Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moving from Blogger FTP to blogspot hosting with Custom Domain

I received an email from Blogger today saying they were discontinuing FTP publishing. This was the service I used to publish my blog to my own server at www.hudson.nu/blog. I was not surprised they were discontinuing it because it had become very unreliable. Over Christmas I had considered moving my blog to a Google custom domain and had done some of the necessary work, but having received the email I decided to go ahead and make the move. It was slightly more complicated for me because I wanted to move from my old Blogger log in to my new Google log in.

This involved:

  • Creating a new empty Blogger blog with the same template under my new Google log in.
  • Backing up the old blog within the Blogger control panel and then restoring it to the new one.
  • Sorting out the new widget based version of the template to make it match my old layout.
  • Set up a mod rewrite rule to indicate a 301 redirect for each page so that no traffic was lost.
  • Set up Google Analytics for the new domain (although I might just switch back to using the code from my main site which should cover two domains OK).

It all seems to have worked except that the main www.hudson.nu/blog address is not rewriting to www.ecalpemos.org (update: now working, may have been a browser cache problem).

Incidentally ecalpemos is the word "someplace" spelled backwards.

Update:
So glad to be off FTP publishing - this is much faster!

Here is the mod rewrite rule I used to redirect all the individual posts at www.hudson.nu/blog to www.ecalpemos.org

This was put in the .htaccess file located in the directory www.hudson.nu/blog

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www\.)?hudson\.nu
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.ecalpemos.org/$1 [R=301,L]

This means that when a search engine lists a post like this:

http://www.hudson.nu/blog/2010/01/cumberland-spaceman.html


It redirects to:

http://www.ecalpemos.org/2010/01/cumberland-spaceman.html


and its a 301 (permanently moved) redirect so search engines should switch to indexing the new one.

Update 3rd February 2010:
So far, so good. No major problems. I fixed the image address rewrite issue.
My only concern now is that Google picks up the 301 redirects for all the blog posts and updates their addresses on search results. The change of address also means that my backlinks are via a 301 redirect so i exepct to see some crashing of positions for certain search terms that have genuine organic links back to my articles.

Another tip:
With a custom domain blog you can still use Google Webmaster Tools to submit a sitemap. There are two stages to this:

1. Add the verify meta tag into the head section of the blogger template.

2. There is no discrete xml sitemap file, but webmaster tools accepts this as the address of the sitemap: atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500

I have seen a suggestion that you could use "feeds/posts/full" but I found that only indexed about 20 or so posts. I set mine as "results=500" because I have a few hundred posts. I tried 100 and it only took 101 posts.

Google Analytics:
You do not need to split up your web stats between the new custom domain blog and the old web site. I used the same google analytics code on my new custom domain as I was using on the ftp hosted version of the blog and the rest of www.hudson.nu. This was done yesterday and today hits for both domains are in the one analytics report. If I go to a specific blog post in the report and select "hostname" it shows the hits seperately for the two different addresses.

6 comments:

  1. Glad it seemed to go smoothly! You probably could have also switched your old blog to a custom domain without needing to do the backup / restore step.

    I notice your old images aren't working. You'll probably want to keep the "blog/uploaded_images" directory from redirecting w/ your mod_rewrite rule.

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  2. Thanks for the heads up. I must have had those images cached because they were showing up OK last night.

    The simplest way to fix it was to put a .htaccess file in the /blog/uploaded_images directory with this single line in it:

    RewriteEngine off

    That info may be useful for someone else.

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  3. Oh and I had to do the backup and restore thing because I was moving the blog from my very old blogger log in to the gmail log in I use for all other Google applications.

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  4. search google for "blogger ftp fix" ... another solution

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  5. Thats interesting Erik. I found that doing a full switxch has worked OK with my posts retaining their poitions in Google. However, all the inbound links are (of course) still to the old address which is not ideal.

    Ar eyou the same Erik who owned Zoneedit?

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