Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hello Blogger - its an end to 2012 but not to Blogger!

I set up this blogger blog in 2008 and I've been an avid blogger ever since. As we saw the greatest expansion and growth in 2012, we decided to move the blog to our WordPress version on Primary Position, to consolidate our traffic and web infrastructure in one place.

This was a mistake. A big, big, big mistake.

This is the complexity of the times we live in. The right decision isn't always the best one. The correct decision can also be wrong. Blogger is free - much in the way are hosted sites. And with that, comes the inability to move away properly. You can ditch it. But you can't move it easily.

I picked Blogger, not because its free, but because its fast. And I found myself in a catch-22. First off, I'm a big fan of multiple domain name strategies and I always have. I have more domains than almost anyone I know, bar Michele Neylon for example,  and a few other serious domainers. I also have a number of websites. They act as backup plans, reputation managers and displacement ranking sites.

But backup mostly. You see, most companies have just one domain - and that's dangerous. What happens if your hosting goes down (for multiple reasons, which I'm not going into) or you accidentally ban yourself from Google (for example, by blocking your site in Robots.txt) or if you "steal" your own content.

When we wanted to move from here to there because we wanted to be on WordPress. There were lots of reasons, and they were good ones, and here are some:

  • Better control of the theme
  • Its our content on our domain
  • It gets harder and harder to leave here
  • More control over hosting, technical configuration
  • We'd be all grown up and 'using' a 'proper' blog cms
  • Traffic and SEO effect to our own domain would work harmoniously
  • Except it didn't
I take full responsibility for the decisions and the support I got from our team was unanimous. It was the right decision and we all had a role to play.

Why I didn't want to move:
  • The SEO authority in this blogger was legendary. We could rank for anything in seconds
  • This is where we started, where people knew us
  • Do you know how long it takes to build that many links and to build that much Kudos?
  • Blogger gets better and better all the time
  • I'm a Google Fanboi (but I own an iPhone and I still love Dell!)
So here's what we did
  • We found a 'hack' to sort-of '301' this blog to our blog
  • We found a way to import all of the content to our own
  • We even got all of the comments and user data! Yay!
  • It was epic
But Google doesn't really provide a way to move. You can stay, leave, abandon. But you cannot 'move'

Google does a lot of good stuff...and a lot of bad, dumb stuff that is the product of becoming the enormous giant that it is. Bureaucratic. Stuff like how it polices (or doesn't) AdWords and Brand name infringements, libel and flouts laws on Advertising and Trademark protections. Fair play to Australian courts for dragging Google to task. Fair play to Google for rolling out some of these worldwide.

Yes, Google gave a free tool. And Google believes, that it can provide limited support, warranty etc as a result. Except there's no pay-for option. And that's kind of sucky.  Because what happened next is exactly why I evangelise to people to move away from free services ASAP.

My reason for hosting on here wasn't because it was free. I couldn't care less. I spend 1000's on hosting, because I'm in the business. In fact, just 5 years ago, my total online hosting and domain ownership bill was in excess of €900 per month. We have a technical team of two engineers who spend all day every day managing sites we work on. The cost is frightfully negligible.

One of the things Google does, which is great in principle, is that it remembers. It remembers pages you put up and take down and it remembers them for a very, very long time. Months. Years even.

Many websites get taken down for a multitude of reasons. Missed billing. Wrong billing. Hacks. Forgetful webmasters. Malware. Try ticking the wrong box in your CMS (try the Privacy Option in WordPress if you're bored and hate getting free traffic from Google - it'll soon dry up)(actually please dont!). So Google doesn't drop pages automatically. In fact, getting it to do so ranges from tedious to downright annoying.

Well, moving our content AND using our 301 was a disaster and cause a multitude of problems that made it look like had copied (and it had) from Blogger - large scale. And that caused massive issues. Even though we set everything here to draft, there's no real way to move. There's canon settings and everything but ultimately, if Google thinks you're bad, you're done for until you fix it. And no, there's no helpline or support....!

So, if you're hosting here or, then stay or go. But if you're going to go, go soon :)


  1. Thanks for sharing, it's great to learn from others.

    I almost transferred my blogs to blogger a couple of years ago, but when I decided I was going to I didn't have the time. I left it, then I realised I like the blogging platform I use- it's integrated into my own domain, and I like the layout better. Having read this, I'm very glad I didn't move!!

    So are you still going to keep your Word Press, or are you back posting here?

  2. another problem with blogger is the horrible commenting system- it took me 5 attempts to work out what the digits were I was supposed to type in to "prove" I wasn't a robot..

    I use disqus for commenting on my blog, it's great and allows people to sign in using various different ways, including name & url. It's a lot easier to use than blogger, that's for sure!

  3. Hi Claire - thank you!

    Good question - and one I didn't get to in the tome I posted!

    We're going to post in BOTH. As odd as that sounds!

    Yes, the commenting system is another part of it. We wanted to try Facebook comments actually - but quickly abandoned. I could put a non-check in but I'd get drowned in spam and that's a no-no!

    1. are you going to post duplicate content, or alternate, or have a different theme for each blog?

    2. Ummmm no. They're both Geo-targeted at Ireland now, so that wouldn't help. And that is really the issue. So, "one for you, one for me, " is the order of the day!

      What I might do - and this was an early consideration - is to publish technical stuff in here and light-brand-marketing-y stuff there

  4. I think doing one more technical than the other is a good way to go.

    Alternating probably is the next best thing.

  5. Like practically everything else on the Web, blogs are easy to start and seo social media hard to maintain. Writing coherently is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks for a human being to undertake.