In the article about my experiences with web hosting companies, I wrote about my experiences with blogging platforms as well. I learned html on my own and thought that it would be a good start if I began with plain coding rather than a visual editor like front page, even though I occasionally used it when I was learning to write the code for tables – yes, at that time, there were tables, no fancy style sheets. I mainly wrote plain code and was viewing the result by opening the saved html file.
Then my site got traffic and readers were trying to contact me with feedback. This led me to learn Perl and ASP in order to write interactive code. However, this time I didn’t really learn to write the code, rather, to read the code. So I learned the code faster and got the interactive comment forms launched sooner.
I was playing with the code for 7 years and changed hosting services a few times for different reasons. It was a pain that I had to play with both SEO and code. I eventually found that it was inefficient and made a big decision to switch to WordPress, which meant changing the whole platform, because WordPress is written in PHP and the hosting that worked for ASP did not work for PHP.
However, I’m the type who tends to do things once and for all. I saw the potential of WordPress and the blogging system. Search engines index blog posts faster and the blogs are designed for SEO. So I did the migration, learned 301 and was playing with PHP and WordPress for the next 2 years.
The Plugins That Worked
I tried a lot of plugins and they were sweet. I even tried Buddypress and other webmasters were envious about my site. I was proud. Then Google started to hit me for unbelievable reasons. Because the site became better and members stuck to it as if it were a magnet and their “home”.
Yes, Buddypress made the site no longer a blog, but a forum. Its internal linking structure is not perfect for SEO which results in duplicate content and ineffective linking. I’m OK with the price I paid, because I got members and word of mouth recommendations, and Facebook naturally became my number one referrer. I spent time dealing with the duplicate content issue by making the forum links internal.
The Plugin That Increased Rank
I also installed a plugin called SEO Smart Links. I admired the developer. He was constantly developing smart plugins. I installed it and it was good. It did boost keyword ranking. However, after Panda there was Penguin. Because I internally used SEO Smart Links for automatic linking, the same anchor texts were repeated. What’s more, my readers constantly share that content and embedded the same links. This resulted in the exact keywords being repeated too many times in Google’s view. :(
Apart from these, there was the speed. The plugins made my site load slowly. So I tried WP Minify. What happened again? Ha, you can tell. It was good and sped up my site, however, there’s always a “however”. WP Minify didn’t clean the cache automatically and you couldn’t even change the cache cleaning interval. Therefore, the cache was so large that this constantly caused my VPS to be down.
The Plugins That Do Not Work
I didn’t know the reasons and always blamed Inmotion Hosting until they assumed that it was due to the lack of a cache plugin. I was confused but I double checked WP Minify and figured out that it never cleaned my cache. It took much effort to clean them up and I went for a new plugin called “Hyper Cache”. I made sure that I could clean up the cache with this new plugin. It could automatically clean up the cache and I could change the interval as well. I was trying Total Cache, but it’s important that the size of a plugin should not be huge.
I got a performance plugin to check installed plugins that consume server resources and decided to get rid of them. Eventually I found that it’s best not to install plugins if possible. The most dreadful moment was the one when I updated to WordPress 3.5 and updated Buddypress right after that. This time it got a security hole that resulted in subscribers being able to log in and see what admin could see and Buddypress just casually stated that we just needed to disable the error notifications! I was forced to uninstall Buddypress right away. Actually the list of the plugins that do not work is a long one.
These were the lessons I learned. Only install minimum plugins. Because WordPress constantly updates, while the plugins may not be updated. If you need a forum, install forum software instead of a plugin.
I also really, really learned to forget about Google and be natural, even though I still mentioned it like an ex-boyfriend.
If I never migrated and never did SEO, my old site was driving traffic. If I had never installed Buddypress and all the other plugins that no longer work for me, the Panda Group would still have smiled at me. What if I were just being natural? What if whitehats never invented SEO plugins? Yes, what if there were never blackhats that had driven Google crazy?