November 5, 2017

Carelessly removing custom domain from Wordpress or Blogger blog or website may hurt much

Users of Blogger and Wordpress free blogging platforms sometimes want to give up the independent domain they had mapped with the blog/ website. It mostly happens when they do not make good money from the blog. If you are one of them and have decided to junk the custom domain, you need to take some small but important actions so that the damage is minimal and your free blog regains life. Read on...

Removing the custom domain


This is the simplest task. When you stop paying for renewal of the custom domain, it will automatically be inactive. Full stop. 

But just letting the custom URL vanish might create an issue for some days: when the visitor types the free URL, the browser might still try to take him automatically to the custom domain and when the browser does not find the custom URL, it might give 'Site does not exist' or 404 Error. To avoid this, 
  • on Blogger, go to 'Settings', 'Publishing' and then click on 'x' next to the custom domain;
  • on Wordpress, go to 'Manage Purchases' and delete the custom domain.

Please remember, you MUST NOT DELETE the website/ blog created on Blogger/ Wordpress, but only remove the custom domain.

Making the original blogspot / wordpress URL live


When you remove the custom domain, the original free Blogger/ Wordpress blog will no longer take you to the custom domain. So, visitors using the xyz.wordpress.com or xyz.blogspot.com address will be able to see your website/ blog as it is.

However, whosoever types your earlier domain (xyz.com) will get the error message. You will have to live with it until this domain is wiped from everybody's memory and bookmarks.

Taking care of manually added links


This is the most time-consuming action of all. When you created a new domain, xyz.com, you must have put a number of internal links on posts and pages under the custom domain, e.g. xyz.com/2017/how-to-use-picasa or picasa.xyx.com or xyz.com/search/label/picasa Over time, these could be in thousands. All such links will go dead if you do not manually re-link each anchor text or image or audio or video to new pages under the free sub-domain, xyz.blogspot.com or xyz.wordpress.com.

Dealing with third party permissions, codes given to others, social accounts


You will need to check what URL has been given on various widgets, badges given to others, rich cards, analytics/ webmaster IDs, affiliate properties and AdSense, social media buttons, etc and take action in each case.

Unless you do that, links given on badges and other codes that you offer to others will go dead, many codes with the custom domain will give blank results, some linked third-party codes will not work at all, leading to huge loss of functionality and traffic coming from badges, backlinks and web references.
Links given on social media posts/ comments will be lost for ever because you have no control over them, but you can save links on social media profiles by manually changing them.

Look and feel too might change when you change domain 


If you had applied a third-party theme on the blog/ website, the blog/ website will revert to a default theme. This might lead to things getting haywire, especially on Wordpress, which does not accept such themes on free blogs. 

Similarly if you had made some manual changes to the underlying code, or installed a security certificate, that might get impacted with change when the theme and code change.

To avoid things getting messy, take steps given in the section below.

The last point on domain change


This should have come the first but then it would have relegated the main point down, so it comes here. 

Why at all should you remove the custom domain? Though you might already have made up your mind to remove it for some valid reason, but I am asking this question  because this action will lead to a lot of loss and inconvenience as mentioned above. In short, you'd lose most of branding, SEO reputation, search position, search traffic, referral traffic and social media traffic - much of it irreversibly.

If you have no option but to remove the custom domain, make preparations before the day comes for transition; look closely at your website/ blog for all those links that refer to the custom domain and take the following actions:
  • Make a copy of the website's code. Blogger and Wordpress both allow that. 
  • Open a new free blog on the same platform. Import from the website/ blog with custom domain and check how it functions. Experiment with themes in case you had changed the theme of website/ blog with custom domain.
  • On the imported blog, change all links to refer to the free domain - on posts, profile pages, widgets, social accounts, etc.
  • Once satisfied, export the content of this new experimental blog to the earlier blog. 
  • However, if you are not comfortable with import-export between blogs, and if your blog does not have many resources, quickly make all changes in the last few days before removing the custom domain.
  • Change off-page identities (e.g. that given on your visiting card, email signature, etc.)
  • Write an email to email subscribers telling about the change. Similarly, write to all others who are likely to visit your blog.

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