Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Retaining Page Rank, And Traffic, During the FTP Migration

As May 1 fast approaches, there are still a few FTP bloggers waiting to make the plunge, who ask
What happens to my page rank, when I migrate?
and
How do I retain my traffic, if I move to a new URL?
and these are not very simple questions to answer.

The best result will be achieved by migrating to the same URL structure, under the custom domain.
  • If you can migrate from your external, FTP published server, to an absolutely identical URL - for all posts - in a Google custom domain, then you can retain page rank, and traffic.
  • If your URL changes, even slightly, then your page rank starts over at 0, because the content has to be re indexed under the new URL. Now, you ask whether the traffic can be automatically redirected, from the old URL to the new URL.
    • If the URL changes, but the traffic can be redirected properly, then you can retain your traffic, and your page rank - though starting at 0 - will build up faster than it did when the blog was started. You'll see moderate total drop of search engine originated traffic.
    • If the URL changes, and the traffic cannot be redirected, then your page rank, and traffic, will start out very slowly. You'll have established readers, so you won't start as low as the blog was when new, but it will be pretty low.
      • Each reader will follow a series of links, from a bookmark (on their computer), to the actual post (under a new URL).
      • The search engines may, or may not, be able to find each post under the new URL.
    • You'll see significant total drop of search engine originated traffic.

Remember that you'll have 3 options, if you use the Blogger FTP Migration Tool.
  • To Blog*Spot.
  • To a Google custom domain URL, different from the current domain.
  • To a Google custom domain URL, the same domain host as the current domain.

One major question here is whether the blog contains pictures that are hosted by the domain. If pictures are involved, then you will have to retain the domain, and host the pictures, until you can re host the pictures elsewhere, and update all blog posts to point to the new picture URLs. If you migrate to the same domain host, you'll have to setup a missing files host.

A migration to BlogSpot is the simplest process overall, but will have the worst effect on both page rank and traffic. If you simply cut your losses, and re publish to a BlogSpot URL - and if you have no pictures hosted on the external server - you can drop the external server completely, and concentrate on rebuilding page rank and traffic from 0, using a new BlogSpot URL. If you have pictures hosted on the external server, you will need to retain the current server to host the domain, and the pictures. Your new blog will use pictures hosted on the external server, under the current URLs. The domain will continue to be served, the blog itself will simply have a new URL.

A migration to a custom domain, using a new domain host, will be more complex than migrating to BlogSpot, but it will produce the same results upon page rank and traffic. If you have pictures hosted on the external server, you will still have to retain the current server to host the domain, and the pictures. Your new blog, in its new custom domain published URL, will start off with a page rank of 0, again as the content has to be re indexed. If you can retain the traffic, and current readership, page rank will pick up again. For a custom domain migration using a new domain host, you will want the new domain host defined in DNS before the migration starts. This is an essential task, which you must perform. If the domain host DNS is not properly setup, any reference to the blog, under its new hosting, will produce problems. Custom domain hosting problems, caused by bogus DNS settings, are well known.

A migration to a custom domain, using the same domain host, and using the exact same blog URL structure, will be more complex than either of the two above options. It will have the best results upon page rank and traffic - if you can do it. With the content hosted in the custom domain - but under the exact same URL, the content will not be re indexed by the search engines as new content. The search engines will simply continue indexing it, as before, with no change.

The migration to a same domain host will involve some work by you, since the migration tool won't do everything for you. It will involve 4 steps.
  1. You start out with the domain host DNS pointing to the external server.
  2. You execute the first half of the migration.
  3. You update the domain host DNS to point to the Google server. This is an essential task, which you must perform. If the domain host DNS is not properly setup, any reference to the blog, under its new hosting, will produce problems. Custom domain hosting problems, caused by bogus DNS settings, are well known.
  4. You execute the second half of the migration.
When the migration to the same host, with identical URL, is complete, you'll have the same blog, hosted on a Google custom domain, and at the same URL. If the blog, currently published to the distant server, contains photos, or posts linked internally, you can retain the currently published contents on the distant server, and use a Missing Files Host.

Finally, with the blog re hosted, you can explore the possibility of upgrading the template to Layout, or even to a Designer Template.

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3 comments:

Sterling Purdy said...

I'm assuming that if you already have a blogspot blog, then you are unaffected?

Who is affected? Thanks.

Chuck said...

Sterling,

If you have a BlogSpot blog, and the published URL for the blog ends in "blogspot.com", then you are unaffected. If the URL does not end in "blogspot.com", you may, or may not, be affected.

Malik Moosa-Soomar said...

I would have to disagree with the "migration to a custom domain, using a new domain host". I have migrated many different blogs from www.mysite.com/blog to blog.mysite.com and some have retained their PageRank where as others did not. We waited 3 months as advised by articles online and Google but some of the PageRanks never came back. Migration was successful, the canonical and redirect tags were implemented just fine, incoming links to the blog were changed to the new url and I setup a missing files host as well.

Any suggestions on how I can get the PageRank back up on some of the blogs that didn't make it through the migration tool?