Sometimes, I just have to wonder at my own actions. This past month I have taken it upon myself too ‘fix’ two things that were not broken. You would think I would have learned the lesson the first time, but no – I did it twice!
The first thing I ‘fixed’ was the name of my blog. For the purposes of seo (search engine optimisation) I had it named within the site meta data (title tag) as ‘personal development blog’. It is a pretty unimaginative title, but for the sake of the engines, that’s what it was and it was indeed on page one of Google for the term ‘personal development’. You’d have to be a nutcase to change it wouldn’t you?
Now, this is perhaps not what you may be thinking. I knew that changing the blog title would cause it to fall from page one for that term. But I have come to realise that people find my site, in the main, not by typing ‘personal development’ into Google, but by using a myriad of other terms for which I have never deliberately optimised. So I understood and didn’t mind taking the hit. I wanted to name my blog ‘The Inspiration Blog’ and that’s what I did.
So, what were the consequences? Well firstly, as expected, the blog fell from page one for the term. However, an unexpected benefit was that Google replaced the blog with my home page on page one for the same term, so there was really no loss there at all. However, about half way through the month, I noticed that my traffic was not quite what I was expecting.
After a bit of digging, what I discovered was that the post titles of my articles were not being written the way I wanted them. Somehow, the site name was getting appended to every post – not good for seo purposes. Again, after some digging, scratching my head and a fair bit of trial and error, I discovered the problem. It concerned an seo plugin I have installed on my blog.
One of the options in the plugin allowed the post titles to be rewritten. Generally this is a good thing, but somehow the renaming of the blog had interfered with the work of this plugin. All that was necessary was to resave the configuration settings of the seo plugin and the problem went away – titles were again being correctly written.
This simple error meant that my traffic for the month was actually lower than last month. This is the first time it has happened in six months. Fortunately, my income did not suffer. Despite the drop in traffic, I earned slightly more than I did last month, and that was really encouraging.
The second thing I ‘fixed’ was another WordPress plugin that displays social bookmark icons at the foot of each post. I wanted to make a minor change. I just wanted to add a little bit of text before the buttons – sounds easy right? I’m not that much of a php programmer, but like many website owners, I have dabbled quite a bit as and when necessary. I knew the ‘echo’ command. It was just a simple matter of figuring out where to put it in the code for the plugin.
In the past, when I have edited php plugin code, if I had got the code wrong in some way, WordPress would simply disable the plugin. Fair enough; I could then easily take out the offending code and reactivate the plugin without any ill-effects. On this occasion, my edit corrupted my wp-config.php file. It took me hours to put it right.
Anyway, this post is a kind of progress report I suppose: traffic down, revenue up. But it is also a warning. Remember – whatever you are doing – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!