Squarespace to WordPress Migration: The Comprehensive Guide

McKinzie Bean
McKinzie Bean
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

Trying to figure out how to do a Squarespace to WordPress migration?

If you are anything like I was when I was trying to figure out how to move from Squarespace to WordPress you might be ready to pull out your hair. 

But, wait!

I documented every step of the process of transferring from Squarespace to WordPress in this guide.

Here’s everything you need to know about migrating from Squarespace to WordPress:

Reasons for switching from Squarespace to WordPress

There are different reasons why one would want to move from Squarespace to WordPress. Here are some of them:

Flexibility and control

When it comes to content management system, WordPress has one of the best ones out there. If you want more of control of your website, in general, WordPress can offer this option for you.

Customization and SEO options are also more available for you with WordPress. You will be able to fully dictate how your site works.

Plugins

With WordPress, you can get a lot of plugin options, which is why it is preferred by many people and online businesses. You can get tons of plugins for security, SEO, and many more.

This was one of the major features that I missed before I switched from Squarespace.

Design

There are endless theme options you can select from in WordPress, which is great especially if you have a specific theme or look in mind. You will have more freedom and creativity when it comes to designing your site.

You can also choose from either paid or free themes, depending on what your needs are for your site or blog.

eCommerce

If you are looking to create an online shop, WordPress is one of the great ones to use for this specific purpose. This is also due to the fact that you can easily incorporate different payment systems on your site like PayPal, Stripe, Google Checkout, and many more.

When you are growing your online store, this option for payment flexibility is beneficial in order to provide different options and convenience for your customers.

Cost

For a basic blog or e-commerce site, Squarespace is going to cost you more than a WordPress site. There are costs that are involved to host your site on WordPress but in my experience, it is less expensive to have a WordPress site than one on Squarespace. 

Things to do before moving from Squarespace to WordPress

Before you move your site from Squarespace to WordPress, there are some steps you need to take in order to ensure you are all set for your site migration and to optimize the whole process:

Get a good web hosting service

Unlike Squarespace which hosted the site for you, WordPress is self-hosted. Self-hosting is beneficial because have more control and ownership of your content. 

To be self-hosted you need to purchase your own hosting from a hosting service provider. Picking out your host is an important task since your host would determine how your website would function, how fast it loads, or how secure it is.

You can get good and affordable options when it comes to web hosting.

If you have under 100k monthly pageviews I would recommend going with SiteGround they are affordable and can handle that level of traffic.

SiteGround has plans starting at $3.95 a month. The chart below will help you decide what plan is the best fit for your site. This site is currently run on the Go Geek plan with SiteGround.

move from squarespace to wordpress

For a full tutorial on how to set up your WordPress hosting follow this guide.

If you are pushing 80k monthly page views or higher I would go with a more robust host like Big Scoots.

Here are some features to take note of when picking your web hosting service:

Servers

Depending on where the servers of the host are located may determine how fast your site works. The closer you physically are to them, the better your site functions. Because of this, it would be an advantage if the host had a lot of servers in different locations.

Customer Support

This is an important feature to consider, especially if you are newer to blogging or if you don’t have a paid WordPress guru at your disposal.

Look for customer support that is fast, responsive, effective, and friendly. It’s also a bonus if they can help you not only with hosting issues but also concerns related to WordPress. Some host sites work closely with WordPress so they could also assist you would any of your matters.

Backup

A lot of things and situations can happen when it comes to your site like hacks, crashes, and other issues. This is why it’s crucial for your host to have a good backup system. This is also separate from your own backups for your own site.

You can use plugins like Updraft to save backups of your site.

Other features

Additional features can be valuable and they are always a plus to have when it comes down to comparing different host service providers.

Some extra features include caching solutions, free domains, SSL certificates, free email, one-click installations, automatic updates for plugins, and many more.

Establish A Sub-domain

Once you have purchased your hosting and installed WordPress you can talk with your host about creating a sub-domain. You will build your site out on this subdomain so the changes are not visible on your site until you move everything over. 

This allows you to customize your theme and make edits without disrupting your site or having downtime.

Once you have everything set up and you are ready to make the move reach out to the hosting company you are now with and they should be able to help you clone (make a copy of) your site and get all of that new design attached to the WordPress account associated with your main domain.

This sounds kind of confusing – but stick with me. I’ll explain more below.

Install WordPress

Once you have a host, you can then install WordPress. It’s a free software to download and would only take a few minutes to install. A lot of hosts will usually have one-click installations to make things even easier for you.

You just need to click on the WordPress installer and follow the next steps that are provided in order to set everything up. Some host providers would also have tutorials and other tools to help you in the installation process.

List All Of Your Squarespace URLs

If your site on Squarespace has website traffic and any posts ranking for SEO you do not want any broken links or downtime on your site.

Unfortunately, the URL structure on Squarespace is not the same as on WordPress. Fixing all of these links and setting up redirects for the posts is what was the most tedious part of migrating from Squarespace to WordPress.

Look at each page in your site or post, and write down these URLs. I added them into a big spreadsheet with the title of the blog post and then the URL. As you are working on your site and setting up redirects this will help you make sure you don’t miss a post!

Squarespace to WordPress Migration

There are two ways you can move your site from Squarespace to WordPress, manually or through a semi-automated process.

I opted for the semi-automated process, but if you only have a few posts you could do it manually.

Whichever method you choose I recommend keeping your Squarespace account active for at least a couple of weeks just in case there is anything you need to fix or grab from Squarespace that may not have moved in the migration.

Manual migration

This is a slower process than the semi-automated one but it also allows you full control. Doing it manually is essentially copying and pasting your posts into WordPress. If you only have a few posts this will work, but for most, I don’t recommend this. 

In transferring your text, you can simply copy the text from each page or post, then paste it unto the corresponding WordPress editor equivalent. Make sure you use the Text editor in WordPress in order to prevent formatting issues.

Once you’ve pasted in your text, re-upload the images for that post to the WordPress media library. Otherwise, once you cancel your Squarespace account the links to the images will break.

Semi-automated migration

This involves the export function in Squarespace that will help you to migrate your content to WordPress. This is what I recommend for most websites. It is much faster and you don’t have to worry about missing something as you do with the manual Squarespace migration.

Occasionally, something will not export correctly and you may have to do it manually by copy pasting it. However, doing this for a one-off page is much better than doing it for hundreds or thousands of posts. 

There is a limit to what Squarespace can export but here are some items that you can export during migration:

  • All basic pages
  • Single blog page and all its posts
  • Text and image blocks
  • Blog post comments
  • Embed blocks, Twitter blocks, Instagram blocks, text
  • Gallery pages

For items like products, folders, audio and video blocks, draft pages, album, and cover pages, style changes or custom CSS, you would have to manually do this.

On Squarespace, you can have multiple blogs. On my site, I had a second “blog” with a handful of posts that didn’t apply to my main audience. I had to copy and paste those posts manually. If you have more than one blog export the blog that has the most posts.

Exporting in Squarespace

Go to “Settings” in Squarespace, click on “Advanced”, and select “Import/Export”.

Then click on the Export button. You would then see a WordPress logo pop up (right now, it’s the only platform that Squarespace will export to). Click on this logo in order to start the export process.

After the process is done, you can click on the download link to save the file to your computer. You will then have the XML file that you can import later to your WordPress site. 

Importing Squarespace content to WordPress

Go to your dashboard in WordPress and click on “Tools”. Then select “Import” found in the sidebar.

You can then click on “Install Now” found at the bottom under WordPress.

This plugin will import the posts, pages, tags, authors, categories, comments, and others that are from a WordPress export file. After the installation has completed, you can choose “Run Importer”.

You would then see another screen wherein you can click on the “Choose File” button. Look for your Squarespace XML file and click the “Upload file and import” button.

There would then be a task that asks you to choose or assign an import author for the content that you imported. This could be an admin user, a previous Squarespace user, or there is an option for you to create a new user.

The easiest thing to do is set the main admin user of your WordPress site as the import author. You can always go back later on to change the author of specific pages or posts.

Under Import Attachments, you can see a box that says “Download and import file attachments”. Click on the submit button to start the import process to your WordPress site. After the importing is done, you will see a success message.

You can then check to see how your page and posts look. Take note that it is possible some attachments will fail to import.

For example, when moving from Squarespace to WordPress most of your images will not import. You need to use another tool to achieve this.

How to import Squarespace images to WordPress

Aside from manually importing the images, you can use a plugin to make the process faster. I used the Auto Upload Images plugin.

Once you have activated the plugin, go to Settings and then select Auto Upload Images.

When you click on it, it will then take you to this page. When I imported my images I left it as the default settings, but you can modify them if you would like.

If you have a lot of images on your site this is much faster than manually importing them.

Post Migration

There are just a few more things to adjust and take care of to make sure your WordPress site is working and looking the best that it could:

Choosing your new theme

When it comes to the overall look and theme of your site, WordPress allows you to customize it to however you want to to get the exact look that you are aiming for. It might not be similar and as easy as the drag and drop interface of Squarespace, but there are other builders and tools that can help you to achieve your goals.

I recommend installing Elementor. There is a free version that is similar to the drag and drop features of Squarespace and will help you rebuild your landing pages.

You can also choose a premium theme or a free pre-built theme for your WordPress site.

There are tons of great themes, but here are a few of my favorite places to get themes:

You can read more about the best WordPress themes here.

If you’ve been blogging for a while this can be a great opportunity to freshen up your site. I hadn’t changed my theme for two years before I made the move. When I made the switch from Squarespace to WordPress it motivated me to make some design changes that were much needed. 

Creating your menu structure

Make sure that your site visitors and the audience can properly navigate your site with ease and convenience. This is why it is important to check your menu structure.

If your menu structure from Squarespace hasn’t migrated, you can recreate it using WordPress.

Go to your dashboard and hover on “Appearance”. You can then click on “Menus”. Click on “Create a new menu”.

After you have constructed your menu, you can add posts, links, and pages to it. Following this, you can determine where you want it to be displayed under the menu settings.

There are a few ways you can label the main menu navigation area – main menu, top menu, or header menu. You can also adjust the text colors, background, and others when you go to the theme customizer.

You can then click on “Save menu” when you are done.

Create Widgets

Widgets are blocks that you can add to your site in order to improve its performance and the processes found in the website. You can easily create widgets in WordPress. Go to “Appearances” in your dashboard and click on Widgets.

Click on the widget you want and drag it to a sidebar or you can just click on it. You can drag and drop it anywhere on your site that is widget friendly.

Apart from the sidebar, you can put it in the header area, footer area, and other areas that are allowed in your theme.

You can also deactivate them or delete the widgets later on if you find that it isn’t working for you.

Using Permalinks

Permalinks are URLs that are easy for people to type or remember. Best practices are to have short and to the point URLs.

In your previous Squarespace URL, your default URL probably have been long and looked like this:

yourwebsite.squarespace.com/blog/2019/2/23/post-title

Unless you had a custom domain in which it would have looked like this:

yourwebsite.com/blog/2019/2/23/post-title

On WordPress you aren’t going to have the /blog/ section on your URL so all of your links will break (not good!).

Your pages will have the same URL structure, but for your blog posts you will want to set up redirects.

It sounds scary, but it really isn’t that bad!

This is also a great opportunity to take a look at your SEO and see if you want to make any changes to the URL for your post. I also did a complete SEO audit as I was moving over my content.

Setting Up Link Redirects

 You can also use a free redirection plugin to set up redirects and lead your visitors to the correct WordPress pages that correspond to the old Squarespace ones. You will set these up as 301 redirects which means it is a permanent redirect. This will also send the “link juice” from the old URL to the new one. This will help so there is less of an impact on your SEO when you make the move. 

Once you’ve installed the Redirection Plugin then go to Tools and then Redirection.

This will bring up a page like this where you can add in your redirects.

This is where things can get a little complicated. I missed this step and it resulted in a bunch of broken pins on Pinterest for about a week.

Pay attention.

If you use UTM codes for tracking on your site, or if you use things like Tailwind Smartloop or Tailwind Tribes that automatically add UTM tracking codes to your URL you need to do this step.

I noticed that my links that had these tracking codes were all breaking even after I had set up the redirect for the main URL.

If you have anything after your main URL you need to do an extra step.

Enter in your URL in the Source URL box but instead of just pasting your link you need to add .* to the end and then check the Regex box.

So your URL: https://momsmakecents.com/squarespace-to-wordpress-migration

Becomes: https://momsmakecents.com/squarespace-to-wordpress-migration.*

That makes it so if there is any other characters or UTM codes after the main URL it will redirect those URLs to the correct place too.

I lost thousands of page views that week because no one told me about that tiny step.

Contact forms

So that it will be easier for people to get a hold of you or keep in touch, create a contact form for your site using contact form plugins. There are a lot of options you can choose from. I personally use Elementor to build out my contact pages. 

Creating photo galleries

If it applies to your site or blog, you can use Elementor to create a photo gallery. There is a free version you can use or you can also update it to premium for more capabilities.

Don’t forget to always optimize your images before you place them in your gallery. This means making sure they have the correct sizes, resolution, etc. This will contribute to a pleasant user experience.

Adding plugins

Plugins were one of the main things I missed before I migrated from Squarespace to WordPress.

In order to improve your site’s performance and functionality, plugins are key. These are programs and tools that you can easily add to your WordPress site and also deactivate if you need to, depending on your needs.

Here are some recommended plugins that you should have on your site. These are beneficial and would work for any kind of website:

Yoast SEO – this powerful plugin helps your site become SEO friendly and rank high in the search engines.

Wordfence – this is a security plugin that will protect your website from things like malware and other attacks. It can also have IP blacklists, country blocking, and two-factor authentication.

UpDraft Plus – This is a backup plugin. It saves a back up of your site to an online storage site (like your Dropbox account, Google Drive, etc.) Having this is like an insurance for your website in case it crashes or something isn’t running properly on your site. 

Short Pixel – This is a great plugin that helps compress your images so your site will load faster. You can compress a certain amount of images per month or pay a really low fee for credits that you can use for any extra images.

W3 Total Cache – This plugin helps to improve user experience because it increases website performance and speed, and reduces download times. It offers caching like database cache, page cache, browser cache, CDN integration and more.

Askimet – This plugin can help prevent spam comments in your site or blog. This can help your blog perform optimally.

When it comes to plugins, less is more. It can be tempting to install a ton of different plugins, but only install the ones that you need. Having a ton of plugins can slow down your site, which impacts user experience and SEO.

Creating your layout

You can choose to recreate your layout from Squarespace or come up with a completely new one. You can achieve these goals using themes. The Divi theme has an editor that is similar to Squarespace. Or you can use a more basic theme like the Astra theme and pair it with a page builder like Elementor.

This site is currently run on Astra Pro and is customized with Elementor Pro.

Update internal links

When you update your permalink structure, chances are some internal links could also get broken. For optimum user experience, you should make sure there are no broken links on your website.

In order to easily find broken links in your site, you can use the Broken Link Checker plugin. Once you have installed this plugin, it will search your site for the broken links, locate the broken ones, and display them.

You can find them either in your WordPress dashboard or under the “Tools” tab. In your WordPress dashboard, you can find it under the broken link checker widget.

The Broken Link Checker plugin is great because you can also easily update the link in one place. You don’t need to go to the source URLs.

Be aware that this plugin could slow down your site so if you aren’t using it, it’s better to deactivate it to prevent a slow loading website.

As a good practice, you can also regularly check your site for broken links (once a month is usually good) and you can do it through the Broken Link Checker plugin.

After you are done, you can then deactivate it once again to prevent your website slowdown. 

Moving From Subdomain to Actual Domain

Once you have your site how you want it and all of your redirects set up it is time to clone your site and move from the subdomain you built your site on to the actual domain.

Your web host should be able to help you with this. All I did was message SiteGround and they were able to clone the site and add all of the design, posts, redirects, etc. to the WordPress account under my main domain.

This only took a few minutes and then they gave me a link to test my site.

However, this does not mean that as soon as they clone your site that it will be live for all to see. You have to do one final step and point your domain at your new host’s servers.

Transferring domain

If you had a premium domain name with Squarespace, you can now transfer it since you already have a new host. This is optional and you can also choose to keep that domain name with Squarespace.

I opted to transfer my domain name from Squarespace to Namecheap. The domain with Name Cheap was half the price and had more protection.

After you have unlocked your domain, you can then transfer it to the new registrar. You will need to have the transfer key and provide it to them.

If you didn’t have a custom domain with Squarespace and you used their free domain name, you need to find a new domain name and register it.

This step took about 48 hours. Squarespace had to release the domain and then Namecheap had to accept the domain.

Once you have transferred your domain, you have to direct your DNS to your host. 

This sounds confusing, but if you message the hosting company you are with they should be able to give you what are called the “Name Servers” that you will need to enter and how to do it.

This is how it looks and where to put your name servers if you purchase your domain via Namecheap.

This basically tells the domain what server to look to for the files.

This is the final step!

A lot of people and businesses have moved to WordPress because of its flexibility and ability to help your websites grow significantly.

You also don’t need to worry too much about getting used to WordPress after switching to it because there are a lot of resources online and a support community that can answer any and all of your questions.

I was nervous about using WordPress before I switched because I loved the page builder functionality it had, but with a tool like Elementor or a theme like Divi, it can work very similarly.

After your Squarespace to WordPress migration, make sure everything is running smoothly and that everything is working properly as it should.

Did this guide help you migrate Squarespace to WordPress? If so I’d love for you to comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKinzie Bean
McKinzie is a mom of two, and a personal finance enthusiast. She loves teaching other moms how to save money, make money, and take control of their financial situation. She has started five profitable businesses and in college, she double-majored in Financial Planning and Psychology. You may have seen her in publications like Forbes, The US Chamber of Commerce, Yahoo Finance, Money.com, The Penny Hoarder, & more.

2 thoughts on “Squarespace to WordPress Migration: The Comprehensive Guide”

    1. Thanks so much Alicia! I knew that I needed to move from Squarespace to WordPress but it was so hard finding an accurate step-by-step guide. I took a ton of notes as I was figuring everything out so I could share how I migrated from Squarespace. So happy it was helpful to you!

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