Thursday, August 03, 2006

Changing Domains - Pros and Cons

Over the last few months a number of bloggers that I have a lot of respect for have advised me that if I am serious about my blog, I should move it from Blogger. I know that Blogger has some drawbacks, primarily the lack of the ability to easily create categories. However, I really like my blogger blog. I have concerns about moving domains and wonder whether my concerns might outweigh the benefits.

My biggest concern is that I have a large number of links, a high percentage of which are permalinks. Not only are there are all the links from Weekend Herb Blogging, but also I link internally with nearly every post, giving recommendations of other recipes to go with each dish I post about. I don't know whether any of those links would transfer if I switched to my own domain.

I also worry about losing page rank, although I am guessing that you would eventually get that back. I don't even really understand the transition process. Currently I have the domain kalynskitchen.com pointing to kalynskitchen.blogspot.com so my blog can be accessed by either url. Could I keep the blogspot blog up and have that address point to kalynskitchen.com if I made the switch?

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has gone through this or who has a greater understanding than I do about just what is involved. (That would probably be most of you, since I rely heavily on my brother for assistance with anything very techie.) Thanks in advance for anyone who takes time to give input.

Posted by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen.

P.S. I've already decided that if I move I would use Wordpress, so I don't need advice about that, just about the transition and how things will be affected.

27 comments:

sam said...

Hey Kalyn
I don't know whether you have respect for me ;) but all I can say is this: I am deadly serious about my blog and I have absolutely no intention of moving it from blogger. I love blogger and it is costs me nothing. They have always been there for me, everything pretty much works smoothly and apart from the odd hour here or the odd half day there in over 2+ years I can't really say they have ever let me down. I have seen typepad and other hosts have as much, if not more, downtime. Yes it has drawbacks but I am dealing with them and so are you by the looks of things - your blog looks fantastic.

You would definitely lose page rank on your new blog but I believe the old blog would retain it, so if you left your blogger posts where they are they would still show up in links and google searches. But then I think anything new you write on a new blog would start out with a GPR of 0 until you built it back up again, which could take time. It took me about 18 months to get to GPR of 6. This is my guess - I do not know for sure. But that is how I *think* it works.

Perhaps if someone could give us a compelling reason why we should ditch our blogspot blogs for something else, i would consider changing, but from where I am sitting I can't think of one good advantage of changing now. Blogspot helped my blog become what it is today, I have worked with what they have offered me, and I feel so loyal to them since they have been so good to me, I just can't imagine ever leaving them.

I hope they feel the same way about me

paul said...

I'm afraid this is the biggest drawback of blogger. It's an incredible tool allowing millions to publish on the web, but you'll always be under their domain.

I'll be yet another blogger that sees you as someone who's serious about blogging, and as such, you'll have to do this eventually, and the sooner the better. One of page rank's major factor's is the age of the page and domain.

I for one will admit your concerns are real, but if you envision yourself doing this for years to come, it's better to have only one year of links to worry about fixing, than 2 or 3.

There are a few tricks, like a mod_rewrite script that can transform your new links into the same URL structure that your old archive used, and you can look up how to do this in WP, but admittedly, a few issues on this subject have been daunting me(otherwise I would have switched my blogs from MT to WP already). You may have to show your brother how much you love him.

Sam said...

can you explain "why you have to do this eventually?"

that is the part I don't understand.

Why can't everything carry on just being so?

Pepper said...

I am also curious about what the reasons for moving off blogspot would be. If the domain name is the only issue, it seems pretty minor. If the features restrict you technically from easily doing what you want, that is another matter. The content and frequency of posts as well as the visual appeal and organization of the blog distinguish the 'seriousness' of a blogger, IMHO. There are lots of dedicated domain names that are garbage sites.

Veggie Friendly said...

I moved from Blogger to Wordpress earlier this year, mainly because I kept trying to add features that blogger didn't easily or autmatically provide for(like categories and pages, which are really straightforward on wordpress). The transition was very smooth because you can you import the post and comments from blogger. I had permalinks but can't remember if they broke - they may have. I think it comes down to what you want to do with your blog - i.e. I really liked the wider range of plugins, features and developer community that came along with wordpress and so it was a great move for me, but I've seen other people add similar features to blogger sites. If you think there's a lot to lose in moving perhaps work out the extra features that you want (like categories and pages) and see if you can figure out a work around in blogger first. My blog is Veggie Friendly in Australia if you have any Blogger v Wordpress questions.

Kalyn said...

Sam, I do respect you absolutely and also a large number of other great food blogs that are also on Blogger, (some of my best "friends" use Blogger!) that's exactly why I'm having such a hard time deciding to make the switch. I can think of an equal number of reasons for switching or staying with Blogger!! I think I'll go visit Bookmanoldstyle and check some of the past entries to see if the permalinks seem to be working. (For those who don't know my blog, I'm guessing I have more than 1,000 permalinks, links to specific WHB posts and internal links to recipes on my site. That's a lot of broken links if I can't figure out a way to make them switch over.)

I hope more people will weigh in on this. Thanks everyone.

nika said...

I dont think my comments will help you make a decision. :-)

Just wanted to say that I started using blogger cuz I am cheap and I still use it because 1) I am cheap and 2) the pain in the behind to switch to something else.

I dont get emotional about blogger, I dont feel loyalty to any sort of brand at all, including online providers.

Your blogger friends know you not through blogger but through your blog. If you migrate you will have forwarding links so we will not lose you.

When I am surfing, I note blog design and hosting. I admire the cleaner photo food blogs like nordjlus and I want a site like that. Since I AM cheap, I (when the hair next strikes) will be looking for an HTML and flickr solution to having a similar look.

I could migrate to WP but I do not want to pay.. as it is I am buying way too much photography equipment. But these are concrete things I can hold and use for other purposes so I can rationalize spending that money.

If I could get my blog to pay for a WP subscription I would take the trouble to migrate.

Others make different decisions and have no problem paying for a blogging habit/hobby and thats fine too, they are not buying macro lenses and lighting equipment! (ok, maybe they are and they just are not as cheap as I am, completely possible)

Veggie Friendly said...

Just to clarify - WP is free (unlike Typepad). I've opted to host the blog myself, so there's a small annual fee, but that's it.

Rather than check my old links (because it's possible I had a fit of analness and corrected them) maybe visit the Wordpress forums because I bet someone else has wondered if this would be a problem. I have a friend who also made the transition so will check with him.

Indira said...

Hi Kalyn,

I am one of those who moved from blogger to word press early on.

My two cents:

Advantage: Before blogger, there was web logs, popular free hosting site for several bloggers. One day suddenly the owner of web logs decided to shut down his free service. People said at that time, he didn’t even give notice to bloggers beforehand about his decision. So boom… all blogs disappeared in one day. Lot of posts of was written about this incident when it happened and bloggers were mad understandably. They lost their work. Here is the link - weblogs closes down.

I don’t think this is going to happen with blogger, but you never know. That is one of the main reasons why I moved away from blogger, I wanted full control. If anything disappears from my site, it’s because I wanted to, not because Blogger God decided one sudden day he don’t want to carry the burden anymore. :)

About problems/cons: I didn’t face any problems while moving or afterwards. It was smooth transition and word press works really great. No downtime, nothing that sort. I kept my old blogger site for a while and when I wanted to remove it, I couldn’t do it. I tried several methods also posted here about my problem requesting help. It still lives on, my old, ugly blogger site.:) It seems I can’t get rid of it.

The only major con is paying money, of course, as noted by other comment posters. But if you have blog income, then in time you could cover your costs. About Page rank, I don't think it matters really. You update regularly with gorgeous posts. Google will send hits your way, page rank or no page rank.:)

Hope this helps.

sam said...

Another question -
if you host yourself and then use wordpress (free) - will you face any bandwidth issues and associated costs?

For example I have over 3000 photos stored on blogger and more than a thousand hits a day. How much would this cost me if I hosted myself?

I do sometimes wish I had changed a long time ago but now i think I have left it way too late. if only I had invented F-B-S'cool earlier!

William I. Lengeman III said...

I'm keen to get off Blogger and onto my own domain as well. I've registered the domain, but the potential issues with migrating a year's worth of posts has stopped me dead in my tracks so far. If anyone's figured out how to do it with minimal agony I'd love to hear about it.

tiny banquet committee said...

Hi everyone. I'm very interested in this topic because I started my blog on Blogger just a couple months ago and have contemplated moving while the number of posts I have is still small - but, unless I'm missing something, I still don't understand what the real advantage would be other than "you'll always be under [Blogger's] domain." It doesn't bother me at all that I have blogspot in my url, and I completely agree with pepper that a blog's seriousness comes through in its contents, not its domain. The ability to create categories would be nice, but it's not a deal-breaker for me. As for the other features, so far I have easily been able to post my photos with Flickr and create an audio post with Hipcast at minimal cost, and my technical ambitions don't really go beyond that.

Anne said...

I'm actually really happy with Blogger and am not planning on switching to anywhere else. Ok, I might get another domain and still point to my blogger blog - but it'd just be a promotion issue for me. I do monthly backups - so if Blogger happens to shut down unexpectedly, I don't lose a lot. And I definitely feel passionate and serious about my blogging :)

mrs d said...

Paul mentioned a mod_rewrite script in the second comment and I want to touch on that as well and recommend to anyone switching from blogger (or where ever) to their own domain: Make sure you get hosting with a service that allows you easy access under the hood. In other words, if you can't get into and modify your files & scripts yourself, including (most importantly) your .htaccess file, you won't be able to do such things as mod_rewrite & redirect all your old permalinks to new URLs.

The best hosting places I've seen have cpanel access (www.yourdomainname.com/cpanel) which is a control panel page from which you can do tons of useful things from permalink updating to banning known spammer IPs to (if your hosting account allows it) setting up a forum or even a shopping cart service.

(Sidenote: I'm going to be moving in a few weeks -- not my blog but my person, heh -- and after the move I'd be happy to help out any switchers to WP with technical questions, domain hosting issues, etc.)

paul said...

I would never say that a blog without its own domain is a refelection on the author's passion. But moving from Blogspot is much more than just having your own domain. As Kalyn mentions, you can have your own name and still use Blogspot (and you can have your own hoster and still use Blogger).

Moving off Blogger and/or Blogspot is about control, while Blogger's ToS (http://www.blogger.com/terms.g) is reasonable, you still have to agree to it.

It is true that Blogspot has become a viable option for professional blogs, and maybe moving on is not an eventuality for everyone, but if you think you'll still be doing this years from now, you'll want to think about how you'll be doing it. Blogger has come a long way, but will it still serve what you'll want to be doing years from now?

Besides having your own brand, the control over your content and how you manage it is the real benefit. However, these benefits (and many others like web standards and scripting support) may not be important to everyone. Especially for those who don't want to pay anything for hosting. As far as bandwidth there's plenty of hosting options from $50 to $100 a year for 30 to 100GBs of bandwidth a month. If you're publishing more than that, you could probably find a way to use that traffic to pay for the overages.

An easy-to-use, cheap (or free), no-worries system may be the important features for most bloggers, so Blogger is perfect for them, but others may want to move on for the additional control, the same as many of you have moved on from point-and-shoot cameras to SLRs for more control over your photography.

tiny banquet committee said...

Paul, is there something in particular in the Blogger terms of service that you find disconcerting? In my day job I'm a lawyer, and while I'm interested in this issue I have not reviewed them very closely, and would say generally that "the fine print" in any agreement of this nature may be of dubious enforceability when it comes down to any particular controversy. But I'm not sure if the "additional control" that you're referring to is general control over the contents of one's blog, or control in terms of having more features -- ?

Julie said...

I have my own domain, but I still use blogger. I like blogger, and it has never been terribly frustrating for me to use. I am afraid I can't get any more technical since my husband set this up for me (though I learn more every day). If you have any specific questions about how we set up my site, let me know and I'll get you a complete answer. At first I wasn't crazy about having to work within blogger's template, etc., but now I don't mind it. As for your specific situation, IMHO, your blog looks great and it seems best to keep it where it is. Good luck!

Garrett said...

I have learned to work within blogger, but on the other hand, I don't have anything to fancy frill, or even brown paper bag frill.
I like you blog as is personally.

Owen said...

Hey! I can contribute!

OK - I have had Tomatilla! on Blogger for four years now. They have steadily (although very slowly) improved it over that time. (Incidentally I know one of the main developers for Blogger through having worked with him for a few months six years ago. Now he's all rich and everything. Anyway...)

Blogger is just fine - particularly if you (like Sam) have put in a lot of time making things look nice. Also we need to be clear. Blogger does not just mean hosting on blogspot. Tomatilla is run by blogger but resides on its own domain. So I do have control and no issues with urls etc.

If you look through the archives here there have been posts about moving to hosting away from blogspot and how to do that whithout losing anything.

I completely DISAGREE about the need to nove. One of the attractions of Blogger is that it really is a LOT easier to use. No installations. No messing with theme files. No need to know FTP. Why do I say this? I just installed WordPress on a new site (actually set of sites) that I am starting. It is taking me a LONG time to get used to the really rather complex themes files. The reason is that because they are there I want to use and understand them first.

Google isn't going to abandon Blogger.

So - I realise I've been rambling.

Cost - WP is free but hosting isn't - you will have to pay (although Sam - it is pretty easy to get gigabytes of storage and bandwidth even in plans that cost $6 per month) - Blogger/Blogspot wins.

Features - if you want categories and a great deal of flexibility then switch - WordPress can do a LOT more than Blogger. WordPress wins.

Loss of pagerank etc - I honestly don't think that stuff matters. We are in a specialised area and you are all providing unique valuable content. Your content is worth a LOT more than your pagerank. If we all were writing about spammy topics then maybe pagerank would matter more.

If you want to move, first make sure you KEEP the old blogspot site - do NOT resign it. Then start directing people to the new site and use mod rewrites and redirects to get people to the new site. After about six months you should see that most everything in search engines has transferred over.

And, if you use tools like Performancing within Firefox (highly recommended) then you can work on multiple blog platforms anyway.

Bottom line - move if you want the features and flexibility - otherwise don't. I don't think that anyone will consider you non-serious if your content is good.

Kalyn said...

Wow, I had kind of a busy day and when I got back to this there is a lot of great input. Thanks to people who have said nice things about my blog. I should make it clear that my brother does all the design stuff for me (and I am so lucky that he loves me because I could never afford to pay him what he charges.) I'm still undecided, but this has given me a lot to think about, and I'm still interested in hearing from anyone else who wants to weigh in on it. Thanks so much to everyone.

paul said...

I have no specific problem with the terms, just that you have to agree to their right to stop or change the service. Not that they would, but they could.

In the unlikely event that something happens, even if you're backed up, your links are 404 forever. If my hoster goes out of business, I set up on another server, and my links all stay the same.

The 'control' I talk about is behind-the-scene-stuff, not control over content. Hopefully that's never an issue.

I think Owen pretty much nailed it in the time I was taking me to formulate a rambling opinon myself.

Basically there's no compelling reason why someone should switch, but there are reasons, and anyone who can (or can find someone else to) tweak their blog to make it what they like will probably eventually reach Blogger's limitations.

Barbara said...

I wanted to weigh in on this, because my blog was moved from Blogger to its own domain in November.

You do lose your permalinks. You can go back and fix them, but you do lose them. Fixing them is a pain in the tuckus, especially if you are a prolific writer like I am.

Photos--this is interesting. When Zak (who is the husband who did the site design, and actually moved the blog, because he is WAY more computer literate than I ever will be) first moved T&S, none of the photos came along. They were hosted on Blogger, and there they stayed.

So, Zak went through and started physically putting them back in the blog, day by day, week by week, month by month.

Then a weird thing happened.

The old photos he hadn't yet touched reappeared out of the blue. We don't know why. We just know that they did.

Now--they have disappeared again.

Which means, he is going to be teaching me how to edit them back in.

Had I known all of this, I might have stayed with Blogger, but maybe not. I like the way my site looks now, I love the design, and I love the categories and the flexibility and ease of use that I get with Wordpress.

So, in thinking back, if I had known how serious I was going to take blogging, I might have gone with Wordpress from the beginning and my own domain from the first, too.

In short, Kalyn--only you can make the decision as to whether or not to move. The domain name thing is mostly for ease of reader identification--other than that, I don't think it is all that big of a deal. I don't love the look of most Blogger blogs, but templates can be played with, modified and made pretty--like your blog and Sam's, so it is just a matter of personal preference, whether or not to move, I think.

Kalyn said...

Barbara, thank you for clarifying about the permalinks. I don't understand how all that works, but I'm terrified of the thought of even attempting to replace them. I think that's one of the biggest factors in my decision, especially since it doesn't just affect me, but everyone else who has linked to the WHB recaps and any of my posts. Also good to know about the photo issues. I agree that if I had known I was going to be this serious about blogging I would have used Wordpress or maybe Typepad from the start. (A nice commenter suggester that to me when I only had about a month's worth of posts, and I ignored it. Still kicking myself.)

I still haven't completely made a decision (but not making a decision is deciding to stay with Blogger isn't it?)

Sam said...

Barbara: re the photos: I think the problem is that blogger does not allow 3rd party linking of their photos, which to be fair to them, is not an unreasonable limitiation. They don't want to be in a situation where they are a free phto server for every one in the world, do they?

I think they possibly showed up momentarily, because sometimes, they just "do" show up, but like you say, they then disappear again, so you will have to load them to your own or another server that allows the hotlinking in order for them to be part of your non-blogger blog.

Barbara said...

Kalyn--glad to help.

Sam--I am sure that is the case with the photos--and in fact, that is why we started uploading them to my own server. We still have the photos, and I don't mind that Blogger doesn't allow third party hosting of them.

It was just weird that they reappeared in the midst of us reloading them.

So, we stopped. And they stayed there for--months. And then they went away for a week, and came back.

And now they are away again.

Which means, we should probably get off the duffs and go back to re-uploading them again. Which is a pain in the butt, because we are doing lots of other stuff--but--hey--that is what I get for changing domains, now, isn't it? ;-)

But yeah--it is weird how they disappear and reappear.

nika said...

Barbara: the image issue you talk of is the reason I use flickr as a host. First couple of uploads of images to blogger were nice, somewhat convenient (tho in my experience a bit sketchy re: having to reupload on days that blogger was overtaxed with users) but I didnt like the fact that I did not have access to a catalog of those images.

I guess my over-riding need even at that stage was for a more intimate control over my online images.

With flickr, that has been made quite easy.

This doesnt mean it would be any easier to migrate away fromblogger tho! There are many other reasons that my blog remains cemented in place.

Cate said...

I have my own domain name, but still use Blogger for posting and hosting. You can get to me by either typing in the blogger address, or the direct domain. Even with my last redesign (last one, I promise!), I was able to keep all my categories and add tons of new fun stuff. I kept the blogger search bar (originally had it off), because I felt it worked waaaay better than the pico one. Happy to help you out, if you need more info.