I want to take a moment and just chat about a situation that I face everyday and that I would like to finally resolve. I’ve been thinking about this since I read a blog post by Kerry Scott at Clue Wagon entitled “Did Your Ancestors Reboot?”
Here is my dilemma. In essence, I have been trying to “reboot” my blog since March of 2012. I have tried explaining my reasoning for this by comparing my blog to a shop and how an owner would want to present their merchandise to customers. What I wrote made perfect sense to me at the time since I had been struggling to get my blog together for almost a year and a half and had recently forgotten to pay my hosting fees and lost my site completely. I did have backups but only from March 2007 to December 2008.
I thought it would be easy to start over. I would simply restate my mission, re-launch my blog with a new title and incorporate older posts into my new blog as I felt I needed to. Boy have I been wrong!
The first sign that this would be hard to do was on my second post after starting over. My first post was about re-starting the blog and the second post was about changes that I was making in my life. I got two comments quickly on that post and they both were to wish me a happy 5th blogiversary!
How am I going to convince my readers, new and old, that I am credible when my second post has comments saying “Happy 5th Blogiversary”? I knew right then I was fighting an uphill battle. I think, perhaps, that is why I stood back and waited until January of this year to try and start over again. Everything is going fine and then, about 20 or so posts in, I get a comment saying “Happy 6th Blogiversary”.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am always glad to get comments and I’m excited that I have been blogging for 6 years. I wrote a post to try to diffuse the situation (as I perceived it) and explained why there were so few posts for someone who has been blogging for 6 years.
Fast forward to April 2013. I begin to import some old posts into my site and I am adding a little message at the top of the post saying that this is a re-post, blah, blah, blah. I realize that this is going to be even more confusing so I decided to post that I wouldn’t do that anymore. Every post would be published as a “New” post, even if it was originally published on my old blog.
The simple fact is that no matter what I try, I can’t escape my past. It’s not so much that it is a bad past. There were some great posts during my first 5 years. I think the main point was to try to filter out the trash that was in there. Now, once again, I find myself trying to figure out the best way to move forward.
I’ve tried different things. I have uploaded all the original blog posts from March 2007 to December 2008 but I went in and immediately “unpublished” them. I started at the beginning and began adding tags and making sure the image links were working and began publishing these older posts. Of course, no one realized this because the search engines aren’t going to catch that I have re-published an old post.
Recently I decided to just unpublish all those posts and just do as originally planned. Even that is not going to work!
There is another problem with just re-publishing the old posts. Since they were written under a different blog title and with a different permalink structure, I didn’t want to cause confusion to the search engines. My question now is just how will the “spiders” or “crawlers” or whatever you want to call them, perceive my site if I publish an old post and say it is entitled “My Stevenson Research Gets Its Start” and therefore it is perceived that there are two posts with that title on my blog as it also recognizes that there was a former post with that title on my domain. Is that going to hurt my search engine rankings? Will I be punished by the Google gods?
There are so many other things to consider, such as posts that were linked to by blog carnivals, posts that someone may have bookmarked but now they can’t find, posts that I linked to on Facebook pages but now the link doesn’t work.
Originally I thought it best to do this since I had a gap between January 2009 and June 2010. There were no backups for then and it would seem strange to have such a gap. Of course, there is also all the trash that was there. I’ve since been able to recover quite a few posts from the 2009 and 2010 years by using The Wayback Machine. Should I re-publish all these posts now and just rename my blog “Beyond Fiction” again and just remove the references to the new name? Perhaps after doing so I could go in and remove the “trash” posts, as I call them, that have nothing to do with genealogy and just caused confusion. This could let folks see that I have, indeed, been blogging for 6 years and I could just focus on adding new information and, perhaps, just updating the old posts with newer information.
Has anyone ever experienced this before? If so, how did you handle it? If not, what kind of advice would you give to a normal Joe who is just trying to do the right thing?
I love free advice! Feel free to comment below.