WANTED: Your Top WordPress SEO Tips

Greetings all

After spending the last few weeks providing SEO coaching to small businesses here in New Zealand, I realized that many of them are relying more and more on WordPress-based web sites for their business.

Now I don’t have a problem with this at all – I’m a huge fan of WordPress and so are search engines. It’s really easy to use the blogging platform to build a decent looking, search engine friendly web site. But where people are coming unstuck is in how to optimize their WordPress site when they were previously used to dealing with raw HTML code.

I have started a little checklist for WordPress users, just to remind them of the key SEO tweaks they can make to their blog pages and posts to ensure they are as visible in search engines as possible. I hope to publish the checklist here and also make it available to Search Engine College students as a downloadable PDF.

Here’s where you guys come in. I know many of you use WP on a daily basis and are also busy optimizing your sites for Google and other search engines. I would LOVE for you to share your best tip on how to optimize WP sites so I can add it to the checklist.

Unless you wish to remain anonymous, all tips used will be acknowledged via name and link in the finished document.

Got your tip ready? Please add it in the comments on this post. Thanks so much!

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Dumbass of the Week: Facebook Users

DuhOh boy, you’re going to love this one.

It all began last week when Read Write Web, (a very popular blog based here in New Zealand), published a post about Facebook’s new partnership with AOL called FB Wants to Be Your One True Login.

Apparently the post started ranking in the top Google SERPs for *facebook login*. Nothing wrong with that so far, it makes perfect sense given the post title and TrustRank the site has built up in Google.

BUT, all these strange and inappropriately angry comments with excessive use of exclamation marks began appearing on the RWW post.

Comments like this:

“When can we log in?”

“I don’t like the new facebook. Why fix something that isn’t broken. this really sucks..”

“I just want to log in to Facebook – what with the red color and all?”

“Quit this crap and let me sign in!

“All I wanted to do was LOG IN TO MY FACE BOOK ACCOUNT! I don’t like this new way! “If it an’t broke why fix it?”

“Can we log into face book? This is crazy I want to get all my info off and be done with this.”

“How do you get in?”

“I just want to get into my Facebook page.”

“This is such a mess I can’t do a thing on my facebook . The changes you have made are ridiculous,I can’t even login!!!!!I am very upset!!!”

“I was just learning,why would you mess it up?”

“All I want to do is log in, this sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“The new facebook sucks> NOW LET ME IN.”

RWW staff were confused at first, but then it dawned on them. Instead of bookmarking Facebook.com or entering www.facebook.com in their browser address bar like anyone with half a brain, all these commenters were apparently typing *facebook login* into Google whenever they wanted to login to Facebook and then clicking randomly on one of the results. The RWW post just happened to be the one they clicked on.

Having arrived at the Read Write Web post about Facebook, they somehow thought it WAS the *new* Facebook, despite the completely different color, design and the very clear Read Write Web heading at the top of the page. Not only did they think they were AT Facebook, but these commenters, in their hundreds, somehow managed to ignore the post itself, work out how to comment ON the post and leave their inappropriate rants about how much the hated the *new* Facebook. Except for one commenter, who claimed he liked the new design.

As the hours wore on and the page rose even higher in the Google results for *facebook login*, the comments became even more inappropriately angry and amusing:

“I WANT THE OLD FACEBOOK BACK THIS SHIT IS WACK!!!!!”

“I am going to delete my account (IF I CAN EVER LOG IN) as this SUCKS BIG TIME ! If this does not get back to NORMAL you are going to lose a lot of folks who hate this and as you can see from all the comments they think it sucks too !!! facebook was great for connecting with old friends …now, NOT SO MUCH. SO HOW DO I LOG IN?”

“Bring me back old facebook this is sheet”

“I HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK PAGE , IN FACT I HAVE STARTED TO VISIT IT LESS, BECAUSE IT IS A HASSLE”

“Who’s idea was this?? Hope he’s not too big to fire cause he just LOST a bunch of faithful users. Chances are it’ll never be the same as it was before….cya”

“I’m going back to my f*ckin space u ass holes have to f*ck up a good this !!!!! dumn asses

To add to the hilarity, a Facebook user called Laraine (bless her heart), found a new way for Facebook users to solve their *problem*:

“For those of you that want to get in face book now just go to Bing..put in face book and search (or it will pop up) hit on face book login and it takes you  to your password page…i did it…. if this ever gets back to normal I will use the address bar from now on…..”

Read Write Web added a big bold paragraph to the original post stating *This site is not Facebook* and wrote a new post addressing the issue called We’re Still Not Facebook, but they continued to be bombarded with flames. It’s a little something I like to call The Walmart Effect.

There are two morals to this story:

1) There should be some type of study done on the correlation between IQ and the use of exclamation marks.

2) You need to design your web site and your software for the lowest common denominator.

I’m reminded of Damian Conway’s fantastic presentation at Webstock Web 2.Overwhelming – 22 Ways to Frustrate Your Visitors where he amusingly drilled into us that the majority of our web site users are NOT geeks, they’re NOT tech savvy and as this example shows, Dumb User Errors (DUE) are terrifyingly commonplace.

Make your stuff embarrassingly easy to use, because Dumb Happens.

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Google Home Page Turns Minimalist

Visited Google.com lately? If so, you might have spotted something a little different about Big G’s home page.

Remember back in September when I blogged about Google increasing the size of the search box? Well it turns out that Google have been experimenting quite a bit with the layout and design of their home page, playing around with different versions of it, visible only to a handful of guinea pigs in their control group and users of a few select data-centers.

A major feature of the home page testing (and one that exists in the final launched version) is a fade-in effect where the content on the page “fades in” over a few seconds. I had noticed the fade-effect a couple of times during October and wondered if it was a glitch. TechCrunch noticed too and blogged about it quickly.

With the testing period over, Google officially launched their new home page across all datacenters and most regional Googles this month. When the page first loads, it shows only the Google logo, buttons and the search box. The remaining links appear only once the user moves the mouse over the page.

Google’s VP of Search Products Marissa Mayer says this design provides a focus on site usability:

“For the vast majority of people who come to the Google homepage, they are coming in order to search, and this clean, minimalist approach gives them just what they are looking for first and foremost. For those users who are interested in using a different application like Gmail, Google Image Search or our advertising programs, the additional links on the homepage only reveal themselves when the user moves the mouse.”

Google hopes that the minimalist page will soon become second nature to users and encourage them to use the home page features more efficiently.

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Google Now Helps You Improve Your Site Performance

A new addition in Webmaster Tools this week sees Google becoming your own personal usability and accessibility consultant.

Site Performance, an experimental feature added to the Webmaster Tools console courtesy of Google Labs, provides detailed information about your site’s load time and gives suggestions for speeding it up. It includes a chart of your site performance data over time, which can help determine latency triggers.

As explained in Google’s official blog post about it, the Site Performance console includes examples of specific pages and their actual page load times, plus Page Speed suggestions that can help reduce latency.

I was pretty shocked when I logged into Webmaster Tools today to find my blog pages take an average of 6 seconds to load. Google states that this is slower than 83% of sites! The Example Pages and Page Speed Suggestions revealed the culprit was a banner ad that was not optimized and a couple of extra DNA fetches on some pages so I was able to fix the issues pretty quickly.

The load time data is apparently sourced from aggregated information by users of the Google Toolbar but it’s important to remember that it’s all averaged. A specific user may experience your site faster or slower than the average depending on their location and network conditions.

As a Labs tool, Site Performance is still under development and Google are seeking feedback on it via the Webmaster Tools Forum.

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Q and A: Can a cluttered home page affect search rankings?

Question

Hi Kalena,

I work on the  www.wordtravels.com website. Can the cluttered homepage negatively affect its overall page rank? What are your thoughts?

Thanks! Aimee

Dear Aimee,

In general terms, the fact that a page is “cluttered” would not necessarily have a direct impact on your rankings, but from a usability perspective a complex or “busy” home page can be confusing, and is likely to affect your conversion rate (the percentage of people that sign up to your service or make an enquiry).

If your site visitors find it difficult to find the information they are looking for,  they are more likely to leave the site without taking an action, so it is important that the info you provide on your home page is clear and easy to use – and funnels your visitors to the areas of the site that will be of specific interest to them – and it is there that you can start to provide detailed (and relevant) information.

One issue related to a “cluttered home page” that could affect your rankings, may actually be the inclusion of too much content.  What you say ?? How could there possibly be too much content ??  You have no doubt heard the SEO mantra – “Content is King” – well this is certainly true as far as I am concerned – but it doesn’t mean that you should put all your content on the one page.

Optimising your web site should involve choosing one or a very small number of keyword phrases to optimise for each page, by including relevant content for those specific phrases only.  Trying to squeeze all your target keyword phrases on the one page (probably resulting in a cluttered page), will not only be confusing to users – but is also likely to be confusing to Search Engines.  If a search engine cannot clearly identify the “purpose” of your page, because it contains too many conflicting keyword phrases for example, then it is not likely to give the page good rankings for many (or any) of those keyword phrases.

I’ve had a quick look at your site – and whilst it is certainly “busy”, it is relatively easy for a visitor to find a specific area they may be interested in.  Of more concern to me is the sheer number of links on your home page.  Google doesn’t like pages with lots of links (largely because users tend not to like them either).  Google has suggested a maximum of approx 100 links per page. A quick count of the links on your home page shows that you currently have over 600 – which is likely to raise some questions with Google (and not in a good way).

Hope that helps…

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

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