Are you considering switching your Blogger (Blogspot) domain to publishing to a custom domain? If so, you will want to read on to see how it works, and some things to watch out for!
I recently changed from my original blogspot site address http://ken-hanscom.blogspot.com/ to http://www.somelifeblog.com/ via the custom domain setting on the "Publishing" tab in the Blogger Dashboard. While the process was not flawless, as you can tell the move was successful! This was also using the "NEW" formerly "BETA" blogger.
While the directions in "Help" on Blogger are pretty helpful, there were a couple of pitfalls. Here are the steps that I followed in order to setup and move the domain.
- Find an available domain name that you want.
- Choose an registrar that can register your name and also point your DNS to Google from. I check the usual suspects: Network Solutions & Register.com. While these have been some well known names in the industry, they are definitely still expensive -- especially if you want them to just point towards Google. In the end, I went with GoDaddy.com -- for a total of $12.19 for 1-year, including DNS management.
- Create a CNAME DNS entry for the "www" whatever you want the first part of your domain name to be and point it to "ghs.google.com". At GoDaddy.com, it is under the "Total DNS Control" link.
- Wait 24-48 hours. Sometimes it can take up to 48 hours for domains to properly propagate across the internet, so be patient!
- Go to the publishing tab of your Blogger blog, switch to custom domain and type in the exact address of your new domain name. Be careful, if you setup a CNAME in step for "http://www.somelifeblog.com/", and enter "somelifeblog.com" -- it will not work. It must be the exact entry.
- Test your new address, it should be live immediately.
For me, the process worked fairly well. The change was immediate, and I was able to access my blog via the address I provided to Blogger. In fact, all of my old links transferred perfectly from http://ken-hanscom.blogspot.com/ to http://www.somelifeblog.com/. Things were good.
However, there was one major problem. Although the blogger FAQ mentions that all your pictures transfer over properly, but mine did not. In fact, all of my pictures show as missing on any of the posts where I uploaded pictures, however all of my referenced pictures from Picasa and other sites still work. (http://www.somelifeblog.com/2006/11/disneyland-for-thanksgiving-family.html, for an example that has not been fixed as of this post.)
I reported this bug to the Blogger (Google) staff about a week ago, yet still have not received any answers nor even a response. Honestly, a little disappointing.
There are other impacts that you will want to be aware of.
- If you have been running your site for a long time and have accumulated a lot of links, your search engine and other rankings may not be as good as before. You should contact those that have linked to you and ask if they can update their links. This site, being relatively new is just starting to generate strong traffic -- so I decided to take the hit now, rather than later.
- Your Google Page Rank will disappear. My site, in the couple of months since I kicked it off had already achieved a Google Page Rank of 2 out of 10 (2/10). However, immediately upon the switch my page rank is back to zero. Now I will have to wait until the "next" update, which is approximately quarterly. This may also have a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) impact on your site.
Understanding that you may impact the traffic and performance of you site on a short term basis, why would anyone want to under-go this change? A few reasons come to my mind:
- Flexibility. Owning my own domain enables provides the flexibility to move away from Blogger in the future if it is not performing up to expectations. I have no current plans to do this, but I can maintain control of the content and ownership of the domain.
- SEO - Search Engine Optimization. Rumors abound that top level domains (TLDs) receive a higher ranking in searches. Whether or not it is true, and you will find people on both sides of the debate, it is a good move to take advantage of it.
- Branding and Recognition. If my site is going to be called "Some Life", I should have a domain name that folks associate with that and is easily recognizable.
In summary, the process is fairly painless and reliable. Much more than previous experiences that I have had in the past moving sites. However, the failure of the pictures to move is a glaring issue, of which I am going to give Blogger another week to fix. If they do not, looks like I will need to go through the painful process of re-attaching them. Yuck!