Why The Blog Fixer
My wife has run the blog KitchenStewardship.com since 2009. As I’m sure is the case with many bloggers, when starting out she had a strong background in writing but little web or SEO knowledge.
The big learning curve coupled with the constantly changing web landscape brought about by Google, Facebook, Pinterest, and others meant she was always needing to go through her archives, changing out the old industry standards for the new and correcting mistakes. As the size of that archive grew to hundreds and then thousands of posts, she couldn’t keep that up along with creating her new content and asked for my help.
Never much for manual labor, I set about researching how a lot of this archive grooming could be automated.
Is There a Plugin for That?
I first turned to some of the Search and Replace plugins and had some success. These types of plugins automatically change the content of the posts stored in the WordPress database, a lot like the Find and Replace command works in Word. However, even though I’m technically inclined, I was intimidated by the (stated explicitly or implied) disclaimer that went something like:
Things can go wrong when using this plugin. You might type something incorrectly, sneeze on the enter key inadvertently, or otherwise break your entire blog and all its posts. Change the content of every post to “aaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeeee;;;;;;;;;;;;;”? Yup, our plugin can do that. There is no undo. Please do not contact the plugin authors when such a thing occurs as we can’t help. Have a great day!
So I started to look for alternative plugins that could help us change our content. The plugins I found utilized WordPress Filters for making changes.
What’s a Filter? Like…on my Car?
Filters change the content of your post in real time as a reader is loading the page. So the html doesn’t change and you can’t actually see what it’s doing until you go to your live site to check it out.
Filter Problem No. 1: Your Filter Might Cause a Nuclear Undo
Filters can be handy because changes that are made can be reverted by simply turning off the plugin…but the massive downside is that if the plugin development is abandoned or it stops functioning after a WordPress update, the change goes away as well, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
For example, The Guy of the Flights and Frustration blog got hit with an SEO penalty when his nofollow plugin stopped working, as he expalined in the following comment on a nofollow article over at Digital Nomad Wannabe:
As you may recall I am currently contesting a Google penalty and have argued strongly on my requests for revaluation that my site is compliant only to be denied.
I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve gone through my site checking the links. I used the “Inspect Element” feature to confirm links read as “no follow” as you suggest.
I then had a very interesting discussion with a fellow blogger yesterday. He told me that the no follow plugin I’d been using was obsolete and stopped working properly following a Word press update. As you can imagine I was totally gob smacked.
The plugin has been removed and a different one installed which more easily marks all external links as no follow. I’ve now submitted for a review, fingers crossed.
I’m somewhere between mortified and in despair at the fact I’ve lost so much time, fighting a battle when I felt I was compliant only to be told the tool I was using is probably the issue.
Filter Problem No. 2: Your Filter Might Slow Down Your Blog
Another downside to filters is performance and load time.
You’ve probably heard that limiting the number of plugins your site uses is important to keep it running fast. One reason experts say this is because plugins that use filters need to run every time someone tries to load a post. They examine every post request on your blog and that can cause drag.
So who will win? Your compelling content, or the spinning circle your readers have to wait for before they can see what you wrote?
Down with Filters!
If You Want Something Done Right…
Because of the disadvantages with any of the existing solutions, I decided to go DIY. My experience as a professional programmer came in handy when I decided to see if I could design something that included the best of all worlds.
And The Blog Fixer was born.
The Blog Fixer Changes the Database
This is important. All Fixes are permanent and will remain whether The Blog Fixer is deactivated or deleted entirely.
This also means The Blog Fixer will contribute zero drag on your blog while users are viewing your content. Once a fix has run once, that’s it. When a post is loaded, it is simply retrieved from the database already fixed.
Fixes can be fully previewed
Before any fix is made live, The Blog Fixer presents a report of all posts about to be changed. The report includes the number of changes being made to each post along with the ability to preview what the new post will look like. You can even see the before and after of each post’s Html code side by side.
Fixes can be Reverted
“Undo” is probably the greatest computing feature ever created. I constantly find myself wishing I could use it in real life…like the other day when I dropped the ceramic bowl in the kitchen.
Since that doesn’t seem to be possible, I made sure to add it to The Blog Fixer.
All fixes can be Reverted at any point in the future should you catch a mistake you didn’t see the first time around.