Off-topic post alert (but what is really on-topic for CNReviews these days heh)
I’m at WordCamp SF today, and just saw a presentation by Stephen Spencer, founder and CEO of Netconcepts. I think he is one of the best SEOs in the business, take my word for it! He addresses issues like: internal link structure, title tags, URLs, anchor text, RSS feeds. Since some of our CNReviews readers are also bloggers I thought I’d have your permission to share these SEO best practices. If you are not a blogger, sorry for the distraction, and feel free to just move right along to the next post, or go to our Olympic Games online streaming guide and watch the Olympics! Confession: CNReviews is doing better at SEO than defining editorial focus, so much of this advice will go unheeded on our own blog as focus on defining where we want to go editorially.
Stephen Spencer at WordCamp 2008 San Francisco
Biggest WordPress SEO Mistakes
Stephen first summarized the top mistakes that bloggers make:
- Leaving title tags to be auto-generated by WordPress default installation (from the post name)
- Wasting “crawl equity” or “link juice” by letting pages get indexed that don’t deserve to be. This means that it more pages indexed isn’t better than less pages indexed.
- Creating duplicate crawlable content for Google by having multiple “homes” for your blog (e.g. this can come about due to migrating your blog, canonicalization e.g. www vs no www, etc.).
- Not using unique “Optional Excerpt” to minimize duplicate content (didn’t understand this)
- Not using rel=nofollow to do PageRank “sculpting” (although its not always clear when to nofollow)
- Date-based archives can be a bad way to organize content for Google
- Flakiness/diversity of keywords on your category/tag pages
- Suboptimal URLs (too long, too many words, too many directories), and this can affect clickthrough at Google
- Just having one RSS feed, and not optimizing your feeds.
- Hosting blog/feed URLs on a domain you don’t own (e.g. Feedburner, WordPress.com) In any case, its a bad idea because of the Net Nanny in China.
- Internal linking with the wrong or suboptimal anchor text
Stephen then went into key fixes. Note that the details are in his presentation (link below) and in a well written post on SearchEngineLand (link below). These are my quick live-blogging notes:
1. Rejig internal linking structure through:
Stephen started with low hanging fruit–just optimizing your internal link structure so that you create the right themes, highlight your best posts, and get ranked on what you want to rank on.
- tag clouds and tag conjunction pages (e.g. UTW Theme Compatibility Thing plugin)
- Related posts (e.g. “Yet another related posts” plugin)
- Top 10 posts (e.g. “Popularity contest” pluigin)
Gave several example of using popular posts, tag cloud, technorati tags, related posts to optimize for internal linking structure.
2. Optimize Title Tags:
Stephen also talked about the most powerful SEO factor: the title tag. He also has a plug-in that he created to make it easy to modify (and even mass-edit) title-tags, H1-tags, and post-slugs. Here are his quick tips:
- Move blog name toward the end of the title
- Tag name should go in title on a tag page
- Customize with additional keywords for display only on our home page
- Override title tags with custome one (“SEO Title Tag” plugin)
Stephen Spencer created this “SEO Title Tag” plugin to customize title tags. There is also a mass-edit admin feature to the plugin. He recommends a “thin slicing” approach to making quick decisions on title tags, just use your judgement. Mass-edit admin allows you to quickly modify all the title tags of your old posts!
3. Optimize URLs
Stephen also allows recommends updating post slugs to make it short. Long URLs don’t get clicked on! This is a concern for us at CNReviews because our current URL structure is really long, mostly because we set it up to be equal to the post-title, something that now we know is ok but not optimal!
4. Optimize Anchor Text
Stephens next tip: For advanced SEO addicts, you can go chase down your inbound links and ask people to change their anchor text to you. For example if people are linking to you with the term “post” or “here” you can ask them to change the anchor text to something you want to rank on, like “Beijing Olympics.” Frankly, this seems like overkill to me.
- Make the post’s title a link to the permalink pages
- Use SEOMoz backlink anchor text tool or BLA (Seobook) to look for opportunities to revise anchor text with friendly link sources.
5. “Sculpt” Your PageRank using nofollow
Stephen then talked about PageRank “sculpting.” Stephen: “My preference is to have rel=nofollow…
- links in trackbacks, comments
- link would be reciprocal (not sure why this is)
- links to date-based archives, assuming you have category/tag hierarchy (noindexing/disallowing is not enough)
We currently follow but noindex category pages, and same with tag pages. Not sure if this is the right decision but we were concerned about duplicate content when we did this.
6. Minimize Duplicate Content
I personally think this is something that every blogger should be paranoid about. Stephen provides some tips about this:
- Code your Main Index template to display “Optional Excerpts” on everything but permalink pages
- For each post, write unique content (i.e. paraphrase) don’t just use the first couple paragraphs (i.e. don’t use the <!–more–> tag!)
- Meta robots noindex & rel=nofollow are your friends. Do this for date-based archives, “OR” tag conjunction pages, printer-friendly versions.
7. Improve the Keyword Focus
Interesting comments from Stephen about increasing the keyword focus on your category and tag pages. This is an interesting area that CN Reviews should look at in the future.
- Heading tags
- Emphasis tags within posts (bold, strong, etc.)
- “Sticky” posts – always appear at the top of the page. A way to add keyword-rich intro copy to a category page or tag page
- e.g. “WP-Sticky” or “Adhesive” plugin
8. Optimize Your RSS Feeds
His big point was to create multiple RSS feeds so your readers will subscribe. This is not really an SEO tip except that more readers will lead to more links. There are other tips that I didn’t fully capture because I haven’t really done any RSS feed optimization before.
- Use category RSS feeds
- Use full text, not summaries
- select 20+ items not just 10
- More in the presentation (below)
OK, so we at CN Reviews have a lot of work to do. But frankly we’ll probably just keep a lot of this advice in the back of our mind and focus on what our editorial focus should be for the future.
Stephen provides all this information in presentation below.
Get goodies by emailing seo (at) netconcepts … com
Contact the author: stephan (at) netconcepts … com
Get the full presentation here: http://www.netconcepts.com/learn/seo-mistakes.ppt
Read summary article here: http://searchengineland.com/070823-082758.php