because of the redirect that has been put in place.

To continue following my blog, you have to subscribe to Wording Well via email by looking entering your email in the spot on the sidebar at the top, on the right, and clicking the “YES! SIGN ME UP!” button.

Thank you for your cooperation, and please accept my apologies for this notification. I really don’t want to lose you as a reader, and I’ve been missing you!

See you on the new site! 🙂

~Lorraine

Another attempt I made to solve the problem of losing followers was to post directly to WordPress.com support. They finally helped me, but I had to wait for four days. This seemed like an eternity to me!

Once I was told that my followers had been moved, I asked for further articles that I could direct others to, and they pointed me to these two:

It turns out that you have to ask them to do this; you cannot move them yourself.

I have to give a shout out to Jeevan, who suggested (when I pled for help) that I read this support article which answers several questions people have about moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

If you are having problems understanding the difference between the two, I’d suggest reading WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: A Definitive Guide For 2013. I have to give kudos to Alan at Abivia for this last one, too. He’s full of useful information at a moment’s notice! (FYI, you might want to add him to your circles on Google+ in case you ever have a tech question you need answered. Here is a direct connection to his profile.)

UPDATE: I have since deleted that site and the redirects.

More Problems I Had

I ran into several other problems while setting up my site, and I’ve written about them in a guest post on Dear Blogger called What No One Tells You About Moving Websites. I think my favourite part of that post is how to set up a favicon. 😉

I hope you can learn from my experiences when you decide to move to your own website!

Feel free to comment if you have something to say. 🙂

And if you’re wondering how I took a highlighter to this text, stay tuned; I’ll be giving you a tutorial in this soon! 🙂

Image #1 courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image #2 courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

18 thoughts on “2 Major Problems (with Solutions) I Had When Moving Sites

    • says

      Arleen, I worked hard on making this site visually appealing and I thank you for the compliment on its aesthetics. 🙂 The fact that Google was noticing my old site was one of the reasons why I wanted to get my own site and I am glad I did. I am also happy the move is behind me, too. It’s not an experience I care to repeat. I am still a bit unsure about my followers, but I think if they are true followers, they will follow me anywhere. I hope. 😉

  1. William Butler says

    Hi Lorraine,
    Moving a blog sounds almost as much work as moving to a new home. I’m glad you found the answers, in both technical support and having the tenacity to get the answers you need. You must be relieved the move is over. 🙂

    I’ve never had to do this as I’ve stayed on the same domain. Recently, I moved to a new domain host because the shared hosting BlueHost provided was down way too much and then they wouldn’t move my sites when their server repeatedly came under attack. I switched to KWWHost and my site has been up since.
    William Butler recently posted…25 Life Observations From A Shoe

    • says

      William, I think moving from one house to another is less stressful. 🙂

      I’m happy to hear that you found a good host. I’ve been happy with mine, too.

      Nice to meet you! Out of curiosity, how did you find this site? Do you remember?

  2. Becc says

    You really are tenacious aren’t you!
    I am always surprised at how much you are learning and putting those things you learn in to place. I think I give up a little too easily. Getting my head around this kind of stuff would seem a little too big of an obstacle. But, you just keep trying and learning. That is a great thing.
    Becc recently posted…What if?

    • says

      Thanks, Becc. I’d rather learn how to do something myself than have to pay someone else to do it (as long as it’s not too hard) and having others to help me has been simply fabulous.

      On another note, I hope you are feeling better these days. I’ve been sending you positive energy. 😉

  3. Adrienne says

    Bless your heard Lorraine, that sounds like a heck of a lot of work. I haven’t had to go this route myself. I have moved one wordpress.org blog to another one in the past but that was just done all by exporting the posts. I’ve never tried doing it from one platform to another so thank goodness you had Alan to help you. That’s why it’s great to build relationships with others. They can come to your rescue when needed.

    I’m so glad you’ve gotten everything situated and most things never do go 100% smoothly do they!

    Hope you’re happy though where you are now and I’m loving the look of your blog. Great job girl.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…How Many Of Your Readers Are Using Mobile Devices

    • says

      Adrienne, I’m just happy now that all of this is behind me! It was hard to deal with, but I’ve learned a lot, and if I ever start another website I will know what to expect.

      Thanks for the compliment on the new site! 🙂

      By the way, I’m glad you finally solved your hosting problem. It sounds like we were both getting stressed out with all the techie problems blogging brings. Onward and upward, now! 🙂

  4. Hmm…permalinks, I had the same problem when I moved to WP (from blogger). I had a plugin to help me out (unfortunately, that only works with Blogger).

    Of course, it had issues, but for the most part, it worked well (I used custom domain on blogger, so that helped too). If not, the whole process would have been a nightmare (Well, I certainly would have lost a lot of traffic).

    Anyways, I am glad you figured everything out 🙂

    Problems will come and go…but, ultimately, we will win, if we keep trying 😀 Good luck with the future, Lorraine!

    Thanks for the mention 😀
    Jeevan Jacob John recently posted…I am loving the ideas!

    • says

      Jeevan, I am a big believer in giving credit where it’s due, so of course I didn’t mind mentioning you. 😉

      I’m just happy the move is complete. Now I can move forward and get back to blogging without having to worry about all of these problems. 🙂

  5. says

    Hey Lorraine

    Fun fun fun, huh!
    Although I know you have had a lot of hard work and pain with this move, I think in the long run you will benefit greatly from it.
    You have developed such a great following in the last year and you really deserve a permanent home.

    The redirect the guy did is actually a common issue when you change URL structure even on your own site. I also had that code he talked about in my htaccess file (Actually it is still in there but disabled). I also wanted to move to non-dated URLs once. But then you lose all your social shares. I could not figure out how to solve that problem on Digg Digg so I left it as it was.

    I should really revisit that issue, as short and to the point URLs are the way to go. Although for SEO I dont think it makes a huge difference.

    Also when I was working with your site and your host, he was great. I use Bluehost and they are good, but there is no real person behind it. And your guy enabled some stuff on your webserver that most hosts would not. So again, great stuff on finding him.

    All the best with the rest of your move. And you know if you need help you can give me a shout, even if I am asleep – I will see it the next morning :>

    ashley
    Ashley F recently posted…MLP 001: Blogging Success – Miss Ileane Smith reveals how successful blogging is done

    • says

      Ashley, thanks for the web help you’ve given me and for complimenting Alan as well. I’m really happy I found him, too!

      I didn’t know that you lose the social shares when you re-vamp things. Oh well. I’m not going to worry about something like that now. What’s done is done.

      A shorter URL structure is apparently better for SEO but I fail to believe that, actually, since several of my posts hit the number one slot in Google search when I was blogging on Lorraine Reguly’s Life. The date was a part of the URL structure over there, so I think that goes to show you that the contents of a post is what Google pays attention to.

      I’m glad that the whole move is behind me now. Phew. It’s been an ordeal, but now I think I can focus again on providing great content to everyone.

      Thanks again for your help. You’re new site is looking good, too. 🙂 I’m happy I have a friend who is a web developer (yep, you!) and a heck of a nice guy, to boot.

  6. Johnny Bravo says

    Lorraine, I never would have thought about the post redirects not working becuase of the date but that makes total sense. I have a site I am considering moving to a self hosted like my main sales site but haven’t gotten around to it. When the time is right I’ll be sure to re-read this post to make sure I can learn from your trials.

    I’m sorry to hear you went through them but like Maxwell said, you’re learning a lot! love the new site by the way.

    ~ Johnny
    Johnny Bravo recently posted…How To Say No To A Recruiter

    • says

      Johnny, the whole redirect problem was a nightmare because I wrote several posts that hit the number one slot in the search engines and I know a lot of people who tried to access them in the two days it took me to solve that problem simply couldn’t. I was very happy to have Alan Langford find a solution for me. He’s been a lifesaver!

      I hope you don’t have too many problems when you move your sites! Best of luck to you!

      It’s nice to hear you like the new site. Thanks. 🙂

  7. Hi Lorraine; You should be proud of yourself. You are stretching yourself and learning so many new things. Th post is very easy to read and follow your path. will be looking forward to your update on this. Glad to hear you got all your followers back. Gaining subscribers is so hard to do, no one wants to lose any or have to start over all together. Thanks for sharing and take care, Max
    maxwell ivey recently posted…My first google video hangout tune in next week

    • says

      Hi Max. I’m not entirely convinced I got all of my subscribers back even though I was told they’ve been moved. However, I am getting sick and tired of trying to figure out this techie stuff. This is soooo not my area of expertise!

      I’m sure you will end up seeing my post on Greg’s site as I know you are a regular reader of his now, too. All hail the Bloggers Helping Bloggers group! *wink wink and smile*

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