Beware (and Be Aware) of Wordpress Privacy Settings
Not to start this off too tangentially, but there are times when writing a blog post is painful. Not physically, mind you, but definitely psychologically, and even spiritually (if you’re the spiritual sort).
This is one such time.
Here’s a quick tip for you Wordpress users: be sure to check the Privacy Settings of your site before you publish out your first blog. And BY ALL MEANS, be sure to click the CORRECT and APPROPRIATE RADIO BUTTON and save your changes. And once you do these things, scan your code for any debilitating nuggets that may make any Privacy Settings null and void. Not to be too overly dramatic, but these choices can mean everlasting life, or slow, painful death to your blog.
Setting up a blog is no small task. I mean you carefully install Wordpress to your hosting account, you take great pains to find the perfect template for your blog. Maybe you even go so far as to DESIGN YOUR OWN template, or buy one from someone with a keen eye on design and implementation. Then you labor over that first post – perilously teetering on every word – so that everyone and their brother sees you as a “Force to be Reckoned With” in the blogosphere. After all that work the last thing you want is for that post, and for the lofty epics that follow, to sit aimlessly, floundering in digital purgatory: unindexed, unfollowed, uncrawled.
You see, I’m speaking from experience. Without going into the history of this Community site, we made a tragic mistake prior to rolling it out back in September of 2009. To be honest, we made two tragic mistakes:
1. We didn’t check and validate our robots.txt file prior to publishing our first post, and
2. We didn’t scour our Meta tags to ensure we weren’t shooting ourselves in the foot and invalidating all of our hard work.
With regards to Mistake 1, we created our own Wordpress theme, taking the base template and aggressively modifying CSS to make sure the theme matched our site. However, in our attempt to ensure our design aligned perfectly with our brand, we missed a crucial item and published our blog with the default robots.txt file, which essentially blocked all search engine (and all other) robots and spiders from crawling and indexing our site. Not the smartest thing we’ve ever done.
Now pile on Mistake 2: part of that default publish was this line, buried just below the Header of the site:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>
This line basically overrides whatever is in a site’s robots.txt file, so even though we found our mistake with our robots.txt file, we didn’t catch this other little tidbit until weeks and weeks later.
Agony…that means that in the last six months, our blog – our blog with posts and updates that are made several times a week, with six months’ worth of newsletters archived, with so many hours of time and effort in design, thought, planning, writing, editing, execution, argument and acquiescence – has been crawled and indexed once. One Time! Uno, Eins, Ichi, Een, Un. One time…and there is the pain I spoke of at the outset.
So, learn from our mistakes dear friends: BE SURE you have a robots.txt file that acts EXACTLY like you want it to. BE SURE the settings you have in your blog’s Administration section align perfectly with your goals, ideals and aspirations. Make all of that hard work pay off.