I’ve been moving full-steam ahead on FensePost, the old music blog I started back in 2006.
After seemingly countless attempts to give it a reboot, including an attempt at the end of 2021 in which I put together a few video reviews and posted them to YouTube, it finally happened.
The pivot was simple, really. My obsession with vinyl records continues, and it seemed natural to merge a handful of passions and channel them into a single, multifaceted outlet:
- Music Discovery
- Sharing Music I Love
- Vinyl Records
- Creating Content
- Taking Photos
- Making Videos
Ten Years of Dormancy
A lot has happened in the past ten years. And just as much in the past five or six, which is how long it’s been since I’ve done pretty much anything with SEO (search engine optimization). There’s a TON of work to be done.
In this post, I’m going to outline some of what I’ve tackled already, and I’ll conclude with my goals and hopes for the blog. I’d like this to be a regular spotlight on the journey with a fresh update every week or two.
I converted the site from Joomla to WordPress in 2008, and as I didn’t really know what I was doing, I installed it as a subpage to FensePost.com and redirected that main URL to the subpage /main. This folly, all these years later, is likely causing a ding SEO-wise. Not to mention the permalink structure which includes the publish date.
Those are issues for another day.
First things first.
Update WordPress & Plug-Ins
I was running an outdated version of WordPress. Over half of the plugins were outdated as well. LOTS to get done.
These kinds of updates are actually relatively easy as you can do it with the click of a button. But, given how long the site had been dormant, you can’t start making big changes without running a backup.
I used a plugin called All-in-One WP Migration. This allows you to export you complete site. However, to import it would require you to upgrade as it limits the size of what you can import. Thankfully I didn’t need that.
In addition to cleaning up all of the outdated plugins, I methodically went through and deleted any that weren’t currently activated. Then I reviewed each active one to see if it was truly needed.
I also eliminated all WordPress Themes aside from the current active one and the most recent default WordPress 2023 core theme. WordPress likes you to have one of their core templates as a backup should the current active one fail.
Cleanup All Internal and Outbound Links
Ohhh boy. I’m still working on this. Given the site has been around for closing in on 20 years and houses over 2,000 articles, you better believe there are a lot of broken links!
On top of that, some big changes in security have taken place since I originally launched the site. Namely, we all have SSL certificates now, which allow us to run HTTPS rather than just HTTP. That means most that have made the conversion to SSL have a redirect in place.
No only do I need to update all outbound links, any internal links created before about 2017 (give or take a year) redirect from HTTP. I started with over 2,000 link issues and I’m down just below 1,600. All broken links, thankfully, have been fixed or removed.
For this, I’m using a plugin called Broken Link Checker.
I’ll expand on some other linking items in the next two sections.
Refresh & Update Poor Content
Another monumental task, since the blog went into dormancy, several changes have taken place in WordPress itself. Now we have a block editor, where the vast majority of posts were created using the classic editor. Feature images are now a thing, and most templates use those. You don’t have to insert an image at the top of a post anymore; you just set the feature image and the template does its thing.
I have slowly been going through and converting all of these old posts to the block editor, updating or adding a feature image, and cleaning up gibberish text. For over 2,000 posts, this is a big task.
With Yoast SEO, I’m also implementing some light optimizations as I go. This includes setting a focus keyword, updating the page title (and sometimes headline), adding sub-headers, and writing a meta description.
Finally, I’m updating the internal and external links as needed. Most of the old pages link off to band MySpace pages. And that hasn’t been a thing for closing in on a decade. The links I replace them with go to the Tag pages, which is an archive of all posts that have that tag.
Let’s get into that next…
Optimize Tags & Tag Pages
Another thing I never did was optimize the Tag names or pages. There’s a lot of cleanup here as well, from deciding whether to include or exclude “the” at the beginning of a band’s name to using an ampersand or typing out “and.” In many bands that have been covered again and again, both tags exist.
Optimizing pages was an idea I had after visiting several other sites — what about creating a brief 2-3 paragraph bio on the band, including some external links off to the band’s website and Wikipedia page (if they have one), and links to where visitors can grab their music like their Discogs’ band page and Amazon (using my Affiliate links).
This could provide added SEO value if the site allows SERPs to crawl and catalog Tag pages.
These Tag Archives are going very slow as it’s essentially producing new content for each one, but my hope is that they create added content that boosts SEO in time.
Build an Email List!
Alright, not entirely an SEO thing, but most definitely a marketing thing is building a list. I never did this before, and I’m kicking myself now. I focused a little on social media back in the day, but it wasn’t consistent.
I created a Send in Blue account, which has since become Brevo. I started with 3 people, one of which was me. After trying out a few different plugins and multiple different offers, I finally found one that converts surprisingly well.
A simple “join my email list” didn’t suffice.
Neither did “my top 5 common sense secrets to buying records online” lead magnet.
However, curated, hand-picked recommendations did the trick. That paired with a fresh lead capture strategy now lands me anywhere between 5-10 email subscriptions per day. In time, this will pay off big. For now, it’s a start!
There’s a bigger strategy here.
First, my goals around the FensePost Vinyl Blog. I’d like it to start generating consistent cashflow. This could come through Affiliate Sales (most reviews link off with Amazon Associates, and I include some in emails I send out each week too). It could come through subscription via Google Reader Revenue (something I activated this week), or through Google AdSense.
Additionally, I’m familiarizing myself with a few other platforms. I’ve consistently been pumping out video reviews and vlogs on YouTube (which I hope to eventually monetize) and am analyzing how well certain types of content do. This past week, I finally took the plunge and hopped on the TikTok bandwagon.
The plan is to continue the projects above while also testing out some Reader Revenue elements. I’ll also be digging into Google Search Console and G4, Google’s new Analytics platform.
Finally, I’m working on a framework to teach people how to monetize their passion, and some steps they can take to make it happen. So far, I’ve started piecing together an outline for an online course. I plan to put together a webinar using Russell Brunson’s “Perfect Webinar” framework. And, maybe even some day, write a book on the subject.
Hopefully this has been informative. If you’re working to update an old blog, maybe you’ll find inspiration in some of what I’m doing or talking about. Here’s to me sticking to the plan and keeping you updated…