Overlook Park by dougtone.
There are so many WordPress SEO tutorials out there we don’t need another one. Some of them are very good, I don’t doubt that. They cover most of the blog & WordPress SEO basics like proper URLs e.g. We have also numerous best WordPress SEO plugins lists out there.
Blog SEO is mainly NOT about basics and plugins.
You may use one, two or three of these plugins but not more. The true SEO for blogs is more advanced. On the other hand you don’t need some advanced technical skill-set to master it.
Much of blog SEO is directly related to
- keyword choice
- content prioritization (siloing)
- community creation
You may cover the SEO basics or use the “best SEO plugins” but still write content nobody will ever find. So what’s the deal? How do you really take care of your blog & WordPress SEO? I’ve seen countless WordPress SEO tutorials but most don’t cover any of the following 30 points most bloggers overlook:
Google loves blogs and fresh content. Blogs offer everything Google needs so it rewards blogs and publishing new posts frequently. On the other hand you will notice that your blog ranks often in random ways unless you decide what blog posts and what keywords and phrases you want to rank for. With the several blogs I write for I often notice this kind of behavior. You have to prioritize and decide yourself which posts you wan to rank. In SEO it’s often referred to as siloing.
Outdated posts may rank forever.
So you have to return to those posts and update them for better SEO results. You may also redirect your old posts to new URLs but I prefer the update.
New posts often rank far worse than old posts.
Thus you have to update the old posts sometimes instead of writing new ones on the same topic.
More keyword posts don’t automatically mean better rankings for those keywords.
Adding “UK SEO” to each an every post doesn’t mean you will rank better for UK SEO. Rather focus on the best performing post about UK SEO on your blog.
Tag pages might outrank your posts.
Adding a tag cloud to your blog is good for usability and still common. Your tag or category pages might outrank your posts though as they are always linked on homepage. Tag pages make people bounce though. So don’t link your tags and categories everywhere.
Nobody finds your best posts unless you mark them as “best”.
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen has written about it years ago. You have to add a best posts, featured posts and/or most popular posts list to your blog. We use Postrank for that purpose.
You won’t rank for “x blog” unless you have “x blog” in your HTML title.
Google is still too stupid to recognize a blog by it’s set up or structure. Using WordPress doesn’t mean you will rank for your term + blog. Just search for design blog. You have to call yourself blog in the HTML title tag an dthe h1 headline. Doesn’t seem “advanced”? It took a me more than a year to finally prove that.
Link building in advanced SEO is not only about getting links. It’s also about how each link is part of your overall SEO strategy. Do you aim to rank for your main keyphrase or two? Or do you seek to become a great resource first and make each post rank as high as possible to harness the long tail? This decision determines how you will link out, link your internal posts and interlink them in future.
People click the first link in lists.
It doesn’t matter how you structure your list, whether it starts with “a” or the best list item. People tend to click the items on top. Consider this when compiling link lists.
Repetitive linking with the same anchor text is spammy.
While many SEO plugins automatically link a given page or post on your WordPress blog with a predefines keyword this is spammy. Google discounts unnatural accumulations of anchor texts like it discounts keyword stuffing elsewhere. It’s not 2005 anymore.
Broken links break your SEO and make less trustworthy.
Both users and search engines rely on trust factors like you not linking to bad neighbourhoods. Often old blog posts link to sites that do not exist anymore or worse have been overtaken by someone else and are more or less of low quality
You get no links without trust.
When it comes to business blogging most blogs won’t get authority links unless they become trusted resources. There are a few desperate people out there like Jason Calacanis who will attack a whole industry to get links but that doesn’t work for you. You are not a celebrity. Only people who trust you link to you.
You get incoming links by linking out (I don’t mean trackbacks).
Many people new to blog SEO assume that they have to hoard PageRank like they do on their static sites but only blogs that link out succeed in the long run. You get links mostly from other bloggers. How do they notice you? When you actually link out to them. Getting links with trackbacking everybody via automated plugins is spam.
Nofollow hampers your internal links (pings) as well.
WordPress still uses by default the so called nofollow attribute for blog comments. It was introduced to combat spam but it never did. The widely used Akismet plugin is for spam. WordPress also adds your nofollow internal links (pings) and thus hurts your site. Otherwise you can just ping your older posts by linking them in your newer post and both of them get a ranking boost.
Content creation is not just about producing as many blog posts as possible and blog SEO is not about making these posts as keyword rich as possible. You need a content strategy and goals you want to reach. Also who re the people you want to reach with your blog posts? Think about that before you start blogging. Do you blog for branding, SEO or do you seek feedback from your readers?
Normal people or websites rarely link out to blogs, others bloggers do.
So you have to write for a relatively small audience of other bloggers to get links. Make sure to address other bloggers in your posts at least from time to time. Write for people, I mean people you know by name to achieve this.
Images rank far easier than postings.
SEO is still a niche topic. As SEO blogs are fairly well optimized also the images in them rank well. You may end up with more visitors from image search than from regular results. This works great for other more image oriented blogs as well. Descriptive image names and captions are key here. angelina-jolie-naked.jpg with “Angelina Jolie naked” as a caption will outrank 123.jpg with “look at her” as caption. Read about advanced image SEO in this presentation [PDF].
Listicles bring traffic but in depth posts like Seth Godin’s bring reputation (and traffic).
As an SEOptimise reader you know we produce quite a few lists. These lists are very popular. To get a reputation and trust you need to cover topics in depth though. Some lists manage both, like I hope this one does but random shallow collections of items aka listicles don’t. Take a look at Seth Godin’s blog. He manages to do both.
Embedding videos from YouTube or elsewhere is a recipe for disaster
Many US bloggers forget that the world is bigger than the USA. They will embed videos hosted on video sites to their blog posts. Sometimes the video is the only content in a post like that. Many videos can’t be displayed outside the US, even the most popular ones. Some sites like Hulu are US only. Some videos get removed for copyright reasons, other for personal reasons. So you end up with an empty player in your blog post. Use open source video players for your professional blogs.
Comments and Community
Your goal with a blog is also to create a community of supporters for your blog, site as a whle and brand. Blogs and comments are the most straightforward way to do so. Comments are very tricky though. There are many pitfalls to overcome, especially when it comes to blog comments and SEO. Disabling comments is no solution though for flagship business blogs.
Unmoderated comments may hurt your site’s authority.
You have to moderate comments very closely. That is: Check the name of the commenter, is it just keywords. Read the comment, check whether it’s original (or just a bit that copies the same comment from elsewhere or even from your blog comments above), click the link the commenter added. In case everything is OK then the comment should be approved. Otherwise it might make you look bad for both users and search engines.
Comments make your posts rank better, not only for long tail phrases.
Stale blog posts may outrank you but also may dissappear altogether. When people still add comments to old blog posts Google obviously assumes that they are still of relecvance. Also people add more contant via comments and thus you can rank for long tail phrases and often even quite popular keyphrases just becaus of the comments.
Switched off comments make your blog a one way street.
Many bloggers consider switching off comments altogether to get rid of spam, low quality comments and to have more time for writing. While the advantages of this approach might be obvious the drawbacks are a bit more long term and fuzzy but they are there. The conversation takes place somewhere else. You lose a community or the community you once had.
Using third party tools like Disqus for comments makes them unmovable.
Many bloggers use third party comment management tools like Disqus make them stuck once you move your blog to another platform for instance. When the URLs change the comments can’t be ascribed correctly to their posts anymore.
Relying for Twitter for comments breaks them when Twitter is down.
Some bloggers do not use third party commenting tools but add Twitter authentication via OAuth. This is a good idea as long as Twitter is up. Just yesterday I couldn’t add a comment to a blog because Twitter was “over capacity”. Make sure Twitter is not the only way people can authenticate or allow comments by anonymous users as well. You can make those
Most people don’t comment.
99% of visitors do not comment on your blog. So pay special attention to those that do but don’t assume everybody else shares the same opinion. Also consider adding low threshold user participation to your blog. Something like adding stars for approval.
Most positive comments are spam these days.
“Thank you, great post!” This is not a comment. This is spam. Whenever I see a blog post full of such comments I know that the blogger in question doesn’t care about real comments so I don’t comment myself. I don’t want my comment to get buried below dozens of worthless bot like flattery. Also note that a comment providing no context and no relation to the actual post can be automated.
You have to reply to good commenters to keep your blog community alive.
While most comments are trash you have to try to keep the commenters who are really adding value by commenting on point. These people are your most ardent fans in many cases. They are your brand evangelists who will spread the message beyond your blog. Nurture them and your blog SEO will thrive.
Conversions and ROI
Blogs are not meant to convert visitors to clients. Also the ROI of blogging is fuzzy. You need to make a blog work for you and your business. Just adding a blog and assuming you get more conversions or a better ROI than before doesn’t work. So make sure to find out how your blog could earn money for you. Think about ways to convert your readers to subscribers, brand evangelists or even clients that are specific to your business. Each and every blog I write for has a different way of earning money.
The date makes people bounce.
Blogs, especially WordPress blogs still mimic diaries like back in 2001. So people will see the date of a post almost instantly in the URL or above the post itself. While hiding the date entirely is not a good idea showing it before the actual post as the most important information is a mistake. People will assume that your content is outdated when they see a date from a few months ago or last year. Business blogging is about value though, thus you won’t just blog time sensitive news. Display the date at the bottom of the post without highlighting it. Otherwise visitors just bounce.
Blogs do not convert unless you make them.
We know that there are basically three kinds of search queries. Navigational, informational and transactional ones. Blogs are geared towards serving the informational queries. People who get the information have no reason to stay on your blog and buy, subscribe etc. You have to blog for conversions to get them. This starts with choosing different keywords and placing a call to action at the bottom of your post.
Blogging doesn’t pay when it’s a shop window with no products.
The term business blogging suggests that blogging itself is the business. In most cases it is not. blogging only supports your real business. It’s like s shop window for showing off your expertise. In case there is nothing to buy though, no products you won’t sell anything.
You can perform A/B split tests with WordPress.
A/B split testing or multivariate testing is very en vogue these days even beyond the SEO industry. It is for good reason. You can optimize for the traffic you already have instead of trying to get even more of it. A/B split testing works in WordPress as well and can increase your conversion rates significantly.
You have to segment your blog traffic to achieve the best results.
When you study your analytics often enough you will notice that your visitors are often completely different. You have probably very determined search users, very casual social media users, and very devoted returning visitors if your blog works well. To achieve the best results and convert these visitors you have to segment them. It means you need to offer different things to different people. Example: Show targeted CPC ads to search visitors. Show CPM ads to social media visitors. Don’t show ads to regular visitors or special offers instead.
Now you might argue that this or that this list isn’t about advanced SEO at all. You may be right. Most of these issues haven’t been covered in the quite common basic WordPress SEO tutorials though. So they are at least more advanced than the basics. Indeed that’s also my point:
These techniques described above are not advanced in the sense of difficult or complex.
Most of them are just less known. Also most also work on other blog systems as well or beyond blogs. This list is based on my experience with WordPress blogs though (I write for and optimize 4 of them regularly).
So don’t obsess about the WordPress SEO basics and plugins. Don’t overlook these 30 points like other bloggers do. You might outrank them by focusing on them.