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Migrating away from WordPress.com while retaining SEO

  1. Hi all. I'm looking to migrate my blog from being hosted on WordPress.com onto my own domain. Most importantly, I'm looking to maintain the SEO that has built up over the last few years. (I know I can do a basic transfer to move the posts and comments by doing an export-import, but my understanding is that that's not going to maintain the SEO.)

    I've looked around for the best way to do this and I'm worried that the most common suggested techniques won't work on a hosted blog. First, I can't change the .htaccess file on a WordPress.com hosted blog, so I can't add redirects there. Second, I can't add a rel="canonical" link in the header of the page because I can't edit the template on the site...

    Is there any other way to do this that I'm missing? I could always just litter my old blog with links to the new domain, but that's not the most elegant solution...

    Thanks for your help!

    bookrate

    PS: Feel free to tell me if this is posted in the wrong place.

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

  2. Have you purchased a domain mapping upgrade form WordPress.com?

    If you’ve registered your domain through WordPress.com and now want it to point to a blog or website hosted elsewhere then you can do this by updating the nameservers. The nameservers control where traffic for the domain goes using DNS. If you are moving from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog, you can enter the nameservers provided by your web hosting company to switch your domain to their hosting service. http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/domain-management/#update-nameservers

    Or have you purchased a site redirect upgrade from WordPress.com?
    Are you leaving WordPress.com? Would you like to redirect yourblogname.wordpress.com (as well as all of your permalinks) to your new domain name? http://en.support.wordpress.com/site-redirect/

    If you do not purchase either one then all those old .wordpress.com URLs will become broken links and for months every time they are clicked they will prouced a 404 (page not found) error message, until the search engines like Google index them again under the new domain URLs and clear their caches (3 – 6 months).

    The reason we purchase domain mapping is so that all the URLs from the .wordpress.com root blog when clicked seamlessly redirect to the same content in the post under the new domain URLs.

    The pagerank and authority the blog earned was earned by the .wordpress.com URLs and belongs to them. It’s not transferable. so what that means is the domain starts from zero. In about 4 – 6 months time the content will all be re-indexed by search engines under the domain URLs and all things being equal the blog will probably have the same pagerank and authority it had prior to purchasing domain mapping. http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/register-domain/

  3. Hi timethief -- Thanks so much for the quick response. Let me add that I'd like to put third-party advertising to my site (probably AdSense), which is the main reason I'm looking to transfer it off of .wordpress.com, onto my own domain and hosting, and preserve the SEO.

    So, if I understand, WP offers two things that could help me: the domain mapping and site redirect upgrades. But domain mapping still does not allow third party advertising, so says the manual.

    However, if I buy a new domain from a third party registrar, and hosting as well, I could purchase a site redirect from WP and send my traffic from my old .wordpress.com to the new domain, correct? Finally, what would happen to my old .wordpress.com content? Would it still exist or would any incoming traffic automatically redirect to the analogous URL on the new domain?

    Thanks again,
    bookrate

  4. If you buy a new domain, you lose ALL Seo. All pagerank. All of it.

  5. Thanks, raincoaster, for your response. Let me now put my question this way:

    If I want to be able to use outside advertising, that alone requires me to buy an outside domain and hosting. Given that I will be putting my content on a new domain, how can I most gracefully forward traffic from my .wordpress.com domain to the new domain?

    The impression I'm getting is that a site redirect is the best way to do that. (1) Is this all correct? And if I do that, (2) how will my old .wordpress.com blog appear to incoming visitors, will they be redirected to the new blog immediately? (I'm just curious about #2.)

    Best,
    bookrate

  6. Yes, the site redirect is your best bet. It is a 301 permanent redirect and the search engines should, within a 3-6 months, transfer all your ranking over to the new URL and site.

    The old blog will not appear to visitors at all. They will be immediately and seamlessly redirected to the content on your new site.

  7. The "seamless" only if you set up your WordPress.ORG install correctly - you will need to learn all about Permalinks for your new site.

  8. Alright -- I have pretty permalinks set up (in /year/month/day/title style or something) on my .com installation, and I'll be sure to set up the same on the new installation. It's no more complex than that, right?

  9. Right.

  10. Great. Thanks, all, for your help. If this were a support post I would mark it "solved"!

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