Advanced SEO for Bloggers
Debbie: I'm Debbie Brookstaber. I have two blogs, the first is Mamanista.com and Bloganthropy.org. My passion is my blog Bloganthropy.org and my children and my work.Professionally I do do SEO and social media. I own my own agency and the direction of Childsplay Communications. Prior to entering the the blogging world, started at Travelocity and Expedia. And this is Christina…
Christina: Thank you. My name is Christina Inge but please call me Chrissy. I wear multiple hats. I am a marketer for tech companies, VP of Social Media for the American Marketing Association, Boston Chapter. I have had multiple blogs ranging from quilting and so on. As VP of social media I ran the blog for the AMA Boston Chapter and we were recently honored by the Direct Marketing Association. The blog has its challenges from an SEO and content statement. It's been a cause of a lot of my gray hairs. In my day job I do a lot of SEO for both small and med size organizations. I am also really interested in web analytics. Right now we'd like to get started.
So what I want to start talking about SEO has a lot of new rules. Many of the traditional tactics won't work or have reduced effectiveness.
Christina: Raise your hands if you've started SEO on your blog 3-4 yrs ago?
Christina: Is anyone noticing it’s less effective compared to a few years ago?
Christina: Google likes to keep us on our toes. They want to stay onto of the way people are consuming content now. Its definitely become a lot more social and more contextual. There are no two same search engine results. You will have diff results on your phone, work, personal computer. It will always change depending on the user.
Christina: Who has seen lower bounce rates?
Christina: SEO is not a Silo anymore. In the past you created tags, link building it was cut and dry. It isn't anymore. It could be interesting to get your clients to do SEO but for you as a blogger it will be more intuitive to do your own SEO. What you do in social media is imp, multi-channel content is imp. Everything you do is good for SEO. On site sEO is only about 30%.
In a nutshell, it’s going to be much more interdisciplinary. Search becomes much more of a consideration in more marking and web decisions. Should I shoot a video, etc all becomes an SEO decision. It creates new opp for using search as a framework to optimize the whole user exp. It's all part of your search project, it’s easier to plan form. It’s less cut and dry but you can use content decisions, platform decision are going to impact your search.
Let’s talk more about user experience: As a blogger you don't usually think about user experience but it really does matter a lot. Google is really thinking about mobile. They have developed a huge amount of initiatives now. They really want you to care about the mobile experience your readers have on the website. They are starting to penalize sites that aren't mobile friendly. They are starting to rank lower in search. More and more consumers are reading content on mobile devices. One of the things from a blog perspective is that you want to have a responsive design.
Audience: Is there a plug-in for Wordpress you recommend for mobile?
Christina: There are some really good generic things. In Drupal its really just a check box. There's a handful. If you search for "responsive Wordpress themes" you will find at least a dozen. I'd be happy to follow up with anyone who needs. I would recommend you test out your blog and see how it loads on a mobile device. Not while we are speaking of course!
Christina: Check your mobile traffic in GA to see what users are using to get to site and optimize for those devices. I know I'm spending a lot of time on it, but Google is really spending a lot of time on this initiative.
Debbie: Especially if you are reading for leisure themes. People tend to check your blogs from a mobile device in passing
Audience: What is considered a good time spent on a blog? What is considered bad?
Christina: There is no time spent rule. What you want to look at is page depth. If you have a high bounce rate, that's not good
Debbie: That's why blogs have a "read more" button to generate more page views and time spent. But you want to be careful of over optimization. If you have to click thru 8 times for 1 article that’s too much
Audience: What do you mean by op for various tools? How do you know what people are doing?
Christina: GA is a wonderful free tool from Google. WordPress also has a tool. They will tell you what devices people are using to access your blog.
Christina: So one that really has changed in the last year is the Penguin update. It basically was a tremendous overhaul about how Google ranks websites. One of the major things it changes is…
Audience: What is the Penguin update?
Debbie: Its just the name for when they update the algorithm
Christina:... One of the things penguin does is penalize for over optimizing, key word stuffing for instance has been penalized even more than it was before. Much more natural language is good. For those of us who are writing real blog posts.
Debbie: Do you ever get the unsolicited emails to help optimizing blogs? Run! They will actually hurt.
Christina: Also, over linking to external sites that have nothing to do with your blog content could also hurt you
Debbie: Some of those links could hurt you. Don't purchase a bunch of scammily links.
Christina: Don't also link to people if they approach you if they are not a fellow blogger or in the same business
Christina: So, we actually just addressed this. But backlinks have been used aggressively and in some way spammily. Mass emails to build links have attracted ire of many website owners. Someone asked me a question yesterday, is it worth being on Google Plus?
Christina: Not because of the 4 people that hang around Google Plus (Laughter) but because of the SEO benefits. Google thinks there is something special about Google Plus.
Debbie: If you want some good tips on using Google Plus, check out Lynette Young at Lynette Radio. She is really skilled
Audience: Are you saying its okay to get your posts on it? Or do we have to have an interactive community?
Debbie: Building a community on Google+ can really be beneficial. Lynette says Google+ is where she finds new audiences and Facebook is where she nurtures her community. Its all about the trust and building relationships.
Christina: One of the things that is a little problematic is that Twitter, Facebook is also helpful but you have to have the Tweet and Facebook like button on your site in a certain way and Google doesn't measures those as well. If you want to measure the really social engagement of your blog, you have to follow a lengthy documentation to register with Google. Your easy social share button might not work.
Christina: Getting deeper into the weeds now. We are going to talk about semantic search, snippets and stuff. Site links are when you show up into the main URL homepage. This is more about blogs that have separate sections that stay static. It used to be that you had to be pretty large to get those sections to show up in search where its not just your homepage but the separate sections where people can access deeper into your site.
Audience: How do they determine what those are?
Christina: That is something you can control with on-site SEO. Also, submit a sitemap.
Christina: So, that's helpful you don't have to be Wal-Mart now to get the separate site links. Search Plus Your World grows the influences of social. The good news is that your readers’ friends can also find you more easily. Which is why it’s important to get your readers to "Like" you. Search Plus Your World, if you are logged into social networks and you allow Google to do this, it will give you search results based on social media results of your friends. If a friend has liked something and you are searching for it, it will show up at the top of search results. It can be incredibly useful if you are looking for recommendations. It’s very handy for people with small business and with blogs. It will basically tell anyone’s friends that a friend likes
Audience: That is user specific though right? How does it help the blogger?
Debbie: Yes, it is user specific. But if you grow your friend network you will end up ranking higher
Debbie: You guys are in here because you know the basics of SEO. Here are some advanced SEO tactics. There are some people that will try to take your money just to do the basics. The basics still add some value, but it’s not all you should do. Some common mistakes of veteran bloggers are, broken links. Broken links on site can harm your results. No internal or external strategy is bad. Redirection problems, if you keep moving around and switching platforms. Site load speed and bounce rate
Debbie: For broken links there are plug-ins. If you go to Google and search "Broken link tracker" it will help identify and fix broken links. Use this tool to monitor links in your posts pages, comments. I would say monthly, go through and check your broken links. Definitely it makes sense to do this. Do more than what Google requires and go in an improve user experiences
Next, external and internal linking. If you have been doing this for a while it could be hard to determine what your site structure is. As bloggers we are creating so much content, a blog might not have created a blog a certain way when we started. One thing to help is to use tools such as ScreamingFrog @screamingfrog. It will do a site crawl of your site, it will tell you how your site structure works what are your meta tags. It can help identify issues and make a site plan. After evaluating your site taxonomy and designing an internal linking schema based on post categories and site topics. There is also SEO automatic links in WordPress but you have to control it otherwise it will create many
Christina: This is not only about SEO but doing this can also help you determine what matters for your own personal direction.
Debbie: You can also use a plugin like Yoast SEO. I'm not endorsing it, it’s just one that I have used. No follow links on Google can be helpful if there are portions of your site where it doesn't make sense for Google to check. Use the no-follow strategically. If you search rankings fall suddenly, evaluate your external links. You may have linked to a bad link neighborhood or be suspected of selling links.
Christina: You don't have to go out and do everything. You aren't a major corporation going out to rivals. SEO is really basic common sense there is a lot of technical but you just have to start doing this.
Debbie: Unless your blog is your sole business, you may have to prioritize but you can try some of these.
Debbie: Has anyone had the experience of logging in and seeing half of your traffic is gone?
Debbie: Sometimes, if you fall suddenly and there hasn't been a big algorithm update. You may have been subject to a penalty. You could have linked to a bad neighborhood or. If you go to the Google Webmaster tools, they will ultimately ask questions and fix it and apeopley to be reevaluated. If you follow the process they will send you a notification where you may be suspected of violating Google practicing. If you get caught for something like that and have sold a lot of links, you may want to reevaluate your strategy. If you happen to get caught up you can be an innocent victim of them so be wise on how you use that.
Audience: Do inappropriate search terms affect your search results?
Debbie: No it won't
Audience: I get a lot of trackbacks. If someone is linking to me, does that affect?
Debbie: No, you can't control who links to you but it won't hurt you
Next, redirects. If you haven't set up your redirects, please do it. Set up your 301 redirects properly. Site load time, if you want to know what your load time is. Here's a free tool that you can check: tools.pingdom.com/fpt . Consider if you have bad load time eliminate unnecessary plugins that slow your site. Consider using this WordPress plugin called Smushit. It will help compress your pictures and make them faster. It’s a necessary plugin that will improve your site and make you site load faster. Also consider caching your site for speed. One caveat, make sure you back-up your site first! Back up your site people! There's also caching you can do in the cloud. You can use Cloudflare.com. If your site traffic has grown significantly you may have outgrown shared hosting. That might be great if you have a niche blog or your site isn't growing a lot. There are a few options. Unless you are a big deal, you don't need a dedicated server. You can consider a VPS, Virtual Private Server. Assuming you have the monetization to pay for that. It does cost more.
Christina: Advertisers will be happier if you're not on shared hosting.
Debbie: I've had advertisers that require that you be on a VPS.
Christina: Also, check you your bounce rate, re-evaluate or edit posts with high bounce rates.
Debbie: Okay, Google Authorship and site verification. Claim your site in Google webmaster tools, it’s very important. Also, create a Google+ profile. Add a headshot and verify an email. Then verify authorship of your content. If you search authorship and site verification you will find the parameters to add link to prove you are a real person and the author of your content. This is one thing that I would recommend everyone do. You want to take claim of your content so Google knows that you are a definitive owner of the content. It protects you if you want to share your content.
Debbie: Lastly,Google Research and Google Analytics. Evaluate your posts that aren't working. Keyword research, Google insights: "Google Trends on Steroids". Evaluate keyword difficulty.
With that, we are going to wrap up. Thank you for joining us.