How To Move from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.org

This article describes how to move your blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress blog on your own domain. After following this guide, you will have a fully functional, standalone, self-hosted WordPress blog.

Before You Begin

  • This guide describes moving everything – including images – from your WordPress.com blog. In other words, your blog should function perfectly even if WordPress.com were not live.
  • Make sure you have installed the latest version of WordPress on your self-hosted blog. In my case, I used 2.8.4.
  • For a good overview of the process, read Remarkablogger’s post.
  • Download and read the step-by-step guide (PDF) written by the gracious folks at BlogWell here, which covers the domain redirection part very well.


Export and Import

  1. Change the permalinks structure in your self-hosted WordPress to “Day and name” style to match that of WordPress.com.
  2. In the old WordPress.com blog go to Tools > Export and download the XML file to your computer.
  3. In the new self-hosted WordPress, go to Tools > Import and check the max allowed import file size. If your XML file size is the same or greater, you will need to increase this limit, as in the next step. Otherwise, you can skip the next step.
  4. WordPress FAQ suggests several ways in which you can increase the size, memory, and execution time to allow larger file imports. Remember your default values before changing them so that you can revert any changes you make to php.ini or .htaccess. With Bluehost, changing upload_max_size and max_execution_time in php.ini worked.
  5. Once your WordPress allows a larger file import than your XML, you are set. Enable the option to “Download and import file attachments”, and import.

Status Check

  • All your posts, pages, comments, and tags are now in your self-hosted WordPress
  • Contrary to some misleading articles I’ve seen on the web, your self-hosted WordPress also contains all your images (that’s what “Download and import file attachments” does), which you can check by going to your Media Library. However,
  • All links to images in your posts still point to the old WordPress. You can verify this by viewing your posts and checking properties of images in them.
  • All internal links (links from your posts to your other posts) become external links, since they still point to the old WordPress.
  • The export/import does not transfer any videos. You should either use the VideoPress plugin to continue hosting videos on WordPress.com or move them manually.

Update Links

  1. Install the Search and Replace plugin on your self-hosted WordPress. Use it to perform the next two steps. Search and replace in all database fields.
  2. Change the links to images by searching for “http://oldblog.wordpress.com/files/” and replacing with “http://www.newblog.com/wp-content/uploads/”. Check your posts to see that the images are now shown from your self-hosted WordPress.
  3. Change all external links to the old WordPress.com blog to internal links by searching for “http://oldblog.wordpress.com” and replacing them with “http://www.newblog.com”.
  4. If you wish, opt for the $10/year domain upgrade to redirect all visitor and search traffic from your old blog to your new site as already described in the BlogWell PDF guide.

That’s it! Your done.

SEO and Page Rank Implications

Your Google Page Rank will not be transferred to your new domain and will need to be developed over time. However, many other factors affect your search ranking. Though you are using a temporary redirect from WordPress.com, I have found that Google is intelligent enough to update its database and start listing your new blog in its search results.

Google Search Result RGE

For evidence, see these screenshots showing some of my popular posts. You will notice that the new domain URL has started appearing exclusively or higher than the older WordPress.com blog URL. This is only in a matter of 2 to 3 weeks.

Google Search Result OSM

Questions? Comments? Feel free to discuss.

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  • http://vikasgupta.wordpress.com/ Vikas Gupta

    Thanks a ton! It will certainly be of great help when I shift to WP.org. I was really unaware of many things discussed in part 2 and part 3! The links are goldmines! I am itching to shift, frankly speaking. I want to scale a new level in blogging! :)

    All said and done, I'm still undecided on the webhost. There is hardly any host which does not have bad reviews [I guess nothing can be perfect]. Ran into wpwebhost; even talked to them on mail! BTW there is a full website against Goddaddy called Nodaddy!

    Thanks once again.

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Vikas, most guides for migrating to self-hosted WP were outdated, hence I decided to write these posts. Happy to help and glad you found them useful!

  • http://www.gospelrhys.co.uk/ Rhys

    Great post! One thing that hurt my blog during the switchover (though I went from a hosted blogger to a hosted wordpress) was the change in links, I went from a PR5 to a PR2. :(

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Rhys, thanks for visiting and the feedback. Yes, change in links is one thing – it can be fixed. But change in PR is unfortunately inevitable :(

  • vikasgupta

    This is why I am wary of moving to self hosting! http://www.snaphow.com/a-very-painful-tragic-in

    This tech guy lost 900 posts and site down for one week [DreamHost; though Dreamhost are good people]. Blame him too; he never backed up! :(

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    That's like being wary of moving from paper-based filing systems to desktop computers! If you don't back up your data, you shouldn't be using computers in the first place. :)

  • vikasgupta

    Wow, nice humorous analogy! I will back up some of my files on computer today evening [last back up was 2 months ago]. It's like a reminder! Thanks.

    I am learning back up etc. and doing trial and error with self-hosting [bought 4 domain names too]. Will shift once I feel comfortable.

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Great! There are cool automated backup plugins available with WordPress. I use one that emails me a scheduled backup every week – no hassles.

    4 domain names? Wow, you're rich! :)

  • vikasgupta

    Hmm, great! People also use PHP my admin [all these jargons discourage me!].

    Not rich; I am actually poor and a fool! I only later knew that I could have used something called subdomains! I could have made it at least 3 domains. One domain is for the woman I love [unrequited love but I've not given up; I claimed her domain name!].

    Two are .in domains ; so that will be expensive during renewal [initial cost was low due to promo]!

  • http://vikas-gupta.in/ Vikas Gupta

    In the search and replace plugin, we have to check all options including the last two [user login etc.]?? I think yes.

    I'm doing a test run; feeling very nervous. Will take more time in shifting.

    Thanks.

  • http://vikas-gupta.in Vikas|vikas-gupta.in

    Need some help.I have migrated. http://vikas-gupta.in

    1. Should I add www in url like you or not? I cannot find anything on this on net. If yes, where from? From the option in dashboard region?

    2. I'm uncomfortable with the 'search and replace' plugin. In my test run it had made no changes for image files (it did change the links) as suggested though.

    3. Do I need to edit my feedburner feed details? I think yes. Isn't it? Will I lose my existing subscribers (I think not).

    Thanks.

  • Pingback: 5 reasons why you should not shift from a wordpress.com blog to wordpress.org « Emails of |vikas-gupta.in|

  • Pingback: 5 reasons why you should not shift from a wordpress.com blog to wordpress.org « vikas PhD (would-be)

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Vikas,

    1. AFAIK, it doesn't matter whether you add it or not.

    2. Don't understand how I can help.

    3. Yes, you will need to edit Feedburner feed details. You will retain Feedburner subscribers. If readers were directly subscribed to your WP.com feed, you will lose them.

  • http://vikas-gupta.in Vikas|vikas-gupta.in

    Updates: I submitted two tickets to wordpress and the bug is fixed now (they also thanked me for catching it; actually you deserve the credit!).

    The import option for attachments should also load images from new blog (I just tested it on two wordpress blog and it works now). We only need search and replace to update links.

    I cannot import again though because I have made many changes on my self hosted blog. Will learn database changing to do the changes later; presently all my images load on-the-fly from old wordpress and it is fine.

  • Maneledininima

    Good discussion…

    I see that the OP title is about “better for SEO.” But that’s only one aspect of “better.”

    I also see that raincoaster, timetheif, and I agree that it’s better to have your own domain:

    http://www.free-xxx-online.net

  • http://www.eazolreview.net/ eazol

    this is a great site full of great content