These are some of the most common questions I'm asked about moving websites from SBI to WordPress:
- Should I use WordPress.com or WordPress.org? What is the difference?
- Is it hard to install WordPress?
- Is there a learning curve with WordPress?
- Can I keep my .html page extensions on WordPress? Or do I have to change page names?
- Should I create pages or posts?
- What are 301 Redirects?
- What are Plugins?
- Can I replace all of the SBI functionality on WordPress?
- Do I have to learn PHP to customize my WordPress theme?
- Do I have to transfer my domain name from SBI?
- What webhost do you recommend?
- Do you offer SBI to WordPress site transfer services?
- What if I still have questions about moving my SBI site?
When transferring an SBI site, you should install WordPress.org software on your own web hosting account. This gives you full control of your website.
WordPress.com is a hosted blogging service that is more appropriate for personal blogs. It is not suitable for business websites.
Installing WordPress is not difficult. Most web hosts offer easy “1-click” installation options. It only takes a few minutes to install. If you prefer not to do it yourself, I install WordPress, themes, and plugins for a small fee.
WordPress has a learning curve just like SBI and Site Central. You will need to learn how to use the WordPress dashboard, basic functions at your webhost, and how to use and customize the theme you choose. I recommend installing a practice blog first so you can learn WordPress without worrying about messing up a live website.
There are many books and courses available for learning WordPress. One of my favorites is WP Academy.
You can keep your page names with the .html extensions when converting your SBI site to WordPress.
If you have a new or small site, I recommend changing the page names to the WordPress format. However, you will need to create a 301 redirect for every URL that changes so you don't lose traffic.
You can change the URL format for large sites but you need to write a custom 301 redirect to redirect all of the .html pages to the WordPress version. This can be a complex process, especially if some of your page names are changing.
Using pages or posts depends on the type of content you have. If you have an informational site and the content does not have to be followed in a specific order, it is usually best to create pages for the homepage and your "business type" pages such as About, Privacy, Contact, etc. Create posts for the rest of the content.
If your site is tutorial in nature and pages need to be followed in order, it is probably better to convert the business and tutorial content to pages, then convert informational pages to posts.
If you have money-making pages that you want to put on your navigation bar, it is usually best to convert those to pages, not posts.
A 301 redirect is a line of code in a special file that tells the internet where to find a file if it has been moved. Redirects allow you to change the URL of a page (or website) but not lose your traffic or page rank in the process. In WordPress, they are created using either a plugin or manually altering the .htaccess file through your cPanel. You can also edit the .htaccess file directly, but this is an advanced skill. If you do it incorrectly you can break your site.
Plugins are apps that you install on your WordPress site to add functionality. There are thousands of apps, free and paid. This allows you to add only the functions you need. You usually install them from within the WordPress dashboard (but there are exceptions). See the plugin documentation for more information.
There are ways to replace virtually every SBI module on WordPress. Most can be replaced using plugins, others require a 3rd party resource. Most SBI modules have at least one free alternative.
Here are a few examples:
- SBI Forums: There are webmaster forums all over the internet. There are very helpful and professional WordPress groups on LinkedIn that you can join for free.
- BlockBuilder 2: WordPress themes. You create the layout in the theme options then use the text entry screen to write your pages and posts.
- BrainstormIt: Yoast WordPress SEO plugin (free), Market Samurai (free and paid), WordTracker ($$), WordStream ($$$), Keyword Discovery ($$$).
- MailOutManager: MailChimp (free and paid), Aweber ($), GoDaddy Express Email Marketing ($).
- FormBuildIt: Contact Form 7 plugin (free), Jotform.com (free and paid), GravityForms ($).
- Action Guide: There are a multitude of websites that offer website building and marketing tips. You can also find books on marketing your site on Amazon.com. A book I highly recommend is Marketing in the Age of Google by Vanessa Fox, the creator of Google Webmaster Tools.
You can create custom sites without touching PHP at all by using a fully-customizable theme. Depending on the design you are creating, you might need to write some CSS just like you do with BlockBuilder 2.
If you prefer to use a theme “out-of-the-box,” some themes (especially freebies) do not allow very much customization so you might have to write some CSS or get into the PHP to get the look and feel you want.
I recommend the following fully-customizable theme frameworks: Pro Framework (my personal favorite). Genesis by StudioPress is a very popular theme but most changes to the look and feel must be done with CSS.
Unless it is time to renew, you do not have to transfer your domain away from SBI to host your site somewhere else. All you need to do is ask support to unlock it so you can change the nameservers.
Most people prefer to move their domain from SBI because other hosts provide more robust domain management. Two domain name registrars I recommend are NameCheap and GoDaddy. (They are good domain regstrars but I do not recommend these companies for website hosting.)
The host I use is HostGator. Their hosting plans are reasonably priced and their customer service is top-notch. See my the post on my blog How to Sign Up for HostGator for complete instructions and a 25% off coupon code.
Yes, I offer a limited number of site transfer appointments, either full-service or budget. Contact me for more information or a quote.
You can find additional information about moving your site in this post on my blog, 8 Steps to Moving an SBI Site. Or contact me for a paid consultation. My consultation rates are $60/hour.