How to Switch from WordPress to Squarespace
I recently made the switch from WordPress to Squarespace, and found it to be a pretty painless process. I was able to import all my content within the day with no hiccups, and I’ll show you how to switch from WordPress to Squarespace with the greatest of ease. So let’s get started.
The first thing you need to do is sign up for Squarespace. They offer a 14 day free trial, so if you are just testing the waters, you can transfer over your WordPress website and see if you like the interface and design better than your current site. It’s a win-win.
SELECT YOUR TEMPLATE
Squarespace has a great selection of clean, beautiful templates to choose from. While it is easy to get distracted by the images and styling, try to select a template that best represents the layout and features you want for your website, e.g. full width headers, centered navigation, portfolio layouts, etc.
SET UP YOUR ACCOUNT INFO + SEO
Head on over to the Settings section and fill out your basic information, and under Marketing > SEO, input your SEO settings. Squarespace has great SEO, probably better then WordPress because you don’t have a separate plugin to install, fill out, and slow down you site. Be sure to use keywords in your SEO description that your target audience would use to search for your business.
EXPORT YOUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE
Squarespace does offer a direct import option, but I found it quicker to just export the .xml file from WordPress, and then import it directly to Squarespace.
Log into your WordPress Dashboard. Under Tools, select Export, and then select the Export option in the window. Select the All Content radio button, and then click Download Export File. This will save the file to your computer. I like this option as well because you always have a backup file just in case.
IMPORT YOUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE
Now, back to your Squarespace site, go to Settings > Advanced > Import/Export. In the Advanced tab of the Import from WordPress window, drag your .xml file into the XML Export Upload box, or click the file uploader to select the .xml file from your computer.
A progress bar will indicate that your WordPress content is importing, and a Success message will appear once the import is complete.
ENABLE YOUR CONTENT FOR SQUARESPACE
Your WordPress pages and content will be disabled, so now it’s time to enable them. Go to your Pages section, and scroll down to Not Linked. This is where all your pages will be. Click the little settings icon next to the title to open the page settings. Check enabled, and then hit save. You will also want to drag the pages you want displayed in your navigation to the Main Navigation section.
TIME TO UPGRADE
Now that you have all your content imported, and you’ve had a little time to tinker and tweak, you’re ready to go live. This is exciting! There will be a little footer announcement bar reminding you that you are on a free trial, and to upgrade to make your site live. Click that, and follow through the prompts. There are three packages to choose from, select the one that best fits your needs now. Remember, you can always upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time if your website needs change.
TRANSFER YOUR DOMAIN
Since you have a WordPress website, you likely have your domain hosted with a different company such as GoDaddy, BlueHost, Hostgator, etc. Your domain is going to stay put, but we are going to map it to your Squarespace website.
Go to Settings > Domains > Connect a Third Party Domain. Insert your domain name (yourwebsite.com) and hit continue. From here, you will select your domain provider from the drop down menu. If your provider isn’t there, no worries, just select Other. Click Connect Domain, and you will get a little message box that it is in progress.
After you connect your domain, a new panel will open with the records you need to enter in your provider account so your domain connects to Squarespace. I won’t go through this process, but Squarespace has a bomb tutorial on how to change your CNAME and A records.
GIVE IT 24 HOURS
I know, the waiting game is rough, but the magic is working. Within 24 hours (maybe sooner) your domain will connect to your site if everything is entered correctly. You will have a little progress bar under the Domains panel, red means it’s not linked, orange means it getting there, and green with a correctly linked label means go!
This is the only annoying part of this process. When you import your blog posts, your links will not work the same because your WordPress site didn't have a page slug for the blog page, just posts. For example, your WordPress blog post might have been www.mywebsite.com/post-title whereas your Squarespace post is www.mywebsite.com/blog/post-title. See the difference?
So, how do we fix this? Well, you need to create what they call 301 redirects. Go to Settings > Advanced > URL Mapping. You will need three elements to complete the mapping, I’ve even colour coded them for you.
1. your old URL from Wordpress (red)
2. the arrow, which looks like this-> (orange)
3. the new Squarespace URL (green)
So it will look like this: /old-url -> /new-url 301 And you can see an example from my website to see what it looks like in real life.
See the old link is in red, the arrow in orange, and the new link in green with 301 at the end, because that's the type of redirect we're using.
Now, if you transferred over a massive blog, then you may be in for a few late nights. Your best plan of action is to start with your most popular posts, and maybe work up from there.
In the meantime, you can create a custom 404 error page that maybe explains why your visitor may not be finding the link they were looking for, and redirect them to the blog. Go to Settings > Advanced > 404 Error/Page Not Found, and select the page you have created from the drop down menu.
And that’s it! You’ve just switched your website from WordPress to Squarespace, congratulations! If you’re still feeling a little uneasy about transferring your website, domain mapping, and/or URL redirects, feel free to get in touch and I’d be happy to give you a quote.
If you still have questions about making the switch, don’t be shy. Leave a comment below to help the community.