Three years is an awfully long time ago in the internet age. Let’s take a trip in the Internet way back machine to see what SEO used to be. That’s when we used to think of SEO of as a two pronged discipline, namely on-page optimization and off page optimization. Off page optimization, or linkbuilding has been replaced by inbound marketing as I just wrote recently. On page optimization is still very valid, but it’s boundaries have gotten rather fuzzy.
It used to be all about keywords, keywords, keywords. Keywords in your title tag, keywords in your header tags, keyword density. Keywords are still really important, but so is engagement and user behavior as signals the search engine algorithms pay attention to. It’s not just about getting the traffic, it’s winning the hearts and minds of the user once they are on your site.
You want to take that optimization and conversion mindset and apply it to the little welcome mat that Google builds for your page when it ranks for a search query. Known as a snippet, this is the listing that appears in Google’s search results pages, called SERPs for short.
WordPress is a great CMS and sitebuilder, but one area it can fall a little short is its interstitial pages that are designed to help you navigate a site’s posts via category, author or even date. WordPress automatically generates archive pages for each of these grouping mechanisms, but from the SEO perspective these pages fall a little short in providing unique content that the search engines love.
Search engines such as Google want to see pages that have content that can’t be found anywhere else on the site (or in fact elsewhere on the internet). But WordPress’s default archive pages just show a list of posts for that given category (or author). If the blogger has used the “more” tag, then the post’s content is shown on the archive page up to the tag, otherwise the post is shown in it’s entirety. Either way there is no new content on the page that isn’t already on on the individual post pages. Today we are going to look at ways to modify your WordPress category page to be more SEO friendly.
UPDATE: January 13, 2014. On December 31, 2013 Google updated GWMT search query data to be “less rounded”. If you visit GWMT you’ll see a line marking where the change took place.
UPDATE: September 30, 2013. Last week we found out that Google is extending SSL protection to users that are not signed in. This means that for ALL organic search traffic that Google sends to your site, the keywords will be removed and replaced with “not provided”. At this point in time, Bing is continuing to provide webmaster keywords in the referrer string.
Starting in October 2011, keywords used in secure searches are now hidden from webmasters by Google. This means that in Google Analytics (or in any other analytics tool), keywords from these searches show up as not provided. A secure search could mean the user is logged into a Google account, is using Firefox 14 or is just explicitly using secure search. A lot has been written about this controversial move, which was done ostensibly to protect privacy but did not extend to Adwords.
Although Google initially stated that the change would affect 10% of queries, there are many sites where the percentage is much higher. In WebEnso’s case, keywords for 62% of searches fall under not provided, and the percentage is still climbing. 62% is a huge percentage. This means that more than two out of three keywords used to find my site is hidden from me. So what to do?
Guest posting can broaden your blog’s reach and build quality backlinks to your site. But as with any popular technique, abuse is on the rise. I manage guest posting campaigns for clients and have written a few guest posts myself. And even though I don’t provide a contact us form on this blog and I don’t solicit them, I get a number emails pitching me on guest posts for WebEnso, which I usually don’t accept.
I’ve just started reading Avinash Kaushik’s book: Web Analytics 2.0. Avinash is well known for his insights into the complex world of Web Analytics and his ability to distill complex topics into simple concepts. At the end of Chapter 3 of his book, Avinash lists a couple of questions that all businesses should be able to answer about their web site. The first question “How many visitors are coming to my website?” is pretty straightforward so I won’t spend much time on that one. Investigation into the second question “Where are your visitors coming from?” yielded some cool insights that I will share below.
As a SEO consultant you develop certain filters, some might even say blinders. You look at websites differently than other people. Some aspects of a website you ignore, but others, like the user experience and the content you pay close attention to. A good example of this is site search, the search functionality you find on many sites.
A routine technical SEO recommendation is to noindex any search pages that are crawlable on a site.
If you are not sure what I mean by search pages: go to the search box on this site, webenso.com and type in “wordpress seo” you’ll get a page that looks like the below and has a URL that has a
?s=wordpress+seo query string in it.
Either you don’t want Google to find those URLs or the pages should have the meta robots tag on it set to noindex.
But I’m not here to dive into the details of noindex and technical SEO. My point is that as a SEO you disregard the search pages once addressed and forget about them. This is what I mean by blinders. We SEOs are so focused on Google search, with an occasional journey into Bing search, that we don’t always see the potential that the other search engines have to disrupt the search industry.
I was asked to take a look at the AuthorSure WordPress plugin as a possible solution for Multiple Author blogs. I’ve previously posted about Google Authorship, which is a special tag (rel=author) that you add to your blog so that Google will use information from your Google+ profile, most notably your picture, in the snippets that show up in the SERPs (search engine result pages).
AuthorSure is a relatively new WordPress plugin, however it is in the WordPress repository (always reassuring) and best of all it’s free! The supporting site has a couple of good articles and if you become a member (also free) you get access to a video tutorial. Aside from running into a conflict with WPMinify. I found the setup straightforward and quick. The author also has a Google+ business page for the plugin where he will answer questions.
When you create a video for your online marketing you have two distinct strategies available to you:
By embedding video on your site, I’m not talking about copying and pasting the YouTube video embed code on your site. Yes that might help your visitor stick around longer which indirectly helps your site’s SEO. However unless you have a really powerful site, your page is almost never going to outrank the video you have uploaded onto YouTube. Especially if the video is well tagged in YouTube.
I’ve given a couple of presentations on WordPress SEO and recommended several plugins. Due to demand I’ve been providing my list as a PDF to attendees. Now here it is for my blog readers.