From Blogger to WordPress: My experience so far

Last month I decided, after much deliberation, that I would move the site  from Blogger to WordPress. This was a decision I have been mulling over for some time but kept putting it off, until now.

After a month I think I have ironed out all of the kinks, but please do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Rationale for moving from Blogger to WordPress

The site has been doing well over the last three years. I have seen a steady increase in it’s popularity, and Blogger has been an excellent platform. But did not appear as sustainable for future growth.

WordPress is easier to tweak (in some respects), and may professional bloggers use this as their platform of choice.

It was the growth aspect that really drove me, though. Bringing everything in under one place makes a lot of sense.  This is something I could only really do by moving away from Blogger. You will notice the “Learn to…” link in the menu above, well, that’s part of the future growth I am referring to. But that’s not ready yet.

My experience in moving from Blogger to WordPress

I chose Bluehost shared hosting originally. Seemed like a good deal. After about a week, though, I realized that shared hosting was not ideal, so am using a VPS (Virtual Private Server). Still with Bluehost. I know many people do not rate them, but time will tell whether I continue with them, or not.

The process I used for migrating was:

  • Sign up with hosting provider
  • Cancel old hosting for 802101.com, and move that to BH
  • Install WordPress
  • Set the permalinks to match those used by Blogger (important to reduce the number of errors for Google) (Settings Permalinks)
  • Export site from blogger (Settings > Other > Backup)
  • Import into WordPress (Tools > Import)

Once that was done, I needed to import the pictures from the old posts, there is a plugin for that called Import External Images. I ran that (a couple of times) and checked all the posts using Google Webmaster Tools, to make sure that I didn’t have many issues.

That was the basic process. For a more in-depth how-to, check out the article on WPBeginner.

Right off the bat, I started to see spam registrations starting, so decided to nip this in the bud, early.

Essential WordPress plugins: CleanTalk

I installed CleanTalk. Spam registrations got caught.

This got me far enough to be able to consider the first milestone completed. The next task was to try and make it as speedy as possible.

I disabled Akismet.

Speeding up WordPress for beginners

There is a learning curve going from Blogger to WordPress. I spent 3 years with Blogger, but I am new to WordPress, so I have much to learn. I knew I needed to speed it up, but it has taken me a few weeks to get it at a speed I am happy with.

Let’s take a look at one of the first speed tests I did:

Nearly 16 seconds to load is not great at all.

GTMetrix score 13Oct16

Most of the time was spent waiting for minified code to be served up.

GTMetrix Waterfall

The hunt was on.

Essential WordPress plugins: Autoptimize and W3 Total Cache

I installed Autoptimize and W3 Total Cache, and things really started to improve. I managed to get the page loading time to 6 seconds, but the scores were still low.

GTMetrix 14-10-16

This did mean that I could remove other plugins, such as Minify, which W3 has inbuilt. This shaved a large amount of time from the loading of the page.

Not too shabby, but still there is room for improvement. Especially when you use tools like Google Page Speed Insights.

Essential WordPress plugins: WP Smush

Images need to be good quality, but also small in size. WP Smush does a great job at optimizing images.

With every plugin, there is a chance of adding extra factors that can determine how fast or slow, a page renders. I was using a backup plugin that sent the files to Dropbox. Shouldn’t cause much of an issue, right?

Essential WordPress plugins: P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

According to P3 Plugin Performance Profiler, the backup to Dropbox was causing a huge system lag. So I removed that.

Still, the likes of GTMetrix, Google Page Speed Insights, and so on, told me work was still to be done, all to do with where the CSS and JS files were.

Essential WordPress plugins: Scripts-To-Footer, Above The Fold Optimization,

Above The Fold Optimization and Scripts-To-Footer are in the same genus. They can help put things where they are supposed to be. Not everything needs to load at the start, so these can help get things in the right place.

Essential WordPress plugins: Far Future Expiration Plugin

Far Future Expiration Plugin helps with caching on the client side. It’s useful.

By this stage, it was still very hit and miss. I was hovering around the 6-8 seconds for site loading. One of the biggest issues flagged was the lack of CDN.

A lazy man’s CDN

I tried out CloudFlare, and Adsense dropped massively. While this is not the purpose of the blog, it allows me to buy a book every couple of months. So I removed CloudFlare. Still, I needed some sort of CDN. I found this post on hosting Images on WordPress in a subdomain.

I created a subdomain and then copied all the images from the wp-content folder to that. Added the .htaccess redirect, ran the SQL, and reset all the caches in W3. That made the page speed tests much happier.

While the page size was reducing, I was still performing badly.

gtmetrix-27-10-16

Looking at what is going on, much of the issue lies with redirect chains:

Redirect Chains

I did a few things. First, I set Adsense to not use 3rd party advertisers. This made no difference.

I dug deeper.

Leverage Browser Caching: Bye-bye Gravatar, SumoMe, and Shareaholic

All of the redirects and some of the other issues, seemed to stem from these:

Leverage Browser Caching

So I removed them. Shareaholic was replaced by the sharing function built-in to the theme. SumoMe was providing image sharing to Pinterest, but I don’t use it that much, and there is a separate plugin that can achieve this. Gravatar supplies the author image, and images in comments. Hardly essential, so I removed that as well.

Things were greatly improved.

I tried to configure Autoptimize to use a separate subdomain, but the page rendering went horribly, horribly wrong. Autoptimize only supports pull CDNs (they call in and copy new files to their servers). I turned this feature off, so have to make do, for the moment with a few issues with CSS and JavaScript files.

There is still a few tweaks that I’d like to do, but the score at the moment is much more impressive!

Blogger to WordPress 97 percent

The number of requests has gone down from 119 (at the worst point) to 21! The page size has reduced from 1.75MB to 374KB! As you can see, there are no adverts on the home page, and using the sharing tools built into the theme has sped things up immensely.

Over to you. The site has much more potential now that I  have migrated from Blogger to WordPress. Please let me know your thoughts.

  • What do you want to see more of?
  • Is there anything you want to see less of?
  • What would you like to see done differently?
  • Any thoughts?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

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