How Not to Blow Up Your Blog
If Your Blog Doesn’t Blow Up Every Six Months … well, you are not really trying, or that seems to be the case for me. Let’s see, let me count the ways. And please note that these issues are specific to a self-hosted WordPress blog. You won’t be able to download plugins in free WordPress.com blogs which is good and bad as we shall see …
There was the widows and orphans issue … load speed of your blog is really important. Not only is it frustrating to readers trying to read your post, but Google hates a slow site. And my blog periodically has load speed issues. After calling my host company, and then switching host companies, and then bugging them some more, I resorted to googling how to speed up my blog. WordPress Garage has an excellent post on 38 ways to Optimize and Speed Up Your Blog.
As an idiot-savant, I can only understand a portion of what the post was talking about. Still, this didn’t deter me from madly trying out the plugins mentioned. I think it was the WordPress Clean Options Plugin that I used to get rid of “widows and orphans” of code left behind when you try out and then delete a pile of plugins.
This is what happens. The post looks fine on the back end BUT it looks completely blank when it pulls on your site. I had to go through every single post to fix that little error, just to discover which ones were pulling up as blanks.
Permalinks were my most recent debacle. I absent mindedly tried to change my permalink structure one day in late March, coincidentally, when Google launched some new Panda algorithm thingy. Permalinks are the urls to your posts that identify it. My newest revelation: DON’T MESS WITH THEM. My issue was that my blog default was a permalink with a number system rather than title. It’s fine as a link but Google prefers your post title in the permalink. I guess words are better than numbers. BUT, when you change your permalinks, it’s like all your old posts go into a black hole that Google doesn’t see. Your old links need to be redirected and that, my friend, is a manual process. And I have 850 posts. And did I mention that my blog is S L O W!!
I’ve also blown up my blog by using plugins that do the same thing. When both are activated, they fight with each other. Just like sibling small children. Word of Warning: DO NOT KEEP SIMILAR PLUGINS ACTIVE ON YOUR BLOG. IN FACT, DELETE THE ONE YOU DON’T USE. NOT DEACTIVATE. DELETE.
This is a simple error easy to make and yet I make it over and over. Do not cut and paste text into your blog from Microsoft Word. The coding for Word is NOT compatible with your blog, and it will make your blog blow up. Instead, Use that box with the T or W in WordPress to insert your text. This box will strip out the bad code. In fact, if your blog blows up and by that, it suddenly loses it formatting, or comes up blank, do the following:
— Turn all your plugins off. Then turn back each plugin one at a time. You can catch the offending plugin that way. Then delete it.
— Check your last post. Are you SURE you didn’t cut and paste in some text from an attachment off your email? Cut and paste the entire post and put into the T or W box. You will lose formatting and links but hey, it might do the trick.
— Getting technical assistance is also helpful. Call your host. Call repeatedly if the first person isn’t helpful. Ask them to stay on the phone while you try their fixes. Email the folks who made your blog if you purchased a template. Are you sure you don’t have their email or their home phone number?! I bet you can get it!
— When all else fails, pay for help. I got a guy for website development and a gal for SEO help. He deals with issues that come up that start with “go to your cPanel and …” Ugh! I don’t know how to deal with my cPanel. I don’t even know how to log into my cPanel for crying out loud. She deals with things like permalink redirects, but even more importantly, she sheds light on that most mysterious thing of all, SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It turns out that I am abusing my All in One SEO plugin by ignoring the character limitations. That I don’t know a good key word tag if it hit me over the head. And that my tags are seriously prolific but messed up.
Blogging is a journey that is similar to raising kids I have found. My 3 blogs are like my 3 kids. I can downstream my learning but each is unique. Parenting and blogging are also labors of love. The learning curve for each is tremendous but gets easier with each new addition. Things change. What worked once may not work again. Adaptation is necessary. Frustration is part of the process. You will cry! But, hopefully, the end result will be worth it. It will just take — oh, I don’t know — a few decades to judge how it’s all turned out. Will it be worth it? Yes, I think it will. It’s the journey, you see. Not the destination.
Do you have questions about blogging or technical issues with your blog? I am no expert but I have done so much trial and error that I am happy to share my limited knowledge. Please ask away!
image from brucemctague