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How to handle broken URLs (migrating from MT to WP.com)?

  1. Hi --

    I am planning a migration from a self-hosted Movable Type blog to a wordpress.com blog. As I understand it, WordPress.com does not allow configuration of blog URLs. Is there any way to elegantly handle the existing URL structure, which otherwise will result in 404s?

    For example, if there is currently an archive page at:

    http://www.emmacarlson.com/emmablog/archives/2011/06/22/best-laid-plans/

    and after the import to wp.com it looks like this:

    http://movabletypeimporttest.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/best_laid_plans/

    We will eventually buy the domain mapping so the URL root looks the same, but is there any way to automatically redirect <root>/emmablog//archives/* to <newroot>/*?

    Thanks,

    Ramon

    Ramon

    The blog I need help with is movabletypeimporttest.wordpress.com.

  2. Unfortunately, there is not.

    I'd recommend just adjusting the URLs after you migrate, or before if you have better search and replace tools available to you on MT.

  3. Actually I've already got the migration-accessible URLs covered -- I can rewrite the links we control (i.e. internal to the blog) in the MovableType export data file so they are in the correct format when I import them into MT.com. I am primarily concerned about those we cannot control, e.g. links from other sites, peoples bookmarks, etc.

    Let me put it a different way: what is the best UX that one can provide for incoming visitors that are using an incorrect URL. Is there, for example, a 404 page that also allows users to easily run a search on the blog using keywords extracted from the URL?

    And barring this, is it possible to get access to error logs or some sort of report that list 404s and referrers so we can at least indicate how big of a problem this is?

    Thanks,

    Ramon

  4. That is definitely a problem. If you have control over .htaccess where your MT blog is, I recommend adding this to the file (this hsould all be on one line with spaces in between the elements, but the forum is adding the line break) :

    redirect 301 /emmablog/archives/ http://movabletypeimporttest.wordpress.com/

    That will pretty much permanently redirect everything to the URL on your WordPress.com blog. As described above, http://www.emmacarlson.com/emmablog/archives/2011/06/22/best-laid-plans/ will go to http://movabletypeimporttest.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/best_laid_plans/

    Of course, once you map the domain here, that will no longer work, but at least the search engines will have caught on by that time.

    We don't have user-accessible error logs unfortunately, so existing linkers will have to discover the broken links for themselves.

  5. Won't this defeat our plan to eventually host the custom domain name at wp.com? That is, if we set up the redirect 301 scenario as you describe, won't this basically tell search engines that http://www.emmacarlson.com URLs should now be going to

    http://movabletypeimporttest.wordpress.com/

    However, we only want this to be an interim solution, since we eventually want to pay for the wp.com upgrade that allows custom domains, at which point we want search engines to point to:

    http://www.emmacarlson.com/2011/06/22/best_laid_plans/

    So ocne we do that domain name upgrade, is there a way to similarly tell search engines that http://www.emmacarlson.com is the primary domain for this blog?

    Thanks,

    Ramon

  6. The only way to do that would be to that map the domain name instantly.

    To be honest, that's the route I'd go with. Both options have their pros and cons, but mapping as soon as you've imported is the easiest.

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