The Combining of Two Blogs 55 Days Later

I took two of my blogs and merged them into one.   Tucson Real Estate In the News merged with Tucson Real Estate to form a single entity.   The story of the process is documented in Combining Two Blogs in to One A Geeks Holiday Weekend.

I’m not sure when or who but there was a comment asking me to get back on the results of combining these two into a single entity.   Some have asked me if I would do it again.   Here is an update on how it is going and where we are at 55 days later.

Deindexing Reindexing Three Minutes of Radio Silence

Remember the movie Apollo 13.   There was the three minute blackout period during reentry when there was no communication with the capsule and everyone was on pins and needles till the blackout period was over and communications reestablished.   I wish it only took 3 minutes.

This is what it is like to merge two of your blogs into a single entity.   Over 300 post on the News Blog, all indexed in Google had to be moved and reindexed to show up at the new site.

It wasn’t easy watching my traffic drop for both blogs to almost non existent during those early weeks of the merger.   Yes there was a redirect 301 in place, but it didn’t eliminate the confusion Google had with the merger.   Google suddenly saw more than 300 pages of content on the one blog’s sitemap.xml file and 300 fewer pages on the other one.   I thought the sitemap submitted to Google would be the key to Google quickly grasping what was going on.   It did turn out to be the key but not the way I thought it would.

Enter a conversation with Eric Blackwell

Eric and I had a catchup conference call one day to talk about the state of the RENet and RE-Blogosphere.   It was during that conversation I mentioned to Eric the frustration I was having over getting my combined sites pages to be indexed.   It wasn’t just the new pages that were effected by the merger, the existing pages were being deindexed as well.   I had over 300 pages indexed on the one and almost 200 pages indexed on the other.   A week after the merger I had a combined 101 pages indexed.   I was adding new content daily and submitting the sitemap by hand as well as hand pinging.   Nothing helped.   This is when Eric suggested I turn into the slide.

Huh?   You know how counter intuitive it seems when your car is skidding on ice to turn into the slide and not away from it.   That is what happend with the merger of the two blogs

Delete The Sitemap

Eric said, “Delete your sitemap.xml file submitted to Google and make the bots crawl the pages themselves”   I’ll tell you that was one solution that never crossed my mind nor would it have.   But I trust Eric to know what he is talking about (I also felt l didn’t have anything to loose at this point   : )

I deleted the sitemap.xml and within 24 hours I had 300 pages indexed.   It continued to climb.   Without me guiding the bots and Google with the sitemap they started crawling and finding lots of content to index.   It climbed to 1200 pages then to 1460, to 1600 and is currently 1820 pages indexed.

The bots on their own started indexing tags as well as categories, achive pages, pdf files.   Name it if it could be seen as a page the bots were indexing it.

Traffic Increased

The Hittail traffic for the combined site gradually picked up.   It is now more than what the two sites were before.

I ran random searches for main posts I knew were indexed on the old site to see if they were coming up under the old URL or the new.   Two weeks after deleting the sitemap it appeared all the posts were reindexed under the new site.   (I was having a similar issue with another blog of mine from errors being generated in the sitemap.xml by the Google sitemap plugin.   There was an error in the code (since fixed) wihch left the category out of the post URL on a blog using a custom permalink structure.

Moving UP in the Organics

The combined site is now moving up in the organics.   It is #1 for quite a few targeted keywords from the News blog merged into the TAZ blog.   The move for the most desired keywords has been gradual.   It is hard to compete for some of these especially when there are long standing sites already in those positions.   (Some have age on their side, some have deceptive practices, some both)   Not easy to make a move on a search term with real estate in it, unless it is a long tail term.

It has only been a couple of weeks since getting the sitemap deleted and the majority of pages indexed.   I hope to get a bigger boost in the organics in less than a month.

Would I do it over again?

Yes I would.   It is easier to manage a single site.   But there has been a diluting of the message of the news blog and integrating the content changes to “Voice” of both.   It will take a little while for it to find a combined audience.   I keep tweaking the content and sidebars to provide a good experience for both sets of readers and those finding the blog through search engines.

Continuing to add quality content is one of the most significant things you can do to increase both readership and lines in the water for those searching for information you provide about your community and market.

There is no substitute for good planning and layout of your blog.   But, there are few bloggers that have the knowledge and experience to “get it right” from the beginning.   It is great to know that it is possible and profitable to take two existing blogs and merge them into a single entity.

Comments

  1. Hey Dave,

    Looks like you learned a good lesson there! Gotta love the simplicity of “turn into the slide”, LOL

    I do not, nor have I ever used Google SiteMaps and my sites do just fine.

    In fact, I have moved all 3 of my major sites within the last 2 years from other providers to custom sites. And, moved blog posts from my ArizonaRealEstateNews.com site and merged them into the blogs on the 3 main sites… all without a hitch.

    So, hopefully you learned more than to simply “turn into the slide”… maybe you even took away the fact that you don’t need a SiteMap (Google or any type) to do well in the SE’s. In fact, for you, you saw that you did better without one.

    Matt Pellerins last blog post..Scottsdale Quarter to be more like a Mac than PC

  2. Matt,

    You just gave me an idea for a little lab experiment. I’m going to delete the functioning sitemap from one of my blogs and see what happens to the reported indexed pages.

    Thanks for the idea.

  3. You’re very welcome for the idea (that you came up with after reading my thoughts, lol)!

    Keep us informed! I’d be curious to know if it makes any difference for you. As for me, I’ve never used them so I wouldn’t know if there is or isn’t a difference when it comes to my sites.

    Matt Pellerins last blog post..Scottsdale Quarter to be more like a Mac than PC

  4. Martin Bouma says

    Very interesting how that worked! I really would have never thought to delete the sitemap, but if I ever decide to merge my sites I will have to remember this!

    Martin Boumas last blog post..3rd Quarter Washtenaw Country Real Estate Market Update 2008

  5. Dave-
    I have been doing my day job for a while (selling real estate) and haven’t had time to crawl around your site. Great geek talk with this article.

    One somewhat related question….I am helping another agent. He has a .asp site (5 years old) and a 2 year old .asp blog buried about 5 layers deep on the same site (no idea where he got it). Despite decent keywords, links in and out, and 1-3 post per week, the blog is indexed, but no page rank and nothing hitting organic. The rest of the site is in top 8 for target words, but we are trying to use the blog for new keywords and pushing into top 5 with no success.

    My question….I thought you discussed the best place to put a blog on a static site (maybe it was where to put single listing sites in a site) to maximize Google juice. Was it subdomain or directory? What if the I convince him to move the blog to a self hosted WP blog and then do an iFrame in the static site. Am I going to bleed juice away to the WP URL?

    Lots of questions, but I know you and your readers have answers. And, if this is all contained in a post somewhere, please feel free to point me there!

    Take Care

    Scott Ficeks last blog post..Beware of Expired Rental Licenses

  6. Scott,

    Directories are better than sub-domains.

    Could you provide the url to the site and blog. I can run some analysis for you and get back to you.

    Without seeing it I would say create a directory and install wordpress in the directory. Next step would be to populate the database with current blog posts. This will get the most juice and bang for the buck on the keywords in posts.

    asp is really counter productive for search engines compared to WP.

  7. Dave-
    Thanks for the quick turn around. The bummer is that the static site and blog are hosted on Windows servers. No opportunity to install WP. It would have to be hosted elsewhere (which is not a show stopper, but I want to manage the integration correctly to maximize SEO/Google Juice).

    Static site is: http://www.mnrealestateteam.com/
    the Blog is way down in the site (best to click on the link on the home page than for me to post the URL)!

    Thanks for the help.

    Scott Ficeks last blog post..Beware of Expired Rental Licenses

  8. Hey Dave! Thanks so much for your help. This is Ryan O’Neill, Scott’s friend and fellow agent he is talking about above. The website is http://www.mnrealestateteam.com

    Let me know what you think, ok?

  9. I had no idea about the sitemap!

    I think i just might have to delete it!

  10. Heh-

    I just found the post Dave. Glad it worked! (would have been embarassing if it didn’t – grin). I think Matt’s right about his observations, but it would be a good experiment as well.

    Scott-
    You can do WP on a windows server (yep. it is a pain..but so is doing it the other way…)

    Best

    Eric

  11. Dave,

    Glad to hear that things worked out well in the end. After this result and your recent experiment do you think it is best to not have a site map. I have recently started a new blog and have plans for some others. Hyper local stuff mainly and want to know whether it would be best to not have a site map. Where do you stand on this subject.

  12. I’ve removed the sitemap plugin and the sitemaps from most of my sites.

    I like it better when google find what is there. They are much better at it than they used to be.

  13. Dave,

    Finally I found this post again, but don’t see an update. I would love to hear if deleting the site map for one of your other blogs increased, decreased, or left your traffic the same. As I am sure your readers would as well.

    In addition I have a question as to how difficult it was to merge two sites. I am looking at possibly merging my Houston housing market blog with my listings and local happenings site. I think I will do a better job adding regular content if I go this route. If it takes too long or is too hard to merge them then I don’t want to take the chance of alienating my current readership on the housing market blog by merging it into the other site.
    .-= James Wheelock´s last blog ..Gables Residential Corporation Sells Memorial Hills Apartments =-.