Convert Static Site To WordPress

Have you been thinking about converting your static site to WordPress?   Here’s some reasons why you should consider doing this:

  • WordPress is easy to manage
  • The range of plugins and themes available to WordPress users is phenomenal.   You don’t need to be a code king or queen to have a functional and pretty site up in minutes
  • Automatic pinging – I post – WordPress pings the search engines and tells them to visit.   Nice :)

Really, I could spend hours telling you why WordPress is great as a cms, a blog or whatever you fancy but as always the choice is yours.

The only thing that would hold me back from converting a site to WordPress is if it had a ton of pages and had been around for a long time with a lot of links and indexing.     I would carefully consider the amount of time and effort involved in converting a large site before I pulled the trigger on that one (I dislike too much work!).

So, as an example I’ve decided to show you how to convert a static site to WordPress.  Now, I’ll admit first up that it has been a long time since I’ve done this so things may have changed or you may have a better way.  So, just leave your comments below if that is the case.

My first issue with this tutorial was a simple one.   I love WordPress to death ….so much so that I don’t think that I have any sites that are html at all that could do with converting.     In order to create the tutorial I had to blow the dust off XCite Pro (which is what I used to use in the olden days before my love affair with WP) and create a site.   It felt really odd using another platform … I almost felt guilty like I was cheating on my beloved WP

First of all, before you do anything …. back up your website and download a copy somewhere safe.    It is much better to be safe than sorry.  If you  have a copy of the site you can always put it back together again … if you don’t  there could be tears before tea time.

Here’s what you need to do to convert your site -  my way, again, I’m sure there are other ways to do this

  • check your domain name – either http://www.domain.com or http://domain.com
  • check the urls and  file extensions (like htm or html) on the pages within your site and copy all those urls into notepad
  • use SEO Quake to check the backlinks to your site and that there are no links broken etc. (make a note of these urls as you can redirect them using the Redirection plugin by John Godley)
  • install WordPress over the root of the domain or set up in a directory and work on the site and move it to the root of the domain.  In my example I’ve installed WordPress in a directory so I can work on the site and then move it. I called mine “test1″
  • Turn search engines off in Settings/Privacy while working on the site in your directory
  • install a WordPress theme to make it pretty

Here’s a quick video demonstration

Now to add your content.   You have a few choices here:

  • use an RSS feed to import your existing site RSS feed into WordPress
  • use the WP Import function in WP if compatabile
  • use a CSV
  • just copy and paste or “save as” the files or convert the existing html pages into WP

I’m just going to copy and paste because there are only a few pages in the site that I wish to convert.

The original site that I’m converting is in a page format so to keep the same format I am using  the HTML extension plugin for pages.  You can add a html/htm extension to permalinks for posts but not pages.   For pages you need to install the HTML extension plugin.

Now that I have copied and pasted to my hearts content I’m going to set my home page just like my original site.    To do this I just select the page from Settings/Reading.    If your existing site did not have indexed url to the home page consider adding a good SEO title to your new home page.

Finally, if you have not already done so, give your converted pages/posts some SEO love by configuring the Platinum SEO plugin and adding meta data to each of the pages and posts you have created.

You can see what I did during this stage on these videos

and part 2 is here:

Finally, you have some choices to make now.     You could leave the WordPress site in the new directory and redirect your old root level domain to the new directory you created or you can move it.    If you are going to redirect you can make good use of the Redirection plugin.   Also use the redirection plugin to redirect any stray urls that you did not convert to posts or pages in WordPress.

You might also be interested in this article on Giving WordPress Its Own Directory from the WP Codex.

I’m going to move the site from the directory to the root of the domain.    In the root of your domain if you  have an index.htm or index.html file already it will be served first meaning that if you move WordPress into the root the html or htm file is superior to the WordPress index.php file.   You can rename your existing index.htm files if you wish or delete.  I’ve deleted the existing index.htm file because I’m going to very quickly move this baby :)

Watch this video to see the steps in the moving process to convert static site to WordPress (which includes having a little fiddle with PHP My Admin)

One last thing, have a quick check of all your permalinks making sure they are just the same as your original list you saved in Notepad.    When you are finished it’s time to go to Settings/Privacy and turn on the search engines again :)
All the best

Leanne :)


About Leanne

My name is Leanne King and I'm an Australian internet marketer and WordPress fanatic. I share my knowledge of WordPress here on my blog, through my products, private coaching and in private forums. In my spare time I like to develop products for WordPress users that are easy to use.Find me on Google+

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9 Responses to Convert Static Site To WordPress

  1. SMS April 24, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    great tutorial and great voice with great voice accent :P

  2. Rankontop January 30, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    We use host it planet, thier underated & offer the same as Host gator.
    This is a great tutorial, you really should update it to todays 2012 standards, great post.

  3. Marv July 27, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    Now that I have WordPress using my static html page as the front page, I want one of the links on the front page to display the posts within WordPress. How do I go about setting that up?

  4. Painter July 13, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Finally a method I can follow and understand because I already installed wp in a seperate folder, modified a theme …

    Then PANICKED as to what to due with the da*n thing as to not break things or lose any rankings!

    Thank you so much for your efforts!

    I am book marking your site and will be spreading this link around.

    Have a great day Leanne!

    P :D

  5. admin May 27, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    @GDI I love hostgator – they have fantastic support!

  6. GDI-MBisson May 27, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    Good info for newbies like me

  7. GDI May 20, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    Who would you recommend is the best/cheapest hosting provider?

  8. Dirk April 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge of WP. I enjoyed the videos and will be watcching more. Ive already bookmarked you too!

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