Building Blogging Software

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 09/13/2005

I have several types of blogging that I do on a day-to-day basis. There is my clear-thinking blogging that I do in the morning to plan my day. This is normally private and goes into an Internal system, where the posts are kept private, even within the organization. They are available for later auditing and searching if ever need be, and nothing in there is really sensitive. It just works as a sort of compilation of my thoughts and to do lists. It’s all kept in a “built” system, so that the data never needs to be hosted anywhere. This type of blogging is not able to be leveraged on the Internet to drive traffic.

Then, there is this blogging, which is intended for public consumption. I use Blogger via Microsoft Word, because it is the most friction-free route to publishing. I would keep all my blogging in this system were in not for some very advanced requirements that I have for public-facing blogging systems. The criteria are two-fold…

1. I need to be able to tweak the SEO “formula” without being beholden to a vendor. For example, just yesterday, I tweaked the Blogger templates to expose the permalink, which was obscurely hidden on the posting-time data in the particular template that I chose. Now, I’m not sure if that’s a standard in Blogger templates, but to take a link to a permanent URL and to not use relevant keywords in that link is a big SEO no-no. And the concept of a permalink is difficult enough without explicitly labeling, the way TypePad does. So, I did both: put the keyword in the link AND identified it as the permalink which is to be used when linking to the article. My next step was to look for prev/next arrows such as TypePad uses. I feel that it is a superior user interface for surfing blog posts than Blogger’s “Last 10 posts”. It keeps PageRank voting power from being diluted, and provides keyword-rich links on the two adjacent pages, which are likely to be topically related. It’s a big missing piece in Blogger. Now, I could just move to MovableType or WordPress for the arrows. But the prev/next arrows are just one example of the SEO formula du jour. I need to be able to tweak every aspect of the formula and control the “transformation” from data to web pages.

2. I need to implement EXTREME blogging features, beyond just what is necessary for SEO, but what is necessary for difficult-to-emulate niche blogging sites. For example, anyone familiar with Mike-Levin.com will have seen some of the large projects I have blogged-as-I-went. I use a baby-step tutorial approach to documentation. You don’t have to be efficient on the Web like you do in paper-publishing, because there is little to no cost involved in including your entire program on every page. So, I repeat the entire program as it develops, and try to highlight just the pieces that have changed. But that’s so labor-intensive, and a program is better suited for doing it anyway. I’d have no chance of editing Blogger to automatically highlight changes between the prior and current post. I might have some chance with Movable Type. But it’s much better to just control the software directly.