Building our own website has become extremely easy. Most website builders provide drag-n-drop functionality that attracts people, makes them sign up, and creates something wonderful.
As your website traffic goes up, you get to know about WordPress; you realize you made a mistake. WordPress is the best CMS for bloggers because it provides everything you need. The problem is that most drag-n-drop website builders do not provide tools to migrate to WordPress. One such company is Weebly.
Weebly is known for its drag-n-drop website builder. It is effortless to start a blog or an e-commerce site with Weebly. LinuxAndUbuntu was started on Weebly, and as the website traffic went up, I started facing problems with it. I needed more tools to handle my website, but very few tools were available for the blog.
But switching host is not that easy, especially when switching a blog with hundreds of posts. Weebly does not provide any tool to export blog data such as posts, pages, comments, files, etc. All they allow you to backup is the theme file which is useless for migration.
So in this article, I will demonstrate how one can migrate all blog posts, pages, files, and comments from Weebly to WordPress. It is recommended to follow all the steps carefully. We have committed a few mistakes during LinuxAndUbuntu migration that cost us an 80% traffic loss for more than a week. Though search engines fixed those issues all by themselves and started sending traffic again, it took more than a week for things to get back to normal.
1. Create a WordPress Website
The first step is to create a WordPress website. This is the site where we will be exporting all our content from Weebly. For the new WordPress website, you can choose MassiveGRID, as they provide High availability cloud hosting at affordable prices.
For help with WordPress installation, we have written a complete step-by-step WordPress installation guide.
2. Export Weebly Content
Secondly, we will export all our Weebly website content. There is an unofficial tool for exporting Weebly website content called weeblytowp.
Here is the content that weeblytowp exports from the Weebly site –
- Blog post
Now visit weeblytowp.com and fill out the information.
Enter your Weebly site domain name, your name, and email address where you want to get notified after the process is complete.
If you also want to export categories, choose ‘WXR’ else, go with RSS.
Lastly, select if you want to export pages or not.
Everything is done? Click ‘Export my Weebly Website’. Depending on the size of your website, it is going to take some time.
Once the process has been completed, you will have an XML file. Download it to your local storage.
3. Import Weebly content to WordPress
After we have exported the website, the next step is to import the content to our newly created WordPress website.
Open the WordPress website and log in to the admin dashboard. If you don’t know where to access the admin dashboard, it is available at http://domain-name.com/wp-admin. It’ll ask username and password.
When logged in, click on Tools > Import.
From the list of available import tools, install the WordPress import tool. Click on install to automatically install the tool in WordPress.
When installed, click on ‘Run importer’. It will open up a new page for uploading the XML file we created previously.
Select the XML file and click on ‘Upload file and import’.
And in the last step of the import process. We will assign a user to imported posts and pages. You can either enter a new login name or select a user from the dropdown list.
Also, check ‘Download and import file attachments. It will download all images to the new host.
Finally, click submit. Now, wait until the process is complete. Depending on the size of your website, it may take a long time.
It sometimes ends up in error because the tool taking too long to download the files. But I noticed even after the error, the tool continues to download files in the background. If you want to overcome this error, I suggest temporarily changing PHP script timeout to an amount that you think is enough for your website downloads.
In my case, I did not change the PHP timeout because even after the error, the tool downloaded all the images from the Weebly server to my new server.
So you can let the tool do its job.
When the import has been completed, you are ready to set up your new website.
Create a custom URL structure before publishing site
In the sense that your website is already receiving traffic from search engines, so it’s not new. It would be best to keep all the URLs intact so that search engines keep your website indexed. If you push it live at this time, all your indexed pages will end up in a 404 error, and very soon, search engines will remove your pages from the index. That’s because of Weebly and the WordPress URL structure method.
By default, Weebly structure a blog post URL in the following format – http://domain-name.com/blog-name/post-title.
By default, WordPress structure URL in the following format – http://domain-name.com/post-title/.
As you can see, if you push the site live without correcting the URLs, all your indexed blog posts will throw a 404 error.
Luckily WordPress lets us create a custom post structure.
To overcome the issue, go to Settings > Permalinks and select ‘Custom Structure’. Now structure the URL yourself.
As you can see, I have added ‘/home’ before postname so that WordPress structures blog posts in Weebly format. If you need any help regarding the URL structure, let me know in the comment section. I will help you out. ‘/home’ was the blog name on my Weebly site.
Do not leave ‘/’ in the last of URL
This is one of the examples that shows how a tiny mistake like this can cause really huge damage to your website.
By default, WordPress adds a slash ‘/’ at the end of each URL, and Weebly does not. After you create a custom URL, remove the slash from the end of the URL. Why is it important?
Let’s take the URL of this post. It is www.linuxandubuntu.com/home/post-title
What if we add a slash ‘/’ at the end of the URL? It does not make any difference for us. Right? We still see the same content. But one thing you did not notice there was a redirect.
Browsers and search engines consider ‘/’ and without ‘/’ URLs as different pages, due to which all search engines will consider these two URLs differently. And as a consequence, Google will remove all your pages without ‘/’ and start to index pages with ‘/’. As a result, you may lose traffic up to 80% from Google for at least a week.
Though search engines will index new pages, the process takes time. Google and other search engines will run their algorithms on new URLs to index.
Customize your new website
Install a theme
After you have followed the above instructions carefully, it is time to customize your website. To install a new theme, go to Appearances > Themes > Add new. There are thousands of themes to choose from. Find the theme that suits your website the most.
Install plugins for more functionality
WordPress has the widest repository of plugins. Just think about what functionality you want, and there is a plugin for that. To install a new plugin, go to Plugins > Add new.
Now point the domain name to new host
After customizing your website, it is time to point your domain to the new host. To do so, you can change the DNS record of your domain. For help, you can contact your domain name provider, and they will do it for you.
DNS changes propagation may take a few hours. Your website may not be available from some regions for some time. Sit back and relax.
So that was it. When I started with Weebly, it was one of the best web builders I knew about. I was not aware of WordPress, and as the website grew, I started facing troubles from Weebly.
Today LinuxAndUbuntu is powered by WordPress, the best CMS available out there. I hope this guide will help bloggers like me who want to migrate from Weebly to WordPress. If you need any help regarding the migration, do not hesitate to contact me through the contact form or drop a comment below this article.