Category Archives: SEO

Why a self-hosted blog? Keep your Blog Mojo.

As I have mentioned recently, I have a few clients jumping into the world of blogging for the first time. And this has raised some questions about the best configuration for a blog; both for ease of use and “find-ability” in the search results.

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One of the first questions that came up was “self-hosted” or “externally hosted?”

Blogger.com and WordPress.com are fantastic easy platforms for people to get a blog up and running with only a little bit of time investment in setup and design. But does that ease of use sacrifice one of the most important elements of optimizing your website and blog for the best search engine results? Relevant information is the key to not only good website visibility but also good traffic to a website.

Having an on-site blog provides a whole new dimension to how relevant information can be provided at your website. When you host a blog as a subdomain or subdirectory of your main domain, (based on personal preference or motivated by your hosting platform constraints), you get all the great mojo of very targeted content you have created, that is directly relevant to your target audience. You get all the link-juice of links within your own site and blog as well as the external links that you will naturally generate by having blog posts with helpful information and targeted keyphrases.

If you host your blog externally, all that great domain mojo and link juice goes to whoever is hosting your blog (Blogger.com, WordPress.com, etc.).

There are a few things you should be aware of in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools setup depending on whether you are using a blog in a subdomain vs. a subdirectory in order to make sure you can accurately tracking everything on your site and blog  (more on that later).

In the meantime, here are some answers about subdomains vs. subdirectories from Matt Cutts:

 

References/Resources:

Do you use dates in your URLs?

Several of my clients are jumping into the world of blogging and I reached out to my most excellent colleagues (Hi Max & Brian) to help get some WordPress blogs designed, installed and setup for me.

Since these are new blogs, the question of subdomains vs. subdirectories came up (more on that later, still researching a few things) as did the question of blog URLs including dates or not.

URLs Dates or Not?

This blog is currently setup with year and month in the URL. Nearly all news sites I’ve seen use the full date in their posts. I’ve had a blog since May 2006, so I have a pretty good archive of posts that include the date in the URL. If I were to change mid-stream to a no-date structure, I think I’d have a lot of redirecting to do.

Although I just made the change for my personal blogs and posts seem to be redirecting properly from the old date format URLs… H’mm, am I bold enough to try making the change on my 7 year old blog just to “see what happens?”

Here are links to a few differing viewpoints on dates in URLs:

And a quick video from Matt Cutts about it. Basically he says you don’t need the date, but that it can be a good usability feature to have the date easy for your visitors to find. However, the date doesn’t have to be in the URL, it can be in the post content. Google doesn’t use the URL to determine “freshness” of information.

 

So, if you are starting a new blog, will you use dates in your URLs or not?

Why Wistia for Video Hosting?

I just recently bought a basic plan with Wistia to host the videos I produce for my business website and for my personal blogs. I made the decision to go to a paid version within a week or two of having the free service.

ScreenShot961The main question you’re probably asking is why not YouTube or Google Video or Vimeo? For me, as an SEO the biggest bummer with those video hosting services was that all the link juice for the better videos I created was going to YouTube (or Google Video, etc.) Now, if you have advertising on your videos, that might make you want to stay with your present video hosting service. But if you’re not using advertising on your video, wouldn’t it be great to get all the credit for your productions? and have a live “call to action” button on your videos?

The beautiful thing about Wistia, aside from the ease of use, the straight-forward instructions, the superb videos (and advice) is the fact that you can easily edit your sitemap to include your videos. So your website (not your hosting service) gets the credit for the value and traffic that your terrific videos are creating.

Add this to all the information we all know about video marketing being the wave of the future (and how much we all love a good video tutorial) and you have a perfect combination.

The steps for Video SEO are very easy (http://wistia.com/doc/video-seo). You just have to get a few things in place and use the embed code type that facilitates the use of the sitemap code that allows you get the full value of the videos on your site.

Video SEO Made Simple:

  • Create your video
  • Upload to Wistia
  • Make sure your Robot.txt is setup
  • Embed your video using the Advanced Type: SEO Embed
  • Make an entry to your video sitemap

They also have great analytics on your vids… number of views, engagement stats, etc.

Video Engagement Stats

It’s a beautiful thing. And besides, videos are fun.

Resources:

How to Learn SEO Online for Free

Learn SEO Online

When I learned about SEO, it was a very new industry. There weren’t SEO Universities or any formalized training classes. I learned all the fundamentals from Jill Whalen’s Newsletter, Website and Forum at HighRankings.com

I have since expanded the sites that I visit to keep up with SEO, but I do keep it to a minimum. There is sooooo much information available now about SEO and all the different aspects of online marketing, but I find that the fundamentals are still very true. Make a good site, make it easy for your visitors and the search engines to find you, provide relevant information and you can be successful.

So, if you are learning about SEO, here are the top 5 sites that I visit when I have an SEO or SEM question.

  • High Rankings Newsletter
    • This is where it all began for me… I searched for something like How to get High Rankings, and found Jill Whalen’s website and newsletter. This is where I learned the foundation of SEO.
  • High Rankings Forum
    • The High Rankings Forum is where I go first if I can’t find an answer myself or if I need a “reality” check from other pros on a topic. Lots of fantastic information here!
  • SEOMoz
    • I’ve recently fallen in love with mozinars. I thought, at first that they were only available to pro members, however they are free to any registered user. There are a variety of fantastic topics and much to learn.
  • SEOBook
    • I don’t go here quite as often as I used to, but I follow Aaron Wall on social networks and pay attention to what he says.
  • Search Engine Journal
    • Recently I have been seeing some great content here. Maybe it’s been here all along and I just wasn’t paying enough attention!

So, what are your favorites? Where do you go to learn SEO online?

Video Marketing Made Easy, without YouTube

Read a great article today on Video SEO (sorry I don’t have the link of the original article!) and followed a link to http://wistia.com/

Am trying my first video embed using the SEO embed code. Depending on how well this works… I may be not only writing a lot more about this, but also using this service to host my videos.

Oh how I LOVE to learn new stuff!



On-Site SEO isn’t enough (and hasn’t been for a while)

On-Site SEO Used to be the Whole Story

SEO – Search Engine Optimization is a constantly evolving field. As the competition and the search engines change, the plan and strategy for promoting your website online has to change as well.

Back in the day, it used to be enough to “feed” the search engines with what they were looking for in terms of keywords, etc. That would enable your site to be found for your important keywords.

Now there are local results, map results, video results, social results, and more. You need to be aware of where and how your potential customers search and use the internet. You need to use all the tools available to you.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Stay tuned to learn more of the latest tips and tricks to get your website the visibility it deserves.[/dropshadowbox]

SEO for WordPress Websites

Just found a great article over at Search Engine Journal about SEO for WordPress Websites. I will summarize and comment on their recommendations here.

1) Optimizing your URL Structure.

This is a very easy fix to the most basic problem I see on WordPress sites, most people take the default URL structure which includes something like ?p=765 as the URL for each page or post. This tells the search engines nothing about the page. A better way is to use one of the settings that includes the Post Name (and then remember to name your posts intelligently!). This setting can be changed in Settings>Permalinks. Search Engine Journal recommends the Post Name setting. I prefer Month & Name setting. This is so that I could have other posts with the same name, but are differentiated by when they were written.

2) Use of the H1 Blog Title on all Pages

This one I have to look into in a little more detail, but according to SEJ, the H1 tag is used for the Title of the Site/Blog on all pages. This is a mistake because Google places a fair amount of importance to what text uses the H1 tag and you don’t want to have them the same throughout the site. Much better to use the H1 tag as you would a page title, unique to each page of the site.

3) Allow Categories/Tags to be Indexed?

Yes, if you have setup Tags and Categories with appropriate names, your page and blog archives can help users find exactly what they are looking for. SEJ recommends a follow up article on this topic from WPBeginner.

4) Use a good SEO Plugin for WordPress

My favorite is Yoast and SEJ agrees.

5) Image Optimization on WordPress

Don’t forget to use Alt-text, Captions and Descriptions when uploading image content!

6) Google Author Profile on WordPress

This is an option in Yoast as well, but you definitely want to link your content to your Google+ profile so you have the option for Authorship Markup. Here’s an example of what Authorship Markup can do in the search results:

Ask Joanne Google+ Authorship

Authorship Markup on Search Results

7) Schema.org microdata on WordPress

I’m learning more about structured data and microdata every day, in fact there’s a very cool new tool over at Webmaster tools called the data highlighter for sites that feature event listings. Anyway, this is something I need to check into in more detail. SEJ gives a link to a plugin that will help: Schema Creator by Raven. Note: So far this plugin has only a few schema types (and when I tried it, all the data was visible on the page. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work -will check it out and report back.)

8) Keep an Eye on Your Plugins and Themes

This is always good advice…make sure the plugins you’ve installed and rely on for the best functioning of your site are working as they should. Questions?, go to the WordPress Community Forum.

9) Webmaster Tools and Analytics

Now this is always good advice, WordPress site or not! Make sure you are setup with Webmaster tools on both Google and Bing. Also, make sure you are tracking your site analytics!

 

 

Useful SEO Habits to adopt NOW

The following is summarized from from Search Engine Journal‘s article:Search Engine Journal SEO Strategies Important SEO Habits to Adopt for Post Panda-Penguin Era Survival

  • Think Originality and Relevance

Make your content original and relevant. Provide users with USEFUL information. Avoid techniques meant only for the Search Engines

  • Add Authenticity

Use tools like Google Authorship Markup, get your “by line” on your content. Let people know who you are and why they should listen to you.

  • Develop Clean Website Structure

Make sure your site can be easily crawled and that your data structure makes sense. Don’t leave the bots to crawl through a spaghetti-mess of pages.

  • Promote Locally

Use all the local tools available to you to make sure that people near you can find you -this is particularly important for brick & mortar businesses. Use Google+Local and Google+Pages, use Bing Local, and use Yext for all the rest.

Local Business Directories – Getting Your Business Listed

As you know, in addition to optimizing your site for important keyphrases, the next step in successfully marketing your website are the “off-site” factors, like how many quality sites link to your site.

This post is an update of a post I did back in 2009. Back then, the three major directories to get listed in were Google, Yahoo and Bing. Since then, many more local business directories have come into being.  It’s more important than ever to get your business listed in these directories because if it’s not, the chances of your site getting found when people search for what you offer plus a location.

So, step one; start with the “Big 3”

Next step; add or update your business on other business directories like:

In addition to these, there are many more. A list of 50 can be found at: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10322/The-Ultimate-List-50-Local-Business-Directories.aspx

Once you have your business listed, make the most of your listing by:

  • Adding a well written business description (include your KEYWORDS)
  • Adding photos and video
  • Adding details about your business; services provided, hours, payments accepted,  etc.
  • Encourage Happy Customers to review your business online
  • and on the “flip side” check your listings periodically (or setup some Google Alerts) so that you can respond quickly to any negative PR