Archive for the 'Search Engine Optimisation' Category

Shemas Eivers – Blogs and search engine optimisation (SEO)

Shemas Eivers is the MD of Client Solutions and he was at a meeting I also attended recently. Shemas was asking about tools for SEO and when I replied that blogs are the most powerful tool I know of for increasing SEO, Shemas didn’t seem to believe me. Fair enough.

Shemas this post is for you!

Why are blogs so good at increasing a website’s SEO?

  • Every blog post has its own url (so each post can be linked to individually – this leads to increased inward linkage)
  • Search engines love content and a blog encourage the constant addition of content to a site
  • Search engines love fresh content and blogs promote that too
  • A blog, if named (blog title, sub-head, and posts) configured properly (short permalinks) can own a particular key word/phrase for all search engines
  • Search engines love links (inward or outward) and blogs with their blogrolls, links within posts and discussions promote that lots of linkage

There are plenty more good reasons why blogs punch way above their weight when it comes to search engines – please feel free to add more in the comments.

Shemas, if you do a Google search for Shemas Eivers right now, why do you think the top ranking sites are blogs?

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Don’t optimize article titles for search engines alone

There’s an article in today’s New York Times which claims that journalists are now writing their article headlines with search engines, not human readers, in mind!

The search-engine “bots” that crawl the Web are increasingly influential, delivering 30 percent or more of the traffic on some newspaper, magazine or television news Web sites. And traffic means readers and advertisers, at a time when the mainstream media is desperately trying to make a living on the Web.

This is sounds like a really bad idea in my humble opinion – sure you need to bear search engines in mind when writing articles and titles but don’t let them dictate your post titles to you completely. Why? Sure you need to be listed in search engine results – but you also need a human reader of the results to click on your link. If your title is a really boring title designed solely to attract search engines, no-one will click through to read the article and your search engine optimisation is in vain.

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Organic SEO Wiki

Kudos to Michele for pointing out the Organic SEO Wiki – the “organic” refers to the manual type of page optimisation, as opposed to automatic submittal and page alteration.

Everything on the site

can be implemented by one person, rather than having to hire a firm and pay big bucks for them to do the same stuff

Perfect for DIY SEO enthusiasts – and the fact that it is a wiki means that you can contribute to the site as well.

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Business blogging “brings the most marketing and sales returns”

Business blogging more than pays for itself according to a study carried out by Backbone Media – a Boston based company specialising in integrated search engine marketing and website design strategies for Business to Business companies. The survey includes case studies of blogs run by IBM, Microsoft, Maytag, iUpload, and Macromedia.

The study, available online in html format and pdf format, discovered that corporate blogs are living up to all the hype. Corporate blogs are giving established corporations and obscure brands the ability to connect with their audiences on a personal level, build trust, collect valuable feedback and foster strengthened relationships while and at the same time benefiting in ways that are tangible to the sales and marketing side of the business

Backbone Media President Stephen Turcotte remarked on the survey,

Looking at this from the perspective of an Internet marketer, there are obvious SEO benefits to publishing relevant content that is search engine friendly and getting more backlinks. However, a successful blog can do so much more. It can build a better company.

John Cass, Backbone Media’s Director of Internet Marketing Strategies, commented:

Every company is at a different stage in their blogging efforts, some are dipping their toe into blogging and getting good results, in terms of higher search engine rankings and thought leadership, while others have changed their whole product development process to make their company as open and transparent to customers as possible. The benefits of blogging are many, but it seems that to build and achieve the best results using blogs, a company must cross a cultural chasm that turns customers into brand evangelists.

The interesting thing about this concept is that if you do build a business blog and engage your customers, it is entirely possible to turn your clients into “brand evangelists” as John Cass says and there are few more powerful sales reps than satisfied customers!

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Boost Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) using Permalinks

Permalinks are a feature of most blogging applications – they are are the permanent URLs to your individual weblog posts, categories and other lists of weblog postings. For instance, the Permalink for the listing of all the posts I have written in the Search Engine Optimisation category is:

In WordPress, you can control how your Permalinks look and this can have a significant effect on your site’s search engine optimisation. For example, if you don’t change the default Permalink setup on your WordPress blog, the link to your posts will look something like:

where 49 is the post number.

However, if you go to Options -> Permalinks in WordPress and change your Permalink structure to something like /%year%/%postname%/ or even just /%postname%/ the title of your post will become part of the url for your post. If you use keywords and keyphrases which you want your site to be found by in the post title, then you will increase your chances of being found by people who search for that keyphrase. For example the url this post is:

Of course, if you combine that with the advice on category name selection I mentioned yesterday, you get a double whammy!

One word of caution – if you just use /%postname%/ as your Permalink structure, this may cause you problems – according to the Codex page on Permalinks:

the rewrite rules may make it impossible to access pages such as your stylesheet (which has a similar format) or the wp-admin folder

In my own case, my Permalinks are set to /%postname%/ and consequently I can’t access my Awstats folder. I have set my Permalinks to /%postname%/ because that structure gives the maximum SEO benefit – the further down the URL your keyphrases are, the lower they will appear in Search Engine results.

The way around the Awstats issue for me is to change the Permalink structure to /%year%/%postname%/ briefly, access the Awstats folder and change the Permalink structure back. This method is unsatisfactory because anyone following a link to a Permalinked article on the site will get a 404 while the structure is altered, but it is the best I have come up with so far.

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WordPress Categories, Technorati Tags and Search Engine Optimisation

Technorati is a search engine which automatically receives a notification from weblogs as soon as they are updated.

Technorati Tags are a way of classifying blog posts – you can add tags to your blog posts by adding a rel=”tag” to tag links in your posts – however this method is cumbersome and prone to mistakes. Fortunately, if you are a WordPress user, Technorati automatically recognises your categories and uses them as Tags to classify your posts.

Why are Tags important? Well, if I want to see what has been written by bloggers recently on any topic, I simply browse to the Technorati Tag page for that topic and see all the latest posts. For instance the Technorati Tag page for Security at time of writing contains 4,620 posts from 850 blogs, all on security related topics.

But wait, there’s more! I can do a search in Technorati for a term of interest – and if I want to keep an eye on what people are writing about that term moving forward, I can create what is called a Watchlist for that term (the term can be anything – your company name, for instance – or your competitor’s name!). A Watchlist is a saved, constantly updating search so you can go back to the search and at any time see the latest posts on your term of interest. It gets even better, your Watchlists are also available as RSS feeds so you can keep an eye on them using your RSS reader!

Given that Tags are important and that WordPress categories translate into Technorati Tags, it follows that you should chose your WordPress category names very carefully. For instance, if you want to create a Category for posts about about your blog – you could call it, Blog, Blogging or Weblog. If you look at the equivalent Technorati Tags for these terms, you will see that the TagBlog has a Google Page Rank (PR) of 5 and has 42,678 posts from 7,422 blogs; Blogging has a PR of 4 and has 15,131 posts from 2,295 blogs; while Weblog has a PR of 2 and has 55,823 posts from 3,552 blogs.

So from a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) point of view, the best category name (of the three) to chose in WordPress would be Blog because it has the highest Google Page Rank (and has the highest number of associated blogs). A page with a high Page Rank linking to your site increases your own Page Rank and therefore your SEO.

Something to consider when creating WordPress categories.

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