Moving Hosts with No Downtime and Minimal SEO Harm

With constant promotions offered by dozens of hosting companies, people are easily getting influenced into switching their hosting companies. There is nothing wrong with it the fact that you may want to change hosts, but you should know how to do so without any trouble. Personally, I’ve seen many sites getting switched over to new servers that experience a large amount of downtime. Downtime not only affects your site but your users as well. If someone happens to be browsing to your site and it is offline, you can count on them not becoming a returning visitor. We will be going through what you need to do in order to minimize downtime and SEO harm.

Before you begin, you need to ensure that both hosting accounts are active and in working order. Your first step is to back up the contents from your old host, including any databases you may have. If you have the ability to use the file manager in your control panel, you could easily compress all the files and folders into one ZIP file and download it. Databases can be downloaded in various formats through your database console. If you have other services such as emails, you need to move them as well. The contents of the email accounts can be downloaded, but simply note the email account itself.

Your next step will be to upload the ZIP file to the root of your new web hosting account and to use the file manager in cPanel to extract it. Once extracted, you will have all the files and folders in the right order. If databases were downloaded, then need to be created and uploaded using your web hosting portal. Email accounts should then be created and any forwarders you had on them, should be added accordingly. Now, you should have the exact replica of your site on the new hosting account. You have now completed the actual move for the site and what are left are the name server changes.

As Google’s Search Quality Engineer, Matt revealed in an announcement, he made it clear that there is a right way to changing web hosts without causing too much damage to the SEO of your site. A domain name server is simply the filter that maps your domain to a specific IP address, and during a web host change, this is what you are changing. When you want to switch your host, you are initially switching the IP address of the website files. In DNS, there is something called the TTL, which stands for ‘time to live’. This value simply tells the network the amount of time that it wants the content to be cached.

It is recommended that you set your TTL on your DNS settings to be about five minutes. These settings can usually be found in the domain name server settings at your domain control panel, regardless of which registrar you are with. The final step is to change the name servers and wait for the changes to take effect. Search engines like Google have algorithms that automatically check for IP address changes on a daily basis, so there is not much do on that part. Once you have done all that, you are set!

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