Switching to WordPress from Typepad.com

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 12.21.19 PM

Photo by Dhaval Shah

I’ve been on the domain petewarden.typepad.com since I started blogging in 2006. At the time I knew that the sensible thing to do was to set up a custom domain that pointed to the typepad.com one, but since I didn’t expect I’d keep it up, it didn’t seem that important. A thousand posts later, I’ve had plenty of time to regret that shortcut!

Plenty of friends have tried to stage interventions, especially those with any design sense. I would half-heartedly muttered “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” and plead lack of time, but the truth is my blog was broken. I post because I want people to read what I write, and the aging design and structure drove readers away. When Matt Mullenweg called me out on it, I knew I had to upgrade.

The obvious choice was WordPress.com. Much as I love open source, I hate dealing with upgrades, dependencies, and spam, and I’m happy to pay a few dollars a month not to worry about any of those. Here’s what I had to do:

Purchased a premium WordPress domain at https://petewarden.wordpress.com. I wanted paid hosting, just like I had at Typepad, partly for the extra features (custom domains in particular) but also because I want to pay for anything that’s this important to me.

Bought the Elemin design template created by Automattic. I wanted something clean, and not too common, and I haven’t seen this minimal design in too many places, unlike a lot of other themes.

Exported my old posts as a text file, and then uploaded them to my new WordPress blog. The biggest downside to this is that none of the images are transferred, so I’ll need to keep the old typepad.com blog up until I can figure out some scripted way to move those too. The good news is that all of the posts seem to have transfered without any problems.

Set up a custom domain in the WordPress settings to point to petewarden.com. This involved changing my nameservers through my DNS provider, and then using a custom settings language to duplicate the MX records. This was the scariest part, since I’m using Google Apps for my email and I really didn’t want to mess their settings up. The only hitch I hit was trying to duplicate the www CNAME, I couldn’t get an entry working until I realized that it was handled automatically, so I just had to leave it out! With that all set up, I made petewarden.com my primary domain, so that petewarden.wordpress.com links would redirect to it.

Updated my Feedburner settings to point to the WordPress RSS feed. I was worried about this step too, but other than duplicating the last ten posts when I checked in my RSS reader, it just seemed to work.

Added an RSS redirect in the head section of my old typepad blog. This is a Javascript hack so none of the Google Juice from any popular posts will transfer to the new domain (and it may even ding search rankings), but at least readers should now see the modern version. Unfortunately there’s no proper 30x redirect support in Typepad, so this is the best I can do.

Matt kindly offered to help me with the transfer, but so far I haven’t hit anything I can’t figure out for myself. Using a modern CMS after wrestling with Typepad’s neglected interface for years is like slipping into a warm bath, I’m so glad I took the leap – thanks to everyone who pushed me!

6 responses

  1. The biggest problem I see with this approach is that all the new content may be automatically considered duplicate of the old content and removed from the Google index. Many spammers do basically what you are doing, download entire sites and re-post them somewhere else. I recommend that you take a look at this https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/83105?hl=en and especially verify both sites in Webmaster Tools and use the Change of Address tool.

  2. You’re absolutely right. I touch on that a little bit in the ‘ding search rankings’ paragraph, and it was a big reason I held off for so long. I came to the conclusion that I cared more about a good commenting system, better design, and other improvements that would benefit regular readers, and those who came through social media, than I did about folks finding me through Google. Obviously I’d rather have it all, but unfortunately there are no good ways to do that for Typepad-hosted blogs.

    • Yes, but even if Typepad doesn’t allow the proper redirections you may still be able to keep most of the traffic coming from search if you do the move carefully. You only need to verify the old site in WMC, either through file upload or metatag. The new one you can probably verify easily through DNS.

      Even in the worst case scenario, that you couldn’t do the site move, you can still ask Googlebot to crawl the new site faster. And as long as the old site is gone (for a while, it’s not immediate), the new pages should replace them. This is considerably slower, but the end result may be close.

  3. Your readers may be interested to know that migrating from TypePad to WordPress can also be facilitated through converting the export data into WordPress’s own XML import standard. My friend Pete Snyder and I have created a product that does just at tp2wp.com.

  4. Pingback: A New Home | Whimsical Otter

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