We have decided to merge all our blogs and websites into Nelio’s website. This decision has not been easy and has raised several challenges that, in my opinion, are worth sharing. So, in this post I would like to explain a little of the history of what we, the Nelio team, have experienced during the past three years and why we have come to where we are today.
A Little History about our Blogs
We founded the startup, Nelio Software, in June 2013 with the main objective of creating services and products for WordPress. But when we look back and see all that we’ve done since we started, it seems that we’ve also had a certain fondness for creating multiple blogs:
Migrating the Blog to WordPress
The first service that we offered on Nelio was to migrate websites from any CMS (Content Management System, or cms) to WordPress. As part of the marketing strategy and positioning for this service, we thought convenient for the website in question to have a blog.
Focus: articles related to migration and WordPress in general
Nelio A/B Testing
I was very impressed by the quality of this plugin, how easy it was to set up, and the outstanding support Nelio provides. I highly recommend Nelio A/B Testing.
Nelio A/B Testing Blog
In August 2013 we launched a new service, Nelio A/B Testing, so that any WordPress user could improve the conversion of their website by creating A/B tests and to analyse the behavior of their visitors with heatmaps. Taking into account that it was (and is) one of the main services that we offer, with a strong user base and a scalable model, we decided to show its importance by creating its own web page. Following the same strategy as with Migrate to WordPress, we added a blog to Nelio A/B Testing where we would talk about conversion optimization in WordPress. Again, the blog was a mechanism to publicize our service and help us to improve our positioning in search engines.
Focus: articles related to conversion optimization of WordPress websites
At the end of 2013, guided by our desire to contribute to the WordPress community and, in particular, to the Spanish-speaking community, we decided that it was intolerable that a company with headquarters in Barcelona was not creating any content in Spanish. To date, all our blogs were in English only. Although the content might be of general interest, and hence worth translating, we didn’t have the time or resources to do so. So what did we do? Effectively, we created a new blog! 😉
In January 2014, WPrincipiante was born. Its reason for being was, as we said, to contribute to the Spanish-speaking WordPress community. This is how it looked in its first months of life:
Since its inception, the blog has been a window to the world where we can share our experience and knowledge with all WordPress users. The themes we discuss there have always been very varied, but part of the success of the blog was (and is) its educational component and outreach.
Focus: articles of interest to anyone with a web in WordPress (tricks, tips, resources, and news related to WordPress and releases).
Nelio Software Blog
Not only did we create the Nelio A/B Testing website, but also a very simple-looking, corporate website for Nelio Software, on which we showed the team and the services we offered. After all, wasn’t it logical to have a corporate website, in addition to ones for each specific product?
So, with four sites in March and three of them with their respective blogs, we noticed a small problem: was it clear where content should be written? I mean, if we wanted to write an article about our experience at a WordCamp, or on a new free plugin that we launched, where should we post it? Sure, if we wanted to write that in Spanish, there was no problem at all—we only had one website in Spanish. But, in English? Where would we put that kind of content? We had two options (Nelio A/B Testing and Migrate to WordPress), but none of these blogs seemed appropriate.
The only logical solution was to create a new blog (yeap, yet another one!) in our brand-new website that would contain any entry that may be of interest to our audience, but was unrelated to the services promoted in our other sites. And in March 2014 the new Nelio Software blog appeared:
Focus: articles of interest to anyone with a web in WordPress and news from Nelio.
This solution solved one problem, but posed new ones. Not only the work load we had to deal with was huge, but the thematic overlap was too much. In particular, all topics covered in the Migrate to WordPress blog could fit perfectly inside Nelio Software (but not the other way around). So we decided to follow a different approach: instead of creating new blogs, let’s merge (some of) them!
And we keep going…
Since all entries in Migrate to WordPress fitted in Nelio Software, we decided to merge these two blogs and maintain only the latter. In case you’re wondering, yes, the merge had a negative impact on the number of visits we had in Migrate to WordPress, and it took us about 6 months to recover the traffic. But since our goal at that time was to strengthen the Nelio A/B Testing service over and above that of migrations, we were OK with it.
For the rest of 2014 and up to date, we’ve still been posting entries regularly on three blogs. And, honestly, we are quite pleased with the growth in the number of visits that we’re getting on each of them.
Everything seemed to roll along smoothly until November 2015…
Nelio Content Blog
…when we decided that we would develop a new product: Nelio Content. Following our experience with our previous services, we thought that the best thing would be to create a new website specific to the product, with is own blog to improve its SEO score.
As we were pretty loaded already with what we were doing, we decided to entrust our partners and friends from Silo Creativo with the design of the logo and the new website for the new product. Among the requirements that we gave them, we indicated that we wanted to create a bilingual product-focused website (this time we want to go explicitly to the Spanish-speaking market) with a blog. This was their proposal:
Languages: both Spanish and English
Focus: articles related to content marketing in WordPress
At that point, it was clear that the amount of work ahead of us was unaffordable. Think about it: we had to develop a new product and design its marketing strategy, improve and support Nelio A/B Testing, work on migrations, write in all our blogs… and we’re only three people!
Aren’t we doing too much?
Yes, we panicked. We wanted to do a lot of things, and we wanted to do them perfectly. But, clearly, it was too much. So the Question emerged:
What if we undo all our work and get rid of our previous assumptions and do the opposite of what we’ve been doing?
What if we merge all our blogs and websites into Nelio Software?
What are the risks and benefits of merging websites and blogs?
1. When something works, don’t touch it
This is the maxim of any computer geek—if something works, don’t touch it. So far, we had three blogs that were increasingly generating more traffic. Things worked fine, so why should we change anything?
Besides, from a technical point of view, to merge our blogs is quite a complex process (that is, more work to do, at least in the beginning). Decide how to merge categories and labels, how to move entries and images, or prepare 301 redirections to prevent 404 errors on old URLs are just a few examples of the tasks a merging entails. Did it really make sense to devote more time and resources to that?
2. The Audience
As a person who read an article about optimizing conversions on WordPress, would you be interested in an interview with a WordPress professional? In learning how to configure your theme? Would you like to read about WordPress plugins and tutorials?
In other words, what exactly is the profile of our audience?
Clearly, our blogs responded separately to the needs of different, concrete profiles. If we were to put all the themes discussed in each individual blog in one place, would the end result make sense?
I looked at our audiences and I came to the conclusion that, regardless of the blog you look at, our visitors were mainly web developers, entrepreneurs, and specialists in digital marketing and SEO. Sure, the proportion of the three groups was different in each concrete blog, but there was a clear overlap.
Would a merge affect negatively a regular reader of any of our blogs? Would you be for or against it?
Our perception was that the reader of any of the two blogs in English (Nelio Software and Nelio A/B Testing) would welcome the change. In the end, all our products are part of Nelio Software, so it makes sense they appear in Nelio’s website—it’d be understood as a consistent change.
But WPrincipiante was something entirely different. Remember we created this blog as a contribution to the Spanish community, without a direct connection to our “professional” activity. I mean, it’s not like we hided who we were or what we did (there was a menu option with a link to our services), but the goal of the blog was to evangelize and teach people stuff about WordPress. And it was perceived as such by our audience.
Would all our visitors disappear from one day to another?
3. The Content
Another problem that we faced if we didn’t merge our blogs was content generation. As I said, it was not clear where to publish what, because there was too much overlap. Plus, it was clear that we could not publish the same content in different blogs, because Google would slap us. But, to what extent would we be able to create original (and different) content for each blog? Our resources were (and are) very limited.
4. Time and Effort
Three people regularly publishing long articles on five blogs at the same time (three in English and two in Spanish), like we first considered, was an impossible task. It might have made some sense if we earned a living by writing content, but that’s not the case. The articles are a way for us to share what we know and contribute to the community, as well as to promote our products and services—but it is our services (developing and supporting them) that allow us to pay bills and salaries!
If we were to post in multiple blogs, the only feasible solution that we could come up with was to hire professionals to create such content. This was something not to be ruled out and that, in fact, we had already occasionally done that for articles on Nelio A/B Testing (for example from Andy Nathan or Tom Ever). But, honestly, we prefer it to be us who write on our blogs. And, besides, hiring professional writers who can write great content is not cheap…
Even ignoring all the previous problems and assuming that we had sufficient resources (time, money, and energy) to keep all the sites and blogs going, as well as ensuring that our content would be high quality and original, we still had the problem of content overlap. We always talk about WordPress, so it’s not that clear to know in which blog a certain article has to be published/can be found (which, by the way, might confuse our visitors).
But merging the blogs also posed other questions. Clearly, keeping them separated allowed for the specialization (something Google likes, doesn’t it?). A blog that only publishes articles on conversion optimization is much more specialized and, therefore, it seems it could have better rankings than one that publishes various themes related to WordPress.
We were afraid about the implications that merging our websites might have from an SEO perspective. What risks would be involved to do this in terms of positioning? Would we be penalized?
As virtually no one knows what exactly Google does to position a website, we decided not to struggle any more with this issue. In addition, at one point David said: at the moment, we work for Nelio, not for Google. And he convinced us! 😉
Our Decision: Take the Risks and Be Transparent about it
After evaluating the pros and cons of each one of the above points, we came to the conclusion that, given our situation, the best we could do was to jump in and merge all of our websites under the unique umbrella of Nelio.
On the one hand, we confirmed that, indeed, there was enough content overlap to give us a good reason for the merge. Or, seen another way, it was very difficult to clearly see the differences in the topics that could justify the entire catalog of blogs we had created over time.
On the other hand, we believed that the merged blog we were considering would still be interesting to our audience. It doesn’t matter too much if you are a simple user of WordPress, a web developer, an entrepreneur, or a marketing expert—if you work with WordPress, in the end you’ll be interested in knowing the things we share on our blogs. Plugins, WordPress themes, how to be more efficient, how to improve SEO, or how to reach out better to your audience are topics you want to read about, right?
Merging all our blogs allowed us to be more efficient with our time and effort. The decision was unanimous. From a strategic point of view, it makes more sense to focus on redesigning the Nelio website with a much more up-to-date design and including our original, high-quality content there, conveying a more uniform vision.
Finally, I believe the new blog opens up new opportunities. For example, we want to write about our day-to-day as entrepreneurs, and such a topic fits perfectly in the new website. From our visitors point of view, it’s interesting to have such information available, especially if you’re interested in setting up your business based on WordPress.
So, yeah, we’ve decided to be transparent and honest with all of our readers and openly show the personality of Nelio.
As you can see, the decision and the process of merging blogs and websites was not easy. But as Toni says, “there are things that fall by their own weight.” It is better to focus our efforts on a single quality blog, than to spread our energies over five different sites (which would surely end up being the death of Nelio). In addition, by concentrating all the content into the same website, we can talk freely about what we really like: our experience in WordPress, marketing, entrepreneurship… and many other things that we have in our minds!
Soon, Toni will share an article detailing the entire process of merging the blogs and websites—a master class migration of multiple WordPress sites showing a step by step guide of what we’ve done. Don’t miss it!
I hope you like our good news and we would love to have you share your insights with us, how you see it, and if you had similar experiences.
Oh yes! Of course we will let you know later how it all worked out…
Featured Image by Blake Wheeler.