Notes From The Netherlands, a short story collection.
It’s been a strange couple of weeks for me, here in WordPress land. Since wrapping up my Siem Reap travel report series back at the end of September, I’ve been ploughing my way through dozens and dozens of old articles.
You see, when I started these humble pages, way back in 2015, I had no clue about good blogging practices. Looking back on those old pieces, I was like: “whoooooa, this is bad”. Hence I set about trying to bring them up to the standard of my 2020 stuff.
Needless to say I underestimated just how much work it would all be. I improved existing images, added more photos, extended texts, implemented SEO, chose a header image, linked everything up internally and toiled away on better tagging and categorising.
For the most part, I’d say it’s all been worth it. It’s been fun republishing those retro pieces in their new, sparkly forms. Especially as three quarters of my readers never even read them the first time around. On the downside, every now and then an article failed to republish properly and didn’t make the reader. Shit happens sometimes, right?
But then, I had a weird and altogether more unsatisfactory experience when I began reposting my old short story collection Notes from The Netherlands. Basically, all six posts failed to make the WordPress reader, resulting in… well… very few people reading any of it. I contacted WP support and they said they’d investigate.
They looked into this, they looked into that. A week went by. Finally, I got a somewhat curt email from an engineer saying that there was nothing more they could do. And that actually, WordPress cannot guarantee that republished posts are pinned onto the reader. It’s something to do with their algorithms. And that was that.
This is a bit of a game changer for me. I still have hundreds of old crappy articles on my hit list. One way of dealing with it, I guess, is to just start again with a completely fresh post. That would work for the really old ones, but is a less enticing proposition for any reposts in the future that are, say, only a year or two old. In those cases starting again would result in losing search engine rankings and backlink juice. Anyhow, I digress.
Today I present Notes From The Netherlands, a six chapter short story collection detailing my days living in the Dutch capital between 2010 and 2014. Going back through those pieces was like looking into a window to a whole other planet. A completely different version of myself that I barely recognise.
In those days I was married, getting onto the property ladder and interviewing Hollywood stars for a living. In a weird way, reliving those times through the writing of these stories has had a healing quality, if that makes any sense. As ever, thanks for reading, liking, commenting and all the rest of it. I really appreciate those of you who have supported me over this last, transformative year!
Hang in there and keep them coming, Leighton. It’s fun to be reminded of this time in your life.
Good to know, I’ve actually been thinking I should re-do some of my first posts and re-posting them, but now I’m not sure. Maggie
I think for most people it’s ok weirdly. I was doing this fine for the last six months. From about 150 republished articles, the reader failure happened 3 times in total. Then, six times consecutively with these stories.
Hmm, maybe I’ll try then. Thanks for the info.
You have my sympathy facing the WP demon 🙂
Thanks, my friend!
Writing and rewriting is the bane of writers, but so necessary. Keep going!
I appreciate the encouragement!
My understanding is that Google punishes re-posts (even ones that have been substantially re-written) and that they will have a detrimental effect on your SEO’s so I think it might just be best to leave them as they are and start afresh. Really enjoyed your short stories, though sad at times. Marion.
Hey Marion, thanks a lot for reading and commenting, I appreciate it. There’s so much confusion for us bloggers when it comes to the nitty gritty of SEO. After nearly a week researching the subject of republishing, I finally got a definitive answer from several expert sources. Basically, they say updating and republishing is highly beneficial IF you do it right. The main pitfall is that when you republish with WordPress, the URL changes because WP urls have a date format. The date change ‘breaks’ the old link leading to a 404 error. Therefore, any search engine authority and backlink juice is subsequently gone in a click. Nightmare. One of the easiest ways to fix this is to upgrade to Yoast SEO Premium, which has an automatic built in redirect manager. When you republish, the plugin identifies the URL change and creates a seamless redirect from your old url to your new url, keeping everything connected. I installed the Premium service about a week ago and it works really nicely. SEO Premium also has a bunch of other easy to use features that take your blog’s SEO to the next level. Of course, these benefits will only start to kick in over time, there’s no magic button. SEO is my least favourite aspect of blogging, but slowly I’m starting to understand more and more.
That’s really useful information, thanks for explaining it so well. It’s good that the SEO Premium’s features will be beneficial to you in the long term. I’ve never actually re-posted but I’m glad you brought it t my attention in case I do. Although I value all the contributions I receive from the WordPress community, I’m always fascinated to find out who and what people have been searching for on the web, for instance yesterday I noticed a school had been using one of my travel posts for English comprehension through Google Classroom, something I would never have imagined but pleasing all the same!
Yup, I’m a sucker for checking my analytics for insight into where traffic comes from. Often the least expected and often random search engine queries lead to one’s door. It’s also fun to see which bloggers have back linked to you and which museum/local council’s Twitter feed reposted your article. All part of the growth process.
Ugh, wordpress issues are never fun to deal with. On an unrelated note, I may be a bit biased as I’m Dutch, but I think the Netherlands is such a great country! And oh wow do they take football very seriously.
Me too! Romantic woes aside, I had such a great time in Amsterdam and indeed during my travels across the country. Thanks for reading! And for the WordPress sympathy.
No way! You got to meet and interview Jake Gyllenhaal?? That’s so awesome! What’s not so awesome is the WP algorithm. I’ve more-or-less given up on trying to push my posts to the top long ago, but I still do schedule my posts a few times in a day so that new readers can see it! Just need to do a bit of the hard labor on one’s own, since we’re the creators!
Quite right Rebecca! Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoy the Jake story.