There are several easy steps to properly shut down a WordPress site:

1 – Migrate Your Posts and Pages to a New Site

You worked hard on those old posts and it would be a waste to loose them all.  Without loosing your content migrate the posts and pages using the built in WordPress import/export tool:

2 – Set All of The Old Pages To Draft

On the old WordPress sit:

  1. click POSTS > ALL POSTS
  2. select all posts (click the check box beside TITLE)
  3. select EDIT (from the BULK ACTIONS dropdown)
  4. select DRAFT from the STATUS menu
  5. click the UPDATE button (top right corner)

how to bulk edit posts in wordpress

3 – Create a New Redirect Notice Page

On the old site, create a new post (or page) the explains why you are shutting down the site, that the existing content has been moved to a new site and that visitors will be automatically redirected to the new site after a number of seconds.

4 – Add A Redirection After Time Period Script

As we explained in How To Redirect a Web Page After A Time Period add a redirect script to your Redirect Notice Page you created in step 3:

  1. edit the redirect post
  2. click the TEXT tab in the top right
  3. paste in the following script
    //redirect to new site after 6 second delay
    setTimeout(function () {
    //Redirect with JavaScript
    window.location.href= '';
    }, 6000);
  4. Change the second last line of the script from to whatever the destination should be

how to edit the source code on a wordpress post or page

5 – Install a 404 Redirect Plugin

Because you set all of the pages to DRAFT (in step 2 above) they no longer exist on your site and they will all return a 404 Page Not Found error.  You could use a standard redirection to your new site but that would not provide them with an explanation of what is happening.

On the old site:

  1. install and activate a plugin named All 404 Redirect to Homepage
  2. click SETTINGS >  All 404 Redirect to Homepage
  3. set it to redirect all 404 pages to the post/page you made in step two

configure 404 redirect wordpress plugin

Now you can let the old site sit for a few months and then actually kill it (i.e. sell the domain, let the domain expire, remove DNS…) now that your visitors have had time to adjust.


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