Over the last couple weeks I’ve been focusing on traffic building, link building and SEO on my WordPress blog. All three of these website strategies go hand in hand and all build on each other. In this post I will discussing how to make sure your WordPress blog is running efficiently.
WordPress does a lot of cool things in the background to make your website run smoothly. Have you ever noticed that when you change a blog post from one category to another, somehow, someway, you always arrive at the new location? That’s WordPress doing it’s magic! Unfortunately, Humans interact with a blog differently than search engine spiders, so while your permalinks might look nice and organized, the search engine spiders might see problems.
The best place to start is with a blog audit. If your WordPress blog is not using Google Webmaster Tools, this is a great place to start. Google Webmaster tools will not only show you how Google sees your website, but also recommend tips to improve the crawling of your site.
I just did a blog audit and found a couple problems. My sitemap was not getting generated anymore due to permission problems. Even worse the old sitemap had many bad links. Using webmaster tools I could see that Google received 80 posts from me, but only indexed 4. OUCH! Of course I have many more links in Google from other websites. The sitemap is only a recommendation to Google, but I highly recommend keeping up to date. I used the the Google XML Sitemap plugin.
I also had a duplicate content problem. To me, this is really frustrating, because again, as a human, I see my blog a certain way and it looks fine. Then looking at my website from the search engine spider’s point of view, I see many of my posts repeated as many as 5 times.
You might think that is great… 1 post, 5 entries in Google. Well, it’s not because instead of having one powerful link to your website, you have 5 at 20% power. Try cooking a potato at 20% power, it’s a waste of time.
How does this happen? I was using All-in-One SEO plugin and that is suppose to have canonical links, but I still have duplicate content.
So like any hacker, I built a simple Googlebot tracker to see how Google spiders my site… Wow, not what I expected. There is so much I’m learning from the Googlebot tracker, I will have many posts on this little bot, but for now let’s just say, I bet you are wasting Google’s time with your WordPress blog!
The Googlebot doesn’t just come into your website and spider all your content. In my case it comes and grabs one page and leaves. It’s doing this every couple minutes for a total of about 200-300 per day. Webmaster tools will show you how many times you get spidered, but will not show you what pages get indexed.
I was horrified to see that I was wasting Google juice on tags and categories. If Google is only going to hit your website 100 times a day, you better try to give Google 100 different blog posts. If you have 10 tags per post, you might be giving Google 1 blog post with 10 different links. Google then has to choose which page is the highest priority. You can see how 100 blog posts, can easily turn to 10 blog posts because we all love to tag our stuff.
How do you solve this. First of all it takes time. you have many links in Google and the Googlebot will continue to follow them, which isn’t bad… Don’t try to shut off the Googlebot, just make changes for the future of your website.
- Make sure you have canonical link set up. This tells Google where the main blog post, and that all the links from categories and tags really are just pointers to the main blog post.
- Make sure you nofollow internal links to categories, tags, archive, sitemap, etc… Your goal is to drive search engine spiders to your blog posts, not to a category page full of links. There are a few plugins that do this, but I manually did it to my menu and sidebar widgets.
- If you change you permalinks, make sure you provide Google with 301 redirect messages pointing to the new link. For this I use permalink redirect plugin.
- Make sure you sitemap is up-to-date. Not only does the Google XML sitemap plugin update your sitemap, but it also pings Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask every time you post.
- Audit your website often. Use Google Webmaster Tools to find mistakes and keep you blog running smoothly.
- Use analytic software to track visitors to your site. A free service like Google Analytics will do this well.
Please don’t just read this post as another SEO article. Put these tips into action and start with an SEO audit… If you see anything funny, post a comment below and we’ll see if we can help!
This article was contributed by Matt of MattDunlap.org, where he writes about how to increase your conversion rates with a smarter blog.