“What was your biggest ‘blogging’ mistake ?” - put this question to anyone who has a blog hosted on Blogger and you’ll almost get a unanimous reply - they wish they had started on a personal web domain (like myblog.com) instead of sub-domains like blogspot.com or wordpress.com.
Update: Here’s a new video tutorial on moving a blog from Blogger to WordPress. The tutorial was also featured on WordPress TV.
I too made that mistake when I launched Digital Inspiration on labnol.blogspot.com some three years ago. When that blog started getting some attention, I considered moving to self-hosted WordPress several times but the fear of losing search traffic, Google PageRank and RSS subscribers would hold me back.
But this year, I tried a little different approach and it worked - now Digital Inspiration is located at www.labnol.org and there’s no dip in search rankings, organic site traffic and the RSS subscriber count. Here’s that very secret recipe explained in 10 easy steps:
Step 1: Registered a web domain www.labnol.org through Google Apps - the advantages were private domain registration, free email powered by Gmail and some very decent hosting space through Google Pages.
Step 3: Created a new site search page powered by Google Custom Search Engine and uploaded it to Google Page Creator again. You’ll know the advantage in the next step.
Step 4: Then I added MyBlogLog tracking code to all pages of my blogspot blog. This really helped in giving some more Google Juice to the “still young” labnol.org domain. Here’s why:
When people come to your blog, they are very interested in reading your profile page and they also search your blog archives. Since my profile page and site search was both located on labnol.org, they started appearing under “Hot Clicks in My Communities” section of MyBlogLog members who had joined the DI community.
Google bot indexes MyBlogLog pages and therefore, just those two links helped bring lot of Google Juice for the my new site which was still very much a “baby”.
Step 5: In just a couple of months, the Google page rank of that new site was 6. I then signed up with DreamHost for web hosting since Google Pages would only offer limited bandwidth.
Step 6: I launched a couple of new project like AdSense Sandbox, ASCII Art and India Blogs that were very well received in the blogging community - that helped in improving the trust level of the new domain among search engines and avoiding the Google SandBox Effect.
Step 7: While most of my RSS subscribes were using the new FeedBurner feed, the default Blogger XML feed too had some subscriptions. Luckily, Google introduced Feed Redirect service this year and that brought all my RSS subscribers on the same FeedBurner platform [faq].
Step 8: It was now time to install the WordPress package on www.labnol.org. Then I created a new WordPress Theme from scratch that was an exact replica of my existing Blogger Template - the site width, AdSense placement, CSS formatting, header images, and everything else looked just like a mirror copy.
Step 9: Finally, I started writing new blog posts on the labnol.org domain and modified the FeedBurner feed to point to the new WordPress feed. So that shift from Blogger to WordPress was completely transparent for existing RSS subscribers.
Step 10: I manually update the front page of my blogspot website each time there’s a new post on labnol.org so that regular visitors who come via bookmarks don’t miss anything.
Other less interesting details and experiences:
1. I was worried that because of the new website, my entire Google Account could fall a victim of AdSense Smart Pricing. Fortunately, that never happened.
2. The traffic on old blogspot site is around 45k page views per day while the new labnol.org site get around 10k hits per day - I think this is fairly decent considering the amount of content and age of the new website.
3. After moving to WordPress, my blog posts get lot of traffic from StumbleUpon and Digg which is surprising.
4. The growth in the number of RSS subscribers has accelerated after moving from Blogger to WordPress. Probably that “blogspot” term in the URL was a stumbling factor and make a site look less professional.
5. The site definitely gets more attention from advertisers on BlogAds and Adify - TechDispenser & Washington Post BlogRoll program.
6. I had to print a new set of business cards that do not say blogspot anymore.
7. The new site also helps in bringing traffic to the older blogspot blog because both share a common search engine.
8: All the old stories still reside on blogspot and I have no plans of moving them to WordPress through Blogger Importer - reason being Google Juice.
Should you have any questions or suggestion, please add them in the comments. Thanks.