Category Archives for Search Engine Optimization

Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin – Review

WordPress SEO by YoastFor quite a while I routinely recommended the All in SEO WordPress plugin, but that changed when Yoast introduced his WordPress plugin. I’ve used it on four WordPress sites and each time my appreciation of this wonderful plugin has grown. Not just for myself, but also because it helps my clients write more SEO optimized posts and pages.

I used to get frustrated after carefully explaining to new bloggers and site owners how to write SEO friendly permalinks, page titles and meta descriptions — and then watching them forget everything I told them by creating poorly optimized posts and pages. Now I can lead the horse to water, and he (or she) actually drinks it! Another great bonus about this plugin is that is it so comprehensive is that it does the job of several plugins. For example there is no need to install a sitemap plugin – Yoast’s plugin will take care of that too for you.

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What most people miss about Google Webmasters Tools verification

GoogleGetting your site set up and verified with Google Webmaster Tools is one of the tasks that should be done with any new site. For one thing, if your site hasn’t been indexed yet by Google, it will be if you submit it to GWMT (Google Webmaster Tools). Second, as I have mentioned before, GWMT is a communication channel from Google to you about any problems that could hurt your site’s SEO.

One annoying thing, and many people miss this, is that you should verify both the ‘www’ and non ‘www’ versions of your site with Google Webmasters Tools, even if you have a 301 redirect (as you should) setup from one to the another.

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SEO your WordPress images

Although advances have been made in this area, you should assume that an image to a search engine looks like unreadable code. So what you need to do to surround the image with hints on what the image might be about. This gives you another opportunity to add your primary and secondary keywords to your page.

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One Way to Improve Website Performance

CloudFlare helps Website PerformanceSlow website? Webenso has never had great performance, but adding the social media buttons has really slowed things down. Addressing my website performance has been on my to-do list for a while, so it was perhaps serendipitous that I caught a short presentation from Michelle Zatlyn from CloudFlare last night on improving blog performance.

You do need to care about your website speed. Not only because your users aren’t going to stick around for a website that takes 10 seconds or more to load, but it’s bad for SEO as well. Over a year ago, Google announced they would be taking page load time into account for their ranking algorithms.

CloudFlare originally was conceived as a way to block hacker and spam bot traffic to make your website more secure. Michelle quickly got the feedback that any solution they came up with needed to avoid slowing things down. So CloudFlare now has a dual purpose, it looks for “bad” traffic and filters that away from your website, and it speeds up your website’s performance as well. The CloudFlare approach is a little different than the standard remedies for slow websites, it’s not about changing your javascript to load asynchronously or hosting social media button images or installing caching on WordPress (which are all things you should still consider). What CloudFlare does is become a proxy for your website, it caches your pages and can serve your site from it’s datacenters around the world. So instead of someone from Hong Kong requesting your site from its hosting location in the USA, they will get it from the CloudFlare’s Asian datacenter much quicker. Your website — served from distributed locations from around the world — for free. Cool huh?

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The Other Webmaster Tools You Need to Know About

Bing Webmaster ToolHave you taken a look at Bing lately? The perennial underdog of the search space compared the massive presence that Google has, Bing nevertheless has been up to some interesting things. Recently they released an update to Bing Webmaster Tools. There is actually quite a lot of functionality, and there is some nice visually appealing features to check out. Bing Sider When you log in and select the site you wish to look at Bing analytics for, you have several charts you can click through to get more details, including indexation, traffic and crawl. Bing will save up to six months of data and gives you a slider to scroll through the months of data that you can expand.

Many of the features available in Google Webmasters Tools are available in Bing with some twists.
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Make Your Category Pages Index Worthy

My post where I stated that I have noindex my category pages attracted some attention. I guess I’m not too surprised, it’s not a common recommendation. I’ve seen people recommend using the read more tag, excerpts and to adopt a practice of using one category per post. This is all good advice if you keep your category pages indexed. Replicating the full post on your category page is duplicate content you want to avoid, and excerpts are a great way to populate your category page with some unique content. Additionally not using multiple categories on your posts will keep the proliferation of the post content to a minimum.

But I took it further and just noindexed the category pages and I would argue that many bloggers should do the same. Why? And should you take my advice?

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How I doubled traffic to my blog

Webenso TrafficThis year I got serious about increasing the traffic to my blog. The result? Over three months I saw traffic double. For the month of June I got 1200 visitors, 1000 of that was organic traffic. Here’s the five things that I did:

  • Blogged twice a week. Used to be I would sporadically and inconsistently blog. Knowing that search engines love frequent and unique content. I started blogging twice a week. There have been weeks when it’s been once a week, like recently; but on the whole I’ve kept the discipline. Additionally for most posts I researched the best keywords to use in my page title and URL using the Google Keyword Tool. I found that if I could blog on something relatively new, like my Pagemodo review and avoid “me too” content, those posts did well in traffic.
  • Be social To engage in the online community, most posts I tweeted. I also wrote a guest post on Google’s Panda algorithm that brought in some traffic and even some email signups and of course created a new backlink. Occasionally I would also comment on other blogs. I’m getting more comments and questions on my posts and I would respond to those. It’s great when the interaction gives you ideas for new posts. Special mention should go to Ann Evanston’s Blogger Monday, although that was more of a factor in traffic for me last year than this year. Who says no follow links from guest blog commenting don’t matter?
  • More linkbuilding. I submitted my blog to several Blog Directories.
  • Addressed duplicate content Google had more than 100 of my tag pages indexed, which was diffusing my good unique content with duplicate low value pages. So I noindexed my tag pages.
  • Improved bounce rate User engagement with your website is now a signal the search engines pay attention to. My blog had a high bounce rate (84% for the first three months of the year). So I installed two plugins: Yet Another Related Posts and Random Posts which suggest other posts a visitor might want to read. I also added a few nav bar items. My bounce rate is still high, but has come down to 73% for the last 30 days.

There is definitely more work to be done. I need to guest post more and get more of a Facebook strategy. I have additional blog configuration items to tackle and I need to focus more on linkbuilding overall. But it’s nice to get the feedback that I am on the right path.

All in One SEO noindex settings

Blue WordPress LogoThe All in One SEO WordPress plugin is a very popular plugin. Many install it so that they have the ability to customize their post’s page title. This is very useful to do from the SEO perspective. Your post title should be written for your reader and be catchy, your page title for your post should be more oriented towards keywords.

But the plugin has other settings that require attention. Out of the box the plugin configuration will noindex your category pages but not your tag pages. This isn’t necessarily what you want and I’ve had to fix a couple of blogs that had the default settings.

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Avoid the Duplicate Content Penalty from Google

Here’s a question I got today…

I want to submit my recipes to I’ve noticed that the big, well known recipes sites have submitted their recipes to this site as well. Wouldn’t this cause duplicate content issues?

Well yes, any content that is duplicated across domains would fall into the duplicate content definition and would present to Google and the other search engine with a duplicate content issue (see below for the definition of duplicate content). But the real question being asked here is: Will it adversely affect my site?
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WordPress SEO plugins to improve bounce rate

One of my goals has been to address my high bounce rate on this blog, which has been above 80%. To do that I’ve been working on features that increase my website stickiness.

Bounce Rate is a SEO factor

Bounce RateWhy would I want to do this? Let’s put the SEO factor aside for a moment. As a blogger you of course want people to get value from your blog, read several posts and return. A high bounce rate means that most of your visitors just visited the single page they originally landed on and then left your blog. Of course if the article answered their question completely that would be a good thing, even if they left without browsing further. This is more difficult to measure, but you can look at time spent on the site as another clue.

Most SEOs would agree that Google and the other search engines are taking bounce rate into account. Google might be looking at Google Analytics for the bounce rate, but even if you don’t have Google Analytics installed, Google and Bing can collect bounce rate data by looking at how quickly the user returns back to the search engine results page and clicks on the next result. A quick return and click on the next website on the list means the user didn’t find what they are looking for on your website.

So from both the SEO and user engagement / conversion perspective you should care about your bounce rate and website stickiness.

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