5 Steps To Migrate vBulletin To WordPress

Editor’s note: Migrating a website to WordPress can be intimidating! The process involves multiple steps that, if skipped, carry the risk of losing your entire website’s data and files. Therefore, it’s vital to plan out the whole process beforehand to avoid mishaps during the process. Partner with a professional vBulletin to WordPress migration company to enjoy a safe, secure migration to WordPress without compromising your data and SEO performance.

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WordPress powers over 40% of all websites over the Internet. In addition, it is trusted by SMEs and enterprise businesses and hosts over 65% of CMS websites. Seeing such a huge percentage, you probably might be wondering why aren’t you on WordPress yet.

If you feel your old website isn’t good enough and are considering migrating from vBulletin to WordPress, you are in the right place.

The following part provides essential information on why you should move your existing platform to WordPress, along with the steps.

However, before we move on to the steps involved in migrating vBulletin to WordPress, it’s critical to know about this popular CMS platform and its advantages over its competitors.

The Need to Migrate Your vBulletin Website

Even though migrating your website to WordPress can be a tedious process, in many situations, it becomes a necessity. Here are several reasons why merchants consider a vBulletin to WordPress migration

  • Rebranding includes changing the domain name for a better URL or simply for rebranding.
  • Security: merchants want to enhance their website security by moving from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Upgrading: site owners aren’t satisfied with the current server’s performance and want to switch to a new CMS or framework.
  • Optimization includes changing the website’s structure, design, or navigation and optimizing it for seamless performance across devices.

Why Migrate to WordPress?

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WordPress was launched in 2003, long before anyone knew about content management systems or the importance of a blog. Initially designed as a simple tool for bloggers, it rapidly grew to become the go-to platform for everyone, from SMEs to programmers.

What’s more, WordPress is free software, allowing users to download, install, use, and modify it without any cost. Remember that while WordPress software is free, users need a domain name and web hosting to install it.

From a simple website to a fully functioning eCommerce marketplace, WordPress can handle all. Here are some ways you can use WordPress:

  • Start a blog
  • Set up an online store
  • Build a business website
  • Make a membership website
  • Sell online courses

Benefits of Migrating to WordPress

Ease of Use

There’s no doubt that WordPress is the most user-friendly CMS platform on the market. However, its ease of use makes it the biggest reason why online merchants migrate to WordPress. If you are familiar with using Microsoft Word, you’ll find it comforting to use WordPress.

Even though WordPress contains some advanced features, it excels due to its simplicity. You don’t need coding experience to use WordPress.

Highly Versatile

Although WordPress was launched as a blogger’s platform, it rapidly evolved into a complete web development platform. Updates and upgrades are easier to carry out, enabling more and more users to shift towards this versatile platform.

Mobile Friendliness

In today’s world, businesses must have a mobile-friendly web design, ensuring their website is compatible across multiple devices and screen sizes. Considering that over 50% of the web searches are from smartphones, it is imperative to have a responding design. Most WordPress themes are mobile-friendly, ensuring your website is accessible to all.

Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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WordPress is one step ahead of other CMS platforms in enhancing your SEO. The built-in features assist merchants in improving their rankings in search engine results. Besides, there are numerous SEO plugins to boost your efforts of specialized optimization.

Seamless eCommerce Integration

Just a few years ago, you would need an expert to set up an eCommerce store or figure out the complexities of running it. But WordPress allows businesses to easily integrate eCommerce systems into their website.

For instance, you can fully integrate platforms like WooCommerce into your site.

Large Active Community

Over the year, WordPress has accumulated a large user base and an extremely active community. Moreover, the WordPress support page has a dedicated forum for everything related to your WordPress site, from fixing issues to accessibility concerns. You’re most likely to encounter a user who has already faced and solved a problem ahead of you.

With WordPress, you don’t need to go anywhere to find the answer to your question.

Pre vBulletin to WordPress Migration Checklist

Identify your preferred method for migration

There’s no doubt that website migration is a challenging process with the risk involved. Merchants have the liberty to choose between a manual migration or migrating using a tool. Each method offers its own advantages and disadvantages.

Manual Migration

Manual migration is a laborious and time-consuming process. You might spend hours migrating for vBulletin to WordPress only to find that you skipped a critical step or exported a specific file that can mess up the entire process.

Migration Using a Tool

Website migration tools are a simple and efficient way to migrate your website to WordPress. They ensure that your entire website database, regardless of complexity, successfully transits to the new website.

Moreover, they help merchants save time and effort, delivering them a fully functional website with zero downtime.

Prepare a Project Plant and Roadmap

Developing a migration plan is vital for a successful migration. Considering that website migration is a “massive” project and can take months for completion, having a roadmap will help you tick all essential steps during the entire process.

Ensure you include the following aspects for a successful project plan:

  • Gather all your shareholders and inform them about the changes
  • Outline every task, whether big or small
  • Assign a dedicated owner to each task
  • Set up an expected delivery time against each task

Here’s a step-by-step approach for a vBulletin to WordPress migration plan.

Choose Your WordPress Host and Backup Data

Ideally, you’d want a new provider offering top-notch security features. You can choose from the following hosting options available:

  • Shared: This is the most budget-friendly option where one server houses multiple websites sharing resources.
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS): This includes virtual partitions within a shared server, offering dedicated resources to your website.
  • Dedicated: Webmasters get a physical server that houses only their website.

Assess your main priorities before choosing the best option for your website.

The next thing to do is use an FTP tool to create a copy of all your website’s files. Connect your site’s server via FTP and navigate to your eBulletin root folder containing all your files. Right-click on the root folder and select the download option.
Doing this will download a copy of your entire root directory.

Map Your vBulletin Data

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The transition from vBulletin to WordPress is more than just copying and pasting a simple title and body field. Migration is a complex process, so your vBullentin forum must have some custom elements and fields that need to be pulled over and converted to WordPress. Hence, map out all your data before the migration process, including:

  • Authoring information
  • Publishing dates
  • SEO metadata
  • Images and attachments

While mapping out the data, remember that you’ll have to export this on a user or content type basis. Doing this will help you import the data into your WordPress site using the same method for each type.

Install a WP Migration Plugin

For migration, there are some steps you must take on the WordPress side. You’ll need to install a WordPress plugin, preferably WP All Import Pro, having an advanced custom field (ACF) add-on. This add-on maps fields within vBulletin to custom ACFs within WordPress.

After installing the WP All Import Pro plugin, upload the XML, CSV, or JSON file created when mapping the vBulletin data.

Once done, decide the data you want to import. Since you are importing your entire site, you’ll need to import all of your data, including posts, pages, taxonomies, or custom post types, from additional themes and plugins.

Configure Your Import Data

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The WordPress plugin will then process the uploaded file and prepare the chosen data for import. At this stage, you can choose to configure your data. You’ll also need to clean up the data, map specific data with customized functions, and sync media.

Considering that the step will look different depending on your website and mapped data, it’s hard to point out the exact factors to look for and the custom functions to be created.

Moreover, there will be times when you’ll notice some images, PDFs, or other attachments don’t import to the WordPress site. This error results in broken links, images that are unable to load, and other website issues.

To eliminate any such issue, implement the SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) to move the files that initially failed to transfer over to the WordPress uploads directory.

Furthermore, ensure you sync the data and files to resolve any broken link issues.

Add Themes and Plugins

You can opt to retain a familiar layout by finding a comparable theme or choosing an entirely new theme. For this, you’ll need to browse the Theme Showcase to identify the theme, activate it, and customize it with your brand colors and images.

Remember to check your navigation menus and widgets after activating the theme.

You can also access popular plugins by visiting My Site > Tools Plugins and adding them to your new website.

Post WordPress Migration Checklist

Update DNS Entry

Your customers might directly use your website name and not the IP address to visit your site. However, computers require IPs to look and serve up websites. This is done through a domain naming system (DNS) that translates site names into IP addresses.

After a successful vBulletin to WordPress migration, you must update the DNS records; else, your customers will be directed toward your old website. You can visit the WordPress host admin panel to update the DNS entry.

Test Your WordPress Website

The next step is to run your WordPress website through a series of tests, including the Google Mobile-Friendly Test and the Pingdom page load test. Doing this will validate your website’s functionality, accessibility, and performance.

Chalk out Your Website’s URL Architecture

Your website’s URL structure and the sitemap should align with the latest SEO standards. Even though migration has little or no effect on your website’s SEO, the Google search console needs time to register the changes. Hence, you might notice traffic changes on your website for a few days.

Ensure you redirect all the old URLs to new ones to avoid losing online traffic. Moreover, keep your new URL structure similar to the old one and avoid changing too many URLs, as it may cause search engine crawlers to consider it an entirely new website. This may cause you to lose traffic and also affect your rankings.

Check Internal Links

Redirecting old URLs to the new ones means that your internal links will also point out to the new ones. This might create a server load, slowing down your website and affecting performance in terms of SEO.

The best way to update all the internal links within your database is by using the search and replace operation.

Set up a New Website Property

Finally, set up a new property for your new WordPress site in the Google search console and submit the new sitemap. This will ensure your site indexing before the launch.

Additionally, you can install Google Analytics on your new site to monitor its performance.

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Conclusion

Follow this detailed vBulletin to WordPress migration checklist to ensure the process doesn’t go awry. Also, avoid migrating your entire website to WordPress in one go; first, create a test sample for a new website, and once you can confirm everything is right, move the website piece by piece. Remember that website migration can be challenging but is just as rewarding if done the right way.