My New Blogging Strategy

Three Posts for the Price of One: SEO be Damned!

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I find myself in a bit of a self-induced conundrum. My business comes from referrals, but I want people that visit my business page to see that I am a real person who regularly updates and maintains the website. I also have a genuine interest in sharing my techno-messes and (hopefully) consequent techno-victories. I especially love it when someone reads something I wrote and actually responds with a question. The problem is that my business website is not really a place for people to interact with me because it is essentially a glorified business card. On the other hand, using a service like Medium or Tumblr does little to promote my business page.

“Sure,” you say. “Post the same content at multiple sites.”

“But what about those dreaded SEO penalties for posting the same content at multiple places?” I ask. Not to mention the pain of actually posting to multiple sites. Do I even have the time?

Here is my strategy. It is not going to work for everyone entirely (it might not even work for me, in the end), but it is at least a framework from which one might be able adapt to their own needs. The big picture is this: I have a business website built in RapidWeaver, a Tumblr blog, and a Medium publication. I want to be able to write the blog post with the same images and formatting in all three locations. I then want to share the posts through my businesses social media accounts.

Is this even smart? Am I killing my SEO potential by reposting a blog multiple times? All indications as of 2016 is that duplicate content does not have a negative SEO impact, provided the content is original. In fact, if the content is targeted to different groups, as is the case with my three blogging outlets, more people will have the opportunity to review it. This common understanding amongst internet marketers is supported by my own personal experience. But again, I am also not too worried about SEO given that my business is referral based.

So I developed a workflow to get my content at three places (nearly) at once. It all starts with the draft, which I write in Markdown (I use IA Writer, but any default text editor or word processor would do). Markdown is a very efficient means to generate HTML, and it is fully supported by Tumblr. Once I have the text, I look for a new images to add to the project. I consistently name these images with the date and a number and then upload them to a folder on my web host. This way I can easily link back to the images in my document.

(Not to geek out too much, but because I name and store the files consistently, I can use a text expander program to spit out the relevant URL and generate the image name with a shortcut. I use Typinator, but there are plenty of other alternatives out there.)

With my files uploaded to my web server, I can then copy and past my text to Tumblr. Once I post it, I can view the finished product, select and copy it all (including the images) and paste to a new Medium post. I do a little rearranging (move the header image, reclassify the header tags, etc.), but there is very little additional work there.

Two out of three done. For my website, which is designed using RapidWeaver, I use a stack from Joe Workman that automatically imports Tumblr blogs into my website while maintaining my website’s formatting. It took a little work to get the appearance right, but I’m happy with the result.

Now, as far as getting the posts out through social media, I take advantage of Tumblr’s default RSS feed, which I can load to share my posts through my Buffer account. All in, after I’ve drafted my text and found or made any images, it takes me about 5 minutes to post to all three places and schedule the social media posts.

So there you have it - one post done three ways and shared through social media. I know I blew through these steps, but I would be happy to answer any questions or criticisms and expand on any points of interest in a future post.

Goodbye WordPress, Hello Tumblr!

As always, Delcour Solutions receives no compensation for any products or services mentioned in this blog.

For the past month, I have been working to update my website and design a mobile site off of a logo designed for me by my friend, Natalie Daller. Like most creative projects, a simple color switch and code update has turned in to a full on condemnation, teardown, and rebuilding project. Just as I thought I had figured everything out perfectly, a fairly irritating problem arose. I wanted my blog to be readable on both the mobile site and the regular site. I had accomplished this with another site I manage, where I designed a WordPress template to match the rest of the website and then installed the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin which presented the blog in a mobile-friendly format (for the mobile site, I essentially used an i-frame to display the mobile blog within the context of the mobile site). I thought that I could employ a similar tactic for my new website - and that is when it all hit the fan.

First off, I was unable to install the mobile plugin through WordPress without encounter errors. The plugin has not been updated in over two years, so I suppose it is just no longer compatible with current WordPress versions. Regardless, I was not too happy to use an outdated and unsupported technology. I also realized that the whole i-frame solution I used before might not be the best idea because I was using a responsive mobile design, meaning the window adjusts to the size of the screen without changing the size of the text. This makes i-frames more complicated and messy; it seemed like I should find a simpler solution. So, I started searching the WordPress plugins for a different option. As I searched for hours on end, I came back to a conclusion at which I had briefly arrived years ago, just before I got my own WordPress installation to really work the way I wanted: I HATE WORDPRESS.

I know that WordPress is “powerful” and “customizable” but the fact is that proper management requires more time than I am willing to spend. I have too much to learn on a daily basis without overcoming extinct plugins that never worked the way I REALLY wanted. It was a bad relationship - and the time had come to move on. When I had initially designed my website, I had tried a number of blogging services, including Tumblr. Back then, Tumblr was less-tested and I was concerned about it its ultimate viability (also, Blogger was much bigger then, and seemed like a better way to go if I was not going to jump on the WordPress bandwagon). Things have changed, however, and Tumblr has become a creative, well-supported, and highly customizable blogging service; sort of a Twitter for bloggers. The trick would be integrating it in to my website, as, unlike WordPress, Tumblr is hosted elsewhere.

In my case, I had the perfect solution in the form of a RapidWeaver stack designed by Joe Workman. If you have not designed your website using RapidWeaver, this is not particularly helpful, but perhaps there are other solutions out there to pull in your Tumblr posts onto your blog. Regardless, the stack takes your blog posts and seamlessly integrates them into a RapidWeaver site; Joe’s own site utilizes the stack beautifully. In my case, the stack worked great both in my standard and mobile sites. No need for a plugin on Tumblr’s side or a separate solution for the mobile site. Perfect!

So there is one problem solved. However, a new problem has arisen with regard to how to handle the Tumblr side of things. You see, while I can pull in blog posts to my website, the fact remains that there is a publicly-viewable Tumblr site out there where these blog posts permanently reside. In other words, I need to design the Tumblr-hosted blog to look professional so that when people find it, they would be directed to my actual website. I will not belabor the point, but suffice to say that if you can build a website, you can customize any number of the Tumblr themes to fit within your aesthetic. While my new website is not quite ready for prime time, you can take a look at the Tumblr blog here. Another nice feature with Tumblr is that is someone is viewing your blog through a mobile device, Tumblr automatically sends them to an optimized version of the site.

Another problem that deserves mention is the whole transfer of posts from WordPress to Tumblr. There used to be a plugin that allegedly exported posts to Tumblr from WordPress, but it no longer seems to function. Ultimately, I had to repost everything from MarsEdit, the software I use to write my blogs. It took hours and the posts are still out of order, but it should be smooth sailings from here on out.

At the end of the day, I think that I am getting more with Tumblr because my website has the blog entries seamlessly integrated and I now have an independent blog hosted by Tumblr that can be followed by others easily. I will let you know whether more traffic is being driven to my main site. I also just like having a separate blog site because while I do write this blog to get people interested in my business, I also write because I enjoy writing and enjoy sharing fixes to problems I encounter (like so many others have done for my benefit). I look forward to learning how to make Tumblr work well for me, and I will share my discoveries right here.

Don't Forget the Mobile Website

As always, Delcour Solutions receives no compensation for products mentioned in this blog.

All of this talk of the new iPhone has got me thinking about the power of the mobile website. Regardless of whether your website serves as a face for your business, a place where you do business, or something in between, you absolutely must make sure that it looks as good on a smartphone as it does on the big screen. This means no Flash (Adobe has stopped developing it for mobile devices), text that is large enough to read on a small screen, and no pop-us. Make the contact info front and center, so people who visit your site can click on a phone number to call you directly or an address to get directions. Link your videos to YouTube - generally, just make the phones native apps do the work for you. One size definitely does not fit all in this case. 

I recently wrapped up a project where I “mobilized” a newly designed website. Take a look at www.eichnerlaw.com and then visit the same site from a mobile device or go to mobile.eichnerlaw.com. For the mobile site, I used Rapidweaver to create a site that is clear on an iPhone. Just something to keep in mind.

Delcour Solutions Has a New Site!

As we approach (all to quickly) a new year, I thought the time had come to update the Delcour Solutions website. I know it is the second overhaul this year, but given all the work I have done designing website for others, I just had to apply what I had learned to my own site. I have again used RapidWeaver to design my site, which is still hosted by GoDaddy. I find the new site less busy and easier to navigate, but I want to know what YOU think. So, drop me line or leave a comment. The site is still very much in beta form while I smooth the edges over the coming weeks, so please let me know if you find any bugs! Hopefully the final version will be all ready to go for 2012.

RapidWeaver, WordPress, GoDaddy, and Permalinks: Putting it all Together

There are a great number of posts dealing with issues that people have with WordPress “pretty permalinks” on self-hosted blogs. As a preliminary matter, “premalinks” in this context are permanent links to specific blog entries. Now, what makes a permalink “pretty” is that the link includes information that identifies the blog post. For example, a regular permalink to one of my blog posts might read: “http://delcoursolutions.com/wpblog/?p=46”. A pretty permalink version of a link to the same article might read: “http://delcoursolutions.com/wpblog/blogging-with-rapidweaver-and-the-winner-is…wordpress/”. In that example, the title of the blog post is included in the URL, as opposed to some random number. Aside from just looking nicer, including the title of the blog post in the URL can help with search engine optimization (SEO) because the URL itself is searchable. Unfortunately, setting this up can be a bit difficult, so I wanted to share how I made it all work.

First, let me go over my setup. Your setup will undoubtedly differ, but hopefully you can extrapolate something useful from my experience (as always, please leave a comment or email me with any specific questions). So, my website was designed with RapidWeaver and is hosted on GoDaddy. I set up a self-hosted WordPress account directly through GoDaddy (click here for a tutorial on hosting a WordPress blog with GoDaddy), where WordPress is installed in the /wordpress/ directory. I incorporated my blog into my website using Nilrog’s WP-Blog plugin. I upload my website to the host by using Transmit, an awesome FTP program for the Mac. Everything was working fine, except that I wanted the permalinks to my individual blog entries to include the blog post titles (by default, WordPress uses nondescript permalinks). Once I tried to enable the pretty permalinks through WordPress, all hell broke loose. No matter what I did, I either could not access my individual blog posts (through 404 errors or a nondescript “No input file specified” error). After a great deal of trial and error, I finally got everything up and running on my site. Here are the steps you can take if you are in my situation:

1. Log into your WordPress Dashboard. On the left side of the screen, select “Settings” and then choose “Permalinks” from the expanded menu. Under “Common Settings,” select “Custom Structure” and enter “/%postname%/” (without the quotes). Click on “Save Changes.” and log out of WordPress.

2. Log into your GoDaddy account. From the front page, go to “My Account;” scroll down to “My Products” and select “Web Hosting.” Click on the “Launch” button to the right of the account to bring up the Hosting Control Center. Next, hover the mouse over the “Settings” bog in the upper-left corner of the screen; click on “File Extensions Management.” Locate “.php” under the “Extension” heading and click on the edit button directly to the right (the button looks like a pad and pencil). A box should pop up; locate the drop down menu under the “Runs under” heading and select “PHP 5.2.x” (the default is “PHP 5.2.x fastCGI). Click "OK” and log out of your GoDaddy account.

3. Open Transmit and log into your website via FTP, making sure that you can view hidden files (Go to View > Show Invisible Files). In the root directory of your website, there should be a “.htaccess” file. Right-click the file and select “Edit in Transmit.” Ensure the following is in in the file:

addhandler x-httpd-php5-cgi .php
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /wpblog/
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /wpblog/index.php [L]

Save the file twice (command-S) to make sure the file is uploaded. Now, open up the /wordpress/ directory and locate the second .htaccess file. Again, right-click the file and select “Edit in Transmit.” Ensure the following is in the file:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /wordpress/
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /wordpress/index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

Save the file twice (command-S) to make sure the file is uploaded. Quit Transmit.

4. Open your website in RapidWeaver and select “Setup” from the tool bar in the upper-right corner. From the menu that drops down, select “Advanced.” In the drop down menu to the right of “File Links Are,” select “Relative to Website Address.” Save your website and upload your changes to your host.

I hope that was helpful. Again, this works for me given my circumstances, but mileage will vary for others. Regardless, I’m here to help. so please let me know if you have any questions for your specific setup.

 

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