How to Switch From Joomla to WordPress
Originally our website was developed using the content management system, Joomla. Joomla is very powerful. It accommodates almost any layout. The problem with Joomla is that it wasn’t built with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and all its intricacies in mind. In addition, customizing the functionality of a website running on Joomla can be very challenging. There are few resources regarding how to modify Joomla’s system files. There are even fewer Joomla developers to approach for help. Unfortunately this CMS (Content Management System) has not experienced the wide adoption rate of WordPress.
Joomla’s original install is not SEO-friendly. One would have to implement a set of modules to get the static keyword-based URLs as well as an option to add custom titles and meta information on each page. Navigation and template options are limited and complicated. One would really have to master Joomla to make optimizations as well as benefiting from jQuery and HTML5.
The Administrator Panel for Joomla is not user-friendly if you work as a team requiring multiple content contributors to the site itself. The access levels are not as defined as WordPress and several other CMS’ out there. That creates a big problem in terms of management.
Challenges and Obstacles of the Project
Our site was optimized and already stable when we decided to make this move. We were ranking for many competitive and popular terms on Google and the other search engines and we did not want to lose any of those results. We also did not want to deal with any 301 redirects as it would take time for Google to re-index those pages. We basically did not want to absorb opportunity costs moving from one CMS to another.
It was essential that we maintain the exact design and look, as well as the functionalities on the new CMS as the stats confirm high engagement and conversions with this design Also, one of the major reasons we needed this change was that we needed a dynamic sitemap live at all times with the “Last Modified” field. (Exactly the way Google wants it)
Narrative of the solution and the process involved
The migration process began by creating backups of everything and a ‘test’ folder on the root directory of the web server. Default WordPress installation files were uploaded into the ‘test’ folder. Once the installation was complete, we proceeded to install our theme framework and plugins.
Website interface images were duplicated and moved to our WordPress theme folder. We duplicated the CSS originally coded for the Joomla version of the site and moved it to the WordPress version as well. We changed the names of the CSS code ID’s and Classes to match the names on the WordPress site. At this point, almost all of the design and layout automatically fell into place. There were some minor CSS adjustments made to correct any errors that weren’t automatically fixed when we first implemented the CSS file.
All of the site content was duplicated with the upmost attention to detail. It was vitally important for the sake of our SEO efforts and PageRank that the hierarchy, meta tags, page title, page content and h1 tags were all identical. I repeat – they HAVE to be identical.
Once we have carefully duplicated all of the pages and checked each one individually, we were ready to begin browser testing. Inevitably there will be minor fixes and edits that have to be addressed.
Satisfied with the website, we logged into the WordPress settings/options page and updated the address to reflect the new location of the WordPress installation. Then we put up a temporary page that notifies the user that the website will be down for a few moments. We then deleted all the Joomla system files and replaced them with the WordPress files. We then removed the temporary html file we just set up. We also deleted the Joomla database.
The new WordPress version should be live and working.
Expected and Actual Results
We did not expect to have any down time or to get any 404 errors. The fact that we re-created each URL under Joomla exactly the same way under WordPress enabled us to bypass doing any 301 redirects. We did not lose any organic ranks on Google and, due to the dynamic sitemap, our pages are crawled more accurately and frequently.
WordPress is a better solution as a CMS than Joomla. The user-friendliness, support, software updates, security, SEO functionalities and many more elements make this the clear choice for active website development while maintaining optimum SEO results.
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