Switching from Business Catalyst to WordPress took me around 60 hours and this was my approach.
Search, evaluate, test and buy theme
There’s simply too much choice when it comes to choosing a WordPress theme.
I looked at various marketplaces including ThemeForest before evaluating finding a theme called Typology.
The deal breaker for me was getting access to the admin panel of the test site.
So I could see what I was letting myself in for.
I needed to see how easy it was to change the theme to match the look I was aiming for.
Then I did a test to look at the page optimisation.
I needed to check the template rendered H1 headers.
Do a site speed test of theme before purchase
I ran the demo theme url through GTMetrics to test the load speed; under 2 seconds; perfect.
I initially chose Godaddy Managed Hosting because I’ve used them before and they appear to manage updates to the WordPress and plugins.
But I have since changed to FlyWheel.
Why Flywheel ?
- Dedicated WordPress hosting
- Specialist hosting for web professionals
Buy and Install theme
Next step was to buy and install the theme.
- Download the zip file from your ThemeForest purchase.
- Create a staging environment.
- Go through their guide for setting up the website.
- Once you’re inside the WordPress test site, upload the theme zip file.
Customisation of this theme is really easy and I didn’t change much.
I decided to create a new logo that took some time.
The most time consuming part was figuring out how to set a static page as the home page.
There were 3 options for the post layout.
Single post options allowed some flexibility.
A good selection of fonts to choose from; although you can import your own fonts.
Pages or posts ?
I had to make some decisions about where to import content.
I decided my services would be set up as pages and my Business Catalyst blog posts would be set to posts.
I decided to create a brand new site structure using categories as a silo.
The idea behind a silo structure is to group related posts into one category and then only link to pages in that structure.
Here’s a diagram about my website is now structure.
I have a small site with in-depth content; around 60 pages of which 45 are indexed in Google.
However these 45 blog posts are really long blog posts.
Whilst there is the ability to import the RSS feed of Business Catalyst blog posts it’s just as quick to copy and paste each post manually.
Because I want to control the new post url.
Clean up pages and pages
Regardless of the method you choose to import content, you will have page content code you will need to clean up.
I had to go through every page and post in the html (text view) and strip out unwanted html; such as divs and anchor text links.
Install and configure the following urls
Since I’m an SEO guy it’s important that I maintained or improved by rankings before and after this migration to WordPress.
From an on page SEO perspective, the free version of Yoast is ideal.
Once installed you have control of the page title, page description, no index and canonical settings.
And of course you will the added benefits of Yoast advising you to improve your pages and posts.
Table of content plus
In Business Catalyst I had to hand coded my table of contents and anchor text links.
I set this plugin up so that only H2 headers on my page appear in the table of contents.
However I still had to manually add back to the top html throughout the page.
I was very worried about losing my organic traffic and rankings and switching to ssl before I started this process.
WordPress adds a closing / to each page or post.
So /seo would become /seo/
Then the added issue I had was my blog url; /platonik-blog/seo would become /seo/
Hence I needed a way to do 301 redirects so that I didn’t lose any organic traffic.
This plugin has millions of installations so I felt it could be trusted.
To set up the redirects it’s simply a case of copy and paste the original source url into one field and type in the new target url.
Auto Upload Images
After copying and pasting each page into WordPress, I was left with image URLs from my original Business Catalyst website.
This could have been a nightmare to replace images.
Thankfully this plugin will import images from your old BC site and creates a new WordPress /wp-content/ folder file.
The next time you update a page or post the plugin will fetch the image, import it and create the new image url.
Here’s how I configured the plugin settings and it worked like a treat.
There’s lots of Google Analytic plugins and I choose Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.
You simply connect the plugin to your Google Analytics account and select the view you want to display on the dashboard.
No more stupid and false Business Catalyst traffic reports on your dashboard.
On page optimisation
I ended up tweaking my page titles and descriptions with Yoast.
Publish post date
I tried to retain the same publish date as original BC posts.
When this WordPress theme displays related posts under each post they use the publish date to control the related posts.
I had to manually change all the links in each post; bummer.
Since I moved to a silo website structure, I had to spend time rethinking which internal links went where.
Whilst this is a client responsibility, I had to proof read every page and check the formatting.
I recommend some good tunes on your iPhone to do this to.
Change Drip account and all rule urls
Whilst you don’t probably use Drip as a web form and email marketing platform, I had to make adjustments.
Export CRM records out of BC
Not an issue for me but you are going to have to move CRM records to an email marketing provider.
I would recommend Drip.
It’s easy to import from Business Catalyst and they will match fields that you can preview before importing.
Business Catalyst recommend you download your email account; which I did.
Buy new email from domain host
Then I purchased a new email account from my domain host; about £35 a year.
Disconnect domain from Business Catalyst site settings
Now the scary part; disconnecting from Business Catalyst.
Log in the BC admin panel and select site settings and site domain.
Then delete the www.domain.com and domain.com urls.
I would recommend writing down the url of your test site.
My test site is my partner portal so I still need and have access.
Point domain to Godaddy
Now it’s time to point your domain to your WordPress hosting.
GoDaddy gave me an IP address and I changed the A record and WWW record.
Then I prayed for the next 48 hours !
Change imap and pop settings on phone and desktop email clients
I had to change my imap and pop email settings on my phone and iMac.
Then do a send and receive email test.
Wait for propagation
Do a Google search for dns check worldwide.
Then check the IP address is the same as the one your WordPress host provided you.
Set up ssl
The Godaddy SSL process is pretty smooth; follow their emails and instructions.
GoDaddy will update the secure url in the settings menu of WP.
New site map to search console
When the domain propagated then tell Google Search Console about your new site map.
Find sitemap and add to Search Console
Yoast make life hard finding the sitemap. Here it’s location.
When you have the url, then go into search console and submit the new sitemap.
Then delete the old one.
Update Google analytics url with ssl url
Then log into Google Analytics and change your default URL to https://
Select Admin – Property Settings.
DNS issues to show new site, reboot router
I had issues accessing you WordPress control panel towards the end of the propagation period.
I had to reboot my router and change the DNS on my IMac’s network settings.
Check all your pages are indexed
Make sure that all your pages are indexed within the Yoast plugin.
What now ?
Now it’s time to get back to marketing and improving your organic rankings and traffic.