WordPress SEO

March 10, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

It’s time to jump into the madness. You still with me? Matt McGee is moderating Sean Carlos, Joost de Valk, and Rob Kerry.  That means speaking we have an American living in Italy, a European living in America, and Joost from Holland.  You don’t get sessions as culturally advanced as this one, people. ;)

We’re starting promptly. Possibly because Matt McGee has to run to the airport but I’m not starting any rumors. ;)   Matt thanks everyone for attending this session instead of the Ask the Search Engines panel and says if you notice it’s not called ANSWERS from the search engines because you won’t get any of those. Heh. Matt’s snarky on Day 3.

Up first is Rob Kerry.  He says he’s the warm up act for this session.

Wordpress – Not Just a Boring Blog.

Potential Uses – It doesn’t have to be “just” a blog. I love when people put “just” in front of blogging. Really.  Same way I like people who aren’t “just” SEOs.

  • A complete CMS
  • An e-commerce platform
  • A Q&A support platform

Wordpress does not have to run your entire site. It can happily sit in a subfolder or on a subdomain.  It works on both Windows and Linux platforms (don’t listen to your IT dept if they say it doesnt). Aymia reccomends choosing a subfolder set-up because subfolders inherit the authority and trust of the root domain. Google often treats subdomains as new and untrusted domains.  Good advice.

WordPress is good for Google News.

  • An easy platform to roll out for Google News inclusion
  • Change all reference/link/URLS of “blogs” to “news”  [Google News, like everyone else, hates bloggers]
  • Rotate news articles under 3+ WordPress usernames
  • Many WP themes have an Authors Page which can be handy for proving that you have multiple authors…even if you don’t.
  • Use Google News friendly Permalinks in WordPress.

Naughty SEOs create bad plugins

  • WordPress isn’t Nirvana – Don’t trust everyone
  • SEOs build themes and plugins that secretly injected links into your sites, risking penalties.
  • Wannabe SEOs create crappy SEO Plugins. Can actually end up breaking your site or unintentionally harming your site’s SEO.
  • You’re usually safe with the masses – check reviews

Designers aren’t SEOs

  • Designers are not SEOs, even if they claim to make SEO Friendly WordPress themes
  • Make sure that the HI tag is used on the homepage for a descriptive title and not for the logo
  • Remove multiple instances of HI tags and the unnecessary usage of H2 in the theme
  • Use WP Minify to clean out comments from the code increasing page loading times and get rid of the nasties

The Infinite Website

  • By default, the internal search results pages on WordPress are indexable
  • Competitors can negatively  harm your site by posting links to these search pages using comment spam
  • Adding hundreds of thousands of new pages to your site makes it hard for Google to index properly
  • Protect yourself by adding Disallow:/*?s= into your robots.txt file

Canonical Fun Times

  • A common SEO mistake with WordPress involves the Canonical link tag
  • Some SEO plugins leave off the trailing slash in URLs which many Web servers than 301 redirect to the “/” URL
  • Others just respond with whatever URL is in the browser
  • Test yours by adding /?test=123 to the end of your homepage URL

I didn’t say that…did I?

Have you been drunk blogging again?

  • Deleted posts can stick around for awhile, even after using the Google Webmaster Tools removal tool
  • Do yourself a favor by serving a 410 HTTP Status Code on the deleted posts URL via the htaccess file

Let me count the ways

Category Hell and the spawn of Satan’s Archives

  • Do you need an Archive for every months of the year?
  • Do individual Authors need a 5 page index of their previous posts?

Next up is Sean Carlos.

Our problem is that we have aggressive SEOs who want to rank for very competitive topics, often know as the three Ps – poker, pills and p0rn.  Many people have installed WordPress in other CMS. What happens is if you haven’t paid attention to security, you might find yourself taken out of Google.  Ben Franklin once said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Word, Ben.

There’s one way to secure your computer: Unplug it from the Internet.

Always use the latest version of WordPress. Not only is there new functionality, there’s better security. It’s okay to wait a day or so to make sure no problems arise with the latest version, but don’t wait too long.

Know Your Plugins – who wrote the plugin? Why did they create it?  Plugins get intensive access to your WordPress installation. Make sure you trust the person who made it.

Change the default administrator account name from “admin”.   Create a new user, give that new user admin authority, then log out, log in again and delete the “admin” user.

Protect your WordPress administration with a server level password.

WP Prefix Changer t0 Rename your WordPress database tables

Make the job of a hacker more difficult. Remove version information from WordPress and plugins.  Plugins is more difficult because they often attach info to JS so it’s not always easy to do.

High php errors. PHP installations you can either see errors in verbose mode or hide the information. Hide it.

A few other considerations

  • Password policy: Change often
  • Connections: Public Wifi is not secure. Use secure FTP.
  • Share hosting: If hackers get into your server, everything you’ve done may be in vain.

WP Security Scan: He hasn’t used this plugin in awhile, but he’s still suggesting it.  It may slow down your site so check.

Site disappears from Google or Bing? Search engine traffic drops?  You may have been hacked. Find what the problem is, then clean up your site as quickly as possible. If you can find out when the site was compromised and revert to a backup, that’s the cleanest solution. Outside of that, you may want to find out HOW the site was compromised.  Once you’ve found out the site’s been cleaned up, submit a reinclusion request. You don’t really have to because Google with crawl your site and see but, an option.

Next up is Joost.

He’s Dutch but he’s not going to talk about windmills, wooden shoes or anything like it. Killjoy. ;)  He mentions his Definitive Guide to WordPress which covers a huge list of plugins.

  • HeadSpace2
  • Redirection
  • XML Sitemaps
  • RSS Footer
  • Robots Meta
  • mRSS
  • etc
  • etc

The problem with that is they’re all different plugins and you can’t put them all into one big system. He decided to solve that problem and came up with WordPress SEO plugin which is now in beta. It has a snippet preview to show you what your site will look like in Google. You can see it right in your admin, which is pretty cool. Worth noting, Darren Slatten aka SEO Mofo has a Snippet Optimizer that I’m a fan of. Joost’s plugin also lets you update the SEO Title, Meta Description, and other keywords. It controls your Breadcrumbs title, you can control your other titles, generates XML sitemaps for category or post type.    He talks about his RSS Footer plugin which is rolled into the new WordPress SEO plugin which adds a line to the bottom of the post that reads “this post originally came from [blog name]…”.   Joost mentions Michael Gray is a big user of this plugin and got himself ranking pretty well for [SEO blog] simply by using it.

He’s added some functions to the new WordPress admin bar that do all sorts of fun stuff.

Joost opens up Rob’s slide and brings us back to the section on Canonical tags. Apparently Joost has a plugin that can do that for you.  He also doesn’t like WP Security Scan because it’s written by his biggest competitor. He offers another service but I missed it. Maybe Joost will come by and give it to us in the comments. ;)

Pay more for hosting so you get good support. Skip the cost of a conference and put it there instead.

Don’t use social media plugins – hardcode them into your theme. Twitter and Facebook make it easy to embed an iframe version into your theme and its so much faster. Use that.

Worth noting again: There was some serious Thesis hating toward the end of the Q&A. Rob Kerry called it completely useless and Joost advised using something from StudioPress because it was SEO’d by Greg Boser.   Interesting.

Image replacement of H1 text is often done with some WordPress styles, can this be done without being penalized? Sean says there’s a better way and recommends font face.  Joost disagrees. Font face only works when you implement it well and it’s hard to implement it well. The biggest thing he has against it is the performance penalty that comes with it. Rob says to use any of the services out there. He used the Google font replacement API. Surely they won’t penalize you for using their own service.

And that’s it. Time to run my butt over to the next and LAST session. It’s gonna be a good one!

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