Top Things To Avoid When Transferring a Website

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Looking to transfer a website to a new server, web host or domain? This can be a simple or big undertaking depending on what kind of transfer you need. But even the simplest jobs can lead to mistakes that result in losses of important files, settings, and marketing equity. To help ensure you go through with a smooth transfer, here are the top things you’ll need avoid.

1. Cancelling Your Web Host Before the Transfer 

If you’re simply looking to transfer a website to a new host or server, do not make the mistake of cancelling your current web host’s services before the move. This is the case even if you think you have all your files and databases backed up for the transfer. You want to be safe and double check that a transfer has been made successfully before the cancellation. You’ll also want to keep the hosting service running for a little longer just in case you want to go back and look at the settings and site customizations.

2. Not Doing a Recent Backup Before the Transfer 

Many website owners have an automatic backup system. These systems are programmed to back up a website every defined time period like once every two weeks. It’s not uncommon for people to forget to create a manual backup before the transfer and test the backup to see that there are no problems. Even a week is a long time when you consider the fact that you’ve probably invested time and money into content creation, redesigns, and marketing campaigns.

3. Not Paying Attention to URL Structure 

If you’re transferring a website onto a new platform like say from Drupal to WordPress, it’s important that you keep the URL structure the same. You want to pay attention to how the folders are organized. For instance, is obviously different from Make sure you copy the exact folder structures so that it doesn’t hurt your SEO campaign and also to ensure that it doesn’t result in a ton of broken links after the transfer is made.

4. Changing Your Canonical URL 

Changing your canonical URL can lead to huge consequences in the search engines. In the eyes of Google, there is a difference between and By making this change, you are essentially creating a new site rather than migrating your old one into a new one. This is also the case for http vs https. Although, it’s important to offer your visitors a secure website, it’s better to go through the change step by step so that you can back track and find out what you did wrong.

5. Forgetting to Set 301 Redirects Properly 

You want to ensure that you set and test 301 redirects from your old domain to a new one if you’re changing domains. It’s important that you crawl every single page of your existing website to ensure you don’t miss anything. And don’t just set 301 redirects to your new top-level domain. Make sure that deep pages of your website go to the same page migrated to a new domain. Many migration software programs that are SEO friendly will usually take care of this for you, so it will be incredibly valuable to invest in a reliable program.

6. Not Doing Enough to Address the Change with Your Audience 

While this may seem like it should be intuitive, many website owners don’t do enough to let their new visitors, audience and customers know about the transfer. There should be a clear notification on the new site. It should also be announced on your blog, emails, and social media profiles. You should also leave the notifications on the new site for a long time until you finally feel like everybody has settled in to the new changes.

7. Not Using a Sandbox for Testing 

A common mistake that’s made in site migrations is not testing it in a sandbox. You want to make sure things go smoothly and take the time to look for errors in the sandbox. The reason why is because it will become a headache if there are errors in the new server and domain. You’ll end up trying to identify the problems and get caught in a cycle of one issue affecting another, eventually getting bogged down by more problems. Test the transfer in a sandbox first and execute the real transfer once you’ve confirmed that there are no issues.

These are the top things you want to avoid when transferring a website. It can be nerve wracking to make a big change. With so many small details and possible issues you have to deal with, it’s not uncommon to make careless mistakes during the process. With this list, you’ll now be aware of these mistakes and be more confident about your upcoming site transfer.