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How To: Use Redirect to Reclaim Lost Feed Subscribers After Switching to WordPress

Did you lose a bunch of Feedburner subscribers after switching from say, Blogger to WordPress? OMG – me too! We should go out for coffee sometime.

This is usually because the feed’s URL on each platform is different. So you have all these subscribers (either through their RSS readers or their blog rolls) pointing at the old URL, but your blog is now producing its feed on a new URL.

For example, on Blogger, the URL for my feed was:

http://www.nannygoatsinpanties.com/feeds/posts/default

And now on WordPress, the URL for the feed is:

http://www.nannygoatsinpanties.com/feed

You can get them back through the use of a Redirect. Here’s how:

How To Reclaim Lost RSS Feed Subscribers (The Short Version)

Create a 301 redirect that goes from your old RSS feed URL to your new feed URL. You can use a redirect plug-in (everyone seems to swear by the one from Urban Giraffe ) or you can modify your .htaccess file. In either case, setup your redirect to go from the old Blogger feed:

http://www.yourdomain.com/feeds/posts/default

to the new WordPress feed:

http://www.yourdomain.com/feed

where “yourdomain” is, obviously, your domain name.

How To Reclaim Lost RSS Feed Subscribers (The Detailed Version)

Create a redirect that goes from your old RSS feed URL to your new feed URL. There are three different methods that I’ve tried.

The Plug-in Method

The safer method is a redirect plug-in and people really like the one from Urban Giraffe. If you don’t have it, you can download the Urban Giraffe Redirect plug-in and activate it.

NOTE: This is the recommended method even though I haven’t gotten it to work yet, but that’s because there seems to be a compatability issue at the moment between the Development version of WordPress and the Redirect plug-in. If you’re using WP 3.0 dev version don’t use this plug-in, it will create redirection havoc. It does work, however with previous versions of WP.

Not sure which version of WP you’re using? Scroll down to the bottom of your WP editor and you will see something at very bottom of your screen. Mine looks like this: You are using a development version (3.0-RC2-15136). Cool! Please stay updated.

When you use the plug-in to add a redirect, you’ll get to a screen that looks like this:


redirect

For Source URL, enter:

http://www.yourdomain.com/feeds/posts/default

be sure to change “yourdomain” to your own domain name. Mine is nannygoatsinpanties.

For Target URL, enter:

http://www.yourdomain.com/feed

Click the Add Redirection button and you’re done.

Be sure and test the redirection by entering your old URL into your browser to see if your new feed appears. It may take at least a day before your Feedburner count goes back up.

Adding a Redirect via Bluehost

Bluehost has a nice way to create redirects without having to manually go into the .htaccess file (which can be dangerous). If you ever need to redirect anything, you can do so by going to the cPanel and selecting the Redirects icon under the Domains section. Here’s how you can set up a redirect to avoid losing Feedburner subscribers.

bluehost redirect icon

On the Redirects page, select Permanent (301) for the type.

bluehost redirect feeds example

There is a pull-down for you to select the URL domain to redirect FROM. Select your custom domain. In the text box after it, enter the old RSS feed that Blogger produces:  feeds/posts/default

In the section labeled¬† “redirects –>” enter your new WordPress feed, which is http://www.yourcustomdomain.com/feed

Click the Add button. That’s it.

The Slightly More Dangerous Method

This involves modifying the .htaccess file directly (instead of letting the redirect plug-in, or Bluehost Redirect program do it for you) and isn’t for the faint of heart. I will show you how I did it using the cPanel of my ISP host, BlueHost.

Adding a Redirect via .htaccess file.

Login to your Bluehost cPanel and click on the File Manager icon in the Files section (pictured below).

bluehost file manager icon

This will bring up a directory selection screen.

Bluehost directory selection

Select “Web Root” as shown above with the red arrow. Check the box labeled “Show Hidden Files” and click the Go button.

This will open a new tab in your browser called File Manager and will display a list of files in your public_html directory. Select the file named .htaccess and click on the Edit link at the top.

Bluehost public_html directory

If a Text Editor dialog box pops up with a button that says “Disable Encoding Check” go ahead and click on it.

By now, you should behold your .htaccess file.

BE VERY CAREFUL AT THIS POINT. If you mess this up, you could render your website useless and then you’ll have crawl over to the Bluehost Customer Service people with your tail between your legs and beg for mercy as they ridicule you and pelt you with wet noodles.

OK, not really, but do try to be careful while you’re in here.

Add a Redirect command to the end of your file. It will look something like this:

Redirect 301 /feeds/posts/default http://www.yourdomain.com/feed

where “yourdomain” should be your domain name. For example, my redirect looks like this:

Redirect 301 /feeds/posts/default http://www.nannygoatsinpanties.com/feed

Click on Save Changes, cross your fingers, pray to your god or gods, hold your breath and for good measure, hop up and down on one leg.

And that’s it. You’re done.

Be sure and test the redirection by entering your old feed URL into your browser to see if your new feed appears. It may take at least a day before your Feedburner count goes back up. Good Luck!

P.S. Hey, guess what? I wrote a book about writing better blog posts, written to help you kick it up a notch and make them more engaging. It’s educational as well as entertaining. It’s called Sticky Readers: How to Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better and you can buy it just about anywhere online. There’s more info at the Sticky Readers website, including where to buy it.

Sticky Readers, margaret andrews, write better blog posts, blogging tips

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38 Comments

  1. Awesome, thank you so much, this post helped me to get this done within just a few hours, plus take care of a couple of details. Heading over to your other blog to follow you. :)

  2. Megan says:

    Thank you! This helped me out, I hope that I gain my followers back. :)

    1. Oh, I hope so too! Seeing that number go down is so frustrating! Don’t you just want to smack it?

  3. I could totally kiss you on the mouth right now.

    You’re a savior for me and my blogger to wp transistion and I totally adore your blogging style!

    and btw, lost some of my disqus comments in the transfer to and I am also bleeping mad about it!!!!!

    1. Awwww, how sweet are you!? And don’t get me started on Disqus problems. I lost some comments too but after messing around all kinds of different ways that involved changing post URL names and God knows what else, I got most of them back.

      One miracle I was able to pull off recently was getting my old Haloscan comments into Disqus. Unbelieveable!

      Good Luck on your new venture into WP Land!

  4. Good Luck, unknownmami! I hope it works for you. Losing subscribers is just the ickiest and most frustrating thing!

  5. unknownmami says:

    My issue when I switched was that some folks got redirected and had the new feed update in their readers, but most of them did not. I had my feed burned through feedburner before I switched. I kept fiddling and I got about half of the subscribers back, but most of the GFConnect followers are still not getting updated. The whole thing made my head want to explode so I gave up, but I’ll give this a shot.

  6. unknownmami says:

    Thank you for this. I lost a lot of subscribers when I switched to WordPress and I’ve tried all sorts of things. I’ll try this and see if it woks.

  7. Betweennapsontheporch says:

    Hey…found one of your tutorials…thanks for all this good info!

  8. thank you for being so smart and for explaining this – especially since I never could!

  9. britt says:

    Oh, hi. I don't speak goat. But if I ever learn, I'll come back to this post.

    1. Ha! I should have thought to translate to English. Sorry about that!

  10. Nicky says:

    *blink*

    Margaret? What did you do to the goats?

    1. They're out mowing the lawn and will be back momentarily.

  11. You are so good at instructions and direction! You would make an awesome technical writer, college professor, or something equally brilliant. Wow! No kidding! I think you are important enough they will let you bring the goats to work if you want.

    1. JunkDrawer says:

      I agree! Margaret, you did a great job. I'm sure this will be helpful for many.

      p.s. Thanks for your help earlier today.

      1. Aw shucks. Thanks, girls. And I do hope it helps somebody. I wonder if they do have “Bring Your Goats to Work” day in the corporate world.

  12. Susie Q says:

    What I did was when I was still on Blogger, I burned my feed using feedburner. Once I moved over to wordpress, I just edited the details of that feed to use my WP feed instead of the blogger one. In blogger you've even got the option of putting in your feedburner feed address so it diverts your original subscribers there.

    But that's the lazy way. Cuz I is lazy. :)

    1. Hi Susie Q!
      Yes, I did the same thing you describe and it does indeed divert readers to your new blog and tell Feedburner which feed to pay attention to, but….what it does NOT do is keep your Feedburner Count. And that is what this little article helps with.

      1. I don't understand what you mean when you say it diverts readers to your new blog but you lose readers…? I had burned my feed with feedburner on blogger before I moved to WordPress. I had thought that because the feedburner feed didn't change I didn't need to change anything but you're saying that's not so.

        1. I thought the same thing you did, but when I did the switch to WordPress, my blog no longer updated in people's Google Reader or in people's blog rolls. The email subscribers were fine, however. And the official feedburner count reflected this change in that the count was merely the number of email subscribers, but no longer included the other two sources (Google Reader and blog rolls). Does that make sense? Do you know what your feedburner counts were before and after the switch?

  13. joannmannix says:

    This is what I hear: Douche the configuration with the Buddha and the ALTJFOCB.4 code and jam it with the RNPHLLLL squared annnnnd. . . GO!

    Seriously, if I knew what you were talking about, I would say it looks like a great tutorial. Looks like you championed WordPress. Congratulations.

    I'm still trying to figure out my DVR.

    1. LOL!! I don't even have a DVR. How sad is that? Instead I curse every commercial or forget network TV altogether.

  14. Whoa! That is impressive Margaret. And that is also why I'll probably never switch to WordPress.
    Have a great weekend,
    jj

  15. Janiss says:

    I actually wasn't sure this worked for feeds – good to know it does!

    I've built my own websites from scratch since 1997. Of course, now I have someone handling my blogging software because I don't speak php (and for some reason, the language eludes me), but stuff like .htaccess files I can usually handle. Once I had to do a 301 redirect for over 300 webpages! And now I'm taking those pages, plus about 200 more and switching them to WordPress. Gah. At least I was able to hire someone to set up the WordPress site.

  16. Nezzy says:

    Hey, I was just droppin' by to say howdy! I've been really sick and lost all tough with blogsville. Shingles…..been fightin' 'em for four weeks now. Dang, it's ruff gettin' old!

    Ya'll have a wonderfully blessed weekend!

    1. Ouch, you poor thing! I hope things get much better for you soon!

  17. fragrantliar says:

    I am only slightly confused, but that's because I don't yet need this info. But I will save this or return when I do need it. Meantime, how is it you get ads with a WP account? I thought they didn't allow ads?

    P.S. I have landed in FL (hiatus finito), so come visit me! And how's the novel coming?

    1. I'm not sure about the ads not being allowed thing, could that be for the free version on wordpress.com (as opposed to the self-hosted version from wordpress.org?)

      I'm on my way to visit you in your new FL digs right now, and the novel news requires a whole separate private email!

  18. Linda R. says:

    This is some great information. Thanks for putting it together. Right now I'm on Blogger, and it's OK. Maybe at some point I'll make the switch. I probably need to get through the first year's blogging first, though. I'll be bookmarking this in my computer stuff folder.

  19. Wow you rock. I had to redo my shoot me now feed and lost everyone (sob)… I wish I knew then what I know now!

  20. AshAtShades says:

    My palms are sweaty just reading this.

    Congratulations on getting it right!

  21. Drew says:

    What is the going rate for reliable WordPress hosting? I'm just curious because I could offer it for $59.95 a year but don't know if that's competitive.

    1. I think I paid $80-something for a year ($6.95 per month), over on Bluehost, although they offer more than just hosting. They have quite the support service and a bunch of other tools.

      1. Yeah, I am a FAN of Bluehost! Ive had them for years.

  22. Tahtimbo says:

    Uh, what was that middle part again?
    Actually thank you for this great post. Once I get to the point where I can afford to have my own host, I would love to switch to WordPress. I am so sick of Blogger…I want control over my OWN site! Anyway, I will bookmark this, so when I do make the move, I'll be able to keep my one or two readers :)

  23. Pricilla says:

    I am sorry. I need a translation. I only speak goat.