Finding links to blog posts to write about is easy. But finding links from blog posts I remember and want to link to, but can’t seem to find, is exceptionally frustrating. Have you suffered from the Agony of Link Hunting?
Searching Without a Search Form
I’m working on an article and I want to reference how WordPress.com’s list of the top blogs and top posts on WordPress.com aren’t in sequential order by traffic numbers. Andy Skelton came up with a brilliant bit of code that changed how the posts were rated, pulling posts from different percentiles rather than sequential order. This allows blogs that wouldn’t normally make it into the top 10 list to pop in from time to time, adding a sense of fairness in the competition to be “at the top” of a list which features some of the hottest blogs on the web.
I know it was published on the WordPress.com Blog, so I head there first. Did you know there is no search form on the WordPress.com blog? ARGHH!
Unwittingly, they have decided to not include a search form, one of the most criminal web acts any website can do to themselves, in my humble opinion.
I can click through the previous posts for hours looking for the post which describes this algorithm, but I know it’s a time wasting, futile endeavor. See, I’ve done this before. So I turn to the search engines.
Using a search trick on Google, I enter in the keywords for the post, restricting the search to only the WordPress.com blog.
popular posts algorithm site:http://wordpress.com/blog
I end up with a list of posts from the WordPress.com blog, but also from too many other sources. I try all types of angles, hunting here and there, trying different keywords (andy skelton blog of the day, skelton popular posts ranking, and variations thereof), and finally, over 30 minutes later, I stumble on a post titled Fresh Hot Stuff.
I’ve seen it come up before, but it never felt right. The title threw me. It couldn’t be right.
In the post, the first thing Andy does is ask forgiveness for the post title:
That title isnâ€™t meant to be vague. It refers to the Hot Posts and Hot Blogs lists on the front page.
Well, that’s the one and the vague post title totally threw me.
I face this problem on many blogs which arrogantly think no one must want to search their blog content, I guess. Why else would they not have a search form?
WordPress Search Sucks
The other problem I face on my own blog, as well as other WordPress blogs, is the lousy search function.
WordPress blogs have a very simple search method. It does not recognize grouped words, searches grouped in quote marks, thus limiting your search. If you search for wordpress blogging tips it will search for all instances of wordpress, blogging, and tips, giving you a mishmash of too much information rather than restricting your search results to only those blog posts with the three terms.
WordPress also lists search results by chronological order, which isn’t helpful if what you are seeking is on page 14 of the search results. Google and other search engines list results by relevance, the most likely candidate for your search at the top.
So this makes searching WordPress blogs like mine a painful experience.
On many of my blog posts I include a list of related articles. The search for these comes from a master list I created over a year ago, and then I manually search for the posts on my blog. There is no trick nor WordPress Plugin for this. It’s manual labor all the way.
Again, the chronological order makes it incredibly frustrating since I know I published the post I’m hunting for a few months ago, but I have to page through two or three pages of search results to get to that time period. If I could use keywords in a phrase, I could narrow down that search time dramatically.
There is the Search Everything WordPress Plugin and other Plugins which improve search capabilities, but the default WordPress search, the one I’m stuck with on WordPress.com, definitely needs improving.
So I turn to Google and Google Blog Search to help me track down the posts on my own blog.
With Google, I can shrink down the search results by using grouped words and the relevancy of search terms usually brings my blog post closer to the top of the list. I don’t have to group the search terms with quote marks. I know that Google will put the web pages with the search terms closest together in proximity to each other at the top of the list. The farther down the list, the farther apart the search terms.
This usually helps me find the posts I’m hunting for, but it still means more time with more tabs in my browser and flipping around between browser tabs and my text editor where I write my blog posts before publishing.
Post Titles Without Links Can Lose Links
Most WordPress Themes feature the post title in a link, even on single post page views. This is brilliant for many reasons, but most important to my link agony, it speeds up my ability to link to a post when I write my blog posts.
A Firefox Extension that has saved my life is Copy Link Text (CoLT) Firefox Extension. It adds a Right Click menu option to copy a link as a full HTML anchor link, with the link, title, and anchor text, and paste the whole thing into my post content. Wow!
Instead of using the buttons in the Rich Text Editor to copy and paste the link and then manually type in the link title and text, or manually typing out the whole HTML code, with a right click and left click on a blog post, then switch to my text editor or WordPress editor and press CTRL+V where I want the link to appear, it’s done. FAST!
It may seem redundant but saving time and my poor tired hands a few keystrokes makes me a happier blogger.
Do You Have Some Linking Agonies?
As you write your blog posts, what agonizes you? What is the most frustrating part of gathering information and resources, linking and quoting from blog posts, and trying to write and publish your blog posts?
And what has helped you to overcome your suffering?
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.