How to merge travel blogs (and grow your website!)

For years, I have had four websites. One of them related to theology (a passion of mine), two travel websites and one about photography (another passion). However, I took a hard look at what I was doing with them and the fact that I was doing three times the work….and then merged them.

It just makes more sense to have two website than four. This is why I have merged together SLR Foundry and Travel the Fire into Last Kodiak. It is not the end of the world by any means but it just makes my life easier. That’s all.

Travel the Fire was about international travel (traveling in the Ring of Fire) and Last Kodiak was about travel in the United States and its’ territories. While these were two different niches, they remained very similar. Bring them under one name just was a logical move.

SLR Foundry on the other hand was more just some thoughts I had on photography and namely, HDR Photography. In recent months, the website become neglected and it just made sense to merged it as well for SEO purposes.

All things considered, it was just the best thing to do and it made technical sense as well.

How I merged Travel the Fire!

Understand that there are easier ways to merge websites that what I am about to tell you that I did. The decision was made for SEO reasons more than anything. I did basically everything manually to make sure it was technically sound.

Another reason that I did it this way was to look at older content that would be better to link to a newer article than have a second one on the website. I also found some of the older articles would be better off removed from the website altogether.

Step 1: Export Content then Import

I am not going to spend a lot of time on this because this pretty standard. If you do not know how to export content or import it, Google is your best friend.

It is important to know that however your website is set up, you will import it as in. This will become an issue later with images and files.

Step #2: Export and Import Images

I prefer to use CoreFTP but a lot of people use Filezilla. Either one will work fine. The challenge here is more about downloading and uploading images and files than what software you use to do it.

After setting up FTP rights on your hosting account, you will start to download all your images to a folder on your hard drive. This can take several hours. When I did it with Travel the Fire, I started it before going to bed and it was finished when I woke up.

Uploading them to the new website is the same process. It is important to make sure it is in the right folder under Uploads. This is also time consuming.

Step 3: Redirecting links

This is one of the two most painful parts of the process. You will need to go into the old website and download a plugin for redirects. I used one called Redirection.

I went through each link one by one and redirected it to the new link on Last Kodiak. (Tip: this is the perfect time to change a URL structure for an article). This is easier ways to do redirects than this but I mainly chosen to do this way to make sure everything was working.

Step 4: Update links and Yoast!

This is, by far, the step that will take the most time. I went to each article and manually updated the information that the plugin by Yoast reads and more importantly updated every link in the article. Any image or internal links imported as the old website. That had to updated!

This is also a good time to make sure all your links are working and there is not a lot of broken links anywhere. They do happen from time to time.

What about Domain Authority?

There is a rank that is used by marketing firms that is put out by Moz called Domain Authority. It starts at 1 and goes to 100. Most websites that are not large media companies are successful with a score of 30 or more.

This is not official and it is not from Google. However, in the world of marketing; it is very important. It is good to have an understanding of how a merger will affect your score… in the short term as well as the long term.

Travel the Fire had a score of 21 and SLR Foundry had 9. This does not mean that I will see Last Kodiak go from 16 to 46 tomorrow. In fact, it will never get all the points back.

Somewhere around Christmas time (3 months), I will start to see the score reflect the change. It will not be a major change at first. (3-5 points) but over the next 6-9 months, there will be a change and I expect the score will be around 30 points by the end of 2019 from the change.

The thing to remember is that this score is from a third party and it has no real connection to how Google (or Bing) sees you. There is also no connection between this score and the traffic you will get from searches. I have heard of websites with 40+ as a score that do horribly and also websites that low scores that Google loves!

Impact on traffic?

Travel the Fire would get between 350-600 views a day and Last Kodiak (due to its’ niche) was struggling along at 175-200 a day. After moving the website together, the average traffic is about 500. While this is not as good as they would be apart, this is only short term.

When it comes to traffic from Google, there is one thing that people need to know: When it rains, it pours! Once you get the ball rolling with search engines, they will only grow as it goes. It is very possible to go from 500 views a day to 5,000 views in a matter of a few months.

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