The Moral to the Story – Keep Your WordPress Installation Up to Date.

For those of you who don’t know how I pay the bills around here, I have this “savior” complex where in I try to save people from themselves.  While others hold their sides as they roll on the floor laughing at the idiots on YouTube who subject themselves to groin shots, I grimace in empathy.

As part of this complex, I launched a service known as Acumen Web Services where I sell self hosted  WordPress blogs to business people who are not geeks yet want to harness the power of the internet in their marketing.  At Acumen Web Services, I have a service known as “Cyber Angel” hosting.  This means that I’ll be responsible for keeping your WordPress blog up to date as part of your hosting with me.

I offer “Cyber Angel” hosting because I’ve watched clients take groin shot after groin shot  over the years and I don’t enjoy it one bit.

Here’s a word of advice:  If your web site is getting nice search engine action, BELIEVE ME the bad guys are hard at work finding a way to grab a piece of your hard earned success.

That’s what is happening with WordPress blogs.  Average, every day people are getting incredible results using WordPress self hosted blogs as their web presence.  Because of that success, there are bad guys (and gals) out there who are always looking for a way to siphon success from these hard working WordPress blogs.

As a result, the WordPress development team is always trying to keep one step ahead of the bad guys.  It’s a labor of love and it upsets me when people complain about the frequent updates.  They’re doing it for YOUR own good folks!

So, updating WordPress is essential.  If it’s too much for you, then get a free blog or hire someone to take care of YOUR self hosted WordPress blog for you.

As you might imagine, I’ve had more than one person throw a fuss over the monthly hosting fee which comes with “Cyber Angel” hosting.   Most are surprised at how QUICKLY I agree to doing it “their” way.  However, for some reason, the ones who ask “Why?” usually end up signing up quickly for the service.  The rest  have gotten exactly what they requested.   I am MORE than willing to set up self hosted WordPress blogs on regular web hosting account, however it comes with the explicit warning that it is the CLIENT’S responsibility to keep the blog installation up to date.

So this morning, I get an email from one of those clients.  At the time of installation, he was all “Scouts honor!  I promise to stay on top of this!”  His last blog post was August 2007.   Unfortunately, while he may have forgotten about his blog, the search engines haven’t.  He wrote a couple of posts which have obviously done VERY well for themselves with the search engines.  Remember, there are always people willing and able to siphon your success!!!  He’s not only not been posting to the blog, he hasn’t stayed on top of the installation issues.

Now he has a problem – a SERIOUS problem.  Seems he’s been getting email messages from unhappy campers as a result of his blog.  They go like this:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am tired of receiving messages containing malicious computer programs (viruses) from your e-mail address!!!

If within 1-2 days you do not stop sending messages to my e-mail address, I will have to address this issue to the Police!…

Today I received a hard copy of your data logs from my Internet service provider. The copy contains your IP address, logs of sending malicious programs and your e-mail address details…
I am sending you the copy of the document containing your data and logs of sending malicious programs as the proof of your fault!!!!!!

You must print the document containing the list of your data and logs of sending malicious programs and pass it on to your Internet service provider with, so that they could find out why the viruses are sent from your computer to my e-mail address!!!!

Ask your Internet service provider to resolve this problem!!!!

Do this now!!!

Once again!!! If you don’t stop sending the letters, I will address to the Police and file a lawsuit against you!!!

I went in and checked and by gum he is running an old version of WordPress.  Go figure.  I quoted him on what it’s going to take to “fix” the problem.

By the way, I can’t imagine that this is helping his company’s “brand” or image in any way, shape or form.  While I’m sure the frustrated sender of the email above will NEVER forget my client’s company (which has been featured in the email address of each and every spam message being sent)  it won’t be a good thing.

If you’re not running WordPress 2.6. X UPGRADE NOW!

Observations from a Quasi-Scientific Free Blog “Experiment”

I’m reading a book where the author claims to be journaling about his experiences as he conducts a social science “experiment”. The problem is that the author (a Brown graduate… so obviously his education in hard science is lacking) began his “experiment” with the desired outcome already defined. He constantly modifies his actions throughout the experiment, a fact he openly acknowledges in the book.


According to Wordsmyth, an experiment is defined as “a test or trial to discover something unknown, esp. a scientific one to determine a cause-and-effect relationship.” UNKNOWN being the key term in this definition. True science ..hard science…. teaches that while you may begin with a hypothesis, you must be open to the fact that your observations and experimentations may in fact render your hypothesis incorrect. THAT is the way of a scientist.

Now, I lead with this because despite my current status as a “self hosted blog pusher” when I began my “free blog” experiment, my hypothesis could have been defined as a blog version of “tom-Aye-to.. tom-ah-to…. blogs are blogs.” Actually, I could see some real advantages to the free blogs… the biggest of course being that they are free but also that there is no “sandbox” effect. Since creating compelling content that is fresh is essential to creating a successful web presence, so I’ve been installing WordPress blogs for clients who were open to it as an “add on feature” as far back as 2002.

For those who weren’t sure they wanted to host their own WordPress self hosted blog, I recommended setting up blogs on free and low cost blogging services such as, and Typepad. One of those clients reported to me that she had made a few posts to her Typepad blog and then got busy doing other things. Despite not blogging for several months, when she did a keyword search on an EXTREMELY long tail search term, she saw her blog post come up on the first page of the search.

SUCCESS!!! (That’s what I thought.) Hypothesis confirmed. Blogging platform has NO effect on blog effectiveness.

Meanwhile, another Virtual Impax client had been blogging as a way to pick up some long tail search term action. That experience in particular has forever changed my view of the “free” blogging platforms.

Unlike the client who judged “success” as showing up in a search, this client was carefully tracking sales through her web site. See, she had already commissioned a traditional HTML web site as a virtual store front and because of the “Google sandbox” effect I recommended (as I always do) that she find ways of promoting her new web site. One of those promotion tools was Google Adwords. The other tool was a free blog.

Because the client was spending money actively promoting her site, she decided to invest in a service Virtual Impax offers where her log files from her web site were analyzed monthly. These log file analysis were being performed prior to her free blog launch. Months went by and this client was FAITHFULLY blogging away on Sometimes she was posting 5 times to her blog in a single week.

Through months of blogging, this client built up QUITE an impressive library of content on the free blogging service. After about 8 months of log file analysis, I realized that there was not a SINGLE referral from the free blog to the web site and there hadn’t been one since the blog was launched.

I could watch when we changed keywords in her Adword campaign. I could even see when she began writing a monthly column for a trade magazine. I could watch her newsletter subscribers move on special offers she announced in her newsletter. But I did not see a SINGLE referral from her blog.

Meanwhile, success stories were pouring in from other Virtual Impax blogging clients with self hosted blogs.

Clients who had been blogging with Typepad for YEARS were launching self hosted Word Press blogs and seeing their Word Press self hosted blog (set up by Acumen Web Services and Easy Coaching Web Sites) ROCKET ahead of their still active Typepad blogs in the search engine results when they typed in their own name. Even when they hadn’t been blogging faithfully on the Word Press platform, these clients were seeing much better “results” with their Word Press self hosted blog in comparison with their Typepad blogs.

This lead to an uncomfortable OBSERVATION... “Hey, this isn’t what I expected!!”

This unexpected observation set off alarms.

ACK!!!! My mistaken hypothesis had caused me to lead my client astray!

I’ve got egg ALL OVER my face now with this client.

Let me reiterate….I get to go back to my client and tell her that my initial advice, based on my faulty hypothesis was bad… bad as in “rotten egg” bad.

While my client wasn’t spending any money on her free blog (she was spending money on monthly log analysis reports), she was investing her time and a lot of it. In my client’s case, time was more valuable to her than money. I didn’t want her WASTING her time since we were not seeing a SINGLE referral from the free blog to her web site.

I suggested to that client that we launch a Word Press self hosted blog to replace her free blog. (Note… I felt bad enough about my rotten egg advice that I installed this for her without additional charge! I will NOT have someone else pay for my bad advice.) Fortunately, during the VERY NEXT log file analysis, we started seeing visitors coming to her HTML store front web site DIRECTLY from her self hosted word press blog.

Now, in the interest of science, it’s important to note that the only thing that changed was the platform. My client didn’t begin blogging differently. She didn’t begin using trackbacks or begin commenting on other blogs. She didn’t suddenly begin posting using title tags with highly competitive keywords… or long tail keywords. She just kept doing what she had been doing except this time she was doing it on her own self hosted WordPress installation.

(Admittedly, I installed a standard “suite” of plug ins to improve the blog’s performance… and those plug ins are NOT available for the free version.)

It’s been said that wisdom is learning from OTHER PEOPLE’S MISTAKES.  Well, I have my own Beyond Niche Marketing blog that has never sent a single visitor to any of my web sites.  However, I justified that blog’s poor performance by my lack of attention and effort.  After all, I’m not seeking exposure on extremely long tail keywords… the keywords upon which I compete are extremely competitive… so a lack of attention could be fatal in my blog’s case.

When I saw my client blogging without bias and getting the same result… the alarms began to sound in my head.  Just as the robot in Lost in Space would blare, “Warning!  Danger, Will Robinson!”  the voice in my head began blaring a similar warning.

Since my “experiment” I’ve gotten several emails inquiring as to how to improve a free blog’s performance.  My response is simple, “I wish I knew!”

There’s a reason the BIG GUYS such as Problogger, Techcrunch and Mashable are all self hosted WordPress blogs.

My favorite mantra is “I don’t make the rules… I just know how to recognize them and follow them.