We share our experience converting from Wix to WordPress. We explain how to we completed our conversion, some of things we wish we knew before we started and some of the alternative options available from converting your own Wix website to WordPress
Should You Switch from Wix to WordPress?
Converting between web hosting providers should not be taken lightly. It’s a complex task with many moving pieces. There are many ways that you can inadvertently cause a website disruption during the process.
We debated making the transition to a new web hosting platform for several months. There were three primary drivers under consideration.
- Page load speed and reliability
- Greater flexibility to integrate other systems with WordPress
- Tens of millions of users are on the WordPress platform making it more open and well documented
Wix Has Moderate Page Load Speed and Reliability
The screenshot below is from Google Search Console Core Web Vitals for Mobile. If you’re unfamiliar with the chart it’s basically read as green is good, yellow needs improvement, and red is bad.
As you can see we had some issues with Wix Hosting prior to the changeover where it was a mixed bag of okay and needs improvement. Then there were a couple of days where their web hosting went down temporarily. According to the friendly people on Reddit, this is not a terribly uncommon occurrence.
We will dive into the other two sections of the chart a little bit later in the article and discuss the conversion process and what optimization means.
Why Page Load Speed Matters
If you read enough webpages about web hosting or SEO, a lot of them will try to sell you on the fastest web hosting provider and that it’s vitally important. From our experience, it turns out that it doesn’t really seem to make any difference and they were probably just trying to sell services that many people could live without.
WordPress is Highly Customizable
One of the primary benefits of WordPress over Wix is how customizable it is. Wix does an okay job of giving people a lot of tools built-in to their platform, but many of the tools are only good at a surface level. Most features will lack the ability to customize them to fit your exact needs.
WordPress has thousands of plugins and extensions available and a wide community of support. Ultimately the ability to customize was one of the primary reasons we wanted to convert Wix to WordPress.
Methods to Convert from Wix to WordPress
Through our research we found that there are 3 primary methods for converting from Wix to WordPress. Wix is a closed platform and does not offer the capability to export a website so it can be easily transferred to a different service.
Option 1.) Manually transfer the pages
Option 2.) Use a paid AI powered service like CMS to CMS
Option 3.) Use an RSS feed from Wix to WordPress to semi-automate the process
We wanted to be mostly hands off during the process and have found that AI powered solutions for many problems automate about 80% of it then there’s some cleanup that has to be done. We decided to hire a freelancer off of UpWork and let them make the decision of how they wanted to proceed.
Ultimately they ended up importing part of the site using an RSS feed from Wix and then converting the other half of it manually.
If you do not have a lot of pages to convert or are not that concerned with SEO, you may even looking at offshoring the project using a service like Fiverr. There are many people that are willing to transfer your site for relatively low cost.
The Wix to WordPress Conversion
Because we paid someone to complete the actual conversion process, we do not have a ton of hands on technical knowledge of how it worked. A lot of technical challenges we will take on ourselves because we have decent technical abilities in house while working with many different types of business process automation software.
We also didn’t plan on doing this conversion more than once and it makes sense to hire things out when you don’t have the experience or luxury of going through the learning curve.
Our primary concern with the conversion project was SEO
Having done a lot of research prior to the conversion, it became clear that we didn’t want to disrupt Google page rankings. The best way to do this is a website equivalent of pulling a table cloth from underneath a set table full of forks, knives, spoons, and plates.
All of the URLs need to remain exactly the same for the transition to not be noticed by Google. We had read that any error in the conversion could cause rankings to fall dramatically. This was not a risk we wanted to take by completing the project ourselves.
Our freelancer took about 7 days to complete the conversion.
Post Wix to WordPress Conversion
Prior to going live with the new WordPress website, we double checked some of the work and immediately noticed some red flags. Many of the URLs for blog posts were different than what was previously setup on Wix.
We found the mis-matched urls by reviewing the sitemap.xml file that goes along with our webpage. The sitemap is a file that Google uses to index your page. It will show you the URL for each of the pages on your site.
After doing a brief review, we published the website and went live.
Things we Wish we Knew
Unfortunately we stubbed our toe during the conversion process by not knowing what we didn’t know.
- Backslashes and exact URLs matter. While the text was the same in our URLs we didn’t realize that WordPress was setup to end the URL with a / causing Google to pick up duplicate URLs.
- Formatting of page titles matters. We didn’t see anything about page titles making a difference in search ranking but it throws off comparison groupings by time period for Google Analytics.
- Metatags and Page Descriptions don’t Transfer. Even if you move a website and its content, don’t forget to update the meta information for SEO. Without it, Google will make up its own page descriptions. Sometimes they do it anyway, but it can be a big disruption.
- WordPress Requires Optimization. Our website speed immediately plummeted after moving to WordPress due to not knowing that speed optimization was needed.
- WordPress Requires Lots of Plugins. While it’s a widely used platform, you have to use plugins to get the most out of it. We took for granted how much Wix does for you out of the box. Finding and installing the right plugins can be a full time job.
- Ezoic Ad Platform Interoperability. We really like the Ezoic Ad Platform. (Affiliate Link) In our experience it pays better than Google Ad Sense, but have had trouble enabling it with our WordPress host. It’s unclear how you could test for this before choosing a host, but it’s something to be aware of. Some web hosts have extra layers of security that make integration more difficult.
- Web Developers and SEO are Different Skillsets. We scoped the project as a web development project. The act of moving pages from one web host to another. While our freelancer did a decent job of the transition, many of the SEO detail items were lacking such as meta tags, and consistent URL slugs. We would probably pay more next time or split the job into two parts.
WordPress is Plugin Hell
We had no clue before transferring the site of how much work it would be to get plugins installed. Out of the box, WordPress does not do nearly as much as Wix. There are items that we assumed would be core functionality that we had to find plugins for.
The plugins we ended up installing are:
- Contact Form 7
- Disable Comments
- Ads.txt Manager
- Disable Everything
- Rank Math
- Show Dates Modified
- WP Rocket
- Google Site Kit
Some of these plugins are related to page speed optimization, and reporting. Others are for SEO. We also found it odd that some settings could seemingly only be turned off with the addition of 3rd party plugins. This could also be user error on our part.
We ended up using a widely used webform plugin called Contact Form 7. It’s very bare bones and would not recommend it for most people. There are many other great options available at different price points and have not had a chance to fully explore them.
NOTE: Be aware that some plugins will change URLs and enable features that you may not want. For example, we unknowingly turned on RSS feeds which Google picked up when indexing the site causing a bunch of URL’s to show up as errors. We didn’t do this, but we should have kept the site in sandbox mode as we experimented installing plugins and setting them up.
Speed Optimization is Not Optional
When we first launched our site, we found that page speed was really bad. It was much worse than what we were seeing on Wix and at the time those results were a mixed bag.
We ended up paying for WP Rocket, a WordPress optimization plugin. It gets really good reviews and after trying a lot of free options, it seemed to be superior. WP Rocket works by optimizing the code of your website to make it smaller, more efficient, and delay loading of some code until it’s needed.
It took about 8 days of tinkering with WordPress settings before finally getting things optimized. It’s possible to test page speed using Google Site Kit for WordPress, along with the Google Lighthouse Plugin for Chrome.
Image Optimization with Smush. Another optimization plugin for image sizes is Smush. It automatically converts the size and compression of web images. Wix does this by default and has a handy image editor that lets you copy and paste images into blog posts almost thoughtlessly.
Prior to optimization, we were failing many of these speed tests, after searching and finding these two plugins, we have since been scoring 100% on page load speed vitals from Google.
WordPress is not cheap. While it can be inexpensive to get started with WordPress, a lot of advanced and even not so advanced functionality requires the use of plugins. There are a lot of free options but many of the best plugins cost money. This means that the all in cost of a web host can be more expensive than Wix or competitors.
Was Converting from Wix to WordPress Worth It?
Now that the initial trauma of converting from Wix to WordPress is over, it’s hard to say if we would do it again. At this point in time we have not had a chance to fully take advantage of the extensibility of the WordPress platform. Only time will tell if it was the right decision. In the immediate aftermath here are our thoughts.
Wix Provides a Lot of Value
There are some key features in Wix that we didn’t know would not be part of a WordPress deployment. Wix really does make it easy to deploy a website and manage it. Many of their best features are ones that you don’t know exist.
For example, spam filtering. After moving to WordPress we see around 20 junk e-mails a day that would previously have been auto filtered.
Some other Wix benefits are:
- Visual Form Builder
- SEO Tools are Useful
- No Time Spent on Optimization
- Support Exists
- Visual Forms Builder
- Built-in Spam Filtering
- Wix is Easier to Use
- Wix Provides Integrated Stock Images
Would we do it again?
When we look back at the WordPress conversion our biggest cost wasn’t the freelancer, or price of a new web host.
The biggest cost was the time and effort spent messing with a new website.
The conversion itself was massively disruptive and took several weeks of tinkering with settings. This is time that could have been spent on creating content or working on other projects. The site also went down several times as we messed with settings and we will never know if we lost potential opportunities because of it.
That being said, we would do it again. While at the time it was pretty rough, we learned a ton about web development and one of the largest most widely used web platforms. If you’re a small business, or a blogger we would recommend staying with Wix or waiting until you have enough resources to pay a web development or SEO agency to help guide you through the process.
Hopefully this article will highlight some of the pitfalls that we went through or at least can act as a guide for interviewing someone to complete the process for you.
If you do choose to move forward with a conversion on your own, we recommend using ChatGPT as a resource to guide you through the many questions that will arise. It’s not entirely accurate but does help quite a bit. It can even write html, or change css styles for you without having to know the syntax.
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