Photo by Ray Hennessy, Unsplash.
I just wanted to do a quick post on my progress, In a previous post, I mentioned stuff going on behind the scenes. Not all of it has necessarily stayed behind the scenes. If you’ve been popping in from time to time, you may have noticed a lot of little changes. And some “do-overs.” 🙂
You may also notice I haven’t posted anything as far as content. Rest assured I have many things I want to post. But I have to pour the basement before we can shingle the roof. So, in the meantime…
New and Improved Taxonomy
You should think about taxonomy from the moment you start your blog. That means think about your categories and tags and arrange them neatly and logically. You should, you should, YOU should. Except that it’s kind of tedious, so I didn’t bother.
That means now that I want to get serious, I had to come up with a workable scheme and clean up the mess I made. That’s finished now, and I’m really, really glad.
I plan to go over taxonomy in more detail in my upcoming digital marketing post, insha’Allah.
For now, I will just say I blew away and rebuilt the entire category structure. I went through well over a thousand tags, one by one. There are fewer categories and tags now, and they make a lot more sense (at least to me).
There’s so much to talk about in this section on taxonomy. Even though it’s tedious and boring, it’s really important. Of course, right? When my longer post comes out and you get to the section on taxonomy, I’d suggest you caffeinate yourself and soldier on.
Images and Graphics
I was really haphazard with images. They were a hasty afterthought, and early on I didn’t even bother to optimize images so they’d load more quickly. I did start doing that at some point, using free tools to resize and compress my images.
A lot of bloggers, myself included, are pretty grab happy when it comes to images. Many images are actually copyrighted. Or even if they aren’t, they still belong to someone else. So I’ve gotten serious about using images that people willingly share. All my cover photos are either mine or licensed for use, as noted.
I’ve customized some with lettering and resized and compressed all of them. I also credit my source. If you want to know how to embellish and optimize properly licensed images using free, simple tools, stay tuned.
Readability and SEO
Wow. Some of my posts were not very readable. My search-engine optimization was nearly non-existent. In fairness to me, I was missing the most important tool any blogger can possibly have.
I finally started paying for hosting and installed the Yoast SEO plugin. Yay! It’s awesome. I went through ALL of the nearly 60 posts on the site and made all the necessary changes.
Of course, I plan to explain all this as well, insha’Allah, but I can summarize my advice right here and now: get the FREE Yoast SEO plugin. And if you can afford to, go premium (I haven’t yet because I’m keeping my cost low…but that’s a top priority upgrade).
How did I ever live without plugins?
Though in fairness, who wants to throw a bunch of money at a brand new blog when you’re not sure if you’ll even stick with it? Yet it’s also a mistake to spend hundreds of dollars and then just let the thing sit there, collecting dust.
To complicate matters further, consider that I only had to clean up around 60 posts. It was A LOT of work. Now imagine if you had 100s or even 1000s of posts, and you just got around to shoring things up. I don’t even want to imagine that! So that leads us to the question…
How can you start on a shoestring budget (perhaps as low as $0), and still set yourself up so you can smoothly and easily expand later? Tip: It’s a lot easier if you haven’t run wild, throwing stuff around like a monkey at a salad bar. 🙂
Invest it all up front and accept one set of risks, or improve things gradually and accept a different set of risks? What I’d like to do with my upcoming posts, for anyone who is new to blogging, is let you strike a happy medium.
Logo (Sort Of)
Okay, so I don’t really have “a logo.” But I don’t have a splash of color and something that resembles a logo, which you should be able to see at the top of your screen. I was going to hire a real graphic designer I know and love to create something cool yet inexpensive. But their ridiculous government doesn’t allow PayPal in his country.
What sort of mean, grumpy government official blocks PayPal? That’s even weirder than the UK trying to block Uber! At least they were trying to protect the “iconic black cab” or some such thing. Who or what is being saved by the PayPal boycott? I’m guessing no one and nothing! Grrr. But I digress…
I insist on having some sort of logo. However, this is an extremely low budget operation. So I made my own, such as it is. It will have to do for now. If you think it looks a little blurry on your desktop, then I’d suggest you stick to looking at it on your smartphone. Problem solved. 🙂
Shiny New Toys
I’m not quite finished. As I mentioned, I added the Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast SEO is the mac daddy of all plugins, so that was huge. I also added Disqus and the Disqus piggyback plugin that lets the recent comments display.
Google Analytics was another big one, which I linked to using the Monster Insights plugin. I’m not really looking at analytics yet. But when I’m finally ready, there will at least be some data there to see and compare. Or at least that’s the idea.
I also added a funky plugin that tells you the estimated reading time for a post. Some people say they hate seeing that for various reasons. One of the more interesting objections is that some felt it shames them for being relatively slow readers. If that’s you, I’m sorry. I added it anyway because I for one like to know what sort of time investment I’m going to be making if I read a post. Now we all know (sort of).
Important tip: Don’t go hog wild with plugins. That’s my advice as a person who has learned the hard way. I have messed some stuff up with plugins, and also while playing with themes. Which probably shouldn’t even be possible, but alas, it does happen. You can bring down your entire site. Or at least I can, without even trying. 🙂
Error 505 is the server’s way of saying, “Whoa…I’m completely broken but don’t know what the heck happened.” My whole site was down to just that error page. For a while, until I had a chat with the friendly WordPress support team. They fixed it pretty quickly.
The upside is that by messing everything up and taking down the site, I got to test WordPress support. Not just once but twice since I started paying for hosting. They are fast, friendly, and super efficient.
I told them I was sorry for breaking everything, but I can’t help myself. I’m like a kid with a new toy. I just want to play with absolutely everything! Woohoo! They said that’s okay. If I break more stuff, they’ll be there to fix it. Wow…cool…a license to go hog wild after all. 🙂
Seriously, they are good. I had a very brief experience with a third-party hosting service. My summary review of the competition is BOO! I’ve listened to enough people bellyache over their third-party hosting to know a lot of them are getting boos and hisses.
It’s really easy to just go with WordPress and upgrade to their business plan. No, I don’t get any kickbacks and I don’t work for the company. It’s just the easiest, best way to go. Stick with WordPress and be happy.
I still have to write my category pages. They’re like blog posts in and of themselves. Ugh.
I’ve also left a lot of orphaned tags, categories, and posts and such floating around. Google will hunt them down and list them in “crawl errors” in need of redirects. I will get some 404 Errors, both “hard” and “soft,” but they’re easy to fix. More on that later too, insha’Allah.
Once that’s all FINALLY taken care of, it will be time to add some content. The first thing I want to write is a post about all the stuff I mentioned here. If you want to blog, I want to make it easy for you. I love the idea of everyone having his or her own little corner of that world, to say whatever you like to the whole rest of the world. 🙂
That’s all for now. I hope you like the changes.