With this post I share my experiences during my move of OnTheAgilePath from Blogger to WordPress. It has been a one week journey so far and I’m highly satisfied with my decision, although I had to face some challenges – that I hope you can master even faster after reading that post 😉

Preconditions

  • I had a domain registration of ontheagilepath.net with Domain24 and a blog hosted at Blogger. I already have around 100 posts, some already quite spread and linked all over the world. So keeping my page ranking and existing linking working was quite important.
  • It’s just a blog without any E-Commerce functionality added.
  • Weekly update mails are sent using MailChimp
  • I used Blogger with G+ connection. So all comments were done with G+.

To plan the move I read a lot!  Major source were:

Cool stuff – Why WordPress for me rocks compared to Blogger

Many tiny plus huge new possibilities that make my blog authoring life easier – like:

  • A far better editor
    • yes I can use tables
    • I can work with a lot of shortcuts (that I’m learning now)
    • I’m currently using the distraction free writing mode (and maybe consider to switch and by me a browser only writing environment, that even brings more focus)
    • much better Preview of a post – e.g including working links
  • Revisions and comparisons of different versions of a post – a great feature when posts start to develop further
  • Featured images
  • A world of plugins – that help everywhere (image handling, backup, editor, connection to MailChimp,…) – that was so limited in Blogger.
  • Themes – quite a lot of themes and tough to find the right one. I decided to buy the Creativo Responsive theme – and I’m impressed of the quality and easiness to install and use it. It would have taken months to build that with blogger (if possible at all)
  • It’s much more in my hands. If I would like to I can get my hands dirty up to the database level. To be honest – I’m still a developer and like to have all options to tweak my installation.

These plugins currently work for OnTheAgilePath

All In One WP SecurityTo establish basic security settings for my hosted blog. E.g. User and IP lockdowns, file protection, changed login-URL, Spam prevention, page cleanup regarding sensitive system information.I’m quite sure, that there are a lot more possible attacks but I hope that it at least will close major flaws.
BackWPupTo backup all of WordPress (excluding the full system stack … I rely on Bluehost that they handle system backups properly). I need to further investigate possible backup solutions and especially to do a real restore in the next weeks.
Maybe you have some hints for me?
Broken Link CheckerGreat plugin to recheck all existing links in posts and pages and to fix broken ones. After my migration from Blogger I discovered about 60 broken links and was able to fastly correct it.
Now the plugin runs in the background and periodically scans for new broken links.
CachifyEasy to setup caching for WordPress. Worked better than WP Super Cache (but could also be due to missing time investment to proper understand all possible configuration options)
Disqus Comment SystemA great way to bring all comments together (that I receive on posts and I comment on other posts). In additions everyone can easily login with existing Facebook, Google+ Twitter accounts.
After installing the plugin it was easy to import all existing WordPress comments.
Unfortunately I’m not yet able to import all my previous G+ comments … but maybe I’m able to find way.
Featured Image Admin ThumbTiny plugin that enables a lightweight way to define Featured Images for all posts. It was especially helpful after the migration to define an image – as this is important for showing recent/popular posts.
Feed JSONEnables a JSON output of the WordPress RSS-Feed. It made process all posts and defining redirects simple (see description below)
Google XML SitemapsA google tuned sitemap for the blog to enable better scanning of the blog.
Import External ImagesA really useful plugin to import all external images (in my case from the Blogger image database) to the internal WordPress database.
I guess I will uninstall that plugin soon (as it was just necessary during the migration)
JM Twitter CardsCreates Twitter Card descriptions for each post. Using these cards creates even better tweets.
MailChimp for WordPressFor providing your weekly newsletter I’m using MailChimp. That plugin creates simple newsletter registration forms (used in my sidebar) and in the WordPress commenting engine (what is replace by the Disqus Plugin mentioned above)
Quick Page/Post Redirect PluginSimple plugin that creates plain 301 redirects. I used it to map Blogger URLs to new WordPress URLs.
Relevanssi Improved search functionality and search hit highlighting for WordPress
Search AutocompleteProvides search suggestions after the 3rd letter in the search box.
Works but currently it takes a while to display the suggestions…
Shortcodes Ultimate Some nice WordPress shortcuts to add things like tables, headlines,… easily while writing
SumoMeA powerful combination of tiny tools for my blog. I use it for my Mailchimp newsletter pop in and bottom bar, for tweet suggestions when marking texts and for the left social sharing bar.
Previously I used Shareaholic for the sharing bar but liked the way SumoMe combines various features.
Table of Contents Plus A nice plugin to add a table of contents to posts, pages or sitebars and create sitemaps. I was really missing that feature in Blogger
TinyMCE Advanced Enhanced WYSIWYG editor
Revive Old Post Tweets older posts – in my case every 12h. Tweeting my posts has a high impact on first time visitors.
WP-DBManager A plugin to speed up and repair the WordPress database (can be scheduled and therewith automated)
WP Smush Picture optimization plugin. Does it on the fly when adding pictures and can be done manually too.
WP Statistics Wordpress statistics – showing various user centered metrics. I’m not yet sure how it correlates with my newly applied CDN settings.

Drawbacks

Lets have a brief overview on some problems I encountered during my blog migration.

Lost comments from G+ commenting environment

Yesterday I realized that I lost my comments done through the G+ commenting environment. Unfortunately that comments were not exported by the Blogger export.

I still need to investigate whether there are easy ways to revive that comments, but so far it does not seem to be that simple.

Higher complexity

There are quite a few new things to administer! I have to take care to properly setup:

  • Security – currently done with various settings using the great All in one WP Security & Firewall Plugin 
  • Backups – currently done via BackWPub plugin (although I’m not yet sure that this is the best solution to backup WordPress)
  • Far more Plugins, Themes and keeping all together and up to date. I guess I’ll really have to install a proper staging environment too … will be a topic soon 😉
  • Feels like there are 1.000.000 options to configure everything. I still have to get used to find and remember the important spots to tweak my WordPress installation. Funny – just this morning I spent some time to reactivate my WYSIWYG editor … just one option that I or maybe another plugin deactivated. And I have to admit – many options are not yet clear to me 😉

Lets see how this will evolve in future. Simplicity is for sure a big plus for Blogger (so be sure that you can deal with this increased complexity or have a look on other platforms e.g. Medium)!

It is not longer completely free

As I’m using my own installation that is hosted at BlueHost, running OnTheAgilePath is not longer possible without investing some money. Thanks to the recommendations by BlogTyrant I’m using Bluehost’s entry level service (please check it here) and its about 3€/month.

But that is independent from WordPress itself as one can use WordPress.com instead and continue running a blog for free like done with Blogger.

Featured Image setting was time consuming

To display an image for every post preview and in the post slider on my home page I had to define a featured image for every post. This was not done automatically during the import. I used Featured Image Admin Thumb to define a featured image for every post manually – took some minutes for all posts but was much faster than the default way to open every post, set image,… procedure.

I guess there are maybe even more automated ways but this solution worked for me appropriately.

Blogger URLs and new WordPress URLs not compatible

In the moving guidelines the authors describe a way to establish a similar link building theme (year/month/day/post-title) between Blogger and WordPress. Unfortunately it is not working for longer blog post titles that I used in the past (Blogger is cutting URLs and WordPress not)

To not lose my Google search traffic I had to find another way to build compatible URLs.

This is what I did:

  • after I migrated all posts to WordPress I enabled the suggested linking theme (Settings-Permalinks) to Custom: /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html
  • I installed Feed JSON to retrieve the WordPress RSS Feeds in JSON format and wrote a little Javascript tool to parse all URLs from Blogger RSS feed and WordPress RSS feed. Based on that parsing I built a CSV of redirect links to be imported by Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin (if you need that small javascript tool just drop me a message)
  • Now I have some 301 permanent redirects from old URLs to the new WordPress URLs

Performance tuning

Based on the great – The ultimate guide to supercharing your WordPress blog – I was able to improve the blog speed quite a lot. I really like the performance test from https://www.webhostinghero.com – and with many pages I’m already getting an A rating.

Major Steps

Major steps were:

After every step I started measuring with Webhostinghero. The major impact on the performance had the setup of an internal cache and the CDN. After switching to CDN my posts where flying again.

Blogger provides fast pages on the fly! One needs some expert knowledge to get the same speed level running with an own hosted WordPress environment.

Next steps

I still have to figure out how to reduce the number of CSS, JS and HTML files as there is still a huge amount of server requests necessary to load one page. I checked some plugins but I’m not yet convinced that they won’t break my page and/or will create future update barriers for themes.

Maybe you have some hints to further improve page speed?

It is done

more efficient ways

Lets go an even more efficient way when publishing new posts

I’m happy that I moved OnTheAgilePath to WordPress and I hope to provide you an even better experience with all upcoming shared experiences from my agile path.

If you have more hints how to improve that blog, recommendations for important WordPress functionalities or questions where I can help, please add your highly welcome comment.