How to Transfer Web Hosting to Shopify

How To Transfer Web Host

Not all hosting providers are truly ecommerce ready. If you’re struggling with growing costs or performance issues, or you just have better things to do than keep up with security patches, upgrades, and configuring new integrations yourself, you may be ready to transfer your web hosting to Shopify. Shopify is an ecommerce platform that offers not only hosting, but numerous other tools, add-ons, and capabilities to help business owners save time and level up their online presence.

Why Shopify? Our platform is purpose-built for ecommerce and nothing else. We know that every millisecond of website performance improvement can lead to increased revenue. Outages mean revenue loss—often in the thousands of dollars per minute. However, migrating to a fast, reliable platform can not only give you peace of mind, it can boost your bottom line. For example, Tennis brand Slinger grew revenue by 40% after migrating to Shopify.

If you’re ready to make a move, read on for step-by-step instructions on how to transfer your web hosting to the Shopify platform.

  1. Purchase new hosting
  2. Download all key datasets from a previous platform
  3. Plan your storefront and theme
  4. Plan a solution for plugins, add-ons, and integrations
  5. Import database and files into new store
  6. Optimize your new website for SEO
  7. Review and test site before launching
  8. Transfer your third-party domain

Step 1: Purchase new hosting

The first step is to choose the right Shopify solution for your business. To ensure business continuity and a seamless experience for your customers, you want to get Shopify up and running while your current website remains active.

Out of the box, Shopify has many native capabilities that can be configured and customized for your specific ecommerce requirements. Shopify is a flexible platform, with options to use the full platform, deploy a headless build, or just plug in the components you need. With Shopify, you can choose which tools work best for your stack, without being locked in to any specific capabilities or architectural design. You can also explore our different pricing packages, many of which include a free trial to make sure Shopify is right for you. 

Once you've signed up for Shopify, you’ll need to head back over to your existing website. 

Step 2: Download all key datasets from a previous platform

Back at your current website, it’s time to start preparing your datasets for their new home. In most cases, the goal is to completely move off of your existing site so you no longer have to pay for the hosting from two providers. It will be very important to set aside enough time to review and list all your critical website data, processes, promotions, integrations, and more. This will make the transfer process much smoother in the long run. 

Review and document your website data

Every ecommerce site is unique, so thoroughly review everything you want to transfer to Shopify to get your business up and running in its new home. Examples of the types of data that you might want to transfer include: 

  • Products
  • Customers
  • Historical orders (orders that have been fulfilled)
  • Gift cards
  • Certificates
  • Store credits
  • Discount codes
  • Blogs
  • Pages (shipping policy, contact, and other webpages)
  • Product reviews

Getting your data ready in a CSV file

Once you have identified your datasets, you’ll need to download them. Shopify uses CSV files to import products into your new store. Please take some time to review our instructions for downloading and formatting your CSV file. To learn more about how to use CSV files, you can review our instructions on how to open and edit a CSV file.

Prepare any promotions for migration

It’s very possible your ecommerce website is running promotions such as discounts or free shipping. Take some time to document which active promotions and discount codes you have currently running, including rules, expiration, availability conditions, channels, and more. Finally, decide which promotions you want to transfer directly into Shopify, and which you would rather deprecate or discontinue on the new website. If you are making any changes, make a plan for notifying customers after the launch of your website.

Step 3: Plan your storefront and theme

Shopify offers far more than a traditional web hosting provider. After you’ve got your data ready to migrate, it’s time to plan your new storefront and select the Shopify theme that will work the best for you. Take some time to review your current storefront and channel requirements, as well as the tools you need to meet them with Shopify. 

This is also a good time to think about ways you can move beyond any limitations you had with your existing hosting solution. Shopify team members will be available to help you with this part of the migration process.

There are two main approaches to building an online storefront on Shopify:

Taking an integrated, headed storefront

Using a headed approach is the most straightforward storefront on Shopify. In this approach, the front end (everything your customers interact with on the website, including images, menus, links, and text) and back end (everything your customers can’t see, such as an inventory database) of the ecommerce website stay tightly integrated. 

With a headed solution from Shopify, back-end tools are preintegrated into the front end. This is the more “out the box” way to build a fully hosted store to easily manage and grow a business. Shopify’s theme architecture to make it easy for business owners to build pages, adjust the design, and manage the site.

Creating a headless storefront

This approach requires much more maintenance and support, especially from technical teams. A headless storefront is where the the front end and back end of an ecommerce website are detached from each other, providing a great deal of flexibility. There are three primary ways you can set up a headless storefront with Shopify.

  1. Storefront API In this approach, you would design, build, and host your own front end. Then you would use Shopify’s GraphQL Storefront API to build custom headless storefront applications. By using APIs, your technical team can use nearly any web development languages and frameworks to communicate with Shopify.. 
  2. Storefront API + Hydrogen React When building your front end, you can use Shopify’s Hydrogen React framework, which is powered by the Storefront API. This provides all of the fundamental components required to build an ecommerce store, while still offering flexibility in the architecture.
  3. Host a Hydrogen front end on Shopify Oxygen As an alternative to hosting your own front end, you can host one with Shopify, too. If you are building your front end with Hydrogen Reach, you can host it on Oxygen, Shopify’s hosting architecture optimized for headless ecommerce.

When you are deciding which is right for your business, it’s helpful to think about the following. Your approach should align with your business goals and meet your requirements and other considerations. Take time to review the following questions.

  • How does your brand identify itself?  Consider if your brand’s mission and identity heavily influence the technology used or if storefront technology has been chosen to aid in achieving the mission.
  • What are your current pains with your website?  If your current hosting solution isn’t working well, take note of the problems you want to solve by migrating to Shopify. Also consider your budget and timeline, to make sure you’ve selected an approach that meets those requirements.
  • What is the technological impact of each approach? Consider how well each approach will impact your business. Make sure you’ve chosen a solution that is scalable, secure, and fast. Think about how your business might change if any of the technologies you are using were to change.
  • Who will ultimately be supporting the website? When choosing an approach, you want to make sure you have the right people in place to support the technologies used long term. Think about who will be responsible for operating the online business, who will be supporting the technology, and what everyone’s skill sets are. You can also consider what technologies everyone would like to learn.

Taking the time to choose the right approach before you migrate to Shopify will alleviate many headaches down the road. With a headless approach, the migration process will include additional steps, such as architecture design, the creation of a code repository, and user acceptance testing (UAT). Once that is complete, the new storefront can be configured to match your desired look and feel.

Step 4: Plan a solution for plugins, add-ons, and integrations

Once you’ve identified and collected all the data you want to transfer to Shopify, you need to make sure your new website has all the functionality you need. You will also want to be sure to set up any integrations with any other existing systems and tools you use before your new website launches. 

Review current functionality and plan for added capabilities

To make sure your new website does everything you need it to do, it’s important to take the time to map out what plugins, add-ons, and integrations you will need in your new Shopify website. Closely review your website’s existing functionality and gain a full understanding of your requirements. This is also a great time to add new features and capabilities. You can browse our business tools and the app store to explore ways to add and extend your website’s functionality with Shopify.

Determine requirements for integrations

Your ecommerce website may also integrate with external tools that help you manage your business. If your existing website is integrated with any external providers, you want to be sure your new Shopify site does as well. You can also add new integrations that can grow or enhance your business. Shopify offers several options for website integrations, including:

  • Prebuilt: Visit the Shopify App Store for vendor-built apps that integrate seamlessly with Shopify.
  • Custom: Build an integration using available Shopify APIs (REST, GraphQL) or webhooks.
  • Integration partners: Plus Integration Partners such as Celigo or VL OMNI.
  • Integration platforms (iPaaS): Such as Boomi, Jitterbit, or Mulesoft. 

It’s not uncommon for websites to have multiple integration methods with several different providers. Give yourself plenty of time to implement and fully test all required integrations before you finalize the transfer process. If you have any questions about integrating your new Shopify website, don’t hesitate to reach out to Shopify Support.

Step 5: Import database and files into new store

Once you’ve got all your files downloaded, and the new store has all the add-ons and integrations you need, you’re ready to start importing your data. Take the time to review our instructions for using CSV files to import your products into your new Shopify website. If you run into any issues during the import process, you can reach out to Shopify Support and our experts can walk you through the process.

Once you’ve completed the import, set aside some time to ensure everything has transferred over correctly. Check each of your product details to make sure product descriptions, images, variants, and meta descriptions are all correct.

If you don't have them already, you can consider creating product collections to organize your products into categories and make them easier for your customers to find. It’s easy to add collections to drop-down menus and create links to collections on your storefront.

This step in the migration process is a great time to familiarize yourself with Shopify’s product inventory and transfers to keep track of the products that you have available in your store. You can browse Shopify’s inventory apps to learn what additional inventory management resources are available.

Step 6: Optimize your new website for SEO

When you transfer your hosting to Shopify, your new website will be run on a platform designed with SEO in mind. To optimize every ecommerce website for SEO, Shopify’s platform follows clear naming patterns, automatically generates tags and sitemaps, and much more. 

However, it’s important for ecommerce to take additional steps to optimize their site to ensure their products get discovered organically online. Once your data is imported and functionality is configured, you will want to spend some time on SEO optimization. During your web hosting transfer process, and prior to the launch of your website, make sure you thoroughly review the following.

Review new URL structure and set up redirects

With Shopify, your new website’s URL structure will follow standard patterns that are preoptimized for SEO. (Other options allow for greater URL control, such as our headless ecommerce solutions.) Start by creating a list of all URLs on your current site. Take some time to prioritize these URLs in terms of their existing value to your SEO traffic and strategy. 

If the URL is different on your new Shopify site, add the corresponding redirect URL on Shopify. You will want to create a URL structure that contains your desired keywords. To follow best practices, be sure to create one-to-one redirects and use 301 permanent redirect logic. 

Update meta titles and meta descriptions

A meta title and meta description that are useful, descriptive, and easy to read will encourage customers to click through to a store from search engine results. Make sure your titles and descriptions contain your target keywords. For more information, visit Shopify’s pages for home page SEO metadata and adding keywords to metadata and on-page content

Make sure your page speed is optimized

The speed at which your website loads affects both SEO rankings and how likely your customers are to make a purchase. By using high-performance cloud-based infrastructure, Shopify storefronts load 2.97 times faster than other platforms. The Shopify platform also has one of the highest pass rates for Google's Core Web Vitals on the market. To make further optimizations for your site load speed, you can review Google's documentation and Shopify’s performance resources. Shopify’s performance team also offers biweekly office hours for customers to share tips, tricks, and insight.

Review sitemaps, robots.txt, and structured data

With Shopify, you get many features that help with SEO right out of the box, including an automatically generated sitemap.xml file that is updated whenever new pages and images are added to a store. After your site launches, you should resubmit your sitemap.xml file to Google Search Console. If you need granular control over how your site is crawled, Shopify automatically creates a ​​Robots.txt at the root directory of a Shopify store’s primary domain that you can customize. Finally, you may want to review your structured data markup to help search engines understand your site’s content, such as information about products, recipes, books, and more. Many Shopify themes already include Schema.org for product data in their templates. 

Track and monitor your SEO performance

Sometimes there can be an impact to SEO after website hosting is transferred. You can review Shopify’s SEO apps to see what might be helpful after your website launches. 

After your site is launched, it is important to track and monitor your site’s health and performance in Google Search Console. To improve your keyword research efforts to boost your site rankings, we recommend using external tools such as Semrush, Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, and MOZ. You can also monitor your link health, to keep broken links to a minimum with tools like Xenu’s Link Sleuth and Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog can also help you drill down into any issues that Google Search Console surfaces.

If you need guidance or support, or if you just want to make sure you've optimized your site well, Shopify's Professional Services can help you navigate the essential SEO steps you need to take when transferring your web host to Shopify.

Step 7: Review and test website before launching

Before you launch your site, you want to make sure your entire site is working perfectly. Be sure to set aside some time to thoroughly test and review your new website before transferring your domain and “going live.” 

Configure reporting and analytics application pixels

If you have existing tools for reporting, analytics, or retargeting, you want to make sure their pixels are properly configured on your new Shopify site. Shopify supports integrations with many of the common analytics providers, including:

Many of these apps already have pixel configuration built in when you install their prebuilt integration via Shopify. These apps use the Shopify Web Pixels API, which offers the most secure, reliable, and performant pixels. You first need to install the app, and then go through the setup process to configure a pixel.

Configure custom pixels

If you need to track and manage custom events, you can configure them with the Shopify pixels manager. Examples of custom events could be clicking a link or adding a product to a cart. Custom pixels are added to the Shopify store through the pixels manager, usually by a developer. 

Step 8: Transfer your domain name

Once everything is set up, migrated, optimized, and tested, it’s time to transfer your domain name to bring your new website live. Please note, it can take up to 20 days and several steps for your domain to be transferred, so plan ahead. Below is an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to transfer your domain to Shopify.

Connect your domain to Shopify

To avoid any interruption in service, you need to connect your domain to Shopify. If you don't connect your domain before you transfer it, then visitors to your domain might experience connection errors during the transfer process.

Once all the steps have been taken to transfer the domain, propagating the new site across the internet can take up to 48 hours to complete. Make sure that the connection process is complete before you begin the transfer.

Check your domain's eligibility for transfer

You can check whether your domain is eligible for transfer inside of your new Shopify account. Some domains, such as .ca and .co.uk domains, are not eligible for transfer. Only apex domains such as johns-apparel.com can be transferred to Shopify, not subdomains such as shoes.johns-apparel.com. Once the apex domain is transferred into Shopify, you can recreate any subdomains you had in use.

Complete the transfer process your domain to Shopify

After you prepare your domain for transfer, then you can start the domain transfer process from your Shopify account admin panel. Be sure to follow every step in our detailed step-by-step domain transfer instructions. Domain transfer processes can involve talking to multiple providers, retrieving authorization codes, and checking your email in a timely manner, so be sure to pay close attention to every step in the process. You can reach out to Shopify Support during any stage of the process to ask questions and troubleshoot any issues that might arise.

After your domain is successfully transferred, you receive a confirmation email from Shopify. To update any settings, or configure subdomains, visit the Domains page in your Shopify account. Once the domain is transferred, your new website will be live.

Host your ecommerce website with Shopify

In the early days of the internet, web hosting providers were, in many ways, largely interchangeable. To keep up with the demands and complexities of today’s ecommerce business needs, hosting your site on a purpose-built platform like Shopify can have many benefits. From numerous add-ons and app integrations ready to go, to expert support that can advise on everything from inventory management to site-speed optimization, you can save time and future-proof your business by choosing the right ecommerce host for your website.

To learn more, you can reach out to a Shopify enterprise account executive or solution engineer for additional scoping and support. You can also browse the Shopify Help Center or developer documentation for more information. 

How to transfer web host FAQ

How do I transfer my domain hosting?

Transferring your domain hosting to Shopify involves a series of steps to make sure the process goes smoothly. First, sign up for the Shopify plan that is right for you. Then, you need to connect the domain to Shopify and provide the domain authorization code from your current domain host. You’ll also want to configure your contact information, set the domain to be auto-renewed in Shopify, and approve new charges. Once the transfer process begins, check the email account that's associated with your domain for a transfer-approval message. Follow the instructions in that message to approve the domain transfer to Shopify. If you don't approve the transfer, then it won't be processed. You can view our step-by-step domain transfer instructions for more details.

How do you transfer ownership of a website?

To transfer ownership of a website, you need to follow several steps. Create an agreement on the terms of the website transfer with the current owner of the website. Be sure to back up any files and data stored on the website prior to the transfer, if that is part of the transfer agreement. The domain registration billing and administration contact information should be updated to reflect new ownership. Then, the current owner should complete the process for creating new login credentials for the new owner. The last step is to review and test the transferred website to make sure all the data and functionality have migrated properly. 

How do I transfer a website from one domain to another?

To transfer a website from one domain to another, you should start with a thorough backup process. Download all website files, databases, pages, images, and other content to make sure you don’t lose any of your data. The next step is to recreate the website on the new domain. This is often done by uploading your backup files via FTP to the new web server. Then, make sure you update the DNS records on the domain hosting server to point to the new domain. You will also want to set up redirects to forward incoming traffic from the old domain to the new domain. You may want to review database configurations, internal links, and other settings that relied on the old domain structure, and update them as needed. Finally, you should test everything thoroughly after the transfer is complete, and address any issues quickly. 

Can I move my website from GoDaddy to another host?

Yes, you can move your website from GoDaddy to another host, like Shopify. First, sign up for the Shopify plan that is right for you and connect your domain to Shopify. The next step is to download all of your data and format it into CSV files to upload to Shopify. In your new Shopify website, you should decide on your storefront whether that’s headed, headless, or composable. Then configure add-ons, integrations, pixels, and other functionality you need to run your business. Once all that is configured, you’ll upload and migrate all your data to the new store. Finally, you should transfer your domain to Shopify to take the new website live. You can learn more [anchor link to top of page] about the details of transferring your hosting