Life After Google’s P & P – Lessons Learned

Life After Google’s P & P – Lessons Learned

Years ago when I started online things were different. Getting to the top of Google’s search results wasn’t exactly effortless but it wasn’t impossible either. For those who don’t know here is what webmasters used to do:

– Research keywords: pick something with moderately high demand and low supply, something you can win.

– Register a good domain – those days it was something like “my-keyword.com” or “my-keyword-pro.com”.

– Write keyword-focused pages – only one keyword per page. Keyword it title, keyword in URL, keyword in first paragraph, keyword in link and keywords sprinkled inside the copy, aka keyword stuffing. We hated to call it that way, we wanted to call it quality content, but hey, it was what it was!

As the time passed keywords were more of key phrases and they were getting longer and longer. Imagine an article for keyword “how to be mysterious” (random, just for the sake of example) written according to these principles! It would always start something like this: “If you are wondering how to be mysterious look no further…” Then this four-word key phrase would be repeated every 100 words. Yikes!

– Finally, build links. While we always differentiated between quality links (like links from New York Times) and so-so links, the later worked just fine. You could buy links, you could write and submit articles to free article directories. You could do link exchanges. You had a world of opportunities!

While all these practices were against Google guidelines, Google didn’t do anything to prevent this. It actually worked, so it felt like instead of penalizing these practices Google was actually rewarding them. And when everyone did that and ranked above you, it really made no point to be online unless you are ready to do what works.

Life After Google’s P & P – Lessons LearnedThen Google’s Panda came… It was supposed to be about eliminating low-quality sites and giving a chance to all these awesome sites and blogs that were not visible before. If you are new to online world, here is what it was about. While it does sound good and did eliminate some bad sites, it also hurt many good sites. Panda ran about once a month, taking more sites off the face of the web each time.

Then Google Penguin came. Once again, if you are new to our world or if you need to refresh your memory here is the official announcement of Penguin made back in April 2012. This was supposed to be about low-quality unnatural links, keyword stuffing and over-optimization. Ironically, this particular example of webspam provided by Google’s Matt Cutts did very well after their update. And again, while it did eliminate some spam, a lot survived and many good sites suffered.

I know dozens of webmasters who threw in the towel after being completely destroyed by Google’s P&P (that’s how I refer to Panda and Penguin), losing their income and, most importantly, hope. I personally own a 100 percent natural website with good quality content that lost more than 50 percent of its traffic in June 2012 and another 50 percent (of the remainder) now on May 9. The updates that hurt me weren’t officially confirmed and there is no way for me to be sure it was Panda or Penguin, but does this matter? What matters is that I absolutely can’t rely on Google anymore. It was never good idea. I always knew it. But now I get it.

Fortunately social media came to rescue. If you are like me, you hate it, but let’s face it – there is no workaround. It needs considerably more effort on your part, more input and more quality to be successful with social media. In addition, each platform is a science by its own and they all constantly change.

Facebook, for example, is not what it used to be and getting traffic from there is much harder than it once was. You can have thousands of fans on Facebook but if your Edgerank is low, very few people will see your updates. It needs constant work and the demands are higher than ever. If you have more than one website, it becomes nearly impossible to take full advantage of social media unless, of course, you hire professional help. Pinterest is on rise, still easy to work with, but the question is: how long it will continue? I would expect that Pinterest will want to monetize their efforts too. In addition, Pinterest is not suitable for every niche.

So what are your thoughts? What are you going to do? Are you getting a real job (just kidding 😉 ) or you have a specific plan?

My plan includes the following:

– Social media. Facebook and Pinterest are my current favorites.

– Networking. One of my biggest mistakes was refusing to network with other website owners and bloggers. I am an introvert by nature.

– Product creation. I will leave infopreneurship to hobbyists and create something I can sell. I will draw traffic from social media and advertising.

What’s your plan?

Keep 100% of Your Advertising Revenue

Keep 100% of Your Advertising Revenue

If you have content-based website where you simply share your knowledge with others and have no product or service to sell, monetizing can be quite difficult. Services like Google Adsense take up to 50 percent of your revenue and you have to put their ads inside the content to get those petty clicks.

Keep 100% of Your Advertising RevenueIf you have a high-traffic website or a very niche website with some traffic you might be able to attract advertisers yourself. The problem is, you really don’t have time or desire to negotiate with advertisers, manage ad spots and issue bills every month.

Fortunately little something called OIO Publisher can solve this for you.

What is OIO Publisher?

OIO Publisher is a PHP script that allows you to sell ad space on your website without sharing revenue with anyone else. Here is what it allows you to do:

  • set up ad zones for banners
  • sell text links ads
  • earn by writing paid reviews
  • set up your own affiliate program where you pay commission to others for bringing you advertisers
  • charge per day, per impression, or per click
  • get detailed reports on impressions and clicks (for yourself and advertisers)

Get paid via

  • 2Checkout
  • Offline Payments
  • Google Checkout
  • Payza
  • Authorize.net
  • PayPal

PayPal has subscription option, so you can set it on autopilot and charge advertiser automatically every month until he cancels it. Set and forget!

So you basically install the script, set your prices, put codes on your site and forget it. Of course you might want to send a few emails to potential advertisers telling them about your new setup.

Technical stuff

According to what the author says the script will work on any PHP website (including WordPress of course. WordPress plugin is available and is really easy to install). However, from what I can see, it’s possible to set it up on one website and place actual ads on another website. So if you are on something like Site Build It! or other restrictive platform that doesn’t allow you to use PHP or WordPress you can use this script but you’ll need a workaround.

Here is what to do: get another domain, host it somewhere where you can have WordPress or PHP (I highly recommend Hostgator), install plugin and grab JavaScript code for ad zones. You will know what it means when you get the script. Place that Javascript on your SBI! website (for the sake of example) and you are done. Your new website will process orders while your main website will earn you money.

Another cool thing you can do

Since Javascript ad zones will work on any website, you can agree with other websites in your niche and place Javascript codes on other websites too and share the revenue. This is particularly good if you don’t have much traffic. If you don’t have much traffic you might not be able to approach potential advertisers yourself, but when you have a group of websites in the same niche, your combined traffic might be very interesting for them.

Get OIO Publisher now »

Reputation Management: What’s Your Reputation Worth?

sad businessman

How much value do you place on your good name? Just a couple of years ago terms like “online reputation” seemed to be relevant only to big companies. In fact, the term “online reputation management” was unheard of until 2007 when it first appeared in Washington Post. These days things are different and most companies and many individuals are in a desperate need of professional help.

Your Image Online

More and more companies will make an online research on you before hiring you and even your sweetheart will make a quick Google search for your name before making up his or her mind about marrying you. To make matters worse, Internet has a long memory, and if you were unfortunate enough to post a less than smart comment somewhere on the web 10 years ago or your mean-spirited ex is posting your personal pictures anywhere he possibly can, you are in a real trouble.

Who is shaping your image?

sad businessmanUnfortunately your online image is not built solely by your own efforts. Your friends can mention your name on social networks, tag your photos or even mention you in their
b log posts. While all these powerful tools are available to everyone, most people don’t realize the full impact. They don’t understand how search engines work, they have no idea this content will be actually indexed and ranked.

For example, I had a friend on Facebook who liked to tag cute but unrelated to me pictures with my name. They weren’t my pictures to begin with and weren’t provocative, but it’s kind of annoying to see Persian cats rank for my name. I am sure this friend never meant anything bad, she was only trying to get my attention. Nevertheless, it’s very disturbing that anyone (friend or enemy) can actually shape your image online. The consequences are serious enough and no, you can’t simply move to another town to fix the problem!

Your Business

I am not sure whether managing online reputation is more important for individuals or companies. It seems like having flawed reputation is pretty painful for both. According to Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital Marketing & Social Media at Nestle, one satisfied customer will rave about your product to three friends, while one unhappy customer will make sure 3,000 know you are evil. Pete wrote an entire book dedicated to this subject. As we all know, negative information takes our attention far better than positive and no, customer is not always right.

Anyone who knows me knows I started online with Site Build It!, a company with somewhat controversial reputation. While one might argue about the value of their product, a lot of their problems come from simple misunderstandings. Most of their customers are non-technical people, which means these customers don’t completely understand what they can or cannot demand from SBI!

For instance, they had a customer who wanted to leave SBI! and move to another provider. As usual, he expected to get help from SiteSell, which of course didn’t happen. The customer was complaining bitterly about SBI! in their private forum and that forum thread received many thousands views. If this customer had any experience with building websites before SBI! he would know that no company will spend time helping you move out. In fact, most will not even help you downgrade your account to a cheaper version of their product, leave alone moving to competitors. Nevertheless, it was another negative thread in SBI! forum and I am certain many members were nodding their heads while reading.

People are extremely busy and often have no time nor desire to figure things out. Someone could have purchased your e-book or e-course after skimming through your sales page only to find out it’s not what he expected. Although you might have a great return policy in place, some of your customers will still go to places like scam.com or Yahoo Answers and tell your work is an absolute trash. Although you aren’t guilty, these negative comments and reviews will float around the web for years to come. The question is: are you going to let your online identity and reputation be built chaotically with no clear plan, or you are going to take control of your own image and show the world the complete picture of you and your business?

Managing your online reputation is not an easy task due to the nature of the web. With millions of new pages being added every day, it’s constantly changing. It would be comforting to have someone track your search results and monitor what’s being said about you and your business.

How to Convert a Static Website to WordPress, Part 1

wordpress logo blue

In today’s tutorial I’ll show how to convert a static website to dynamic WordPress CMS (content management system).

Is your website STILL with SBI! and you want to jump straight to WordPress?
Your tutorial is now here. This tutorial is for those who already have static websites on other hosts (other than SBI) and will teach them to convert their sites gradually.

If you prefer videos, I have a video version of this tutorial. Here it is:

And here is the text version. Please take time to read it even if you watched the video…

I assume you have a static website hosted by a decent host, such as ASO or Hostgator, who allows you to use cPanel for managing your website’s files. What we are going to do now is this:

  • Go to your websites cPanel, which is located at yourwebsite.com/cpanel.

    Enter your username and password and login. You will see something like this:

    Under Files, find File Manager (NOT Legacy File Manager), click on it, make sure you choose the right “Document Root For” (in case you have more than one website under the same account or if you have subdomains you will have a drop down menu) and click “Go” to enter. Something like this will open in new window:
    Hostgator's cPanel File Manager

    See that folder list to the left? Make sure public_html is highlighted.

    Scroll down the file list (to the right) and locate your homepage, which will be under index.htm, default.html, index.aspx, index.php, home.html or whatever you were using (ex-SBIers: index.html), right click and choose rename. I usually call it index-2.html. This is necessary for backing up your homepage just in case something goes wrong. You also want to access the contents of your homepage easily. Once you rename your homepage to index-2.html your homepage will be not available to your visitors for a short while (while you do the installation). If you open your homepage you will see this:

    index of

    This is basically the list of all your files and folders available in File Manager. You don’t want to leave it that way for very long, so if you reached this step, continue your work until you convert your homepage. Don’t stop here. After you convert your homepage you can take a break and go as slowly as you wish. You can open in a new tab yoursite.com/index-2.html. Your homepage will show here. Keep it open, you will need it soon.

    If you edited your .htaccess previously to add www. before your domain, you should edit once again and remove the following code

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite.com [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [L,R=301]
    

    Once your remove it your domain will be available with www. and without www. That’s ok for a short period of time. Once you install WordPress you will be able to fix this right from your WordPress dashboard.

  • Now go back to your cPanel and find Softaculous (for A Small Orange users, Fantastico de Luxe icon OR QuickInstall icon (Hostgator users). All these allow you to easily install WordPress and are located under Software/Services. Here is Softaculous at ASO:

    Softaculous at A Small Orange

    As for Quick Install or Fantastico, these are available with Hostgator. Both allow you to install WordPress (and many other interesting platforms with a click of a button). There is not much difference between the two, except that QuickInstall will assign you a default username “admin”, while Fantastico allows you to choose your own username.

    Click whatever you will be using and choose WordPress. Here is how your settings should be with Softaculous (click to enlarge):

    Softaculous settings

    In case you are using QuickInstall:

    QuickInstall settings for root folder installation

    And in case you prefer Fantastico de Luxe, here are the settings to use (for root folder):

    Fantastico de Luxe settings for WordPress

    Once again “Install in directory” should be empty if you want your installation to be in the root folder.

    Follow through the instructions until the end and once you are done refresh your website’s homepage. You will see something similar to this:

    Wordpress default installation, homepage

    This is the default WordPress theme (or template) called twenty ten. It doesn’t look very good, so perhaps you’ll want to change it anyway. There are a few ways to go about this. If you are really new to WordPress, are not technical or / and have no time to obsess about details, start with another WordPress theme called twenty twelve. It is one of their three official themes and comes with your installation. This theme is safe, mobile optimized and you can customize it to something you can live with. Check Appearance –> Themes, find twenty twelve and activate it.

    If you are a fashion victim, there are a lot of free WordPress themes, but sometimes they have technical issues, security issues or even hidden links. That’s why I suggest that you stick to default (twenty twelve) for a while and buy a professionally built premium theme later.

    I will not discuss custom theme installation in this tutorial. So I will continue using WordPress default theme just to show you the basics. A few days in, you will figure out this type of details yourself. In addition, theme authors usually provide videos or written instructions on installation.

Not feeling confident? You can make a test installation of WordPress in a folder. This means that while your site will be running as usual, you will have your special area where you can perform tests. Use Fantastico de Luxe to create your test site. Instead of installing WordPress in the root directory of your site create a special folder and install it there. In this case you should postpone renaming your homepage until you are ready to work with WordPress in your root folder.

When you reach the place where Fantastico asks you in what directory you want to create your WordPress installation specify something like “test”. You don’t have to create this folder manually, Fantastico will do it for you. Once the installation is complete you will be able to access your test site at yoursite.com/test and your dashboard at yoursite.com/test/wp-admin.

You don’t want search engines to index your test site. Once you are done with installation, go to Settings –> Reading and check the box next to “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” and hit Save Changes. THIS IS ONLY FOR TEST SITE. Also DO NOT add www. to your test site. However you can try everything else, like themes, plugins, and all other WordPress features.

When you feel confident enough to make installation in your root folder and actually convert your website don’t forget to remove this test installation. You can remove it via Fantastico under “Current Installation”

This post is becoming too long and I have a lot more to say. I will split it in several parts. Here is Part 2 (text and video). If you have any questions please post in my forum.

How to transfer a website from SBI (Site Build It!) to another host

turtle with briefcase
***IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT***

How to transfer a website from SBI (Site Build It!) to another hostHello and welcome to our “Turtles with Options” club! You now have TWO tutorials to choose from:

  • the tutorial on this page which proved to work hundreds of times. Basically, we are going to easily copy our website and upload it to a new host. The site is transferred in a static form, but if you would like to convert to WordPress, you can easily do that too. This tutorial is particularly good for those who are in rush and need to transfer their SBI! websites quickly before their SBI! subscription expires.
  • Straight from SBI! to WordPress (without using HTTrack and CyberDuck) was written after multiple requests from soon-to-be ex-SBIers, and for most people it’s a better option. Written in the end of 2013, it was successfully used by quite a few SBIers. The tutorial teaches you how to build a WordPress version of your website while your original SBI! website is still hosted by SiteSell and available to your visitors. Once you complete your work and verify that everything looks right you make one switch and your visitors begin to load WordPress version of your website. I used to charge for this tutorial before, but now that SBIers aren’t so many anymore, it’s free. You can find it here.
  • ***NONE OF MY TUTORIALS WILL CAUSE DOWNTIME FOR YOUR SITE***
    ****FOR MOST PEOPLE, WORDPRESS TUTORIAL IS A WISER CHOICE****

Back in summer 2012 I moved my website from SBI (or Site Build It! just for search 😉 ) to another host and during my first week away from SBI! I received many emails from other SBIers asking how I did it. I wrote some very lengthy emails with instructions (which I am happy to do by the way) and since demand seems to be very high and free information is not available I decided to post the instructions here.

For your convenience I split the tutorial in bite-sized chunks. Use the buttons below to navigate to whatever you are working on or read it all at once.

We also have forum where you can ask questions. At the moment this tutorial is 100 percent free.


I am not an affiliate
FORUM
What are you waiting for?
Overview
BlockBuilders can move too
Step 1: Copy your website
Step 2: Open a new account
Step 3: Upload your files
Step 4: Check your work
Step 4.1: Emails and subscribers
Step 5: Contact SBI!
Step 6: Switch name servers
Step 7: Do nothing
Important note
Step 8: Transfer your domain


Although I ended my affiliate contracts with all hosts, this tutorial and some other pages on this site might still contain my old affiliate links. I am not getting anything from you using this tutorial. If you want to know what I use for my own sites — it’s A Small Orange.

*****


RANT: What Are You Waiting For?

In December 2013 SBI! released WordPress plugin that contains Brainstormer, cleaned up version of Action Guide, TNT, monetization articles and access to their forum. It is surprising because, as you probably know, SiteSell spent years bashing WordPress, which was quite ridiculous. The plugin costs $149 per year for multiple sites and has a free trial for 14 days. I will tell you more: the way plugin works right now is “plugin-like” at all and can be used even for non-WordPress site(s). I will not elaborate on what I think about this plugin but seriously what are you waiting for? I can’t come up with one even half-convincing reason to continue paying $300 per year for one site on a clunky proprietary system.

Let’s say you have three SBI sites and are paying 900 per year. How do you justify spending this amount when you can pay $149 for all three sites + any potential sites you want to built using same keyword research tool and a much better site building tool? That is $751 difference.

There is an argument that you still have to pay for web hosting. It is true. But most SBIers don’t need more than shared hosting, which can cost anywhere from 4-9 dollars per month for multiple sites. I have seen a post in SBI forums saying that shared hosting is painful and slow. IT IS NOT TRUE. I don’t have space to debunk these myths here but, trust me, it’s not true. This site runs on shared hosting. Was it too slow for you? I got so annoyed by this blatant misinformation that I took a speed test for this particular page. Despite being a WordPress site, it is faster than 86 percent of all tested websites and loads in 1.18 seconds from New York:

speed test

It’s even faster than the static site of poster who made that claim.

If you have a huge number of visitors, like consistent 5,000 unique visitors per DAY or more + you want to use WordPress then yes, it won’t be cheaper than SBI. You will probably need a VPS which can cost anywhere from $30 to $80 per month and requires some learning (although there are always managing solutions for extra price).

SBI hosting is not faster than any other shared hosting. Static websites, like SBI provides, are fast everywhere. And if you want to use WordPress, there is a simple trick to optimize it so it will run as fast as this website.

If you are attached to SBI! tools or forums, you can open a bizXpress account. While I it’s not something I would personally do, I realize that some people may want this. After all, I’ve seen some of the most loyal SBI! fans come here and, unable to deny obvious benefits, transfer their sites using the tutorials on this site. Even if you do choose to pay for bizXPress, it’s still only half the price and it doesn’t increase if you add more websites.

Having said that, if forums and community is the only reason why you miss SBI!, I am sure you could do much better. Let’s face it: SBI! forums aren’t that good in helping you build a business. Many successful online entrepreneurs run their own communities (usually paid). I am not a member of any of these communities and can’t give any recommendations but you can do your own research and, hopefully, find a community that is more business-oriented than keyword-oriented.

Finally, stop thinking of WordPress as something that can’t be good because it’s free. WordPress is not just free. It is open source. That is a huge difference. People use open source because they want freedom and flexibility, not because they want to save money. This is the reason why many geeks use Ubuntu instead of Windows or Mac OS — they want to be free.

It’s not about not making money and not “being able to pay $300 per year”; it’s about freedom, comfort, flexibility and not being wasteful. If you had a billion dollars, would you set a one dollar bill on fire just for the heck of it? I wouldn’t either. It’s not about money.

Let’s get back to the tutorial!

*****

Overview
It is not difficult to move your website from SBI. It’s a straightforward process, but you have to be very attentive to many little details. Please follow the instructions carefully. These instructions are accurate, proven to work literally hundreds of times over the past three years (no exaggeration).

The process boils down to:

  • copying your entire website using a free tool like Httrack;
  • uploading your entire website with all its folders with another free tool (Filezilla CyberDuck) to your new webhost – a matter of pushing one button really;
  • switching your nameservers from SBI! to your new webhost (not more than 10 seconds);
  • when everything is done and settled, you’ll have to register your domain with another registrar (tutorial on domain transfer is available here)
  • you might also want to convert your website to WordPress (optional, 3-part text and video tutorial here »)

All details are below + some useful links. If you do it exactly the way I described, there will be no downtime whatsoever.

It works, it’s safe, you won’t lose your traffic. THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY OR STRESS ABOUT. Trust me.

People who know tools or went through this process at least once before can get their sites transferred in under 30 minutes. Most of you reading this don’t know the tools we are going to use so it might take a couple of hours for you. It’s okay to split the work over a few days to a week if necessary.

My tutorial may seem overwhelming but it is actually easy. Just trust the process, hundreds of SBIers (some of them admitted to be technically challenged) went through this process before you and were successful. There is no reason why you can’t do it.


BlockBuilders can move too

Some people think they can’t move because they are using SBI’s BlockBuilder. They assume they either have to copy-paste their entire sites to WordPress (although this can be a good idea for many) or transfer their sites to their own HTML first and only then move to another host. I thought so too, but recently Ken Evoy said you actually can take SBI’s template with you. His post is available in SBI forums here. So apparently there is no problem in taking your SBI template with you, and the process of transfer will be exactly same like with your own HTML. Once you move, your block-built website will look just like it did with SBI! but, of course, there will be no SiteCentral and building blocks backend (or whatever they have now in BB2). Your site will be in plain HTML now and you will need a basic knowledge of HTML to edit your old pages. You will have two choices now –

  • learn some HTML to be able to add new pages or
  • convert your entire website contents to WordPress which needs some work but is worth it. Again, you don’t have to do it all at the same time. You can take a break after the initial transfer and take as much time as you need to convert to WordPress one page at a time. You will find a link to instructions on how to do this at the end of this tutorial.

I would recommend the last.

The Process

Hold my hand if you’re feeling scared; we’re flying up, up, outta here…
– Far East Movement – Rocketeer

STEP 1. Copying website.
Time: 5 to 20 minutes (depends on size)

A little tip before you run Httrack:
Some things like SBI’s FaceIt!, ezine subscription form, C2 forms and RSS buttons work only in SBI. Of course you can have it all (and much better) when you’ll move but you will need to use other tools. The tools SBI gives you work only in SBI. So it’s a good idea to remove RSS, ezine forms and Powered by Site Build It! in the footer before you run Httrack. These things will not work on your new host and it will be time consuming to go through your entire site to remove them. My suggestion is to remove them before you copy your site with Httrack.

Download Httrack software from here http://www.httrack.com/page/2/ When ready, start HTTrack and copy your website following these instructions (pay attention to settings).

1-httrack

Please pay attention: Absolute URL / Absolute URL setting is very important.

3-httrack

4-httrack

5-httrack

6-httrack

If you got too many errors, it is likely because of connectivity problems at SBI! or your Internet connection. In this case it’s easier to run HTTrack another time (with another project name) than fix anything manually.

HTTrack downloads so many files you don’t need. This happens because it follows all your links, including social media and ads. The screenshots below will show you how to find files that you need to upload (folder “MyTransferProject” sits on my Desktop because that’s how I set up Httrack settings in the beginning of our project. Similarly, “MyTransfer” in my example below is the project name I chose. You should see folders with names YOU chose when setting up Httrack project, and they should be in location you picked for them):

7-httrack

The only folder you need is buried deep inside and has your site’s name on it. You should upload only contents of this folder and not the folder itself. You know you found the right folder when you open it and see something like this:

There is a few files you might want to pull manually. Here they are:

  • robots.txt
  • RSS feed xml file
  • sitemap’s xml file

Can you skip this this manual file pulling part? In my opinion, if you don’t have thousands of RSS subscribers (you don’t because you are not a blogger), you totally can skip this; especially if you are planning to convert to WordPress soon anyway. WordPress will add its own robots.txt and RSS feed. I would still take my sitemap; although even this is not critical.

In case you want to get these files, here is how it’s done:

  • your robots.txt file is found at yoursite.com/robots.txt. Just open it, copy everything and save on your computer as robots.txt
  • for your RSS .xml file: you have it only if you had SBI!’s blog function activated. Go to your “Blog” page, right click and view page source. In the first few lines of code you will see something like this:
    link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="http://www.knitting-hats-for-cats.com/knitting-hats.xml

    Copy the URL part. In our example you would copy:

    href="http://www.knitting-hats-for-cats.com/knitting-hats.xml

    Paste it in your browser and hit enter. You will see “something” but don’t worry about it. ONCE AGAIN, do right click and view page source. You should see a page full of code. It starts like this:

    ?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?
    rss version="2.0" xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom"
     channel
    atom:link href="http://www.knitting-hats-for-cats.com/knitting-hats.com" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" /
    
    .... the code continues
       

    COPY THAT AND SAVE IT UNDER EXACTLY SAME FILE NAME. In our example it is knitting-hats.xml

    Set aside.

  • your sitemap’s .xml file: in old SBI! it was individual for every site and you can find its location in the first line of your robots.txt file. Typically it was something like
    http://www.knitting-hats-for-cats.com/ABCdefgRRT234.xml 

    Open your robots.txt and find your sitemap’s address. Once again, make right click, view page source and copy that and save under exactly same name which in our example is “ABCdefgRRT234.xml”

So you basically should have three files: robots.txt, ABCdefgRRT234.xml (example) and knitting-hats.xml saved on your computer. You will have to upload these files with all your files to the main directory of your website. The easiest way to do that is to add them to HTTrack copy of your website which should be already saved on your computer. Open folders created by HTTrack, navigate to where you see ALL your pages and drop these three files there.


STEP 2. Opening a new account.
Time: 10 minutes

When I moved my SBI! site, I chose Hostgator as my host of choice. I’ve been already using them for a couple of years before that and was more than happy. In 2015 Hostgator still goes strong and I noticed that many soon-to-be SBIers prefer Hostgator over many other hosts.

One of the biggest advantages of Hostgator is its flexible billing structure where you can pay monthly, yearly or even once per three years. Paying for a long period in advance allows for good savings while choosing a monthly plan combined with my 1 cent promo code (described below) allows you to host your site for only 1 cent for the first month.

Many SBIers find it easy to sign up for just one month with this promo code, do the transfer and see how things go. If they feel good about everything, they proceed by cancelling their SBI! account and continue Hostgator’s payments. This basically makes it risk-free; besides 1 cent of course 🙂

If this isn’t enough to convince you to give it a go, Hostgator also gives 45-day money back guarantee. I don’t know if someone ever tried to get a refund for 1 cent but if you pay more than that, you definitely will be able to get a full refund within 45 days.

So coupon or no coupon, the deal is risk-free. If you don’t like it or if you find the tutorial too complicated, just cancel your Hostgator account and get your money back.

Buying web hosting and setting up your account for the first time may be a little confusing so I will walk you through the process very quickly.

Go to their homepage; you will see something like this:

Click on “Get Started Now” and you will end up here:

hg2

If you only have only one site, go with Hatchling plan.

If you have two or more websites to transfer, go with Baby plan. Once you are paying for Baby plan, you can add as many domains as you want for existing or new sites, and your hosting fees will not increase.

If you have only one website and you are not sure whether or not you will one day want to add another website, go with Hatchling — you will be always able to upgrade later.

For the sake of example, I am going to go with Hatchling account. On the next page we will set up your account and enter your billing information.

Make absolutely sure that you choose “I already own this domain” and then enter your SBI! domain WITHOUT WWW.

hg4

Hostgator will try to sell you other extensions of same domain name — you don’t have to buy these domains unless you want to.

Now choose your billing plan. For the sake of example and also to demonstrate one of the most popular choice between SBIers I am choosing monthly payments and I will use a coupon later. You may want to consider other billing options if you like.

As you see, this plan when paid monthly costs $8.95 per month but we are going to make it drop to 1 cent for the first month. (Any coupons they give you are valid only for first payment.)

In step 4 (“Add Additional Services”) some services are checked by default. If you don’t want these services, you can uncheck them.

Finally, in Step 5 I replace the default promo code with webmasterdiary promo code and validate it. The price drops to $0.01 for the first month.

If you chose to pay for a longer period of time, you can use my 25% percent off promo code which is also better than their default 20% for Hatchling. To get 25% off enter webmasterdiary25off.

Once again, any coupons — their default coupons or my coupons — are only valid for the first payment. So if you got 20% or 25% on your first payment, your second payment will not have this discount. They do this to offer you something nice but also encourage you to sign up for longer billing cycles so you will be “committing” to Hostgator. The decision is up to you.

Check out and we will continue in a moment!

As soon as you complete the payment, you must receive an email from Hostgator with title “New Account Info”. Sometimes they take a little time to verify your payment but usually it doesn’t take too long.

Once you receive this email, open it, and you will see something like this:

hg6

Keep this information handy as we will use it to log in and upload and preview our website.


Step 3: Uploading your site to new webhost.
Time: 5-20 minutes

DO NOT download Filezilla. It was a great tool for many years, but it seems its developer has a major personality change, and now Filezilla download comes with malware!!! Please use CyberDuck instead — it’s almost as good, is free and has no malware. I don’t have screenshots for CyberDuck yet, but I posted quick instructions in comments here. The idea is same; you will need the same information to connect with CyberDuck — it only looks a little different. I will leave the tutorial as is for now, but I strongly suggest that you chose CyberDuck over FileZilla unless you know how to deal with malware (I had to use three different anti-virus and malware programs to clean up my computer after my last FileZilla install).
Download CyberDuck

Download Filezilla (free). You can do that here.

We are going to connect to our cPanel using this amazing tool and upload our entire site with just one click. The only thing you need to be careful about is to upload the right files to the right place. Let’s connect first. Start Filezilla and find File –> Site Manager like this:

filezilla1

Now let’s set up a new project. For the sake of example I called my project “AAA TEST” and filled the settings in the empty fields.

filezilla-hg

In host field you can just enter your first name server name. In my case it was ns1281.websitewelcome.com; in your case this might slightly differ so please consult your “New Account Info” email for name servers.

Logon type: switch to NORMAL
Username: your username at Hostgator
Password: your password at Hostgator

(if you don’t like your password at Hostgator, there is an option to change it but I am not going to discuss it now so that my tutorial doesn’t become overly bloated).

Click “Connect”. Sometimes Filezilla may flash a warning message that says “The server’s certificate is unknown… Blah blah blah…” Don’t worry about it; just click OK in the warning window to ignore the message and Filezilla will proceed to connect. If things go well, you should see this:

Using links in the left side of your screen navigate to the folder that contains your site’s files. Your files should look approximately like this:

You should be seeing things like “image-files”, “support-files”, “images”, and all your pages’ file names. If you don’t see that, you are in a wrong folder. If you see that, good! Now that we got the right files, let’s navigate to the right place where we are going to upload all this.

In the right side of the interface scroll down till you see pubic_html folder and click to enter. Once you make sure you are inside your public_html directory, go back to the left side of the screen that has your site files in it and hit CTRL+A to choose them all. Now right click and choose “UPLOAD” like this:

Filezilla will take care of itself and you can just relax because it can take a while. Wait until the process is over. Make sure Filezilla doesn’t show any errors and, if everything is OK, you can proceed to Step 4.


Step 4. Check your work.
Time: up to you, but not much.

Once Filezilla is done, you can add your username to your preview URL and see your site! Your preview URL consists of IP address (found in your “New Account Info” email), ~ sign and your username at Hostgator like so:

http://123.45.67/~username

for example

http://123.45.67/~ilovecats

Of course, you should modify this according to your technical data. Modify it and enter that in your browser. Can you see your website yet? It should look exactly like your SBI! website at this point. You can check other pages by adding their file name to the end of this URL, like this

http://123.45.67/~username/my-page.html

This is the only way to see other pages right now because if you actually click through the links, you will end up on your live SBI! website. Now… you don’t really have to check EVERY page, in my opinion anyway 😉 If you were careful when checking HTTrack errors and if Filezilla didn’t give you any errors, all your pages should be there. If the site looks fine and a few random pages you choose to check look good as well, it’s safe to assume everything else is fine too.

Believe it or not, we are about to finish!

It’s a good idea to set up your email address at this point to minimize the risk of lost emails. Let’s move on to the next step 🙂


Step 4.1: What to do with emails and subscribers.
SBIers aren’t typically using emails at their domain.com because it’s very unreliable in SBI! Guess what? You can have that now and it really works! And if you actually used your webmail in SBI and are receiving emails there then it’s important to create that here too. It is very simple. Go your cPanel (see the control panel URL in your “New Hosting Account Info” email), login with your name and password and find Email Accounts:

Click on that and fill the form you will see to create email address at your domain.com

When your site will be fully transferred, you will be able to find your emails at

yourdomain.com/webmail

where you will have to sign in with your email address and password you specifically created for email. There are other great options like redirecting all incoming emails to your Gmail, Yahoo or whatever you are using the most (very handy if you have many sites, so you don’t have to check 10 emails every day), but that is beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Also if you had eZine subscribers in SBI! you should download them from SiteCentral. For email newsletters, however, you will need to use either MailChimp (free under 2000 subscribers) or other paid services. WordPress has some free solutions which I never explored. I heard most of it will end up in Spam folder, just like it was the case with SBI anyway. MailChimp or something paid is the way to go.

For Contact Us forms:

  • WordPress users will be guided in my free static to WordPress tutorial;
  • static people can set their forms as described here.

Having a blank Contact Us page with “Contact me at me (at) gmail.com” is always a good idea until you have time and energy to build a proper form.

Please note that this will transfer email address but NOT your old email messages, drafts, replies or contacts. There is no way to transfer that and if you have something critical there, you should print that or back it up in some other way. If your old contacts will be sending you emails on very same address, you will receive that. You don’t need to notify them about anything unless you decided to change your address.


Step 5: Contact SBI to unlock domain.
Time: depends on SBI!

Time to contact SBI! Before we do that, make sure that your domain privacy settings are set to public. If your WhoIs information is currently private, you need to make it public before you contact SBI! Here is how to do that.

I wrote this email sample so that you don’t need to spend much time thinking what to say. Feel free to use it; just make sure to include all required information.

Hello,

I am the owner of best-hats-for-cats.com and would like to switch my name servers to another host. Kindly unlock my domain.

My SBI! order number is …………
Last 4 digits of my credit card are ……….
My IP address is ……….

Please do not cancel my account until I tell you. I only want to switch name servers for now.

Kind regards,

YOU

* Your IP address as it appears here.
** Use email address that appears in WhoIs record to send this email otherwise they will not unlock it.


Step 6. Switch name servers.
Time: 20 seconds

SBI will verify you are the real owner of the site and unlock your domain. You will then have to go to a special page in your SBI account manager where you can change your SBI name servers to your new host’s name servers (it’s located here

http://build.sitesell.com/manage.html

You should sign in with username and password SBI! sent you when you first opened an account with them. It’s different from your regular password you use to sign in to SBI! To find it, search your emails for an email with title “SITE BUILD IT! MAIL”).

Now all you have to do is to change ns1.sitesell.com and ns2.sitesell.com to your new host’s name servers which you found in “New Account Info” email, for example:

ns1281.websitewelcome.com
ns1282.websitewelcome.com

Please make sure to use YOUR name servers found in Hostgator’s email and not my example. Also make sure not to make a typo here.


Step 7. Do NOTHING
Time 24-72 hours

It might take you as little as 30 minutes to begin loading from your new host. However it will be different for different places around the world so just keep it that way 48 hours to make sure the transition is complete. You don’t have to do anything special during this period. Of course, if you want to add new pages or edit your old pages, you should do that from your new host’s backend.

When I was transferring my site, my SBI’s homepage was absolutely identical to my homepage on my new host, except that my homepage hosted by SBI was saying “Recent Articles” and my homepage uploaded to the new host was edited to “Latest Articles”. This way I knew that if I refresh my homepage and see “Latest Articles”, everything is working correctly. This of course doesn’t mean everyone is seeing the same thing, but you can do this little trick just to reassure yourself that everything works. It might even switch back to old host’s version and then back to new host’s version several times. In all cases wait for up to 48 hours to be safe.


Step 8. Transfer your domain.
Time: a few minutes (excluding waiting period)

After about 48 hours the transition will be complete. This means your site is fully hosted by your new host and you can move the domain name itself. Here is a detailed tutorial on how to transfer your domain management to another registrar ». DON’T FORGET TO DO THIS. IT’S NOT OPTIONAL!!!

After you moved both – your website and your domain — you can safely cancel your SBI! account. In fact, you should make sure you canceled it  because SBI will charge you automatically for another year if you don’t do this on time. You will have access to all SBI tools and forum as long as your account isn’t expired or canceled. SBI email makes you think that once you change name servers you will lose access to Site Central, but that’s not what happens in my experience. They might fix it later, so no guarantees.

As you see it is totally doable. There is no reason to be

frightened turtle inside the shell cartoon

Sorry couldn’t resist! After all you are a strong self-reliant turtle in this big amazing world wide web, a turtle with options, I would say 😉

This is more than enough for successful transfer but I still have two tutorials you might want to check out:


IMPORTANT:
1- One huge  problem is that SBI adds tracking code to all your outgoing links so all your affiliate links or links to other websites will be broken and you will have to fix them manually. You will have  to go through your entire website and remove this piece of code

onClick="window.location.href='http://www.yoursite.com/cgi-bin/counter.pl?url=http%3A%2F%2Fyourlinl%2Ecom%2FLink-LinkU&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eyoursite%2Ecom%2Findex%2Ehtml'; return false;"

This was a good idea while you were with SBI but once you leave you won’t be very thankful for this 😉

2 – It is very important to preserve your URL structure. In SBI your website had www. prefix before it and you should make sure you keep it after you transfer your website from SBI to another host. It is simple to do, but for some reason I saw many people neglect this as if it were a minor detail. In fact, it is an important detail. Technically your URL with www. and without www. are different URLs!  Once you transfer you files to another host, find your .htaccess file (usually it is in hidden files) If you can’t find it ask support to point it for you. Open your .htaccess file and paste this there (if you are doing WordPress, you don’t have to do this. You will set this from your WordPress dashboard instead):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [L,R=301]

Obviously replace yoursite.com with your website’s address.

That’s all. Hope this helps someone. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in my help forum.

Last updated: May 1, 2015