Recently I had the task from moving a whole bunch of posts from different blogs to this one. I had a lot of “How to blog” posts on my other sites (my personal site, my WordPress theme site, a sister site for domaining – Namehugger.com). It made a lot of sense to collate all of these into one place. After all, people wanting a theme could find a tutorial here, too. And people wanting both could always find some extra information about how to make money blogging. Great.
The problem came when I thought about all of that past content, inbound links, and the dreaded specter of “duplicate content”.
I was amazed to find nothing online about this. In the way that you are forced to do, I sorted out a solution for myself from 5 or 6 different articles, comments and snippets. This is my best shot-in-the-dark approach, posted online in case you, too, are trawling for this answer. And if anyone else has anything to ask, add or change, drop us a comment.
Fortunately, it seems this is not as big an ogre as I had been led to believe. Dane Morgan does a pretty good job of putting that fear to rest. It seems your new site won’t be penalized (i.e. brought down in the search engine results) as a whole for having duplicate content. The post with it in it will just rank really bad for that particular page. I can live with that. And the reason is sensible – Google, Yahoo et al don’t want to get clogged up with 100 copies of the same article, every time you search for something.
You can always delete your original version to bring your new version up the top. But first – check if there are any other copies of your article already on the internet. Try searching for snippets of text in quotation marks to see if there are any exact matches. Someone might have pirated your content for their own site – the lazy sods.
If there are copies, then I’d leave my old content where it is. Better that you get the traffic on an old site than someone else get the credit for it. Simply add a link to your new location, saying where it has ‘moved’ to. If you’re lucky, the pirated copy might one day hit the dust. google has said it likes this sort of behavior – pointing to the most authoritative location. Just be sure not to also point back to the first content location – the search engines don’t have time to read everything and work out which is which!
If there are no other copies you can see, I’d still leave the old article there until you are sure it has indexed on your new blog. Remember this can take a few weeks, and different search engines can take different times. A few months minimum is what I’d be thinking.
There is one caveat here – if you don’t have your own hosting and are using a free WordPress.com blog. Having duplicate content is against WordPress.com’s TOS (terms of service). Personally, I would use this opportunity to take the plunge and get your own blog hosting. It will let you make money out of you hard work through advertising and affiliate sales, let you change the design to whatever you like, allow you to add SEO and other plugins – and generally take your blog to the next level.
So, the plan so far is to leave the old content where it is – at least for a while – and to ‘duplicate’ it on your new site – seeing that there is no penalty for doing so. What’s the most efficient way of doing this?
Moving Posts Over
If you have less than 4 or 5 posts to move, per blog, you’re probably like me and will just cut and paste your old material over. Just click to HTML view, select All, Copy, Paste again into HTML view, and you’re done. Just remember to put that link to your new location in whilst you’re there – save yourself the trip later.
If you have more posts to move than that, this could be a pain to do repetitively. If you’re moving a whole blog for instance, you can save an export file and re-import it as a whole. Just make sure you change the author name if you want to keep track of the posts in its new location.
If it’s just some of your old posts you want to move – but more than a cut/paste job – here’s a good tip. Change the author names for just the posts you want to transfer across to the new site. Don’t forget to add that new location link at this point, again!. Then – hit “Export”, and just select the ‘new’ author’s name (it’s one of the options). Voila – WordPress will create an archive of that author’s work for you in its own little bundle, ready for you to slot into your new site (your current posts there should remain intact).
All the images should be there still too – just remember that these will have to be transferred if you ever delete your old domain name and site.
Saving External Links
Ok, so now you have your new content all moved across. If you’ve found you have some old external links to your site (perhaps providing valuable traffic), what do you do?
One answer is to leave them there. With the link to your new location, some visitors will find their way across.
If you can hold on to your domain name, simple domain forwarding (through your domain registrar’s account page) is another option. It will at least move your traffic to your new site – in a clumsy way.
Much better is to use the special WordPress plugin, designed especially to get every old link perfectly to its new location.
Have you moved posts over and lived to tell the tale? Do you have questions or suggestions to add to this guide?