Many organisations mistakenly created their blogs as subdomains and would now like to incorporate these into their main websites. Platforms like Blogger don’t offer functionality for 301 redirects, but this is essential if you want to transfer authority to your main domain.
Today we’ll take a look at how you can get around this problem in Blogger – or any other platform – and configure the all-important 301 redirects.
Subfolder vs subdomain
The SEO benefits of having a blog are widely known – Google values well-maintained websites and blogging is the perfect way to ensure updates keep coming. The text of each post is a great way of targeting both hero and long tail keywords.
Although awareness about the value of blogging has increased, there is still confusion as to whether placing a blog on a subdomain will offer the same benefits as placing it in a subfolder. Unfortunately it will not:
- Subdomain – e.g. http://blog.verticalleap.co.uk – Google would see this as a separate domain, and posts published here won’t benefit www.verticalleap.co.uk in the way we’d like
- Subfolder – e.g. http://www.verticalleap.co.uk/blog/ – Under this approach, Google will understand each blog post is part of the central site and authority will be built on the main website
Why do some websites place blogs on subdomains?
Older websites were often created without a blog. Rather than rebuilding an entire website to add this functionality, web managers would opt for a quick fix, adding blogs to a subdomain using free platforms such as Blogger.
We now live in a more enlightened age and people are trying to move their blogs into a folder on their websites – but there’s a problem. How do you create 301 redirects?
A lot of platforms – Blogger included – won’t allow you to set up 301 redirects to the new location of each post. Meta refresh hacks exist but these don’t transfer authority. Many people abandon old blog sites, deleting them without transferring any authority to the corporate website. Even worse, some people leave the old posts active, creating a duplicate content problem that causes free Blogger accounts to outrank the corporate website. That’s something no one wants to see…
This post is aimed at helping anyone using a blog platform on a subdomain that doesn’t support 301 redirects. Although Blogger is used as the primary example here, I’ve deliberately kept instructions and examples general so these may be re-used for any CMS.
What you’ll need:
- Crawling Software (i.e. Screaming Frog SEO Spider)
- Some web space that offers redirects (cPanel and .htaccess is perfect)
- The knowledge to set up redirects (i.e. using IIS or .htaccess)
- The ability to make DNS changes on your domain
Time, patience and a cup of tea
How to migrate from Blogger and other platforms
On your old blog subdomain:
- Export your blog posts from your old platform
- Use crawling software to generate a list of URLs for your blog subdomain
On your main corporate website:
Import your old blog posts into your corporate website. If possible, try to publish these using the same naming and folder conventions as you had on the old website, as this will make the redirects easier. For example:
- Old: http://blog.your-domain.com/yyyy/mmm/dd-title/
- New: http://www.your-domain.com/blog/yyyy/mmm/dd-title/
- Run another website crawl, this time of your new website
You’ll need some new web space…
If you look at the DNS for your subdomain you’ll see how it is pointing towards your blog provider. So for example, if you use Blogger, it will be pointing to ghs.google.com. We are going to create new web space that supports 301 redirects and repoint your blog subdomain towards it.
Use the website crawls to plan where each post on the old blog subdomain should be redirected. If you will be using a Linux server, you should use this to create an .htaccess file. How to create 301 redirects is beyond the scope of this tutorial but you can view a great .htaccess tutorial written by my colleague Emily. If you use a windows server then the redirects will probably be handled within IIS. Create some web space and upload your .htaccess file/configure your redirects.
Next, repoint your blog subdomain to where the redirects are located.
If the redirects work, you now need to go back to Blogger and delete your old account. This is important or your old blog may be made available on a different address.
And that’s it! DNS changes may take a while to propagate. If you think your PC is caching old settings you should clear your browser cache and open a command prompt. In the command prompt, type “ipconfig /flushdns” and Windows will clear the DNS cache.