In my quest to make my category pages index worthy, last week I added manual excerpts to my WordPress archive pages. This week I altered my WordPress code to show category descriptions on the category pages, adding yet more unique content to these pages. Your theme might show these category descriptions out of the box, but most don’t, including mine. Here’s what I did: step by step.
One item I’ve had on my todo list forever was to convert my category pages into rich unique resource pages that were worthy of being indexed. I don’t currently index my category pages, because they would not be that useful to a searcher.
So to evolve my category pages into rich and unique pages of value, this week I took a step towards that goal by adding manual excerpts to the page.
Manual excerpts, are hand crafted summaries of your posts, and a great way to avoid having duplicate content on your site.
Many blogs will show you how to update your home page with manual excerpts, I didn’t want to do that – I wanted to update my category and tag pages – which currently only show the post titles – with manual excerpts. But the process isn’t that different. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. If you are new to WordPress and making code changes, this may not be for you. But if you are comfortable using FTP to upload files (or have ssh access) and working with php code, keep reading … Continue reading
To understand one reason why it would be useful, let’s examine how page rank is typically assigned to a website. Keep in mind this is an oversimplification of how Google actually works, but it’s useful as a model. Let’s say your site has been assigned a page rank of 5, that means it has 5 points to distribute to all its pages. So if there are 5 links on the home page each link would get 1 point. Now let’s say that page also has 5 links, each of those links would get 1/5 of a 1 point. So what’s the takeaway from this? That the more clicks it takes to get to a given page, the less value Google and the other search engines assign to it.
Affiliate links just look plain ugly and there is always the chance that someone will be petty enough to gyp you out of your commission by stripping out the tracking code. As a tangent I noticed a while back, these days Clickbank has a new URL that no longer include the Clickbank username (but still a tracking id). Wonder whether that is working out any better. To avoid this problem you want to hide the original affiliate link with a pretty link. This is what many mean by “affiliate link cloaking”. But cloaking has another meaning, which is showing different content and links to the search engines versus to the humans. That’s really not what I’m talking about here, nor am I going to touch on the topic of hiding affiliate links because Google doesn’t like them. I don’t really have a lot of affiliate links compared to all the content I have, so I’m not worried.
I was looking for a couple of features:
I had heard good things about GoCodes and was planning to install it. However it is no longer available via the plugin WordPress repository search and hasn’t been updated since 2009. Too bad as it was a nice solution.
For 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.
Have you backed up your WordPress lately? Maintenance activities such as upgrading WordPress or backing up my site rank at the top of my list of my least favorite things to do. I’d much rather write a blog post or check out a new plug-in. But this week I bit the bullet and spent some time on site maintenance.
Do I really need you to tell why backups and upgrades are important? Here’s one reason, WordPress’s popularity has not gone unnoticed by hackers and they are hard at work exploiting security vulnerabilities in the software. By upgrading to the latest version of WordPress you are at least installing the latest security fixes. That goes for your plugins as well.
WordPress templates are powerful tools. For example many themes use templates to give you the option of creating a sales page without the sidebar. But I had never seen these custom templates used for WordPress posts.
An artist needed Paypal buttons added to her WordPress site, a portfolio of paintings and prints showcased using posts. But at this point we only wanted to add Paypal buttons for the prints, which were available at a the same range of prices based on size of the print and the paper used. Since most of the posts (but not all) would have the same Paypal buttons, I wanted to find a way to avoid copying and pasting code onto each page. I also wanted to empower my client to have the choice to “turn on” or choose the paypal buttons with just a click or two. I found the answer in WordPress custom post templates.
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.
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?
The 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.