In this post I’ll share the results of an experiment I’m conducting to see if it is worthwhile moving content over from a closed down WordPress blog and onto an existing blog. I’ll also briefly mention how I managed to achieve this procedure.
I have a number of blogs in the lifestyle niche. I largely built them in 2010 – 2011 and although they still get traffic, it’s a fraction of what they used to earn. It’s also become more difficult to monetize this niche, because it’s not AdSense (or alternatives) friendly and it’s proving increasingly difficult to monetize through CPA offers. Still, it is a profitable niche with sales of between $20 and $80 for a successful affiliate sale.
In May 2021 a domain I had registered for 10 years expired and I didn’t realise Hostgator don’t give you a grace period like GoDaddy do. Actually Hostgator might do, but I couldn’t face the tech support guys, so I just let the domain expire.
Here’s the 10 years traffic chart:
So as you can see the site is a shadow of its former self. However the 2020 – 2021 traffic looked a little encouraging, so I thought the site might (or rather the content) might be worth saving.
The site I proposed moving the content to still has a decent traffic level. Although it doesn’t get tens of thousands a visitors a month, the visitors are mostly newbies in buy mode, and so are particularly valuable. Collectively they have ensured the site earns a steady $1000 a year in affiliate income, which is a decent amount for a site I spent less than one week a year maintaining.
I’ve moved content from one blog to another in the past. However to achieve this I usually just copied the content out of the WordPress editor in one blog and pasted it into a new article in the other blog.
That worked pretty well, however it’s not brilliant if you want to preserve the comments from the blog you’re copying the content from. Instead I experimented with other techniques. The one I’ve used is below:
- Go into the blog that’s going to be closed down and Export all of the content as an XML file (this is available on the Tools side menu).
- Go into the blog that will receive the articles and Import the content from a WordPress XML file using the Tools side menu option. Note that you’ll probably have to install a component to do this – WordPress handled the process for me.
- Having experimented a bit I have decided the best approach is to make sure you import the content under a NEW USERNAME. This is very important! It makes it much easier to identify the posts from the old blog.
- After I had imported the content from the old blog I added a robots.txt file telling robots like Google not to index the content of the old blog. I’ll also close it down the next day so I’m not hit with a duplicate content penalty.
- I went to the new blog and deleted the trash Posts from the old blog. This is really important because it’s my view that Google will heavily penalise your site if you have a large percentage of content that Google doesn’t believe is worthy of including in their main index. I’ll elaborate on this part of the process later.
- I found that my menus had been ‘damaged’ on the new blog – the WordPress import basically duplicates menu items when you import your old blog’s content so it’s something to be wary of. This is easily fixed by going into the Menu Editor and deleting any rogue links.
- Once I was happy with the content from the old blog I wanted to keep, I changed the author from the temporary import author to my regular author name on the existing blog [this blog explains the various ways you can achieve this].
- I found the original photos from the old blog and added them back to the original articles. I guess there might be a way to automate this but I just uploaded them again, taking the opportunity to change them or reduce the number of images on the blog post.
- Just be aware that this process will also move Pages as well as Posts. You might need to check to see if you have a duplicate About Page for example.
- Step 10… uh, just wait for Google to index the content on the existing blog and hope for the best. I’ll report back the results of the experiment once I have some results.
Sorting Old WordPress Posts into Gold and Trash
The golden rule of reusing old content is – DON’T GET SENTIMENTAL!
You might think an old blog post is good. You might think that the post took X hours of effort or note that it accumulated 103 comments between 2011 – 2013.
Again, DON’T GET SENTIMENTAL.
My advice is to use the 80/20 rule. In other words send 80% of the existing blog posts to the trash and keep 20% of them.
How do you identify the winners?
The easiest way I have found to do this is to go to the Google Analytics Behaviour > Site Content report and find out which of your site’s posts had the most views. I like to set a timescale of the last three months for this. That way you avoid keeping any posts that might have done well in the past but have since faded away.
As you can see from my blog post traffic statistics below, five posts look worth keeping. Together they accounted for 75% of the blog’s total traffic.
I did eventually keep around half a dozen extra posts. Some of them would be acceptable once they had a makeover. The others didn’t target any particular keywords so didn’t receive much traffic from search engines, but they did tell a good story and would be nice additions to the new blog, particularly once they were showcased as such.
Incidentally you might want to keep more blog posts if the blog you’re moving over has a lot of high quality content. But I’m guessing that if you want to move the content to a new blog that the old blog sucks, huh?
So that’s basically my plan to keep some content from my old legacy blogs. I would also add that generally today, bigger is better and there’s been a general move towards larger authority sites. It also saves costs too, which is a good thing given that domain renewals aren’t as cheap as they used to be.
I’ll update this post when I see some results. Let me know if you have any questions about moving blog content in the comments section below.