This is another blog post dedicated to you faithful few who ask me questions that you really want answered!
One of you asked previously what my strategy for combining two or more blogs into one and what specifically my strategy is for doing such in the best way. I know this quite well as I’ve had to recently migrate and combine 6 WordPress blog into one main property for a combined total of nearly 7,000 blog posts!
It was a serious endeavor and one that I didn’t want to make any mistakes! For starters, here are a few reasons why you might consider combining properties:
- Focus – Perhaps you’ve realized that you’ve been a bit unfocused in your previous attempts at building up a strong blog following and community. Perhaps you have realized that some of them just aren’t as personally interesting and you’ve lost momentum? It might be a good time to simply create a new single property and blog and pour all your time and attention into one killer blog instead of two or three mediocre blogs? If you need some help in this department check out one of my
- Rebrand – Perhaps you’re simply creating a new digital presence and want to start with some great blog content and/or capture existing PageRank and SEO from existing properties. Not a bad idea!
- Partnership - I recently talked to two guys in this community who joined forces to create a new blog that they both shared significant interest in. As a result they took some of their personal blogs and combined them in a form of a content partnership. Splendid! Don’t forget to check out the two interviews with these guys at the end!
- Combine SEO - This could be a direct result of the other three options or it could be your primarily reason for combining properties – perhaps you simply have a few blogs that are weak by themselves in terms of search engine traffic but if you put them together you’d have a much stronger online presence.
- Financial Optimization - This also may be a direct result of the other options but you could have interest in simply combining your monetization efforts into one solid advertising system for your blog. Many times these efforts yield better financial results.
- Boredom - Sometimes you’re just bored of your old blogs and want to start something new! This is a good a reason as any but you don’t want to start completely from scratch!
Regardless of your motivation you’ll want to do it as best as you can. There are a few ways to combine blogs, especially WordPress-powered blogs, and here’s one way that has proven to be more than successful for me.
Start It So Fresh and So Clean Clean!
If you’re combining WordPress blogs I first want to start as clean as I possibly can so that when I export both blogs into one primary blog I’ll have the cleanest slate to work with as possible.
For this exercise I’ll use the following:
- Blog #1 – Alpha
- Blog #2 – Beta
- New Combined Blog – Charlie
The first thing we want to do is clean house in Alpha/Beta blogs. Please note that I’m going to present a totally clean scenario so you can choose which parts work for you or how far you want to go with your efforts.
1. Prune Categories, Tags
In Alpha/Beta I decided that I was going to start with a clean slate entirely and create new categories in Charlie when I moved content over. So, what I did was I completely blew away all tags and categories and created just one category per blog for import called “Alpha” and “Beta” so I knew which blog post came from which blog.
You’d do this simply by going to your categories and tags page in your admin and deleting all of them.
Then, you can rename the “Uncategorized” to “Alpha” or “Beta” – do this for both blogs:
When you import both Alpha/Beta into Charlie you’ll have all the content relative to the blog from which it was originally created.
2. Clean Out Posts, Pages
The second step is quite simple as well: Clear out any old posts or pages that you don’t use, including any drafts or un-published pages. Your goal is to keep the import file as small as possible.
This activity will also help you start thinking strategically about your content for your new combined blog as well. It can be tough but worth it!
3. Make Note of All Settings, Especially Permalinks!
One of the most important things you will do is jot down all your settings in both Alpha and Beta blogs and make sure that they are similar. Note any differences and make sure you keep those close for when you optimize and setup the new combined blog Charlie.
Most important is to note the permalink structure that you’re using in both blogs. This is important for passing of PageRank and SEO as you’ll want Google and the other search engines (as well as any inbound links) to redirect properly to the new domain and blog.
If the permalinks are different you’ll want to take this into account when you manage your .htaccess file and the 301 redirects. Hopefully both permalinks in Alpha/Beta are the same and that you’ll use the same permalink structure in the new combined blog Charlie.
4. Uninstall, Delete Plugins
The next step is to simply uninstall and delete all the plugins to make sure that you can have the cleanest and most efficient import possible.
Even though your import process doesn’t technically import any plugin information I’ve seen migrations hit a few snags with extra meta data left in blog posts and such. This is more of a precautionary step that I’d suggest but you don’t have to.
At the very least it won’t matter if they are there anyways since you’re essentially abandoning Alpha/Beta, right? So go ahead and uninstall them completely and delete them as well.
But, make sure you note the ones that you want to keep in the new blog as well as some of your content may depend on some of the features that some of the plugins offer.
5. Delete Post Revisions
This is a step that I recommend doing but might prove to be a bit more difficult for some depending on your ability to acces your mySQL database.
Essentially your WordPress blog captures revisions of your content via auto-save and this takes up space in your database. In fact, if you have a lot of posts it could be 10′s of thousands of revisions! These you won’t want to import into your new blog Charlie:
If you have access to phpMyAdmin then use this command to clear out all the post revisions in your blog Alpha and Beta:
FROM wp_posts a
LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships b ON (a.ID = b.object_id)
LEFT JOIN wp_postmeta c ON (a.ID = c.post_id)
WHERE a.post_type = ‘revision’
Then you’ll also want to execute this command as well:
DELETE FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = ‘revision’;
If you want to turn off Post Revisions on your blog you can always add these two lines in your wp-config.php file:
define(‘AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL’, 300 ); // seconds
define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false );
If this is all greek to you then you can skip it if you must.
6. Export Alpha/Beta Blogs
You’re almost there! The next steps are quite easy as you’ll simply Export your two blogs content fully via WordPress’ native system:
Save both files as different names.
7. Import Both Alpha/Beta into Charlie
The final step is to import both the export files into your new combined blog Charlie:
Do this for both files.
8. 301 Redirects
The most important thing you will do before you stop thinking about Alpha and Beta blogs forever is establishing a 301 redirect to your new combined blog so you can keep SEO and PageRank value from continuing to flow.
What you’ll want to do is edit the .htaccess file on both Alpha/Beta blogs and do something similar to this:
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.CHARLIEBLOG.com/$1 [R=301,L]
Of course, you’ll want to change out “CHARLIEBLOG.com” to your new combined domain and URL. This is the most simple .htaccess redirect that you can use but if you have a more complicated system of permalinks and/or structure you’ll need to customize this to your needs.
A quick test of some old blog content links to see if they redirect to the new Charlie blog posts will prove if it worked or not!
8. Organize Combined Blog (Charlie)
Now that you have all of your posts into your new combined blog Charlie you’ll begin the process of organizing the information, categories, pages, posts, and more as well as adding back the WordPress Plugins that you need to install.
You may find that you’ll need to redo some content, update categories, prune pieces of data, and more. This just comes with the territory!
9. Update Webmaster Tools
Finally you may want to update your Webmaster Tools to make sure they are aware of the updates and changes. For example, if you’re in Google Webmaster Tools you’ll want to make sure you update the Change of Address option:
This will help them manage the changes you’ve made to your content and domains.
10. Test Thoroughly
Finally, it behooves you to test thoroughly. Make sure you check out these two posts here for more information about managing broken links both internally and externally:
You’ll also want to check your Webmaster Tools as well for other information on broken links. Make sure to check a few times every week for the first month or two!
Naturally you may have a different scenario than the one listed above but you should be able to extrapolate out of my 10 steps for what you need. Many of you might be just adding one more blog to an existing blog instead of creating an entirely new property or have even more than one blog to combine.
The choice is yours!
Bonus Interviews with GeekForI.com!
I mentioned in the very beginning that the two founders of geekfori.com went through a migration process recently (I gave them just a little help, they are two smart dudes!) and I thought I’d ping them and ask them a few questions about their experience as well as their strategy!
The first one is with Matthew who gives us some thoughts on the migration process as a whole and the second is with Graham who gives us some helpful tips and strategies for working well with a blog partner and content management and development.
With Matthew Snider:
With Graham Brenna:
Of course, if you have any other questions about blogging, WordPress, and more feel free to ask here and I’ll see if I can get to it for you!