How to Move a Website from SBI! to WordPress

How to Move a Website from SBI! to WordPress


Introduction
Your website’s new home
Installing WordPress on IP
URLs fix
Inportant plugins
WordPress themes
Converting your site
Sidebars and menus
Editing database before final switch
Emails and subscribers
Switching name servers
Re-registering your domain
A word about backups
More thoughts and links
FORUM



A lot of time passed and I gained a lot of experience with moving websites from Site Build It! and have more insight into what soon-to-be ex-SBIers want. My first tutorial here teaches you to transfer your SBI! website in static form (as is), THEN slowly convert to WordPress.

The tutorial on this page was written after many requests from SBIers who were looking for an easier, a more straightforward way to convert to WordPress without having to mess around with Httrack.

WARNING: Some people start clicking around here and get overwhelmed by what they see. If you want to see what’s going on here feel free to explore, but make sure that you do not get confused and blend several of my tutorials into one. You either follow tutorial on this page, or tutorial here. You don’t do both at the same time or you will have a huge mess. The links inside the tutorials will take you where you need to go without second-guessing. If something isn’t clear, post in my forum (not comments). Although it’s called forum it’s only me who answers questions there.Finally, remember things are simple. There is a lot of text, because…

  • I want to make sure you understood me right.
  • I have a thing for large fonts.
  • I like to use long, narrow, toilet paper-like page layout. It makes pages look longer than they actually are but does wonders for my Adsense CTR!

…and still, things are simple. You can do it!

Do you know, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!

Well, now that we have seen each other, said the unicorn, if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.

– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland And Through The Looking Glass ๐Ÿ™‚

In this tutorial we are going to build WordPress version of your website on IP address. We will be doing this while your existing website is functional and still hosted by SiteSell. It takes some time to convert entire website; the more pages you have, the more time you need. It takes about two minutes to convert one page. While it does take some serious work in the beginning, later you will find that it was worth it. Your site will become super flexible and easy to deal with. You will be able to switch WordPress themes (templates) and add or remove all kind of features with just one click. WordPress is awesome!

Once you rebuild your entire website on IP address, you will simply switch name servers and voilร , you are done! There will be no downtime. While downtime during site transfer is considered normal, I am very proud to say that I never had it. If you follow these steps carefully, your site shouldn’t go offline.

I am also committed to make it as cheap as possible and when something is not necessary I will say so.


YOUR WEBSITE’S NEW HOME

First things first, you need a new web hosting account. What I am about to show you may or may not work on different hosts (probably will, but minor differences are not only possible but likely). If you want to be absolutely sure, just get an account at Hostgator. It is a good host and this tutorial was written using their account. It definitely works there.

If you have only one website, get their Hatchling account (starting at $3.96 a month) and, if you have more than one website, get their Baby account. If you are not sure, get Hatchling account – you can always upgrade later. In addition, you can use my discount coupons. You can get them here.

Before you go there, keep this in mind:

  • When purchasing web hosting plan with Hostgator you should enter your SBI! domain WITHOUT WWW
  • When you’ll check out on their order page you will see that Hostgator has some hosting addons checked by default. These aren’t critical. It’s safe to uncheck them. You can backup your website yourself and as for security… as long as you behave wisely and don’t go crazy with free plugins and WordPress themes you should be fine. I am not discouraging you from purchasing these services. I just want you to know you don’t have to spend on them. I never do.
For those who want to use A Small Orange for hosting:

I have tested this with A Small Orange and it works very well there. You can definitely use them if you prefer. For websites under 1,200 – 1,300 uniques per day choose Shared Small account for $5 dollars per month.

If you are closer to about 2,000 per day choose their Shared Medium account for $10 (unique visitor numbers in your SBI! stats). I currently host a site with 3,000-4,000 daily unique visitors on this account. On some days it shoots up to 10,000 (quite regularly) and the site is doing just fine.

Keep in mind, there will be some optimization work need to be done in order to be able to fit in these cheap plans with this type of numbers (described below).

All ASO plans from “Small” and above allow to host more than one website. So if you need to transfer more than one website you don’t need to double your hosting fees.

You may notice their Shared Tiny plan for $35 per year, but it is what it is — tiny! It can host only one website and that website has to be quite small, or well optimized text only website. If your website is small, you can try this plan. The site will perform just fine and if you need to upgrade you can always do so later.

You can save a little by using these promo codes they issued especially for my visitors:

  • wd5 – one time $5 discount
  • wd15 – 15 percent on first bill

Promo codes are only valid for accounts from Small Shared and above.

When opening an account choose “I want to point my domain at you” and enter the name of your SBI! doman, like this:

Oh yes, they will also offer you some addons when you check out but they are not necessary unless you don’t mind paying a little extra.


STEP 1: INSTALLING WORDPRESS ON IP ADDRESS
Time required: about 5 minutes

Once you open new web hosting account, Hostgator (or A Small Orange, if you are using it) will send you a welcome email, which contains IP address of your website. Hostgator will also send you password for your cPanel (control panel), but in A Small Orange you will have to set it yourself before doing anything else.

Enter your IP address into browser and add slash and cPanel, like this (obviously, replace this IP address with yours)

198.57.247.140/cpanel

You will see this:

Log in with your username and password. You will see your cPanel’s dashboard with many interesting icons. Promise me you won’t play with these unless you know what you are doing…

Scroll down and find QuickInstall icon under Software / Services (A Small Orange users should use Softaculous, see the blue info box a few paragraphs below).

Click on QuickInstall icon and find “WordPress” in menu on the left.

wordpress installation hostgator

Fill the form as follows. Make sure to keep the box next to “Install in directory” empty. This will install WordPress in the root directory of your future website.

For email, it’s better to use your Gmail (or whatever you are using) rather than email at your domain for now. You will be able to change this later. The reason why we don’t want to use email at our domain is because our site is about to go through the transfer. Another reason is that your email is still hosted by SBI! and I don’t trust their webmail system. When the transfer will be complete, you can create same email address at your new host and edit it in your WordPress, if you wish.

Autoupgrades are checked by default. You can keep it that way or uncheck it and update your WordPress manually. Autoupgrades is a relatively new feature and I personally still prefer to upgrade my own installations manually. It takes only a click of a button.

Make your username and password very long and very hard. This is VERY important! In “Blog Title” fill your site title. Once again, you will be able to change this later in case you need to. Click install.

Quick Install will send your log in details to the email address you specified. Congratulations! You just installed WordPress!

For A Small Orange Users
There is no Fantastico or QuickInstall in ASO, but they have another software that does this. It is called Softaculous. Here are your screenshots. At your IPaddress/cpanel after you sign in you will see many icons. Scroll down and click on Softaculous:

On the next page choose to install WordPress. Here are your settings for installation. Please make sure your password and username are complicated and long enough. Obviously enter your site’s name and description. If installation directory is pre-filled with something you should make sure it’s empty (click on image to see its larger version):

After the installation is complete, the rest of the tutorial is same for both ASO and Hostgator users.

***ONLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE USING EXISTING HOSTING ACCOUNT WITH OTHER SITES ON IT***

Q: I don’t need to buy a new hosting account because I already have one. There are other sites already hosted there. What am I supposed to do? Where do I install WordPress?

A: You should first go to your cPanel and scroll down where you see “Addon domains” button and add an addon domain for your future website (without www.)

addon domain

Now when you go to your WordPress installer (Fantastico, Softaculous or QuickInstall), you should see this site in drop down menu where it says “Install on Domain” or “Choose Domain”. Fill the rest of the form as usual and install WordPress.

Later on when we will be modifying database for preview URL you should

  • make sure you modify database of THIS particular site and not the other site hosted under the same account,
  • make sure your preview URL reflects your addon domain. It will look similar to this: http://23.234.567/~username/mysbidomain.com/ or this http://your-primary-site-on-yourhost.com/mysbidomain.com/

    You will be using this URL as preview URL for the rest of this tutorial.

Are you done already? If you go now to

198.57.247.140/~YourUsername

you should see your WordPress site with default template. It may lack styling at this point but it’s nothing to worry about. We will fix that in the next step.

(Note: in 198.57.247.140/~YourUsername you should replace my IP address with yours and YourUserName with your host’s username (not the one that you just created for WordPress!))

The current default is either “twenty fourteen” theme or “twenty fifteen” theme. You can see twenty fourteen’s full capabilities here in the demo and here is twenty fifteen’s demo. We will talk about themes later, but, obviously, you don’t have to use it.

Back to your site: your homepage works, but if you try to log in to your WordPress dashboard nothing works and we are going to fix this now… Go back to your cPanel by entering this again (replace my IP address with yours):

198.57.247.140/cpanel

Scroll down until you find PHPMyAdmin icon under “Databases”:

PHPMyAdmin on cPanel, Hostgator

Click on it and choose “wp-options” from menu on the left. IMPORTANT PART, be very attentive right now!

PHPMyAdmin wp-options button

Click on “wp-options” and find the line that has your site’s URL in it. Click on Edit (in that line).

PHPMyAdmin WordPress site URL edit

Replace your site’s URL with your IP address + slash + ~ + cPanel username. You will get something like this:

PHPMyAdmin WordPress on IP address settings

Click on “Go” to save it and then scroll down and navigate to the next page and find similar line with your site’s URL in it and do the same.

PHPMyAdmin WordPress home URL edit

After you edit this line just like you did with first one, click on “Go” to save and close the whole thing.

SO YOU JUST MADE TWO EDITS IN THE DATABASE, OKAY? GOOD! ๐Ÿ™‚


STEP 2. URL FIX
Time: about 3 minutes

Now enter in your browser this (modified accordingly):

198.57.247.140/~Username/wp-admin

Once again, IP is yours and username used here is your cPanel username; wp-admin stays the same. You will see another log in box, except that this time it belongs to WordPress.

Enter your WordPress username and password – the ones you created when installing WordPress (NOT your cPanel username and password). Log in.

In menu on the left find “Settings” –> Permalinks and make sure you check “Post Name” as shown below. Click “Save Changes”.

WordPress permalinks

Now find Plugins –> Install New in menu on the left. Enter in search field

.html on pages

Once you found this plugin, click “Install Now”, then click “Activate Plugin”.


STEP 3. MORE IMPORTANT PLUGINS
Time: 5-10 minutes

Since you are on plugin page anyway, let’s install other important plugins so we don’t have to worry about it later.

Enter in plugin search box

RSS includes pages

Once you find it, click “Install Now” and “Activate Plugin”

Rss includes pages plugin

Now we need something for page meta tags, like meta description, and something for your sitemap. You can either use “WordPress SEO by Yoast” (does both and more) or combination of plugins that have this functionality.

While “WordPress SEO by Yoast” is awesome it is also very resource-intensive. It also tends to confuse some WordPress newbies and it’s not like I never had issues with that plugin… There is no problem in going with Yoast but I will suggest another alternative – “Add Meta Tags” for descriptions and “Google XML Sitemaps” for sitemaps. You can also use other alternatives as long as they get the job done.

Let’s install our plugins.

Enter in plugin search this:

add meta tags

Click “Install Now” and then “Activate Plugin”.

metatags

And now install (but do not activate)

google xml sitemaps

Google XML sitemaps needs to be configured, but it is best to do that AFTER you finish your site and switch name servers. You will find instructions for that later in this tutorial.

If you want to add ads to your pages, I recommend “Quick Adsense” plugin. It can be used for anything other than Adsense too. You can insert ads after your page title, at the end of your page and even anywhere between your paragraphs. Change your mind anytime and update ads on your entire site with one click. Test your ads as much as you want. Be your own Ezoic… ๐Ÿ™‚ Definitely one of my favorites! If you need it, just enter in plugin search:

quick adsense

and install and activate the plugin. Once installed, this plugin adds a link under “Settings” that allows you to set your preferences and add ad code. You will be blown away by flexibility this plugin offers! Just look at this:

quick adsense

You can install Quick Adsense now or later — doesn’t matter.

You may also want to use something to insert Google Analytics or Statcounter code. Statcounter has its own official version and Yoast has his “Google Analytics for WordPress”. There are other options too; feel free to choose what fits you best.

You will also find that there is Akismet and Hello Dolly plugins preinstalled. You can delete them. I personally never use them. I use captchas on comment forms to fight spam and I never got Hello Dolly thing. Maybe you will…

I also recommend to install Hyper Cache Extended but do not activate it until the site is ready. This plugin will make your WordPress site very fast. WordPress websites are database-driven and anything database will be naturally slower than pure HTML. This plugin will fix that. I don’t suggest to activate it before the site is done because it will cache your pages when they are half done and, if you are working with WP for the first time, it might confuse you. Remember to activate it when you are done though. At the end of this tutorial you will find a link that will take you to step-by-step instructions for Hyper Cache Extended.

Please, please, PLEASE don’t skip Hyper Cache Extended and don’t forget to activate it when you switch name servers. I don’t know why people skip this step, their sites become painfully slow and they begin to question the whole WordPress thing. Don’t be like them!

You definitely need CAPTCHA plugin for your comment forms (there is a lot of automated spam in WordPress). There are many plugins for that. I am using Si Captcha Anti Spam now and like it. If you prefer FaceBook, Google+ or Disqus comments, you can have that too. Just make a quick plugin search and see your options.

You can configure comment options under Settings –> Discussion. I highly recommend to disable trackbacks and keep all comments in moderation. ALWAYS.

Another plugin you might want to install is Contact Form 7. This will handle your Contact Us form. It will give you a piece of code you will need to paste in your Contact Us page and it will become a form once you publish that page.

Important: In Contact Form 7 you will need to specify email where you want to receive notifications. It can be your Gmail or Yahoo, or an email address at yourdomain.com (we will talk about that in Step 8). The current default is you@example.com so you need to make sure that the email address specified in Contact Form 7 is also the email address were you expect to receive your emails. Here is the screenshot:

Contact 7 WordPress plugin email settings

If you would like to allow readers submit content for you (something like SBI!s C2), there are many different solutions. I found that User Submitted Posts plugin works very well.

WARNING: Always deactivate and delete plugins you are not using anymore. Keeping plugins to minimum is a good thing for many reasons.

Plugins list for quick reference

We discussed these plugins above but I am adding this list so you can use it as a checklist.

MUST HAVE

These plugins are must have as they help replicate our SBI setup on WordPress and optimize for search.

  • .html on Pages
  • RSS Includes Pages
  • Add Meta Tags
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Hyper Cache Extended

Notes:
Add Meta Tags and Google XML sitemaps could be replaced by WordPress SEO by Yoast.

If you are using Genesis themes, you don’t need Add Meta Tags or any analytics plugins.

You can replace these plugins with any other plugins or hacks as long as you know what you are doing and are confident that job gets done.

Highly recommended

  • Si Captcha Anti Spam
  • Quick Adsense
  • Contact form 7

*I recommended Sweet Captcha before, but it’s not available anymore (not in WordPress plugin directory at least). I switched to Si Captcha Anti Spam and it works just fine. Alternatively, you can turn off comments altogether.

For your stats

These plugins help insert Statcounter or Google Analytics code into your WordPress template. Obviously, if you are not using Statcounter or Google Analytics you don’t need these.

  • StatCounter – Free Real Time Visitor Stats
  • Any Google Analytics plugin such as Google Analytics for WordPress (by Yoast)

Nice but not necessary

  • User Submitted Posts (to replace C2 submissions functionality).

What about social buttons?

There are SO MANY ways to add social buttons to your WordPress that I am not even sure where to begin. First, the good practice is to keep plugins to minimum and, in my opinion, it’s very easy to add social buttons without plugins even for WordPress newbies.

For example, you could generate AddThis code like you would do for normal website (not WordPress) and add it manually via Appearance –> Widgets area. Once you are there, simply drag text widget to your sidebar and paste your AddThis code and hit Save. You will get something similar to what I have on this site (I am using AddThis). Just for the sake of example, here is the screenshot of my WordPress dashboard that shows AddThis code pasted in text widget and placed in sidebar in Widgets area (click to enlarge):

add this code

Another way is to use one of many plugins. Simply search for something like “social buttons” in your plugins area and, based on reviews, try a few of them. I don’t have any recommendations for this because I personally never use them.

Finally, you could generate a code for your buttons and use Quick Adsense plugin to add social buttons either right under titles or at the end of each or both! Quick Adsense is not only for Adsense or ads, it is a tool that helps you insert anything you want anywhere within your article site-wide in a matter of seconds!


STEP 4. WORDPRESS THEMES

Your WordPress experience entirely depends on your theme choice. If you are not happy or comfortable, chances are you need to change your theme. While there are thousands of free themes, there are also a lot of premium themes.

Free themes are divided into two categories:

  • official WordPress themes,
  • free themes made by independent authors.

There is nothing wrong with using one of the free themes made by independent authors that you will find under Appearance –> Themes tab or download from other sites; BUT it takes time to find a free theme that does what you want to do, looks good, works properly and is SEO optimized all at the same time.

You don’t want just look. You want security and good SEO. I suggest one of the two:

  • use official WordPress themes,
  • buy quality premium theme, like those of Genesis framework.

I actually recommend to go with free default in the beginning until you get the hang of WordPress. Free default themes are twenty ten, twenty eleven (you probably won’t choose these), twenty twelve (demo), twenty thirteen (demo) and twenty fourteen (demo). All allow you to upload your own header and do some basic customization. There is also new twenty fifteen theme that looks nice and clean. I haven’t tried it myself yet but it does look like a good fit for many sites, although the header is set up a bit differently.

I think for most sites twenty twelve is the best choice. It’s blank but when you upload your header and perhaps change background color, it will look more unique. Otherwise it has almost everything you might possibly need and looks clean. In addition, twenty twelve (and those that came after) is responsive, i.e. optimized for mobile phones and tablets. This way you don’t need to worry about any additional mobile templates like SBI!s MobilizeIt! nonsense.

Back to WP themes, I like twenty fourteen and actually use it on one of my sites. I haven’t explored twenty thirteen properly and twenty ten is obviously too old. Anyway, you can find these themes under Appearance –> Themes menu. If something is not available simply search for it using search box right in your dashboard.

To customize themes, go to Appearence –> Customize. Here you can play with header, add or remove logo text, change background color or add background image.

twenty twelve header customization:

twenty twelve custom

twenty twelve background customization:

twenty twelve background

Different themes will have different customization options. Sometimes they will offer a mind blowing number of options, making it difficult to decide what to do, and sometimes they won’t even allow you to upload a header. So when you install a new theme, you need to read its description, see demo and check your Customization area to see what you can actually do with this theme. As I said earlier, if you are not happy it’s not WordPress, it’s your theme.

I know default themes don’t look like much but I think it’s wise for you to start with these until you become better at WordPress. You can switch later with one click (you might need to iron things out a bit, but usually takes no more than a few minutes).

You could also make your own research on free themes. While you have theme search right from your dashboard it is usually easier to find awesome free themes via Google. Enter something like “best free WordPress themes” or “free minimalistic themes WordPress” and see what’s available. Whatever you choose to do, remember to install only responsive themes.

Genesis framework is another popular option. I use it on this and many other sites. Having said that, I am not exactly blown away by it. The good part is that it’s very secure, always updated, SEO optimized (you don’t need meta tags or Analytics plugins with Genesis) and loads fast. Downside: it’s not cheap and designs could be better (you will need to buy both – Genesis framework and one of their themes, which is about $100 for first time buyers).

If you want something jaw-dropping, you should go to ThemeForest. However, you need some experience with WordPress before you can use their themes.

STEP 5.CONVERTING YOUR SITE
Time: about 2 minutes per page.

Your Homepage
Once you install WordPress, your homepage will show the latest blog posts by default, but you can change it. First of all, sign into your dashboard. Click on Pages –> Add New and create a new page with the name of your site’s homepage (exactly like on your SBI! site). That should go in title field. Edit its URL to be index.html. .html will be assigned automatically; you only need to make sure you enter “index”. This isn’t crucial but this way you will avoid potential broken links that will need to be fixed later. Here is how URL should look like at this stage (make sure to click OK to save this new version of your URL):

homepage index.html

Now copy content from your SBI site in the editor (when you are copying it is best to use Visual editor) and upload images using “Add Media” button. If you have many images on your website, you can use bulk upload feature as described here. DO NOT just copy over images and paste them to visual editor in WordPress. You have to actually upload them either using Add Media button or bulk upload feature.

Don’t worry about ads now. You can add them later using Quick Adsense plugin unless of course you have very specific places for your ads. If this is the case, you have to paste them now using Text editor (not visual). Here is Visual / Text editor switch:

editors

Other than ads and YouTube videos, you are free to use Visual or Text editor. If you feel like things are not aligned properly or spaces are too large, it is a good idea to switch to text editor and see what’s going on with the code. Generally, I always prefer text editor for my day-to-day work (not converting sites); but when you are copying and pasting from your SBI! site, Visual editor saves tons of time.

You will notice that when using visual editor your links are getting copied too without you having to code them manually. That’s a great thing, however remember to check all links by hovering over them once the page is published (or during preview) and make sure they go where you want them to go.

And here is one more thing: don’t forget to include your meta descriptions! Scroll down the page and find blank boxes to add your description and keywords.

metatags

You can preview your page before publishing using Preview button. If everything looks right, hit Publish.

What is the difference between “Site Title” in Settings and homepage title?

WordPress allows you to have different site title and homepage title. While in most SBI! websites these two are the same, I also saw quite a few SBI! sites where site title and homepage title are different. You set the site title during installation process but if you need to edit it later, you can do so via Settings –> General. Please make sure your site title is EXACTLY same as in your SBI! site.

Homepage title is set when you create homepage by filling title field. This is what you’ll get in h1 tags for your homepage.

If both are same, simply make sure to keep them same.

Adsense will not display while working on IP address. You will get blank spaces instead of ads for now, but once you switch name servers your Adsense ads will appear.

Once you published your homepage content, go to Settings –> Reading and set this newly created page as your homepage. Please see the image below for exact settings.

static homepage and rss settings

Hit Save and go refresh your site’s homepage. You should see WordPress version of your homepage at

198.57.247.140/~Username/

Replace my IP address and username with yours.

Other pages

Other pages are even easier. Enter your titles in title fields, edit your URLs and MAKE SURE YOUR URLs ARE EXACTLY SAME AS YOUR SBI SITE, copy and paste your content, upload images, add keywords and descriptions and publish pages. Keep link structure the way it is on your SBI site. No matter how tempting it is to rearrange your menus and contextual links, don’t do that now.

When you publish a page “View Page” button will appear at the top. You can see your pages live at

198.57.247.140/~Username/my-page.html

Replace my IP address and username with yours.

AVOID THESE COMMON MISTAKES:
1. DO NOT use parent pages for your old SBI pages. Parent pages in WordPress aren’t same concept as SBI’s Tier 1-2-3.

2. When I say keep URLs exactly same, I mean by that file names. Let’s say you have a page on your SBI domain like this:

http://wwww.your-sbi-domain.com/why-i-knit-for-my-cat.html

When working on IP address, this same page should look like this:

http://123.45.67/~yourusername/why-i-knit-for-my-cat.html

So when you click on Edit button to Edit URL, you only have to enter

why-i-knit-for-my-cat

.html will be added automatically.

Preview your pages to make sure URL and the page itself looks right.

When you reach the end of this tutorial, this part

http://123.45.67/~yourusername/

will be replaced with your www.domain.com, so you will end up with exactly same URL.

ADVANCED: You can use posts or pages feature, but it seems like pages is a better choice.Posts have their own advantages because you can tag them and categorize them automatically and use plugins for related links, but it will also create category and tag pages so your site won’t be exactly same. Some say pages rank better although I don’t see any difference.

If you decide to use posts instead of pages, you won’t need .html on pages plugin. Instead, you will need to do some hacking as described in forum post here.

Always double check your page URL after publishing, because if you edit the title again or simply click in title area, your URL will switch to exact title match. You need to be extra careful here.

Continue converting pages until you convert the entire site. It takes about 2 minutes per page. It might take a little longer for first few pages but then you are likely to get “in the zone” and things will go much quicker. But please double and triple check your URLs. Check at least one time before publishing and one time after publishing a page.

If your SBI! site contains affiliate code or external links to other sites, you need to make sure that code is clear from SBI’s tracking code when you are copying it. SBI! adds (or used to add) a piece of tracking code to all our outgoing links (including affiliate) so that you can see how many clicks you get in their tracking library (I believe it was called Track IT!). If it was added to your links, you need to remove that or your links will not work on other host. Look for

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;"

and if you find it, remove it. Or generate fresh code. Whatever you prefer.


STEP 6. SIDEBARS AND MENUS

You can manage sidebars under Appearance –> Widgets and menus under Appearance –> Menus.

This lady started very well, but I will add a few points below the video…

She didn’t show that you can add custom links by using LINKS button on the left, but you will figure that out, I am sure. She also stopped before showing you how to actually assign menus. Menus will not show on your website before you assign them. Here is how to do that:

  • Find MANAGE LOCATIONS button on the top and click on it.
  • Choose the name of the menu you just created while following YouTube lady from drop down menu next to Primary Navigation option.
  • Click Save and go see whether it appeared on your website.
If you are one of those SBIers that have 30 navigational links in menu on every page, no template can accommodate that. However it is crucial that you don’t change your linking structure now. What to do? Copy html code of your menu and throw it to your sidebar. Go to Appearance –> Widgets, drag text widget and drop it into sidebar area. Open empty text widget and paste html code of your many navigational links ๐Ÿ™‚ Click Save, go and make sure links appear on your homepage and your inner pages.

This baby boomer explained how to do that very well. He used it for Amazon widget but you can use for anything you want, including your 1001 navigational links!

Tip: you can add multiple widgets too.

Another tip: You have meta data (like log in link), archives, categories and latest posts added to your sidebar by default. Most probably you don’t want them there. You can get rid of them via widgets area too.

One last thing before we switch name servers: get rid of default Sample page and Hello World post. Just delete them!


STEP 7. EDIT YOUR URL IN THE DATABASE

When you are done and confident that everything looks okay, you are ready for big move. Remember we went to the database and switched to IP address in Step 1? Now go back there and switch back to your site’s URL. Remember you have to make 2 (TWO) edits in the database and please make sure your URL is correct and save it. If your site had www. before domain (I know it did) you need to enter that too.

http://www.myawesomesite.com

Here is finished product first edit:

database edit

and second edit on second page:

database edit two

When you do this you won’t be able to sign into your dashboard again until you change name servers and they propagate which may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 48 hours.

Also your site might and will break after this. DO NOT WORRY. It’s normal. If it looked okay during the working process on IP address, it will look okay again when name servers will be switched. You don’t have to fix anything.


STEP 8. NEED AN EMAIL ADDRESS AT YOURDOMAIN.COM?
Time: 30 seconds

SBIers aren’t typically using emails at their domain.com because it’s very unreliable in SBI! Guess what? You can have a reliable working email now! And if you actually used your webmail in SBI and are receiving emails there, it’s important to create that here too. It is very simple. Go back to your cpanel and find Email Accounts:

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

From now on you can 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. However for email newsletters 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.

Please note that this will transfer the 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 this very same address, you will receive that. You don’t need to notify them about anything unless you decided to change your address.


STEP 9. SWITCH YOUR NAME SERVERS
Time: 30 seconds

Time to say goodbye to SBI!

It’s time to tell them you want to move your website to another host and ask them to UNLOCK your domain. DON’T TELL them to cancel your account. Tell them you want to change your NAME SERVERS ONLY for now and YOU WILL MOVE YOUR DOMAIN LATER.

Your domain privacy settings have to be set to public at this point. If you had your domain privacy active, you need to change it to public until the transfer is complete. Make sure you set your privacy to public BEFORE contacting SBI! Here is how to do that ยป

In addition, I will save you time so you don’t email back and forth with SiteSell’s support. When you first contact them asking to unlock your domain, include following information:

  • original order number when you purchased SBI!
  • last four numbers of credit card you used
  • your IP address as it appears here

Use the email address that appears in WhoIs record otherwise they will not unlock it. It is better to make sure your address at WhoIs is not associated with your domain (like you@yourdomain.com), because there is a small chance of missing an email during name server switch.

Here is sample email:

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 for now as I am not ready for complete transfer yet.

Kind regards,

YOU

SBI will verify you are real 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 received with your new hosting account.

After name servers are switched in about few hours you should be able to see WordPress version of your website live. Wait for 48-72 hours to make sure name servers are propagated. From now on you will sign into your WordPress dashboard by entering this:

yoursite.com/wp-admin

No IPs anymore! Although you will be able to sign into your WordPress dashboard don’t do any changes during this period.

After 48-72 hours make sure to activate Hyper Cache Extended and XML sitemaps.

Once you activate Google XML Sitemaps, hover over Settings (left) and choose –> XML-sitemap (will appear after you activate plugin) and find link that suggests to build your sitemap now and click on it. If you are using Google Webmaster Tools you should go and resubmit your newly created sitemap there. Simply delete your old sitemap and add the new one.

For Hyper Cache Extended I have a separate post here.

At this point it’s a good idea to take a look at this list of most common mistakes I see people doing when transferring (PLEASE READ THAT. There is a common image issue and it’s a good idea to have it fixed).


STEP 10. REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN IN ANOTHER REGISTRAR
Time: just a few minutes

Use this tutorial to register your domain elsewhere.

When your domain is re-registered, DON’T FORGET TO CANCEL YOUR SBI OR THEY WILL CHARGE YOU AGAIN NEXT YEAR.


A WORD ABOUT BACKUPS

No matter what your host tells you, you should consider backup your personal responsibility. There are way too many solutions for this – free and paid. You have free plugins, you have premium plugins and you certainly could use them.

If you ask me, I prefer manual backup. I don’t post every day like some bloggers do so it’s completely okay for me to log in to my cPanel once in a while, navigate to Backup Wizard and download my database backup. I use FileZilla to backup images and some other WordPress files, which is also not too complicated.

I then upload it to my DropBox account and I am done. I described what I do for backups here.

Backup is too important for me, I don’t feel I can trust it to anyone, even premium plugins or paid services by my webhost.


MORE THOUGHTS AND LINKS
This should be enough for successful move, but I strongly suggest that you educate yourself and make a little time here and there to watch videos or read something about WordPress. You will find a lot of information and some of it will be overly technical for you (you don’t have to know that), but some things are important. For example, you might be not taking full advantage of some great features that will make your life easier and earn you more money. Or you might be putting your site in danger of getting hacked or suspended by your webhost.

I wrote a few posts that I think are important. Don’t feel you have to act on them right now but it’s something you should know and if anything like this ever happens to you, you will save yourself time and know where to look for answers. Here they are:

Hope you found this helpful. Good luck!

My Recovery from Google Panda

My Recovery from Google Panda

I am a little hesitant to write this post but since I am making the news on Seroundtable I figured I will at least mention this on my own blog :).

A few weeks ago Google’s Matt Cutts announced softer Panda update which will release some sites that have signals of quality but fall into gray area… I don’t know what I did to fall into gray area but apparently this was case with one of my sites.

I posted this image from Google Webmaster Tools in Webmaster World forums and it eventually made to Seroundtable:

My Recovery from Google PandaMy Recovery from Google Panda

After a couple of days it actually became even more pretty:

My Recovery from Google Panda

Unfortunately while impressions rose even more, clicks settled and don’t rise anymore.

Here is how my Google Analytics (Google traffic only) look:

My Recovery from Google Panda

The last day is Friday, so it’s typically lower than Monday through Thursday, so I expect traffic to rise back on Monday.

If you are curious you can read my Panda story here.

In short, I was hit for the first time on June 29 2012, four days after official Panda announcement and lost more than 50 percent of my traffic. Then I was hit on May 9 2013 by Phantom update and lost another 50 percent of the remainder. What happened now is that while my rankings look like pre-2012, i. e. I seem to rank for everything I used to rank in the past my actual traffic is more like pre-May 9, which is still only 50 percent of what it used to be. It feels like old positions simply don’t bring as much traffic anymore.

And here is my favorite shot:

My Recovery from Google Panda

Google traffic only.

You can see I had some good days before June 29 2012. You can see how my traffic was slashed in half overnight and stayed that way for about a year. Then another hit came on May 9 2012. I freak out and remove Google Analytics altogether to prevent myself from watching stats, hence one day drop to 0. I don’t last though and re-install Analytics next day :). You can see my latest recovery at the end, however it still feels like peanuts comparing to beginning of 2012.

What did I do? Hard to tell. I always believed there was nothing wrong with my site, hence whatever I did wasn’t an attempt to fix my site. Having said that, there were tons of changes to the site. I know this doesn’t help, but I won’t mislead you with speculations.

UPDATE: One month later and it dawned on me that the recovery is nearly 100 percent. The traffic climbed even further and then there were some pages I removed and put into separate site. That site became immediately successful and if I combine traffic for both sites I am very close to what it was before, perhaps 100-200 uniques less (per day) but really close.

Planning Sweepstakes – Any Advice?

prize

A few months ago SBI’s superstar Elad made an interesting interview (available here) where he actually revealed the secret of his traffic. Well, he might have many other secrets – Elad is obviously a very clever guy, but still he revealed enough.

prizeThe interview was made to promote SBI!, however if you watch his interview and listen carefully, you’ll realize his success has nothing to do with SBI! Well of course, that’s how he started, but then he discovered his own unique way to success which he shared in that video.

Doubting? His new printables website is not hosted by SBI! In addition, it appears he transferred some of his old websites away from SBI!. I am not saying this to take another chance to pick on SBI! I don’t really hate them, although I didn’t like to be there. Here’s the proof – today they are going to make another interview with one successful lady and I am going to watch. I like new ideas! This post is not another SBI! scam or legit post. I don’t want to be dragged into that. It’s about traffic generation.

Elad nailed it – contest, prizes, particularly cash prizes are the key to driving traffic. John Chow does it all the time. It must be the way. I am tired of my petty dependence on Google. I want to break free. I decided to run sweepstakes with cash prizes. No, guys, not here. Not yet ๐Ÿ™‚

I am really new to this. Does anyone have any constructive advice? Any useful links? Any warnings (laws for example)? Any suggestions will be very much appreciated.

Edited to add:
just found something useful http://www.savingforsomeday.com/blog-law-is-your-giveaway-legal/

How to Transfer Your SBI! Domain Management to Another Registrar

cow for Tucows

Okay… Hopefully you followed one of my three tutorials on here, here or here and are already hosted by someone good. The dust has settled, everything is great and all what’s left is to transfer your domain to another registrar.

Important Don’t do this a day before your domain expires. Leave yourself enough time to do this, preferably a month. If your SBI! subscription expires before your domain does (which might happen if you are on monthly renewal), then please contact SBI! support and ask them specifically how much time you have to transfer your domain management to another registrar. For those who are on yearly renewal the domain expiry date and SBI! subscription date are usually same.
TIP: registering your domain for more than one year is considered minor quality signal for Google rankings because low-quality or spam sites rarely get registered for more than one year. If you want to take an advantage of that register for a few years in advance.

Keeping your name, telephone and address publicly available is another quality signal. So, if you don’t mind for that info to be publicly available, do not pay for WhoIs privacy. It is often checked by default so you will need to uncheck it in your shopping cart.

Where to register your domain

It’s wise to keep your domain management and hosting separate. You don’t want to allow one company to have complete control over your web properties. Never again! In addition, if you ever decide to move to another web hosting company for whatever reason, it’s much easier and faster to do if your domain is registered somewhere else.

Now almost every host will offer you domain registration and even domain registrars will offer you hosting… Are you following me? Just checking ๐Ÿ˜‰ This makes a perfect business sense for them and it doesn’t mean they are trying to cheat you. However, you should do what’s in your best interests and in this case it’s to keep these two things separate. So don’t listen to them!

I love, love, LOVE my host, but I am not going to give them control over my domain. Instead, I am going to move to Name.com. I like their support and clear clutter-free interface. And then they have such a fantastic name – Name.com!

You can do your own research on registrars. I believe it won’t be much different, but in this tutorial I am going to work specifically with Name.com. I will include screenshots and everything I possibly can to make things easier for you.

SBI! Part

cow for TucowsIt looks like SBI! registers all its domains in Tucows. Who could think that all this web business thing is more like a zoo! Pandas, penguins, turtles, cows, monkeys and alligators – like it or not, you have to deal with them all. Just like that cow on Tucows homepage said, we are going to “mooooove” to another registrar! Here is how, step by step…

Step 1: Unlock your domain

First of all you need to make sure your domain is unlocked. We unlocked it before when we were transferring our website files to new host. If not much time passed and you didn’t ask SBI! to lock your domain again your domain is probably still unlocked. You can make sure by searching for your domain at WhoIs. If it says Client Transfer Prohibited, your domain is locked and you need to contact SBI! and ask them to unlock it. You should include following information for them to unlock it:

  • original order number when you purchased SBI!
  • last four numbers of credit card you used
  • your IP address as it appears here

You should also make sure that

  • contact email address at WhoIs is NOT on your domain (it’s not something like you(at)your-domain.com. Use your gmail or yahoo for this.),
  • your domain privacy settings are disabled, i.e. you have your name and contact details publicly available on WhoIs page.

If you need to correct your email address or disable your domain privacy you should fix it now at build.sitesell.com/manage.html. Forgot your password? Search your emails, like I described here.

SBI! will unlock your domain, however you need this updated information appear in WhoIs database. So wait until you will see this next to your domain (under Registration): domain ulocked in whois database When you see registrar status “OK” instead of “Domain Transfer Prohibited” you know you are ready. Usually it takes about a day to update.

Step 2: Get EPP Code (Auth Code)

The instructions for getting Auth Code or EPP will be sent to you by SBI! once you hint you want to move. I will explain it here once again in my own words and include screenshots. So go to http://manage.opensrs.net/domain managementEnter your domain, username and password (the one you got from SBI’s email when you ordered the package). Once you are in, click on Domain Extras… auth code and get that code!

Your New Registrar

Step 3: Initiate transfer

There are many good registrars, but I personally chose Name.com. If you choose another registrar things might be slightly different, but the idea is the same. So go to Name.com (or other registrar of your choice) and create an account. At Name.com you can also enter default payment option so you don’t have to get distracted when you are doing something important like transferring your domain. Then click on domain transfer button… Name.com domain transfer Enter your domain (no www.) and Auth Code you just got from cows… Name.com interface for domain transfer Decide whether or not you want to order domain privacy (that is to hide your name from public view at WhoIs). At Name.com it’s checked by default. It costs a little more than $3 per year. If you don’t need it make sure to uncheck it… domain privacy Name.com Without privacy it costed me $8.25 for transfer and entire year of registration. Click checkout… order complete Name.com Now go back to your account at Name.com. First click on Account Settings (to the right) then big blue button that says “Edit Default Name Servers”. change default name servers Name.com You will see that you have default Name’s name servers which you don’t need and should be deleted. You need to MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU ENTER YOUR ALREADY FUNCTIONAL NAME SERVERS on your host. Triple check that you don’t make any mistake. Here is an example how it should look like if you were hosted by A Small Orange.

A Small Orange name servers

Step 4: Confirm your decision

Go check your email. If you are moving to Name.com you will find two emails in your inbox. One is to confirm your order, the second one is to approve your transfer. emails from Name.com domain transfer Open the one that says “Name.com Notices – USERNAME: Recent transfer(s) APPROVE TRANSFERS” and click on the last link in that email (just before their closing “Much love” ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your domain registrar actually loves you. How cool is that?) Much love email from Name.com It will take you to this page where you will click on Approve Transfers button… approve transfers name.com If you check your account and click on View Registrar Transfers (to the right) you will see this: transfer in progress It tells you that domain transfer is in progress, everything is progressing smoothly, they contacted the losing registrar (the one with cows) and if they do nothing the transfer will be accomplished automatically within 5 days. If cows bother to answer things will happen much quicker.

Step 5: Confirm once again

About 10 hours later I received an email from someone called “Transfer” with subject “Transfer away request has been received for the domain mydomain.com” – that’s right, that must be cows. There will be link in that email, which takes you to a page where you can either confirm or reject this transfer request. sbi confirm domain transfer Check the box next to approve transfer and have some rest.

Step 6: Lock your domain

After a few hours I received another loving email from Name.com with the subject “Name.com Notices – USERNAME: Recent transfer(s) SUCCESSFUL”. If you sign in to your Name.com account you will see that your domain now appears under domain list. domain transferred Name.com Here you can set automatic renewals if you wish or enable domain privacy if you change your mind. However, this is not as important as locking your domain. Click on your domain name. You will see this: domain unlocked Click on that little lock to lock your domain. You will get this: domain locked name.com You are done! Congratulations!

You can go now and say goodbye to everyone in SBI! forums, print everything you want to keep for future reference. Your keyword list would be a good example. SBI! tells you you won’t have access to their tools as soon as you change your name servers, but at least in my experience that’s not what happens. You have access to their forums, tools, including their precious Brainstormer, TNT and pretty much anything you want until about 2-3 days after DOMAIN transfer. I lost access to SiteCentral after a few days I transferred my domain to Name.com. I still have access to forums although I don’t know how long it will continue.

IMPORTANT: DON’T FORGET TO CANCEL YOUR SBI! ACCOUNT You actually have to send one last email to SBI! support and cancel your account otherwise they will automatically bill you for next year (or month).

I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions, corrections, tips please post in forums. Keep in touch. It’s not fun to be alone. I am starting a new thread where you can post corrections and/or additional tips to this tutorial. Perhaps you chose another registrar and would like to share how you did it or maybe you know a better and easier way of doing things. Please share! You can do so here.

I will be posting tips on WordPress and other stuff you might find useful, so don’t forget my little blog. If you have anything specific you want to know about let me know and I will see if I can help :D. Good luck!

How to Convert a Static Website to WordPress, Part 3

wordpress logo blue

This is part 3 of the tutorial. If you didn’t watch or read Part 1 and Part 2 you can do it here:

Part 1
Part 2

Here is video version of this tutorial. However, there is a few important points in text version below.

First of all, the default WordPress theme doesn’t look very good the way it is out of the box. You have several options:

  • you can customize the default theme to something you can live with (not a very bad option, because WordPress default themes are supposed to be the safest themes out there);
  • you can install one of thousands free themes available right from your dashboard or on the web (pay attention to users’ ratings in this case and always keep your theme updated);
  • you can buy a professionally built theme.

I believe it’s best to use either one of three default WordPress themes (you must be able to customize it to something acceptable) or get a premium theme from places like ThemeForest. If you are just starting out and feel overwhelmed with the amount of information, stick to default themes for a while. Later you will know your way around WordPress and will enjoy playing with your design. For now all what matters is that things are done correctly. When it comes to default themes blank twenty twelve theme seems to work best for most precisely because it’s blank. Here is the demo. Once again, you can upload header which will appear over menu and you can change background color.

I am still going to show you how to change your theme using one of free options we have available right from the dashboard. Go to Appearance –> Themes –> Install Themes. You can search by keyword, color, background options and column number. The search system isn’t perfect but I am confident you’ll be able to find something suitable. Enter your criteria and hit “Find Themes” below. You will get something like this:

free wordpress themes

Many of these themes can look good, but click for Details to see users ratings. Never take something with less than four stars – you have too many options to settle for less than perfect theme. Once you found what you like click Install Now and then click Activate. Refresh your homepage and you will see your new theme. Usually it won’t look like in demo, because it needs customization. Go to Theme Options and see what customization options you have available.

Another thing you can do is to google something like “best free WordPress themes” or “best free minimalistic WordPress themes”, or “best free WordPress themes for…” and see what people are talking about. Some of these themes will not be available at appearance section and you will need to go to the designer’s site and download a zipped file and then upload it via Appearance ==> Themes ==> Add New ==> Upload Theme. Just be careful with free stuff.

Your theme choice is not a final decision. You will be able to change your theme later. Usually it’s a matter of one click. If your theme had non-standard options, however, minor issues are possible. For example,

[icon_list style=”crank”]

  • this crank is not something every WordPress theme has.

[/icon_list]

If I ever change this theme all my cranks will be replaced with standard list bullets.

Update: as you see I switched to another theme and crank isn’t there anymore. That’s what I meant! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And so that you know how it looked like here is an old screenshot of my crank:

demo

Adding pages to RSS feed

By default WordPress comes with RSS feed and you don’t have to do anything to make it work. However, default RSS settings are to include only posts. If you are using pages, you probably want them to appear in your RSS feed too. If you are wondering what’s the difference between posts and pages and what you should use, here is the answer ».

To include your pages in RSS, go to Plugins–>Add New and type in search box “rss includes pages”. This is the name of plugin that will solve the problem for you. Simply install it and activate it.

More important RSS settings

Now go to Settings –> Reading. We’ve been here before when we were setting a static page as homepage in part 2. There is more important stuff here though. You can set the number of items you want your feed to display and choose between full text or summary RSS.

rss settings

There is a lot of debate whether you should use full text or summary. I will only tell you my opinion, but you don’t have to agree and do the way I do it. If you choose full text you make it super easy to republish the contents of your entire website elsewhere. In addition, some of your ads such as PPC ads will not display in your RSS feed. People who subscribe to your feed can read it in their readers without ever visiting your website. Some other webmasters argue that setting it to summary makes you look cheap, although I don’t see how. In my experience, if your website is in a non-technical niche and/or your visitors are not bloggers themselves, your visitors have no idea what RSS is anyway.

I personally set my RSS to summary and don’t worry about looking cheap.

Improving your website’s SEO

In your plugins area find, install and activate WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is a fantastic plugin from a highly reputable source that allows you to do tons of SEO pro stuff. At the very minimum, it allows you to add custom descriptions to your pages and posts and allows to add noindex and/or nofollow tag to individual pages (Advanced area, see image below)

wordpress seo by yoast description

This will appear right after the text editor when you create your posts or pages.

It also creates your .xml sitemap automatically and you can set it to submit it to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools automatically. It can change the way your titles appear in search engines and social media (doesn’t have to be the same), ping search engines, edit .htaccess without having to go to cPanel, add ads or custom text at the end of your RSS feed, and does a lot of other advanced stuff I simply can’t cover. These additional settings will be available under SEO link that will appear once you install the plugin. Plugin is constantly updated and like everything else, always keep it up to date.

Alternatively, you can use Google XML Sitemaps + Add Meta Tags plugin combo instead of SEO by Yoast.

Robots.txt for WordPress

There are different opinions about what should be in your robots.txt file if you are using WordPress, but at the bare minimum it should be this:

User-Agent: *
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/

Open your robots.txt and add the second line under User-Agent: *

If you don’t have robots.txt, create it in your cPanel and paste these two lines.

You can use WordPress SEO by Yoast to block individual pages.

Same author (Joost de Valk) has Google Analytics plugin, so in case you use Analytics, maybe it’s a good idea to install that one too. You don’t have to use Joost’s plugins, but I suggest them because he has a great reputation and keeps everything up to date.

Converting the rest of your pages

Converting your inner pages is no different than converting your homepage – simple copy/paste job. You have visual and HTML editor, so you can choose what works best for you. You have to upload images via Add Media button. If your images are uploaded to your host, you can embed them with HTML code using HTML editor if you think it’s quicker. Don’t forget to ensure page URL is exactly same as it was in static version. If you are using description tags, add descriptions (below editor if you are using WordPress SEO by Yoast). Preview your work, if everything is OK hit Publish.

Do not use WordPress parent page feature if you need to keep all your URLs same (and you do. There is nothing wrong with using this for new pages but for your old pages it will change your URL address. It is NOT same concept as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 in SBI!

If you were adding a new page your page would go live immediately. However, because we are TRANSFERRING from static to WordPress we still have plain HTML version in our cPanel. This prevents your WordPress version of same page to go live. To fix this, go to your cPanel, find the file name of this page and delete it. Now refresh this page and you should see WordPress version of page you just created.

Repeat the process for all pages. You don’t have to do this all at once. You can take months to convert entire website – it’s not a problem. The only time you had to rush is when you were converting your homepage.

Fixing your sidebars and footer

Sidebars are managed from Appearance –> Widgets menu. You can drag text widget to your right sidebar and then paste any text or custom code here and click Save. The widget should appear on all pages of your website.
wordpress text widget and sidebar

You will be able to manage footer area in similar fashion and the changes will take place on your entire website.

Some themes will give you more options for sidebars, such as left and right sidebar and additional widgets for header. Some other themes give you only one right sidebar. So it really depends. Depending on the theme you chose, you will see different options in your Widget area.

Different layouts for different pages

It’s possible to have different layouts on different pages. For example, you might want your homepage or your sales page look different from your regular pages. For example, you might want to have a special layout for homepage or no sidebars on sales pages. This depends on your theme you choose. Some themes offer many custom layout options, so you need to find something that satisfies all your needs. To change the layout of an individual page, find this page in your dashboard, click edit, then click on drop-down menu under Page Attributes. You will see what layout options you have available. Here are mine:
wp layouts

If I want to change layout of one of my pages I will simply choose the layout I need from menu to the right and hit Update. You might have less options there. Again, it depends on your theme.

Adding menus

By default WordPress will add your pages to main navigation bar, but most probably that’s not exactly the way you want it. To create your own menu go to Appearance –> Menus, enter menu name (whatever you want it to be, this won’t be visible on your website) and add URLs you want to appear and labels (that’s what will appear on the buttons) and click Add to Menu. You can drag and rearrange buttons to get the order you like. You can also do drop-down menus here. Once all URLs are added, make sure you choose the menu you just created as primary menu (top left) and hit save. Refresh your pages and make sure the menu looks right.

Wordpress custom menu setup

Contact forms

WordPress has a great plugin called Contact Form 7. Install, activate it and set it to deliver you messages to email address of your choice. I will not cover the setup, because it’s very intuitive. Basically it gives you a piece of code to paste into your blank Contact Us page and it will become a form when you publish. You only need to make sure that email specified for delivering messages is email where you expect to receive them.

Ads

You can ad ads to sidebars via Widgets function. If you want to add ad code inside the text you can either do it manually using Text editor (HTML editor instead of visual) or use one of may great plugins built especially for this purpose. I like to use Quick Adsense (you don’t have to use it for Adsense, you can use it for anything you want). You can set it to add ads automatically before, after and inside the content. You have complete control.

I also use Seo Smart Links+. It allows me to choose keywords and convert them to affiliate links (or any links) on my entire website. It’s easy to update them or change to another product this way.

Speeding up your website

Because WordPress is database driven, it is natural for it to be a little slower than static websites but you don’t have to put up with this. There is a number of cache plugins that will help you speed up your website and I think I tested most of them if not all of them. I could spot some kind of problem with each of them, but there was one that was just perfect Hyper Cache Extended. I highly recommend that you install and activate it once you are done with converting your website. After you activate it, you will see message in your dashboard telling you insert a line of code to one of your core files – do that. Just be careful not to mess up anything as you are editing. The best thing to go about this is to back up file before editing just in case. That way you will be safe. I described how to activate Hyper Cache Extended here.

More…

You can do nearly anything you want with your WordPress and there is really no reason for you to use something else. You can have forums, member areas, receive submissions from your users using Users functionality and much much more. I would recommend to add plugins slowly, stick only to well tested and widely used plugins and whenever you can manage without plugin, do so. Plugins are cool of course, but sometimes they might needlessly expose you to dangers and get your WordPress hacked or display ads you don’t approve or hide links. The same goes for free themes. I am not telling you not to use these fantastic free options, I am just advising you to be cautious.

You will also need a backup plugin. While most hosts provide free backup services you should never rely on it. I cannot advise you of any particular backup plugin at the moment as I am doing my research. See for yourself what backup plugins are available, read reviews and find what’s best for you. Make sure it backs up files and DATABASE. Store your backup somewhere safe, such as Dropbox.

I personally backup manually. I described manual backup process here.

I hope this was comprehensive enough and you found it helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to post in WordPress forum.