WordPress.com to WordPress.org: 3 weeks on

September 25, 2011 in Blogging by pacejmiller

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I made the DYI migration from a WordPress.com blog to my own domain at pacejmiller.com.  So far, the results have been mixed, but I remain optimistic.

Presentation

For starters, the look and feel of the blog has improved dramatically and I have more freedom in shaping how everything looks.  I am no longer constrained by the limitations of WordPress.com.  The only problem is that I have to continue to learn how to do these things because a lot of things require knowledge of CSS or HTML, both of which were completely foreign to me not so long ago (and remain relatively foreign now).

I’ve been able to add new plugins and widgets, many of which are merely replicating what I had on WordPress.com before, but some of them are new and pretty cool.  The SEO plugins are particularly useful as they optimise your site and your posts for search engine efficiency.  I have yet to see the results, to be honest, but I’m sure it will pay dividends down the track.  The annoying thing with the plugins is that you often have to learn how to configure them yourself, which can be a pain, even with the help of YouTube tutorials (you have to look for them yourself).  There have been several plugins where I have simply deleted rather than trying to figure out how they work properly.

Visitors

The main thing I was concerned about when switching from WordPress.com is losing my visitors.  Before I made the switch I was averaging around 1,200 visitors per day.  I rarely dipped below 900 and on occasion could soar to 2,000-3,000+ if there was a Stumbled post or if it was ‘Freshly Pressed’ on WordPress.com.

Around the time I made the switch one of my posts had been Stumbled again and I was getting strong views around 2,000 a day.  However, as soon as I made the switch the numbers started to drop.  Check out the stats graph below.

Now, ignore the first day, Sep 4, because the transition was made in the middle of that day and the blog remained somewhat unstable for a few hours (ie the redirect didn’t work all the time).  But as you can see, from Sep 5, my blog stats began to steadily decline from around 1,100 hits until it bottomed out (or so I thought) at around 600 a week later.  Since then, the stats have been fluctuating, dipping below 500 a couple of times but for the most part remaining between 500-700.  That’s about half my blog hits, slashed from the move.

I wondered why that was the case.  Weren’t all the visitors to my old blog being automatically redirected?  Although I don’t know all the answers, I have a feeling one of the main reasons for the drop is that I am no longer reaping the benefits of being associated with WordPress.com.

The SEO of a WordPress.com blog seems to be quite high, plus I get referrers from WordPress.com through their tags and category systems.  By moving away from WordPress.com I lose all of that.

Secondly, the page rank and authority of my old blog has not been transferred over despite the auto redirect.  As a result, when people search for things on search engines, my blog posts are stashed away at the bottom of search results.  At the same time, the rank and authority of my old blog might also be falling, acting as a double whammy for my blog stats.

I have resubmitted my blog to the various search engines and looked for traffic exchanges such as TrafficSwarm and so forth, but none of them made a noticeable difference thus far.

I found an interesting discussion of the loss in blog stats here.  It seems losing around 50-60% of daily hits after a migration isn’t as bad as some who lose up to 90%.  There is no way around it and it will take 6 months or more to build it back up, if at all.  No wonder a lot of people who have made the move are considering moving back.

That’s a sobering thought.

Advertising

I have made the decision to delay advertising on the blog for the time being.  For starters, I don’t think I am getting enough visitors to make more than a bit of pocket change at the moment.  I’ll need to build up my visitors a little more before thinking about it again.

In the meantime, I have signed up to Google Adsense, which I think is having some technical issues in regards to validating websites.  I’m just going to park it for now.

There are several other options, some of which had contacted me previously about advertising.  Interestingly, with my previous visitor average on WordPress.com (ie, 25,000+ page views per month), I could have applied for the AdControl upgrade on WordPress.com and get ads that way, even though I would have to split the profits with WordPress 50/50.  However, from this forum post, it appears that you’ll be lucky to get just 5 bucks a month.

So perhaps it’s back to the drawing board because the income from these ads might not be enough to offset the ugliness that comes with it.

A Final Word

So far, so good.  I’m not happy about losing around half my blog hits on a daily basis but I knew they would take a hit when I made the migration.  Hopefully, in time, things will improve.

That said, I am ecstatic about the new look and the new possibilities the blog has now that it’s moved to its own domain.  I still have a lot to learn and will let people know if I have any new discoveries or breakthroughs.