I am no Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guru, but I am aware of the basics, namely:
- That duplicate content is bad
- That spamming or paying for links is bad
- That using keywords, and having appropriate title/descriptions is good
Having written, and run blog on many platforms over the years (Custom built, Wordpress, Ghost) I was increasingly curious as to why everyone I know (my Internet friends that is) seems to use Medium.
Now, my test sample is somewhat scewed given that the majority of people that I interact with are technologically inclined, but there must be something attracting them to Medium.. right?
I figured that I would try Medium out, and see if it was any good. As such I wrote a post (exclusively on Medium), and waited. I was pleasantly surprised - people were reading it, and liking it. There was a comment within 24 hours, and people were seemingly engaging. It seemed that what people were saying was true in that Medium puts your content in front of a pre-built audience.
I thus jumped in head first and begun migrating posts over to Medium. They have an import tool which will import an individual post, and they have a tool that lets you import a Wordpress XML file. I tried the latter. It was awful.
Now, admittedly it was an issue with the export file. All of the original URLs were simply paths. They did not include the domain. Medium's import tool did not care. In an attempt at being clever, it imported the posts and set those paths as canonical links in the header. They all 404'd. Medium does not even check if the canonical links it sets resolve.. bemused
Oh well I thought. I will just change them I thought. Nope. You can not do that. I do not know for certain, but one assumes that 404 ing canonical links are not good for SEO. So, off I went and emailled Medium support. I engaged with someone in the 'User Happiness' team (I am being serious), and after various discussions I was told that it would be passed to the developers and they would remove the canonical links.
Now.. I work in software, and am usually insanely busy. If someone asked me to spend my time on data entry, I would be livid. That said, it is kinda their fault for building such a primitive and rigid product.
In addition to this, the Medium post parser clearly does not work. Paragraphs of text got included within code blocks, and a number of the posts were poorly formatted. Then there is the fact that Medium does not have in built code highlighting, and has litte flexibility to add it. I had to fix all the posts at vast (time) expense.
Oh well I thought. Such is life. I'll just go ahead and set up my domain, and then be done with it. At least I have a new audience. NOPE ! Apparently you now need to pay $75 to setup a domain name (that you have already paid for) to work with Medium. I appreciate that companies need to make money, but this is an infinite markup - they are charging $75 for absolutely nothing. At least you get an SSL certificate they say.. but.. LetsEncrypt.
Needless to say, at this point I just deleted everything off Medium and went back to Ghost. I figured I would update to the latest version of Ghost (not realising it had changed so much), and.. just wow.
So.. yup. I will just blog on a self hosted version of Ghost, and then if I am so inclined I will syndicate posts on Medium to get a bigger audience. I should have done this from the get go instead of messing around. Live and learn.
A quick Google throws up the fact that Medium are struggling - they are laying people off, and trying to find ways of actually making money. Looks to me like their efforts are in the complete wrong direction, and as such I have probably dodged a bullet here.
Medium. Would not reccomend.