“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” ~ Matthew 7:15
For trader types you can replace the word “prophets” with “profits” and Matthew is still right on the money. But this is about a different wolf – Google.
Six months ago, I was somewhat familiar with the SEO concept. This blog has helped me learn a few more technical lessons. Still Google’s intentions are not clear to me; yet its actions in the blog business (as well as in search) have left me somewhat disappointed. As an investor, I wonder what percentage of Google’s constituents are unhappy like me.
First, host your own blog if at all possible. This will give you the most flexibility and control over management and appearance of your content. I started on Blogger but quickly hit the limits of what I could do with it (without mentioning the constantly changing bug landscape). Unlimited space, management, and security were not enough to offset its limitations. I then tried WordPress.com and found that also had various limits (mostly imposed to make money and for their ease of administration). I finally decided to let 1and1 host legacy daily using the free software from WordPress.org. This has been working out very well so far. I have ultimate control over everything in the site and can take advantage of open source advancements that may not be stable enough for a Blogger or a WordPress.com to uptake.
Second, understand how the world sees your site. I didn’t fully appreciate this until I moved from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress. Blogger has its unique permalinks, feed links, search links and many other types of links for every blog. The site as seen from outside has a number of URLs that people can bookmark, share, copy into a Word document, send to a friend in an e-mail, print, etc. Once the site is moved, unless all of these links are maintained, existing users will see error pages. One would expect that migration of posts and comments would be the hard part of migration but that was actually the easiest. The hard part was making all of the old links work in the new environment. This is really important because of Google (the wolf).
We are used to Google returning the blue links to our queries within split seconds, but Google is slower than moss growing in the cracks of our outside steps at updating its index. In my case it has been taking months. I understand… legacy daily was not high on their priority list (literally). People Google-ing (the verb… amazing) would hit the old Blogger links and find a page that had been deleted or moved until I solved the issue. Once Google or any other engine (or visitor) indexes a link, you should not change the link or you should provide a redirection path to forward your visitors. In the case of self-hosted WordPress, a great plugin called Redirection came to my rescue.
I sometimes hear that the Internet is very fast. When it comes to cleanup, the Internet seems VERY slow. This is probably the technical manifestation of the human behavior of collecting more and purging less. I wonder if letting Google bots find 404 errors would make them clean-up their index faster (that’s research material for another day).
Third, capture your own foot traffic. Web sites are no different than typical boutique stores. If nobody comes in, chances are not much gets “sold.” This is why some stores have very cool AC on a hot day, or post a sign “Spanish Spoken Here”, or send us coupons for 10% off. They want to attract more traffic. What you buy is a different issue. Similarly, web sites want to attract visitors. What those visitors do upon arrival is another topic. In case of Blogger or WordPress.com, they are using your content as the 10% off coupon. Once the visitor is on the site, monetizing the traffic is another problem altogether. Blogger and other hosting sites seem to have a single purpose. That is to capture as much “foot traffic” as possible (like a shopping mall does for boutiques). What is done with that traffic can be determined some other day but for now they want to get your clicks and your articles. We all know this but the part that bothered me a lot was that on the surface they gave me ability to use my own domain name but seemed to be concerned with getting the traffic on their servers at a lower level. If that’s all they can get, that’s better than nothing (in my current setup they get no traffic).
Fourth, do not use FeedBurner (acquired by Google) if self-hosting your blog. The disappointment here was the main reason for having the urge to share thoughts on this topic. Aside from having buggy feed flares, almost non-existent support, and many limitations, this service is by far the biggest wolf in my blogging experience. Every blog has the site (https://www.legacydaily.com) and the feed(s) (https://www.legacydaily.com/feed/). Feeds allow people to subscribe to posts using various feed readers that can show the latest information only. This way, for example, people can check the latest fifty articles from fifty different blogs without having to visit all fifty sites. FeedBurner’s value proposition is to provide a single address for your feeds where any feed reader will find compatible content, easy e-mail subscriptions, various enhancements to the feeds, insertion of advertising into feeds, and many other changes from the vanilla feed that a blog software provides. Also, if all users point to the FeedBurner feed, you can get statistics on the number of subscribers, site visitors, etc. Again, the main intention is to force as much “foot traffic” through their servers as possible. I was hoping that Google would fix the issues with FeedBurner. I don’t mind them receiving the foot traffic as long as I maintain control and ultimately have a choice over my visitors’ experiences. But instead they forced me to migrate to a new Google feed through feedproxy.google.com. I expected that the feed address (using MyBrand service) would remain the same but after working on it for hours, I found no easy way to get the new Google feed to show my own site name to people who would, for example, want to subscribe to my feed. I have had enough! No more FeedBurner! The old legacy daily feed at has been removed. The new feed is at https://www.legacydaily.com/feed/ (if you have subscribed to the former, please update your links to point to the latter). Also, e-mail subscriptions previously maintained by FeedBurner are now maintained by the site.
In sum, I understand and want Google to make money but if enough people like myself become disenchanted with their tactics, perhaps it becomes harder for them to capture the traffic and therefore to sell advertising based on that traffic. Their basic business model may stop working.