Almost every new person starts a blog with Blogger (www.blogger.com), a free blogging service owned by Google. This seems to be a practical solution at first for the following reasons:
- It is free; users do not need to spend money on registering domain names and hosting services.
- It is very easy to use and does not need an in-depth knowledge of web programming, unlike building entire web sites with PHP and ASP.
However, as time goes by, your knowledge of building websites will increase; so will your desire (and demand) for more website features to improve your users’ experiences. Currently Blogger cannot support a lot of website features vital for building a stable and professional website.
This is when people starting wanting to use WordPress (wordpress.org), an open source blog publishing platform. Using WordPress offers an entirely different experience from using Blogger because it can handle two very important things:
- Website templates (using the PHP programming language).
- MySQL databases.
I will assume this doesn’t scare you because of your experience in that field, but you need to be aware of one serious problem that can surely affect the profitability of your website. Moving from Blogger to WordPress means that you risk losing TRAFFIC and SEARCH ENGINE rankings.
This is particularly true if you have a great blog hosted before with Blogger and if you REALLY need to move to WordPress. In that case, keep reading this article.
Before we formulate the best moving strategy we will first examine the current popular strategy implemented when transferring from Blogger to WordPress, and its associated weakness.
Bad strategy #1: Putting a Meta refresh redirect in the Blogger Template pointing to the new WordPress domain.
This is a big mistake for the following reasons:
- Search engines cannot award page rank and link juice to a new WordPress domain using the Meta refresh redirect.
- The Meta refresh redirect is browser/client based, so if you delete your Blogger account or the blogs (which is what some users do), you delete the associated Blogger template file, and then redirect will not function anymore. You will lose traffic.
- The search result still shows the old URLs. The clean and user-friendly WordPress URLs will not show up because of crawling issues (Googlebot, for example, will not follow Meta refresh redirected pages).
- You risk duplicate content. By giving a 200 OK status to Blogger posts because of using Meta refresh, you are risking a duplicate content issue with your WordPress domain.
As a summary, this results in a poor user experience, ranking and duplicate content issues.
It is amazing to know that these two bad strategies are very popular on the Internet despite their weaknesses.
This section outlines the correct moving strategy and its associated requirements. This needs careful planning to preserve the most vital components for website or blog profitability — namely the total traffic for the website or blog, and the search engine rankings for the main page as well as for specific blog posts.
Step # 1: Set up a custom domain name for your blog at http://www.blogger.com
Before you transfer any content to your new domain name (hopefully to be powered with WordPress), I recommend using a custom domain name first as a method of publishing content in Blogger.
So assuming you’re old blog is named “coolalieninthesky.blogspot.com,” and you would like the new WordPress blog to be named coolalieninthesky.com (just an example), what you will do is:
- First, register the domain name coolalieninthesky.com (there are lot of registrars, such as Godaddy.com or Networksolutions.com).
- Second, edit the CNAME record of your domain name to point it to Blogger. In this case they are using: ghs.google.com , check out the instructions.
- Once it is done, go to your Blogger Dashboard -> Settings -> Publishing -> and then click on switch to “custom domain.”
- After this, click on “Switch to Advanced settings” beside “Already own a domain?”
- In the box, type the www version of your domain. So in our example, it will be: www.coolalieninthesky.com. Also, tick the box that says redirect non-www to www version, as that will help also.
Wait a couple of hours and you will see that your old blog, for example coolalieninthesky.blogspot.com, will be 301 redirected to www.coolalieninthesky.com
Let this stay and stabilize for a couple of weeks (at most a month). This will change those URLs in the Google index from your old blogspot URL to the new URL using your custom domain name. For example:
http://coolalieninthesky.blogspot.com/2009/06/freesuperweapons.html will be change to: http://www.coolalieninthesky.com/2009/06/freesuperweapons.html , in the Google index.
Expect a very minor drop in traffic and rankings during this time; this won’t be a major problem if the redirection and DNS setup are correct.
Luckily, you will be pleasantly surprised to see that your new URLs will now be ranking in search engines, replacing the old Blogspot post URLs. This means that all link juices, page rank and other URL properties are now transferred to your new domain name URLS because of the 301 redirect. They will now rank too, replacing old URLs.
And if all those URLS are changed by Google and reflected in its index, it is now the time to proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Import all of your blog posts to WordPress and do all the work locally.
It is fortunate to know that WordPress has a Blogger importing function available. To access it, go to Tools -> Import and then click “Blogger." It will then ask you for login details and authorization. Follow the procedure; WordPress automatically imports all of the posts and content in your Blogger blogs to WordPress in the local host.
A lot of files need to be transferred to the local host also. That includes the images file that is currently hosted by Blogger, so you will need to download it, put in your local host folder, and then edit the image src tag to point to the local path (I will provide the details of this technique in part two).
Step 3: Configure WordPress Local host permalinks to be consistent with indexed URLs.
Configure the WordPress permalinks structure to use the same URL structure as the Blogger custom domain. So if this is the URL structure currently indexed by Google (using Blogger custom domain):
And in your newly imported WordPress at the local host, this is how the default URL will look like (after importing):
To change http://localhost/coolalieninthesky/?p=8 to http://localhost/coolalieninthesky/2009/06/freesuperweapons.html :
Go to the WordPress dashboard -> Settings -> Permalinks, and in there, select “custom structure” and paste the following into the box the save changes:
Step 4: Review all the content and prepare for uploading
Once you have done revising the URLs, it is now the time to re-read your content, review it for HTML errors, do SEO onsite work and finalize your new WordPress site before it can be uploaded by FTP to your new hosting location.
Step 5: Find a suitable web host for your WordPress blog
It is now time to find a good web host for your WordPress blog. Make sure to get the following information:
- DNS servers (there should be two).
- FTP username/password.
- FTP hostname.
Prepare for the uploading by creating the database first, and testing FTP access.
Step 6. Install WordPress, upload your files and import the MySQL database at the new web host.
During the DNS propagation, your Blogger-hosted blogs experience a downtime of around 24 hours, so once you can access the FTP at the new web host, upload all WordPress files right away and install them.
Once installed, import your MySQL database (details in parts two and three of this article) and finally, once the DNS is working in your new web host, you have successfully moved your site to WordPress at the new web host using your own domain name. But wait!
Step 7: Double check for differences in the URL and manually 301 redirect them to the canonical URL.
Now there are cases when URLs could still not be same despite correct rewriting rules. If and when that happens, you should 301 redirect them manually using .htaccess, for example after adjusting WordPress permalinks as suggested above, the URL will be: http://www.coolalieninthesky.com/2009/06/the-freesuperweapons.html , but for this specific post in the Google index it is shown as: http://www.coolalieninthesky.com/2009/06/freesuperweapons.html , the filename is not the same. So you need to 301 redirect to avoid 404 errors:
http://www.coolalieninthesky.com/2009/06/the-freesuperweapons.html 301 redirect to http://www.coolalieninthesky.com/2009/06/freesuperweapons.html
Details of this process will be available in part three of this tutorial.