The house always wins

by Rachel on October 3, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of a home — both your actual home and “home” as an online space. To me, a house is so much more than a physical space. I think back to college when a “house” referred not just to the place where a sorority lived, but the entire chapter — the girls who made it up and everything that made the group what it was. A home is part of who you are. And I’m fascinated by the way that we refer to so many things about blogs and websites in house terms — home page, web address — and that makes total sense to me. My blog has always felt like my home. I own it. I set the rules. It’s part of who I am. I want people to feel welcome, like they can come in and stay a while, and I want to feel safe and protected here.

I think most of you know that I’ve struggled over the past year or so with the fact that my blog is in serious need of some renovations. I’ve been resisting making the big change that needed to happen — moving — for the same reasons I was afraid to buy a house with Eric actually. Because moving is weird. And scary. It feels so permanent. So rather than move my blog, I tried to get away with just redecorating. And that helped…kind of.

A Change of Address

Part of this has to do with a fact I’ve been avoiding discussing here because I didn’t want to think about it: the fact that I need to change my URL. When I decided to make my name my URL two years ago, I said to myself, “This will last me a while, or at least until I get married!” (Because, yes, I have always planned to change my name when I get married, but that’s another topic for another day.) I had no idea that I had just met the guy I was going to marry or that I’d be moving across the country for him in another month. Marriage seemed ridiculously far off, so it was easy to figure I’d deal with it later. But “later” has become now, for one reason in particular that is kind of out of my control.

To those of you who aren’t familiar with SEO (search engine optimization, aka “being easy to find via Google”), a brief overview: a website or blog is ranked by Google’s algorithms based on a lot of factors. One thing that helps is when other websites link to you, especially websites that are higher ranked than you are. I’ve put a lot of effort into getting my blog to rank high so if people search for, say, “how to decide to move across the country for love,” I’ll be at the top of the Google search results. Earlier this year, I realized that when I changed my URL, I’d lose the ranking I’d worked so hard for. And if I didn’t change my URL until I got married — which was another two years away at the time — that was even more time I’d waste making this blog rank high, time I wanted to spend making my new URL climb higher in Google’s ranks. In the meantime, I’d be working to promote a blog and a URL that was ultimately going to change. It seemed pointless to do that.

I didn’t want to change my name legally but keep my name/URL for professional reasons, as a lot of my friends suggested, because I don’t want to keep my name period. So I started looking at new homes for myself: new blog ideas, themes, and URLs. Sometimes, as much as you love a place, the reality is, you have to let go and move on. I didn’t think twice about ending The Spartanette blog when I left college. And when I felt like I had taken Shedding It as far as I could, I packed up and moved again. I felt really settled here, so I delayed in making this move for as long as I could, but the more I waited, the more my writing suffered. This year, my blog went from a nice little home to a house that was not a good fit for the new additions in my life, a house undergoing renovations (which is a house that no one wants to hang out in) — renovations that ultimately didn’t have the effect I had hoped they would.

This Old Blog

What’s different about this move is that I’m not packing up my old stuff and taking it with me like I did when I ended Shedding It. I’m starting fresh. In the next couple months, I’ll turn RachelWilkerson.com from an active blog into archives and a portfolio. Meanwhile, starting now, I’ll only be blogging at my new address, TheHouseAlwaysWinsBlog.com.

This new blog isn’t about my house, exactly, because, as I said earlier, a house is so much more than that. It’s our physical address, yes, but it’s also our jobs, families, friends, and online communities. It is our place. And, to me, it’s a sign of the adulthood that I am both excited for and afraid of. I feel overwhelmed by it as much as I feel empowered by it. This blog will be where I share my experiences as I come to terms with the fact that a house — and life — is unpredictable as fuck.

In all honesty, it will probably feel like the best parts of this blog and a lot like Shedding It, just with a slightly different angle — I’ll be going back to doing more pictures, food, videos, reviews, and a balance of mindcasting and lifecasting.

So…it’s moving day! Right now, everything is still in boxes and I don’t have much up on the walls, but the design will come soon. Until then, I’d love it if you dropped by (with or without a casserole) and helped me make the new house feel like a new home.

The House Always Wins

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Whitney October 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I’m definitely going to be following you on BlogLovin’ now. I have tried to follow it only by your links on Facebook but it’s not possible! :) Gotta get all of my Rachel in!

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2 Dori October 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I cannot wait to change my last name! One of my favorite things about getting married. I will follow you anywhere, just added your new blog to my reader.

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3 Jacki October 3, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Rachel, I’m not gonna lie. The most fascinating part of this post to me is that you plan to change your name. (I had a similar internal debate when I realized I would probably change mine, too, and ended up moving everything to a first-name-only basis on the internet.) Looking forward to reading the new blog!!

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4 Nikki October 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Glad to see this page isn’t leaving!! I’ve been following you for years now (Tumblr days – OTB Challenge, yall!) and I would be sad if I didn’t have your awesome posts from the past available for reference, or to kill time at work. It’s great to see someone grow as you have, gives the rest of us some guidance because I’ve tried my hand at blogging, and needless to say, I don’t invest enough time to really make anything of it. Which is ok, I’m a reader when I have time. I am just happy to hear you’ve moved onto something new instead of quitting on us altogether!
Can’t wait to check out the new page. <3

Much love from the CA girl in Ohio.
Nikki

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5 Rachel October 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Yesss the OTB challenge! It’s funny how time flies because now I just feel like I “know” you. But I really appreciate the support, because sometimes, I felt like I just needed to give up, so it makes me so happy to know that you (and I hope others!) are willing to come along to the new blog!

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6 kate October 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I’m still a bit sad about you changing blogs but I’m excited to see your frequency of posts bumping up already!

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7 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie October 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Good luck with the move. I’m sure that I speak for most of your readers when I say I’m happy to update a bookmark and follow you anywhere! :)

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8 Triz October 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

You ARE at the top of the Google search results! That’s so cool!

So does retweeting your blogs on twitter help with the ranking?

Heading over to the new place now!

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9 Rachel October 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Thanks! And I’m pretty sure retweeting does help!

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10 brianne October 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm

i’m so glad your new blog is going to be like shedding it – i have missed it!

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11 Emily @ Relishments October 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Congratulations on growing up, starting fresh and moving into a “new home”. I’m not sure I’d be as comfortable with changing my site name as you are, but you’d better believe I’ll be following The House Always Wins (just like I went with you from Shedding It to Life and Lessons). Best of luck!

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12 [SMASH] October 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Congrats on moving on to your next blog-chapter. I’ve already visited and left 2 comments! I will miss this one but I know you’ll bring amazing content to your new home. XO

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13 Kat October 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I’ll happily follow you over – but gotta admit, I miss the Spartanette. I always wished someone else could have taken over the name. :)

And my thoughts on changing my name:
http://gingerandthegeek.com/2012/06/04/kitty-corner-relationships-whats-in-a-name/

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14 Rachel October 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Thanks for sharing that post! I can relate to a lot of what you said. I think the older you are, the harder it is.

Also, I cannot tell you how cool it makes me feel that ANYONE reading now (aside from my mom) read the Spartanette back in the day. Seriously, that makes me feel all warm inside, so thank you for that. :)

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15 Kat October 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Ha! Well, I work at MSU in social media – so it was relevant for me to read at the time…plus, I just loved it! You’re very welcome. :D

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16 kate October 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I’d love to see some of that old Spartanette content!

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17 Rachel October 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

That’s definitely a project on my to-do list! :)

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18 Shannon October 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Just moved the new blog to my number 1 bookmark spot to replace this one. You’re just growing up so fast! *sob*

Happy housewarming. :)

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19 Mel October 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Ah the end of an era…except it’s not. I think your analogy was spot on- it seems this move was long awaited even if you’re just announcing it now.

I’m glad you’re keeping the archives here. I’ve flipped through the entirety of this blog on days I sometimes needed to hear what you’ve written and just as this blog has grown with you, I also enjoyed tracking my growth through comments.

I’m happy and excited for you for this move and I hope the new blog is the fresh air you’ve been searching for. I’m waiting to head over there until I finish this comment and have one last glance around. Here’s to seeing you on the other side!

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20 Kali October 4, 2012 at 4:30 am

I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you don’t wish to keep your name, as my feelings are so different to yours.

My name is mine. It’s who I am. It’s not the same name as anyone else in my family, so, if I don’t have it, who will? It will disappear, and I don’t want it to. It’s MY name.

Recently, several of my friends have become engaged or gotten married, which has brought these thoughts up again. I don’t want a double-barrelled name either, though it some form of compromise. Another idea I’ve considered is swapping names; my partner takes mine, and I take theirs. Of course, that leaves the issue of children’s names.

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21 Rachel October 4, 2012 at 7:31 am

I will definitely write a whole post at some point in the future!

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22 emily October 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Yup… I want to read that one too. I don’t want to be judgmental of women who choose to change their names, but I just can’t wrap my mind around it.

However, we have been married a year and still haven’t agreed about what last name to give our future kids! So. Uhh. There’s that.

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23 Annabelle October 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I’m actually in a really similar situation – I’m the only person in my family now with my last name and I LOVE it. I love how my first and last names sound together, and over the years, it’s come to be a fairly sizeable part of how I define myself, really. While marriage certainly isn’t on the horizon for me anytime soon (and who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind someday), I’ve always been very adamant about keeping my last name whenever the time comes.

I’m not opposed to changing my middle name, however, and I do like your idea of swapping names.

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24 Annabelle October 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

As someone who’s been following your blog for the past few years and seeing all the great changes it (and you!) have gone through, I’m so excited to follow along with you on this new internet-journey. I can’t wait to see where the new blog ends up going.

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25 Amanda October 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I never saw your blog when it was Shedding It, but I’ve been an almost-daily reader since 2010 (I’m guessing from what I’ve read here that means I started reading RIGHT after you changed URLs). I’ve always seen your blog and your writing as inspiration for my own, and I can’t wait to be inspired by your new blog. So excited to see what you do with it!

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26 Melissa October 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

With a new site, as you know, it takes a long time to build authority. I am wondering why you are not deciding to move your content with you as you did with SheddingIt? If RachelWilkerson is left as an archive site, your rankings should maintain for a while, but may eventually drop, due to a lack of fresh content. If you do 301 redirects form the old site to the new, you would be passing the link juice from your old site and give the new domain a head start with the search engines. Also, many of your rankings from RachelWilkerson would eventually recover on the new site, as SEOmoz claims 301 redricts pass 90-99% of link juice (However, in my experience, that this number is closer to 80%).

Helpful SEOmoz Articles
Moving Domains
301 Redirects
Website Migration Guide

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27 Rachel October 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

There are a couple reasons. First, some of my old content just isn’t relevant to the new site. I don’t really want to redirect people from a lessons post on this site to a lessons post on the new site; it might not really make sense out of context, you know? Second, having duplicate content isn’t typically good for SEO, so I wanted to keep it in one place. Also, I’ll continue to update it with freelance work updates so it won’t be completely dead.

That said, I appreciate this info and insight! Thanks for sharing the articles; I’ll take a look at them and see what changes I can make to get more out of the switch! Maybe I’ll integrate some of my older content, but not all of it? (That’s actually what I had originally planned to do and then decided against it but it’s not too late!)

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28 Melissa October 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Of course it is totally up to you how you want to leverage Rachelwilkerson.com. Doing page-by-page 301 redirects, and then eventually a domain 301 redirect would give maximum SEO value to your new site (another article on site migration). But if you feel like your new site is going to be completely different and your old content has no place there (not even in an archive section), then you can start the new one from scratch and continue any monetization efforts you have going on Rachelwilkerson while you build up the new site’s authority overtime. Integrating some of your old content, especially the higher trafficked pages, is certainly an option, and would at least give you some value.

I agree that only having some of the pages redirect, while others stay on the site might make for a confusing user experience. However, the 301 is really more for the search engine than the user. The content would no longer exist on your old site, so you would no longer need to link to it on your old site unless you DO want users to go from your old site to the new one.

Anyway, this may be a little too much info, but a 301 is essentially like forwarding your address when you move and the post office is Google. If for instance, you were to move, you would notify the post office to forward your mail to the new address (301 redirect of old URL to new URL). If your old house got knocked down (you removed the article from Rachelwilkerson in Wordpress), that would be fine, because you don’t live there anymore and the post office knows where your new house is (Old URL is indexed in search engines, and when it comes up in search results and is clicked on, it will redirect to the article on the new domain). Like any move, you might lose a little mail in the process or it might get delayed in delivery (So, you might lose a little link juice), but eventually all mail goes to the new address (It doesn’t take that long for Google to index the new URL). And of course, when your friends visit, they would go see you at the new house and not stop over at the old one first (All links to the articles you set up 301 redirects for would be on your new site, using your new address).

Also, are you familiar with canonical tags? This is a way to avoid duplicate content penalties. If, for whatever reason, you need to have the same piece of content on two different pages or even two different websites, you can put a canonical tag in the head content of both pages that points to the URL you would like to receive credit as the original source (I see that you currently have canonical tags in your code, but this may be something WordPres is doing automatically. Ie: Ideally, you would be able to control this yourself).

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29 Alynne Leigh October 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

Congratulations on your big “move”! (:

I’m excited to see what your “new” blog has in store!!

-Alynne

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30 Mysskay October 15, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Heading over to new site! Yea for more videos!

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