Help please, I need to replace an existing website using the existing domain. I can build the new website but don't have a clue how to make it active with the existing domain.

Marc Chevalier
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Hello all, I have built new websites for a few companies that were their very first website, so no prior hosting company or SEO efforts.  In fact, they have only been Wordpress sites hosted with Bulehost.  No I am being asked to build a re-branded website for a company that has had an existing website for years and it showing up pretty well on organic searches from Google.  The domain needs to stay the same.  I have the ability to build a new site for them but I don't know the process in which you switch from the old site to the new site or if they will want to stay with their existing hosting company which is Windstream Communications, LLC.  The other question I have is can I replace their existing website without destroying their SEO position that they have attained?  Is it common to switch hosting providers when a company rebuilds their website or more common to continue with the same hosting company?  Can you guys please help me ascertain what I need to ask from them and what I need to do?  Thank you so much.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by this right now.
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Switching to the new site should be as simple as changing the authoritative DNS servers (their IP addresses are in the registration of the domain) to point to the new host.

I'm not a web developer so will have to defer to someone else for your other questions.
Fractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018
Commented:
1) Hello all, I have built new websites for a few companies that were their very first website, so no prior hosting company or SEO efforts.  In fact, they have only been Wordpress sites hosted with Bulehost.  No I am being asked to build a re-branded website for a company that has had an existing website for years and it showing up pretty well on organic searches from Google.

This is easy to do.

Beware: Even minor changes to site structure can destroy 100% of all SEO traction built up over many years.

Tip: Only do this if full SEO destruction is acceptable. If not, best hire someone to help with this.

Note: The way I do this is to build up the new site technology, keeping the entire slug (posts/pages) structure 100% identical, to retain 100% of accumulated SEO traction/ranking.

2) The domain needs to stay the same.  I have the ability to build a new site for them but I don't know the process in which you switch from the old site to the new site...

This is simple, you'll either change IP of A record on site to the new IP, as CompProbSolv suggested above.

Or, you'll replace the files + database related to the current WordPress DocumentRoot (install directory) of current site.

3) or if they will want to stay with their existing hosting company which is Windstream Communications, LLC.

Best to open an entirely new question about this, as just covering the research about how to determine if this is necessary may be long.

4) The other question I have is can I replace their existing website without destroying their SEO position that they have attained?

Answered above. The only way is to maintain the entire link structure 100% like the old site.

5) Another consideration hardly anyone considers about this process. SEO traction relates directly to Markup.

If for example, your old site has error/warning free HTML with microdata (JSON-LD) markup + your new site has broken/mangled/incorrect HTML with broken/incorrect/missing microdata, then even is you use a 100% the same link structure there's a good chance you'll also lose all SEO traction.

Big Tip: If you've never done this before, hire someone who does this every day.

I can tell you... after seeing many people destroy all their SEO + loose all their money, if you make a mistake with this, it may take years to recover.

Best to hire someone + do all site design ahead of time, to preserve SEO, before new site work every begins.

6) Is it common to switch hosting providers when a company rebuilds their website or more common to continue with the same hosting company?

No.

The reason you change hosting is if your hosting provider is incompetent (can't provide good service).

If this is a money project (produces good income), best hosting option will be host with someone who runs LXD based hosting, who can prove how fast their hosting works.

Tip: Contrary to popular belief, WordPress is fast... I mean really fast...

New projects I deploy with WordPress run around 1,000,000+ requests/second for localhost speed testing.

So never believe anyone who says WordPress is slow. WordPress is fast. Hosting can be fast or slow.

7) Can you guys please help me ascertain what I need to ask from them and what I need to do?  Thank you so much.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by this right now.

Based on your questions, I recommend caution.

This entire process seems very new to you, so there are many problems which can occur.

If you care about keeping this customer for a long time, best to hire someone to help you with this entire process.
Marc ChevalierIT Consultant

Author

Commented:
Thank you for the eye opening info David Favor. I believe I will let someone else do this rather than take a chance with the company’s SEO rankings. When you say that you need to keep the entire slug structure 100% the same in order to retain the SEO Traction, does that mean that all the elements of the current website need to stay the same?  Would, for instance, using a new theme for the website destroy the SEO traction then?  Or changing the amount of pages and the names of them?  Thank you.
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Marc ChevalierIT Consultant

Author

Commented:
Thank you David Favor and CompProbSolv for your valuable information.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
1) When you say that you need to keep the entire slug structure 100% the same in order to retain the SEO Traction, does that mean that all the elements of the current website need to stay the same?

Depends on what you mean be "elements".

This can be a bit long to discuss, so likely is better done by you open a new question.

The short, highly glossed over answer is, you must maintain all page names, so if you have a page foo.com/flarg.html then if you change /flarg.html to any other name, including just /flarg you run the risk of losing 100% of your SEO.

2)  Or changing the amount of pages and the names of them?

Amount of pages likely won't matter, so long as your increasing number of pages as this is just the same as adding new content to your site.

Page names/slugs, as mentioned above in #1 must remain the same... to preserve all SEO.

Big Note: There are many other considerations. What's described here... think of as a broad framework...

For a detailed answer open a new question, including the existing site's URL.

Only way to provide a good/working/useful answer will be from having your actual site URL to test.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
You're welcome!
Terry WoodsIT Guru
Most Valuable Expert 2011

Commented:
Also keep in mind, when changing hosting, that sometimes email services can be affected. Usually, it only needs considering when the domain name used by the website is also used for email addresses.

Sometimes email accounts are hosted on the web hosting account, in which case closing down the hosting account will close the email service. Sometimes the hosting account is configured with DNS settings that might be lost, and cause an email service outage.

Also, DNS settings for the domain often include a record for SPF which determines which servers are allowed to send email using the domain name. This is often an issue when a contact form on the website sends an email to someone, using a from address that contains the website domain.

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