Anything that affects the traffic to your blog, such as a change in the URL, affects the success of your blog. If you republish your blog to a different BlogSpot URL, as with migration to a custom domain, you will not lose any content. Both comments, posts, the template, and all custom settings, will stay with the blog. And if you plan the republishing effort, you can minimise the loss of traffic.
Properly planning the migration, to a different BlogSpot URL, will require different techniques than a simple custom domain republishing.
With a custom domain republishing, the old (BlogSpot) URL is redirected to the new (domain) URL, using a "301 Moved Permanently" instruction. A "301 Moved Permanently" redirect simply repoints each individual URL in the blog to the new URL. And, unlike a custom domain renaming, you cannot choose an available URL, before you begin.
This post (using the domain URL) is "blogging.nitecruzr.net/2010/03/renaming-your-blog-planning-change.html". I can, alternately, advertise it as "bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com/2010/03/renaming-your-blog-planning-change.html". That's the "301 Moved Permanently" redirection, in action. All traffic is forwarded, automatically.
Blogger won't provide a "301 Moved Permanently" for a BlogSpot rename, as this would encourage spammers to move their splogs around, endlessly. The best that you can do is to use a stub blog, with proper planning.
If you want the blog offline permanently - or if you don't want other people recreating the blog under its current name, you will want to plan the renaming - just as you would (or should) plan a deletion. If the URL becomes available, the same content / impersonation / privacy issues will exist.
As with a custom domain migration, you'll want to consider the traffic to the blog, in categories.
- Blog Feeds - Automated processes, that help your readers track changes to your blog, using a newsfeed reader.
- Following - The two way community process, that lets you see who your readers are.
- Google Webmaster Tools - Key diagnostic and management utilities, that - among other things - enable indexing of the blog by the search engines.
- Search engines - Robotic processes which methodically surf your blog, and provide dynamic indexing to people who search for information.
- Viewers - People who read your content from their browser.
Blog Feeds are the easiest and cleanest category to redirect. Even though Blogger won't provide a "301 Moved Permenantly" for the blog URL, they will provide this for the feed URL, using a blog post feed redirect URL. With the post feed enabled for both the live blog (under the new URL), and the stub blog (under the old URL), set the Post Feed Redirect URL for the stub blog to the exact value of the feed URL for the live blog. Your Followers and subscribers, using the old URL, will continue to see newsfeeds for your live blog, while using the old URL.
Following, with the renaming done correctly, is easy to redirect. Your Followers, as mentioned above, can view the blog feed using the old URL, with no problem. With the blog renamed simply using Settings - Publishing, your Followers will continue to be associated with the blog, with no further action by you.
Google Webmaster Tools are a vital part of the migration, and should be handled immediately after you re publish the blog, and then immediately after you setup the stub blog. You'll have several challenges here.
- The "robots.txt" file for the blog, as renamed, may contain the old URL.
- The new URL for the blog won't exist in Google Webmaster Tools, so you have to add that. When you verify blog ownership, you'll have to remove the GWT verification tags for the blog, that were used under the old URL.
- You'll have to setup sitemaps for all posts in the blog, under the new URL, to complement / replace those under the old URL before the blog was re published.
The search engines will be the most frustrating part of any blog rename. Without any possibility of a "301 Moved Permanently" redirect, or anything remotely similar, any SERP hits will land the prospective viewer on a 404 display. Your best strategy is to manage the other categories aggressively, and hope that the search engines re index your blog promptly under the new URL.
Your viewers will have to be redirected using the stub post in the stub blog, published under the old URL. Your viewers looking for the main page of the blog will see the stub post, with no problem. Your viewers clicking on a direct link to a single post, an archive or label search, or possibly a SERP hit, will get a 404 display.
Page not found
Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog The Real Blogger Status does not exist.
Go to blog homepage
The "Go to blog homepage" link will, hopefully, display the stub post - and they can follow the link to the new URL. That's a start, and it's all thanks to the Blogger custom 404 display.
OK, it's time for a checklist.
- Is this blog published to a Google custom domain? If so, read about specific issues related to custom domain URL changes.
- Re publish the blog, under the new URL.
- Enable the feeds, and verify feed URLs.
- Setup Google Webmaster Tools for the blog, under the new URL. Look in the Sitemap list for the blog. Any sitemaps in there right now will likely point to the old URL, so these need to be removed. Then, add sitemaps for all posts.
- Setup a stub blog, under the old URL.
- Set the Post Feed Redirect URL, to point to the feed for the new URL.
- Check Google Webmaster Tools for the blog, under the old URL. Look in the Sitemap list for the blog. You'll probably have to re add all sitemaps for the blog, to enable the search engines to index the blog, starting from the old URL, through the redirected feed.
- Are you using a FeedBurner (or another custom feed)? If so, update FeedBurner, then check the Post Feed Redirect URL setting.
- Check and update all Google Webmaster Tools settings, between the old and new URLs. Think carefully about each setting, and decide whether it should apply to the blog under the old URL, under the new URL, or both.
- Are you using Mail-to-Blogger to publish to the blog? If so, check your Mail-to-Blogger addresses.
And if possible, read about the details involved in the rename process before you rename the existing blog. This last caution especially applies to changing one non BlogSpot URL to another non BlogSpot URL.