Moving from Blogger to WordPress

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Blogger has been great to me over the years, but being a free hosted service it comes with its set of limitations. Don’t get me wrong Blogger has an awesome feature set, but if you are after more control, customisation options, and a huge library of free and paid plugins, then WordPress makes a lot of sense.

Note: WordPress.com offers a free hosted service much like Blogger, and also has its limitations. This guide is detailing the move to a self-hosted WordPress site which you can learn more about and download from http://www.wordpress.org.

This step by step guide for moving from Blogger to WordPress will help make the transition easy, and highlight best practices you should adhere to.

Hosting

The first step on your journey (and it is a journey if you want to do it properly!) is finding a suitable WordPress hosting service, and if you don’t have one already, selecting a domain name.

For your reference here are the providers I chose:

You can learn more about the selection process I went through to find a WordPress host here.

 

WordPress Deployment

Most cPanel based hosting services (Linux hosters tend to use cPanel, and I recommend it) have a wizard that can automatically provision WordPress ready for you to use it. If they don’t then its fairly easy to setup this up yourself. You can learn more about deployment techniques here.

As an example, my cPanel host uses Softaculous to provision WordPress:

1-Softaculous

Its as simple as clicking install and follow the prompts to get your site up and running:

2-Softaculous

 

Look and Feel

Once you have WordPress installed you’ll need to do a bit of configuration work to get the site looking and feeling the way you want it. This article doesn’t go in to that level of detail, but a good place to start is finding a suitable template for your site. There are many free and paid templates for WordPress so this task shouldn’t be too difficult.

You can browse the selection of free templates right from within the WordPress admin site. Choose “Appearance” -> “Themes”:

3-Appearance-Themes

Once you have chosen a template, play around with Widget settings and the positions they can be located within the template.

Plugins

Plugins allow you to expand on the core feature set of WordPress, and you’re going to want some right off the bat! Because Blogger is a hosted service a lot of functionality you take for granted is built-in, however WordPress will require you to install plugins to achieve the equivalent. Below is a list of plugins I use and recommend; the first 3 are compulsory in my mind.

  1. Comment spam (important): Akismet – protects against comment SPAM and is free for personal users, such as not for profit bloggers
  2. Security and compression (important): Wordfence – Protects your website against hackers and provides excellent caching to improve your sites page loading times. There are free and paid options.
  3. Backup (important): BackupBuddy – BackupBuddy is a paid plugin but by far my favourite. BackupBuddy allows you to easily configure local and remote backups, and comes with 1GB free online storage
  4. SEO: WordPress SEO – helps you ensure that your content is SEO freindly
  5. Analytics: Google Analytics by Yoast – integrates Google Analytics in to your WordPress site
  6. Forms: Contact Form 7 – Helps you quickly and easily create forms such as for a “contact us” page
  7. Editor: TinyMCE Advanced – Improves upon the already good built-in editor
  8. Editor: Rel Nofollow Checkbox – Allows you to Nofollow links in the editor
  9. Avatar: WP User Avatar – Allows you to use local images for your avatar
  10. Import: Blogger Importer Extended – We will use this plugin to import your content directly from Blogger
  11. URL Redirection: Redirection – We will use this plugin later in the article to make URL redirection easy

Installing plugins

Installing plugins is done from the WordPress admin area. Browse to “Plugins” -> “Add New”:

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Search for the plugin you would like to install, then select “Install Now”:

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Plan and execute the move

Once you have a vanilla install of WordPress you’ll need to start planning your move. Obviously with live data coming from Blogger, you are going to have to apply a change freeze after the data has been migrated, or keep note of any changes that you make.

Here’s a summary of the steps:

  1. Import data to WordPress
  2. Freeze or keep record of changes on your Blogger site
  3. Review all imported content
  4. Setup URL format (Permalinks)
  5. Setup URL redirection
  6. Go-live
    1. Configure your domain
    2. Test
    3. Confirm URL redirection
  7. Configure webmaster tools

Import data

To import data from Blogger to WordPress, install the “Blogger Importer Extended” plugin noted above.

Once installed select “Settings” -> “Import”:

5-Tools-Import

 

Now chose the installed plugin “Blogger Importer Extended”:

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Select “Ok, lets go”:

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You’ll now be asked to authorise the plugin to connect to your Blogger account. Select “Accept”:

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Select the Blogger blog that you wish to import from, then select “Continue”:

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Once the import completes you will be asked to assign the imported content to an author. Chose an existing author or create a new one, then select “Assign authors”:

10-Blogger-Importer-Extended

 

Change freeze

Now that you have imported your data to WordPress you should implement a change freeze on your Blogger blog. Blogger Importer Extended does not support a differential import, and would require you to delete and re-import again.

Review imported content

Reviewing your imported data is a painful but a necessary step if you want to ensure that your content remains in a reader friendly format. The importer does a bit of a tidy up for you, but it’s not always perfect. Because of the way the WordPress editor works, there will likely be loads of line spacing issues that you may or may not want to tidy up.

Setup URL format (Permalinks)

Permalinks define the URL structure for permanent links to your blog posts. WordPress comes with a feature that allows you to set up a SEO friendly URL structure. Since you are importing content from Blogger, you would want your URL structure to be as close to that of your Blogger site. To do this go to “Settings” -> “Permalinks”:

11-Settings-Permalinks

 

Choose “Month and Name” as your permalink structure, and then select “Save Changes”:

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Setup URL redirection

Redirection is a crucial step in your move to WordPress. You want to make sure that users and search engines land on exactly the same page on your new website, as they would the old. This is a very important step to ensure you retain SEO rankings!

To ensure all Blogger URL’s are mapped to your new WordPress URL’s, you will need to configure URL redirection. To achieve this install the “Redirection” plugin (you could also do this using .htaccess files if you’re a real geek :)). Once installed go to “Tools” -> “Redirection”:

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On the “Redirects” tab configure the following rules:

Blog Posts
Source URL: /(\d{4})/(\d{2})/(.*).html
Target URL: http://<your_website>/$1/$2/$3

Pages
Source URL: /p/(.*).html
Target URL: http://<your_website>/$1

Feeds
Source URL: /feeds/(.*)
Target URL: http://<your_website>/feed

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It is important to note that we are using regular expressions to achieve redirection so that we don’t need to explicitly create rules for every page – regular expressions match patterns and manipulate outputs; these can be fairly complex so I won’t say any more than that, but if you need some help just ask a question in comments section. Ensure that you tick “Regular expression” while creating the rule.

You may have other more specific redirects depending on your requirements, but these rules should catch most URL’s.

 

Go-live

You’re now ready to move your new WordPress site in to production. Prior to doing so it is recommended that you have thoroughly tested your new site and ensured redirection is working as expected; this step is outside the scope of this article, but can learn more about a common technique you can use to test your site before it has been cut over here.

Configure domain redirection

If you are changing to a new domain you will need to configure domain redirection. Domain redirection will redirect all requests for your old domain to the new one.

Blogger Domain

If your old domain is a Blogger sub domain (e.g. myblog.blogger.com) you will need to implement the redirect on your Blogger site using JavaScript. Here’s how you do that.

From Blogger settings select “Template”:

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Select “Edit HTML”:

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At the very top of the HTML code look for the <head> tag and insert the following code directly underneath it:

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Replace ‘https://ucgeek.co’ with your WordPress sites new URL which you want to redirect to.

Make sure to select “Save template” once you are done adding the script.

New custom domain

If you are using a new custom domain you should implement the redirect with your new WordPress hosting provider, and then re-point the DNS for the old domain to that new provider. When you do this people who browse to the old domain will get redirected to the new one.

The below example shows you how to create a redirect using cPanel; if you are not using cPanel ask your hosting provider how to implement a redirect. Remember for the redirect to work you must reconfigure your DNS to point your new hosting provider.

From cPanel select “Parked Domains”:

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Add the old domain as a parked domain:

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Once you have parked the old domain you can setup redirection for it. Select “Manage Redirection”:

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Add the URL to your new WordPress website:

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Existing custom domain

If you are using an existing custom domain you’ll need to change your DNS records to point to your new hosting provider. Once you do this within a few hours your site should become live on your new WordPress site.

A note about DNS

When you make changes to DNS records, they take some time to fully propagate globally. If you are unsure what you need to change to get your new site up and running, talk to your hosting provider and they will be able to guide you through the process. In short you will need to know the IP address(es) your hosting provider has assigned your website.

Test test test!

Once your site is live and DNS has propagated, you should complete all your final checks and tests to make sure everything is working as expected. In particular you should ensure URL redirection is working; The last thing you want to do is annoy your readers and risk losing SEO ranking. Grab a bunch of your old page URL’s and browse to them to make sure that you are redirected to the same page on your new WordPress site.

Webmaster Tools

If you use webmaster tools (and you should be), its now time to update your sites settings. Setting up URL redirection is enough to tell the search engines your site has moved, however by informing in advance can speed the process up.

Google

Google only requires you to notify of a domain change. First add your new domain to the Webmaster Tools Search console – you should add all variants of the domain that will serve the website, then tell Google which is the prefered e.g. http://yourblog.com, https://yourblog.com, http://www.yourblog.com, https://www.yourblog.com

Now go to your old site and tell webmaster tools that your site has moved. For this to work your redirects will need to be properly implemented and working. From the settings cog select “Change of address”:

19-Webmaster-Tools-Google

 

Follow the steps to complete your change of address:

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For more information see this help article.

Bing

Bing allows you to notify of domain changes and URL changes within the same domain. If you are moving to a new domain, first add it to the Webmaster Tools console.

Now go to your old site and tell webmaster tools that your site has moved. For this to work your redirects will need to be properly implemented and working. Select “Diagnostics & Tests” -> “Site Move”. Choose the redirection type and submit the site move:

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For more information see this help article.

Conclusion

Now that we have a shiny new WordPress website, its time to turn our attention back to doing what we do best – blogging! I hope that you found this article informative and easy to follow, and that you have great successful with your new site. If you have any questions or require any assistance please post your comment below.

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. The importing method is not always reliable. For those who have a lot of content and little technical knowledge, I would advice to leave this to professionals or use and automated tool (which is kind of the same if you think about it). I know cms2cms is a reliable option for Blogger to WordPress migration. And then again, if something goes wrong it’s nice to have professional support.

    • Hey Carry,

      I was lucky enough not to have any issue with the above mentioned import tool. It did a really good job, with only a bit of formatting to take care of. A lot of bloggers don’t have the money to pay a professional, so this would be the next best thing.

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