WordPress, TypePad and the moving dilemma

If you’re a TypePad customer and you’re toying with the idea of switching to a different blog platform, Emily Robbins has written a useful comparison of WordPress and TypePad based on her own experience that you might find helpful to your thinking.

Emily’s post interested me because I’ve just made such a switch. Unlike Emily’s dilemma, though (importing all her TypePad content into a WordPress installation: should she?/shouldn’t she?), I switched to a new place leaving my TypePad blog where it is and which now serves as my historical archive.

Some of you might say such a comparison is not a like-for-like one. WordPress is a platform you install on your own/hosted server and maintain that installation yourself, whereas TypePad is a fully-hosted service meaning you don’t really have to worry about such things. And perhaps better to compare WordPress with Movable Type (more on that in a minute).

On the face of it, that’s all fair criticism. Yet, reality – many people are making such comparisons between WordPress and TypePad, whether they should be or not. After the last TypePad service outage which severely dented one’s confidence in the service’s reliability, I know a number of TypePad bloggers who are doing exactly that, some of whom have now switched away as a direct result of those service issues, all of them to WordPress.

One other influencing difference – WordPress is free, and you pay for TypePad (and, in some cases, for Movable Type).

So back to Emily’s article. She does a good job in her pros and cons comparisons of both platforms (in my experience, I’d broadly agree with her). She does conclude with the dilemma I mentioned earlier:

Is it worth moving an existing site that gets over 1000 visitors a day and is ranked well in the search engines over to another server, URL, and blogging system entirely, possibly losing all of my backlinks and high pagerank that I spent so much time in generating? And if so, should I wait until WordPress 2.0 has ironed out some more of the kinks (there are currently problems with trackbacks, which I think is a rather major issue, among other things) before proceeding? […] What to do? What to do??????

That is a dilemma indeed. Incidentally, the trackbacks issue Emily mentions was fixed with WordPress 2.0.1

The biggest issue in my view – and which directly influenced my decision to start here afresh and leave the old blog behind – is concerning the significant technical headaches you have to go through if you want to ensure that the addresses (the permalinks) of all your TypePad posts work 100% in your new WordPress blog, given that the file-naming conventions used by WordPress are entirely different to those used by TypePad. This address continuity is crucial if you want to achieve what Emily wants to re search engines and pagerank, among other things.

So if it were me facing a moving dilemma like Emily’s, this is what I would do to arrive at a decision:

  • If maintaining the existing permalink structure is crucial, I’d choose to go to Movable Type as importing your TypePad content into a new MT installation is the best route of all – both products come from Six Apart (and TypePad itself is based on MT) and share the same file-naming conventions. Last year, I moved the content of my NevOn Experimental blog on TypePad to MT as a test, and the file names (the permalinks) are exactly the same. (That blog’s currently in hibernation.)
  • If you simply want to start afresh, leaving your TypePad blog as-is, I would choose WordPress for all the reasons Emily mentions in her post. On balance, the advantages significantly outweigh the disadvantages as compared to TypePad. Indeed, that’s precisely what I did.

Looking more at platform comparisons, you could more accurately compare WordPress with TypePad if you have the TypePad Pro service level. That gives you unfettered access to the blog’s templates which you don’t have on the two lesser service levels. So a bit of a fairer comparison. Yet I’d then be thinking more of Movable Type and not TypePad.

But this is really a concise simplistic snapshot between platforms. If you want more detailed information on the differences between them, see this good review by Susannah Gardner last year in the Online Journalism Review.

One final point – don’t get hung up about things like Technorati ranking. If you do switch to a new home, you will take a hit on your Technorati ranking. You can get it back over time, though. That’s not really the most important thing you should be concerned about.

Think about why you’re blogging (take a look at the very good top 7 recommendations about blogging from Rex Hammock) and how you want to develop your blog in the future.

That is the best driver to guide you to your answer to the moving dilemma.

[Technorati: movable type, typepad, wordpress]

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. EducationPR » Blog Archive » Want to start a blog?

    […] Neville Hobson has posted some really useful information for beginning and intermediate-level bloggers. He compares Type Pad and WordPress in particular, but provides links to comparisons of other services including Blogger and Expression Engine. The main point of Neville’s post is that you can start a blog without being married to any particular service for the rest of your life. People migrate from one service to another as their needs and priorities change. Be sure to check his link to Emily Robbins and Rex Hammock. […]

  2. Emily Robbins from How to Blog

    Hi Neville,

    Thanks for the great post and comments on my post (and suggestions as to what to do to resolve my moving dilemma). I did have a TypePad Pro account, but the cons of TypePad, combined with the pros of WordPress made me finally take the plunge and make the move now that trackbacks have been fixed in WP 2.0.1.

    Unfortunately, because I did not have my own domain, but rather a subdomain on typepad (blogging.typepad.com), there would be no possible way to preserve my URL structure even if I were to have switched to Movable Type – I wrote an entire article on why it’s critical for even new bloggers to get their own domain name for just this reason.

    The new, permanent URL for How to Blog, now proudly powered by WordPress, is:


    Because TypePad does not support 301 Permanent redirects, making the move has been a nightmare of tedious mind-numbing tasks, such as manually updating all of my previous TypePad posts to say that the site has moved and this post can now be found at this URL, manually going through all of the imported posts in WordPress and checking the box to ‘allow pings’ (since I had them turned off on TypePad after I started receiving hundreds of trackback spams a day – it still amazes me that they can’t filter out ridiculously obscene keywords as obvious spam), and then go through the nightmare of contacting the hundreds of sites that have linked to How to Blog and begging them to please update their links to reflect the new URL. (Speaking of which, could you please update the links in this post to point to my new site?)

    Right now it is a royal pain in the butt and I’m still terrified that I will lose all of my readers and traffic and search engine rankings, etc (I’ve gone from PR 6 site to PR3, for example). But I think (and hope!) that in the long run it will have been the right decision and the time spent making the move will be well worth it. Obviously, time will tell and you know I’ll be reporting about it on my blog :)

    Best regards,
    Emily Robbins

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