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Wordpress + Google Compute Engine

Migrating WordPress from Dreamhost to Google Cloud

Wordpress + Google Compute Engine

I’ve hosted my WordPress blog on Dreamhost for some years now, as part of a broader hosting package. The decreasing costs of the Cloud have meant that many of the services I used to host have now moved off Dreamhost, and in addition the performance of Dreamhost is quite poor from countries like Australia. Google Cloud now offers a quick deploy WordPress feature and a free tier of Google Compute Engine (IAAS), so I decided to go through the steps of migrating:

  1. Install the Updraft plugin and run the Backup to your Google Drive or other account. Note that the paid version makes this process easier, but is not required.
  2. Signup for a Google Cloud Platform account (if you don’t already have one)
  3. Deploy a new WordPress Single Instance using Cloud Launcher
  4. Ensure you record all the username/password details displayed, including your WordPress admin details
  5. Set your VM to f1-micro (1 vCPU, 0.6 GB memory) to ensure you’re on the free tier (unless you get more traffic than I do)
  6. Log in to your new WordPress instance and use Updraft import to migrate your blog content into the new instance
  7. Create a new External IP address in the Cloud console, making sure you attach it to your recently created VM using the dropdown
  8. Change site url in phpmyadmin
  9. Update your A record in your DNS settings (Dreamhost example) with your domain registrar to point to the new external IP you created in step 7
  10. Test your new site!

New host, new look!

Out with the old...

Today I moved my blog to Dreamhost, upgraded to WordPress 3.0 and changed themes. Please let me know what you think! I am moving towards shutting down my Windows VPS system as I simply no longer have the time to maintain it. Web hosting is such a mass-produced commodity these days that it makes no sense to maintain your own DNS, WWW or mail server. Dreamhost and Google Apps are now splitting the roles for well under $100 a year. That saves me a lot of time, and my time is worth about $100 an hour right? To the cloud!

Can Spam Improve SEO?

Scott Savage Akismet StatisticsFor some reason I seem to get a heap of spam on my blog. Even since I first started blogging spam somehow seemed to be drawn to my blog site (and I don’t even mention V!agr4 that often!). At the time I took the screenshot to the right 8,368 spam comments and trackbacks had been caught. That is a pretty ridiculous number. Akismet has managed to catch 99.764% of these, which is a testament to it’s effectiveness (and a major reason why I use WordPress). I sometimes wonder whether maybe allowing a few of these spam comments (which usually link to link heavy pages) would actually help my search engine ranking.

I found an SEOBook article that contained a lot of interesting findings that unintentionally supported my theory. Firstly the highest risk item is that your blog will itself get tagged as spam, however “A few bad inbound links are not going to put your site over the edge to where it is algorithmically tagged as spam”. In fact you can push this even further; “If you can get a few well known trusted links you can get away with having a large number of spammy links”.

The next step is to understand what kind of links spam comments etc. provide.  Again from the article “Spammers either use a large number of low PageRank links, a few hard to get high PageRank links, or some combination of the two.”. So how do you weed out the low PageRank links and seize the high PageRank ones? Well if everyone is running the same Akismet filter (it takes resources to build a blacklist/heuristic filter, how many are there?) then perhaps the high PageRank comments are those that are missed by the most common filters?

Therefore should I leave the Akismet filter on, but approve everything that gets through it even if it is spam? Or if I wanted to be more scientific should I analyse the PageRank of each link in the spam comment and accept those with high PageRanks? Surely in these 8000+ spam comments the spammers hit gold somewhere, the question is how do I find it?

WordPress URL Rewriting in IIS

If you host WordPress on an IIS Server then there is only one choice for URL rewriting, the Binary Fortress WordPress URL Rewriting tool. I have been using it for about 6 months now, but a shiny new v1.0 was released about a month ago. Time to upgrade I think!

URL Rewriting is one of the more critical parts of my attempts at SEO. There are a number of pages that discuss in more detail the benefits of clean links.

People employed to improve SEO have one of the truly great IT jobs I think. There is enough science to provide credibility, it is enough of a black art to avoid direct accountability and the target is constantly moving meaning your contract/role never looks like it has expired. Wow I really am feeling cynical tonight… 🙂

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