After being in the digital marketing industry for over a year, the biggest irony of my professional career had been the lack of any search engine optimization (SEO) effort at all on my personal blog/website. I started this blog, which used to be hosted on free WordPress domain at richxiong89.wordpress.com, some time in the 2012 and have kept it running with sporadic posting ever since. Over time, people have started taking notice of the blog as I’ve linked it on quite a number of my social accounts and the typical conversations surrounding my blog have always been “oh it must have been so search engine optimized”, “how long do you spend each week to work on the SEO on your blog”, “can you teach me what I should do with my blog”, and yada yada yada… I should have been ashamed of the irony, right?
The untimely arrival of Panda 4.0 algorithm coincided with the period of time this year when I barely had any energy or time to take care of my blog, which led to my blog’s taking a huge dip in traffic over time. If it had happened to a client’s site, I would have been on top of my game planning strategies and tactics for recovery, churning out multiple action plans and executing at the highest level of diligence. But well, 4 months after the hit, here I am getting started on this long-overdue weekend project.
Custom Domain and Hosting
The first of many mistakes I made yesterday was hastily purchasing a custom domain on WordPress.com without digging much deeper into my research on hosting. The implication of this is that you will get very limited functionality for the price you’re paying for (26 USD per year) and you will have to look for a hosting provider (which also will allow you sign up for a custom domain, at a much better bang-for-the-buck bundled price).
I’ll come back to how I managed to make the domain work a tad later. Without getting into long-winded research that went nowhere, I pretty much decided on Bluehost upon reading this article on selecting the best WordPress hosting.
Setting up Bluehost
After completing the transaction for a “Shared, Plus” account, I was ready to rock and roll. The first thing to do is to make sure your custom domain is pointing to Bluehost’s name servers, that is if you made the same mistake as me in purchasing a domain on WordPress. So, there are two options to set up WordPress on Bluehost if you already have a custom domain (if not, you can just sign one up on Bluehost itself and everything will take care of itself):
- Migrate your custom domain from WordPress.com’s host server to Bluehost server
- Point the name servers of your custom domain to Bluehost’s name servers
For the first point, domain management options can be found in the cPanel of your Bluehost account (some hosting companies do not allow domain transfer within 60 days from purchase, so you might want to check that).
For the second point, changing name servers on your WordPress’s custom domain is very simple. Go to your domain management screen on WordPress at https://wordpress.com/my-domains/
Click on “Edit” and select “Name Servers” on the left sidebar of the popup that follows:
After changing your name servers to Bluehost, you have to set up a WordPress instance in Bluehost in order to build you site. Before you do that, you have to migrate your existing WordPress blog to Bluehost so that you can enjoy all the control and customization options that come with the hosting. This process is pretty straightforward as all you gotta do is to go to your WordPress’s Dashboard -> Tools > Export, select all content and the XML file will be exported to your computer. As simple as that. Bluehost has also posted a step-by-step instruction post for WordPress migration with video for your reference.
Now it’s time to go to Bluehost’s cPanel and set up that WordPress instance. In cPanel, there’s a website builder section where you can find WordPress, Simple Scripts, etc. If you click on WordPress and follow the on-screen instructions, you will have a WordPress instance set up MOJO Marketplace. Bluepost’s instruction on installing WordPress on MOJO Marketplace has outdated interface screenshots, but you get the gist anyway. After the installation, you will be redirected to the MOJO Marketplace landing page where you should be able to see your WordPress install (you’ll also receive an email informing you that WordPress for your new domain is successfully set up, with login details attached).
Completing Migration and Final Checking
Once you’re able to login to your newly setup WordPress on your new domain, you can follow the steps mentioned in exporting WordPress content earlier on, except this time you select import and let the process take care of everything for you. If you have a ton of posts in your old blog, the import will take quite some time, so just let the tab untouched. Of course, this is a very simplified migration process that hasn’t taken into accounts the migration of wp-content/themes, databases, etc. But because I am setting up my new website from scratch, new theme design, layout and so on, I didn’t do much transfer via FTP – all I needed were the posts. If you have time and are interested in a relatively more “complete” migration process, Bluehost does have a very comprehensive FAQ post for on WordPress migration.
One last thing to check is the “Permalinks” setting in your new WordPress website – it has to be the same URL structure as the old WordPress blog, or else 90 – 99% of your posts will go into a 404 header, following the redirection from old posts. There were a couple of hours yesterday during which I had absolutely zero stats from my new website, because I overlooked this last bit.
That’s been it. Thanks for reading. I spent the better part of this weekend working on this side project and I will probably follow up with a series of posts on WordPress SEO – the use of plugins, technical bits and other topics that may be of interest to you. Stay tuned! Also, do not hesitate to get in touch if you run into any issues or if you think I could help. 🙂