This is Barry

Interactive Film Explanations

How I Moved From Wix To WordPress in 2020 Without Losing SEO

This is not a generic article but a summary of my own personal experience of successfully migrating from Wix to WordPress without losing my SEO rankings. Yes, this very site was once on Wix. Now I know the ton of internet articles make the migration sound super easy, but I’ll go right ahead and tell you it was a long and tedious process. But it was worth it. In this article, I will explain the steps I followed to make the switch from Wix to WordPress, keeping the site and page ranks intact. I’ll be focusing on how I preserved my SEO. I hope this article will help make it a faster process for you than it was for me.

Content

Here are the links to the key sections of the article

Why I chose Wix

I started my website using Wix because it was well priced and gave me the ability to visually design a stunning site. I was pretty impressed with what I had made. Over time, my blogging became a more serious affair. Though slow and steady, I put up a hundred posts. All was well, I started seeing traffic, my rakings went up, and I started building my first email list. Even now, I recommend Wix for all of my artist friends looking to develop their stunning portfolio site and link to their music or films via other platforms like YouTube, or PodCasts. The best part is it’s drag-and-drop from the get-go, and no programming skills are needed.

Why I Moved Out Of Wix

I started with the intention of a portfolio site, and it suddenly started seeing traction for the blog segment, and the other pages were hardly getting any visitors. Wix is based on a Single Page Architecture, and it is client-side rendered. What does this mean? Well, when you right-click on a Wix site’s blog and hit “view-source”, you will notice a lot of code, but you will not find the content of your blog. If you did the same on a WordPress site, you’ll see your content inside the code. Does this mean it’s bad for SEO? No. 

The Wix folks have worked their platform to be Google friendly. So it’s a myth that Wix will lead to terrible SEO. However, the way a Single Page Application loads is better for a site where you know there’s going to be a lot of navigation. Meaning multiple pages per session (lower bounce rates). A lot of blog-based sites today do well, but the bounce rates are expected to be far higher than a company website or artist profile. This is natural, you look for something, you find it, you read it, and you bail. Though I was getting thousands of views in one day, I had a very high bounce rate. And this is where your Single Page Architecture is unsuitable, it loads far too much even though the reader consumes just one post.

As the number of blogs increased, the individual posts started loading slower. In addition to this, the client-side rendering did not take into account the H tags. H tags are your header tags – H1 being the title, H2 being a sub-heading, and H3 being a sub-sub-heading and so on. Though the blog texts were being served to Google’s crawler through a static version of the post, the information structure was not being passed on. This makes you lose out on some of the SEO.

The Fear To Migrate The Website

Over time, my page rankings started falling. Long story short, I decided to move out of Wix and into WordPress.

But I had a lot to lose. Even if the rankings had dropped, I was still receiving thousands of views in a day. I did not want to jeopardize that. I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone. I’m sure you feel the same way too, all of the unknowns and the fear of losing everything is scary. But eventually, I bit the bullet. I also realized it’s not as frightening as it appears.

Steps I Followed To Move From Wix To WordPress Without Losing SEO Rankings

Set-up A Domain Name For Wix If You Don’t Have One

The final phase of your migration will be to pass on the link juice from your individual Pages and Posts on Wix to the new ones on WordPress. And this cannot be done without a domain name associated to your Wix site. Meaning, if your site’s URL is https://mysite.wixsite.com/mysitename, it needs to become https://mysitename.com. So first buy a domain and attach it to Wix. For more information on this go through – this page.

A word of caution, don’t buy your Domain from Wix. Go for a generic site that sells domains. This is because you want to eventually move out of Wix, so having a domain provider that is not Wix is important. If you had already bought your domain from Wix, then first transfer that to a generic domain provider.

Set-up A WordPress Site

There are a lot of articles out there that can help you with how to set up a new WordPress website. I would not recommend setting up something on WordPress.com. Use a hosting service like SiteGround to set it up. In fact, that’s what I did. I took their WordPress Hosting. SiteGround has excellent Support, and they pretty much help set up a simple website using a temporary domain.

Do not buy a different domain for your WordPress website!

Meaning if your Wix site is https://myoldsite.com, don’t decide to create the WordPress site with https://mynewsite.com. This is very important if you want to preserve your SEO and rankings.

Click on the below image, to get started with a discount for your website:

Once you have your temporary WordPress site set up, it will have an IP instead of a domain name, e.g., 168.152.52.31/~mysitename. This is okay because, before you move your domain from Wix to WordPress, you will first need to move all your Pages and Posts from Wix to WordPress.

Once your WordPress site is running, you’ll need to get a theme and apply it to your site. You can refer to this article to do that. Go straight to “Step 3. Select Your Theme“, that’s the only section you need to read, you can ignore the rest. I use Adonis by Catch.

Install the Media Library Folders for WordPress

When you created posts in Wix, you probably got used to folders to upload your images to. This is not the default set-up in WordPress, no worries here. All you have to do is install the Media Library Folders for WordPress plugin, and you’ll get the ability to add images in folders. The only thing that will irritate you is that you can’t access these folders when creating Pages and Posts in WordPress. You are going to have to first create a folder, upload the images, and when creating the Pages and Posts, you can access the photos directly using Add Media. So fair warning, when you migrate, do pictures for one Post/Page at a time.

media library plug in wix to wordpress
A quick view of the folders

Install The Yeost Plugin

SiteGround’s WordPress Hosting should come with Yeost (an SEO tool) preinstalled, else install it. This plugin will help you structure your posts for better SEO ranking. The Yeost plugin also handles the creation and submission of your sitemap.xml to the various search engines and is important to get crawled correctly. This is a one-time set-up and is worth getting done.

Porting The Content from Wix To WordPress

Let me be truthful about this section. This not going to be easy; it’s tedious, and there no one-click way to do this. Let’s start with the Obvious.

The Single Pages In Wix to WordPress

You are going to have to manually copy the content from Wix and paste it in the new Page that you need to create in WordPress. This applies to the images as well. Download them and save them to your computer. Now use the Media Folders plugin to upload them into relevant folders. Once you have copied over all your static pages, you can add them to the Menu from the Appearances > Menu.

The Blog Posts In Wix to WordPress

Here comes the hard part. There are two ways to move the text from each of your Blogs on Wix to WordPress.

1) The RSS way

This is definitely the quickest way. It involves using a plugin to extract all the blogs from your Wix feed.xml and creating new Blog Posts. Go on over to your Wix site and add a /feed.xml at the end of it. So the URL you will be loading will look like  https://mysitename.com/feed.xml. You will see a screen with text that appears to be code. Don’t panic. You don’t have to do anything here except a right-click and save. This will prompt you to save an XML file. Just give it a name and save it in a convenient location on your computer.

Now go over to the WordPress site and go to Tools > Import and select RSS. You’ll need to install it first, click on Install Now and follow the instructions. Finally, open the XML file you stored and let the tool do the job of importing all the blog posts.

RSS Import in WordPress2) The Manual Way

Here, you have to copy each Post content from Wix and create a New Post in WordPress and paste it in there. You then get the images from Wix and upload them using Media Folders. Go to your WordPress Post and add them in the appropriate locations.

This sounds horrible, right? But I still picked this method, and I’ll tell you why. Migration is like moving homes. When you’re packing and preparing to move, you will get a chance to assess if you really need everything. And if, what you are taking along requires to be re-looked at.

In the same way, when you port each Post, you can now restructure it and change up the content, to upgrade it. You are never going to really set time aside to do this otherwise. Remember, we spoke of Yeost, the SEO plugin. Now, as you port your Posts, you can read what Yeost is suggesting and change up the structure of your content to get that “green” score. This way, once you migrate, your site rankings will start going up.

Formatting and Organizing Your Posts In WordPress

I’d urge you to spend some time doing this step. WordPress has two elements that can be associated with a Post – Categories and Tags. You can use these to surface your Posts in the Menu and also format your URLs. Forget about the way Wix created your URLs. You can use the Settings > Permalinks to establish how you want your URLs in WordPress to look like. 

I prefer:

https://mysitename/%category%/%postname%/

This will make your post look like this following sample:

https://www.thisisbarry.com/film/predestination-2014-movie-plot-ending-explained/

Here, “film” is my category. This is referred to as the “slug” and the Category name is actually “Film Explanation”. The slug will appear in the URLs, so keep them short.

By removing the dates from the URLs, it is now shorter and is better fitted to the SEO guidelines. 

Tags are similar to Categories but can be used to define another dimension to your posts. I the example of my site, I use Categories to identify the type of posts – film, music, or technology. And I use Tags as sub-classification – thriller, science-fiction. Categories form my Post URL, but Tags don’t. But this is really up to you.

In the Menu, you can use both Categories and Tags to appear as menu items. Clicking on them will display a page that belongs to that Category or Tag.

Give yourself some time to think about this. Especially if you are going to have Category or Tag as part of your URLs. Changing this later would be painful as your URLs would change, and that is never good for SEO.

Prepare for SEO Transfer – 301 Redirects

As you can see from the heading, this step is very critical. 301 Redirects are a way to tell Google to pass on all the rankings of one URL to another. Because you are moving from Wix to WordPress, you are bound to have a change in the structure of Page and Post URLs. 

e.g., My Post URL looked like this in Wix:

https://www.thisisbarry.com/single-post/2016/03/29/Crash-Course-XMen-Series-Explained-Dummys-Guide 

But it changed to this in WordPress:

https://www.thisisbarry.com/film/x-men-series-all-movies-timelines-explained/

If you don’t do anything about this change in the structure of the URL, your post will start showing a 404 error, and Google will take away the page ranking.

As you might have guessed, you have to write one 301 direct per Page and Post. It’s pretty tiny, and the redirect looks as follows:

Redirect 301 /old-wix-url/ https://new-wordpress-url

There is no https://www part for the Wix URL, but you need to provide it for the WordPress URL.

An example of my post’s 301 redirect is:

Redirect 301 /single-post/2016/03/29/Crash-Course-XMen-Series-Explained-Dummys-Guide https://www.thisisbarry.com/film/x-men-series-all-movies-timelines-explained/

The above code is all in one line. If you copy and paste it in Notepad you will see it. Now make one redirect per Page and Post. Do this in a Notepad, one per line. When done, copy them all to the clipboard.

Now go to SEO > Tools. And chose File Editor. On the page that follows, look for the .htaccess file. There will be a text box below that. Paste your 301 Redirects here and Save. Now you are ready to change your WordPress domain.

TextEditor htaccess 301 redirect wordpressChange The Domain On WordPress

Remember, we spoke of having a domain for your Wix site, else this switch without any loss to the SEO would not be possible? Well, if you don’t have that domain, get one, attach it to Wix and ensure that on Google’s search pages, your domain name is appearing. Until then, do not do this switch.

Once you see your Domain appearing in Google’s search pages, it’s time to talk to Support. Reach out to your hosting Support and ask them to switch your temporary IP based URL to your domain URL. SiteGround’s WordPress Hosting support team helped me do this. Also, tell them that you would like to have your site as HTTPS (Let’s Encrypt certificate is free). I’m sure the Support of other hosting services would gladly help with this set-up for you.

Switch Your DNS from Wix to WordPress

Now you need to go over to your domain provider’s configuration. You would have already set it to point to your Wix site. Now you have to change it to point it to your WordPress site. This is usually done by changing the domain’s nameservers (NS) to point to your WordPress Hosting site. In the case of SiteGround’s WordPress Hosting, you can go to your Accounts tab and see the two nameservers. Change your entries in the domain provider’s nameservers to point to SiteGround’s IPs.

You will have to wait a while to ensure that your DNS propagation is in place. Meaning, for a while (up to 48 hrs), you might see your old Wix site loading when you open your site’s link. Keep trying from different Internet networks, and you’ll eventually notice your new WordPress site opens. Once it does, you are ready to test your pages.

Testing All Your Posts And Pages

You already have a list of your URLs because you created the 301 redirects. But I would suggest the best way to ensure that each of your Page/Post SEO will remain intact is to test each Page/Post via Google and hear is how.

  1. Go to Google Search.
  2. Enter your Page/Post keyword along with your site name.
  3. Find your link and click on it.
  4. Check if the new WordPress Page/Post opens and looks right.
  5. Repeat for each Page/Post.

Doing it this way will leave no doubts about your SEO 301 redirects that you configured, and that they work correctly. If there is any problem that you see for a Page or Post, it means that the 301 redirects are not done right. Go back to the .htaccess file and fix it and retry.

Email List Migration After Moving From Wix To WordPress

Unlike Wix, WordPress doesn’t come with an inbuilt with Email List collection. But there are many options like SendPulse that offer free Email collection and sending till up to 2000 active subscribers. They also have Push and Facebook Messenger services as part of the bundle. I’ve been a customer for a while, and it’s been good so far. You can click on the below image to set up your free account:

sendpulse for wix to wordpress moveConclusion On The Wix to WordPress Migration

Now that you have your shiny new site on WordPress don’t stop here. Start spending time writing more posts and check out the many plugins that are available to improve your user experiences. Be very careful with each plugin you install, ensure you read the reviews, and assess how good it is. Bad plugins could slow down your site, and that’s never good for SEO. Get over that fear and start migrating now, I would suggest SiteGround as they are pretty solid with Support and Site Speed. Click below to get you discount and get started:

This an evolving article, so please feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback that you have, and I’ll ensure I get you the answer and update the post so that all the readers can benefit from it. Share this article with anyone you know who has been contemplating this move from Wix to WordPress.

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