Posts Tagged ‘ SEO

Easy Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

Speed Up WordPress with Common SenseConcerned with Google’s indication that Page Load Speed May Become A  Ranking Factor, I began to look at my own WordPress blogs to see if I can speed up my page load time. In particular, my Modified Car Blog loaded very slowly, to the point where it was actually annoying to users as well.

I read some great posts on technical tricks and hacks to speed up your WordPress blog. Two in particular I found useful were WolfHowl’s post How to Speed Up WordPress and WPGarage’s 38 ways to optimize and speed up your WordPress blog. Plugins recommended in these posts like WP-Minify really seemed to help speed things, but Nick’s Car Blog was still painfully slow.

A test using this website speed test tool of my home page, http://nickscarblog.com, baselined at around 10 seconds to load. After implementing many of the technical tricks in the posts referenced above, it was closer to 5-6 seconds – better, but still pretty bad. I ran a few comparable sites to my blog and they were all around 3 seconds or less.

Then it was time to go back to the basics. Here are some “common sense” things you can do that require no technical tricks, plug-ins or code. These are simple things to make everything load quicker.

  • Use the More Tag for posts that have lots of images. I had several posts that were loaded with over a dozen pictures, often technical articles with DIY Guides to install car parts. By only providing one image and a snippet of the content, there isn’t so much to load on the homepage. I think this was the most effective way I reduced my homepage’s load speed. I also think it really cleaned up the appearance and organized the content better as well.
  • Compress Images – I had several images that would load in the header and throughout the blog that were pretty large – by just a slight adjustment in resolution I could cut the file size in half without the end-user ever really noticing.
  • Remove plug-ins you’re not using anymore, or don’t find very useful – if a user probably would never use it or find it beneficial – toss it. Sometimes a little plug-in “Spring Cleaning” is in order.
  • Contact your hosting company – maybe there is something on their end they can speed up. Or maybe you just have a really crappy hosting company.
  • Remove some of those Digg/Spinn/Reddit buttons. Is anyone seriously going to Digg your About Me page? I don’t think so.
  • Consider your WordPress theme. A simplier theme will load quicker. A really fancy, widget- and animation-heavy theme will load slower. You don’t have to kill your fancy-pants theme off, just try a new one and see if it affects loading speed with a website speed test. Who knows, you might find something you like better.

The end result? My Car Blog now loads in 2.66 seconds. I didn’t lose any content or images, and by using the “More” tag I expect to see a decrease in bounce rate as there is more of an incentive to view the Post Page as opposed to just reading the whole post on the homepage. Some images are more compressed, there are fewer social sharing buttons (but the ones that appear are likely to be more useful), and the blog appears less cluttered, better organized, and oh yeah – a heck of a lot quicker too. Let me know if I missed any more “common sense” ideas in the comments below!

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Now Posting on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog

I haven’t been posting as much here – but still actively blogging… Check out my latest posts on the iCrossing Great Finds blog:

So, if you’re looking for some fun SEO related reading, I suggest you go check out http://greatfinds.icrossing.com or add the RSS feed to your preferred Reader. And as always, I’m tweeting away at @nickroshon as well 🙂

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Google Toolbar Updates PageRank – I have PageRank 3!

PageRankUpdateOctober2009

Google pushed out a PageRank update last night, and now both NickRoshon.com and NicksCarBlog.com have PageRank3. Search Engine Land has more of this surprising update, given Google’s recent statement that webmasters shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much, and consequently removing PageRank from Webmaster Tools. Many speculated PageRank might be dropped from the Toolbar soon as well – but this doesn’t appear to be the case. The last PageRank update was in June, which continues Google’s trend of updating PageRank in the toolbar every few months.

RustyBrick of Search Engine Roundtable has a good point in regards to PageRank in the toolbar from an SEO perspective, so I’m quoting him below:

Yes, a Toolbar PageRank update means nothing in terms of your ranking changing anytime soon. The PageRank scores shown in the toolbar are outdated and have zero direct impact on your Google rankings. That doesn’t mean that PageRank has no influence, but the toolbar score does not have any influence. Google shows us one thing, but yet uses another thing.

Well put.

It’s also important to consider the Webmaster Point of View here, and I think that is really where Toolbar PageRank matters: I’m looking for advertisers for my car blog. When advertisers see that I have solid PageRank, I think that gives me credibility that I might be a website they should consider to advertising on (after more due diligence, of course) – especially if I offer those potential advertisers a link on my blogroll, as that link should pass along some “link juice.” At a minimum anyway, potential advertisers will see that Google values my content at least somewhat, that this is a legitimate site that probably isn’t penalized or banned, and that my website is something they give further thought to- and they can tell all of this from a free toolbar in a matter of a second. Likewise, a site with PageRank N/A or 0 is likely to turn off potential advertisers nearly immediately,  so that PR can really be the “first impression” to either open the door or have it slammed in your face. Just my two cents, anyway.

What are your thoughts? Would love some comments on this.

Yahoo & Meta Keywords – Yes, It Still Matters

itsylouYahoo! is really on a roll with poor press strategy and media relations. Between the “It’s YLOU” campaign (really Y!OU, but kinda ambigious looking), Yahoo tanking in search engine share/usage (likely because they announced they are quitting the game and merging with Bing)…and now, this: Yahoo has to back-peddle and say they still DO use the meta keywords tag.

Back in the early years of the interwebs, SEO was a simple process of stuffing keywords into the meta keywords tag, and search engines would return your page for these associated keywords. Search engines got savvy to this practice and devalued the meta keywords tag –  fast forward to 2009 and the meta keywords tag has been reduced to pretty much worthless in the eyes of the search engines, used almost as an internal reference point. Google and Bing are pretty clear they don’t use it in their ranking algorhythm.

Yahoo, on the other hand, has never been clear on their valuation of the meta keywords tag, and to be fair, they never had to disclose their policy as the ranking algorithm is supposed to be a secret. But disclose they did, making news at SMX East in NYC last week, declaring that they “no longer use the meta keywords tag.” From what I’ve been told, this is pretty much the only thing that Yahoo panelist said during the entire “Ask the Search Engines” panel…and it was wrong.

Danny Sullivan, my favorite Search Engine journalist and founder of Search Engine Land & SMX Conferences (as well as moderator of said panel), is a clever man and decided not to just take the Yahoo PR guy’s word for it, so he ran a simple test to fact-check this announcement:

The test was simple. I placed a unique word in the meta keywords tag on the home page of Search Engine Land. This word — xcvteuflsowkldlslkslklsk — generated no results on Yahoo when I looked earlier this week. Today, when I searched, it brought back the Search Engine Land home page. Thus, Yahoo indeed indexes the content of that tag. (And to be clear, I looked before writing this article. In short order, this article itself, along with others, will appear because they’ll make use of that word).

Yahoo! was forced to back-peddle, clarifying their incorrect statement and now claims they DO use the meta keyword tag, it’s just the lowest in ranking importance in their algorithm…which is what everyone had assumed until a few weeks ago anyway. By admitting they still use it, even at a small value, is basically admitting they’re behind the game (not surprising, but nothing you want to remind people about, either). In my experience, achieving rankings in Yahoo! has always been easier than Google, as they still give value to things Google has been smart enough to de-value or ignore – and this is a case in point.

Yahoo!, I’d feel bad for y!ou about this if y!ou hadn’t announced y!our retirement from the search engine game (or worse, claim y!ou were never a search engine to begin with). I just wish y!ou’d go quickly, as opposed to a long, slow, and agonizing death where each one of y!our shortcomings are painfully exposed as your search engine stagnates in preparation of the Bing integration. Unfortunately, I still think the Bing/Yahoo merger will  take a long time before anything really happens, and until then, all we can do is slow down and stare at the carnage. Sorry Yahoo!, but it’s y!ou, not us.

The SEO Song = Wicked Awesome Linkbait

Check out this vid from the The Creare Group in its full glory. Definitely link-worthy. Love the style – can’t tell if its serious, making fun of itself, or both, but I can dig it.

My List of SEO Blogs You Should Read

A List of SEO Blogs You Should Read

A List of SEO Blogs You Should Read

I’ve had a few friends ask me what blogs they should follow to get more exposure to SEO. I always give a very similar answer, so I thought I’d post here to consolidate:

First, I tell anyone interested to read this incredibly helpful post on SEOmoz: Beginner’s Guide to SEO. It probably takes about 30 minutes to read through but it provides such a great, straightforward introduction.

Once you got a firm grasp on that, I recommend you setup a Google Reader account so that you can subscribe to several blogs all in one central place. Then go and add the RSS Feeds to the blogs below. I’ve listed them according to importance:

Must Follows:
Matt Cutts: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/
Matt Cutts is basically Google’s main point of contact with the SEO world. Many changes to Google’s algorythm and webmaster guidelines are communicated through him.

SEOmoz: http://www.seomoz.org/blog
Its a pretty straightforward, interesting blog with practical tips, updated several times a week.

Search Engine Land: http://searchengineland.com/
With SEO celebrities like Danny Sullivan contributing, this is a wealth of knowledge. There are tons of posts a day, some of which are not very important nor interesting, but likewise there is a ton of great stuff as well.

Other Notables:
Search Engine Watch: http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/
A lot of posts on this blog are overlap with Search Engine Land, but its good to at least skim through or find more information about a post you saw elsewhere. It is pretty comprehensive.

iCrossing’s Great Finds Blog: http://greatfinds.icrossing.com/
There aren’t many posts, but the posts are well written and easy to understand. This blog is particularly great for clients working with an SEO person or agency and don’t need to know every detail but want to be informed and current on industry news and best practices.

Conversational Marketing: http://www.conversationmarketing.com/
It’s a little more human than the rest, with a little more humor and opinion than the others. It tries to be less like traditional media and more like a blog, which I can appreciate

Google Webmaster Central Blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/
It’s not really that helpful since anything that is posted that is really newsworthy is commented on the above blogs, but its not bad to follow anyway. It is also heavy into selling new Google Products that you need to sign up for.

Nick Roshon’s SEO Blog: (you’re already here)
Because I’m awesome. And I don’t just focus on current news, I like to cover basics, topics of interest, etc., so that you learn new stuff and refresh the basics all at the same time. Yes, I’m that shameless 🙂

Did I miss anything? Email me or Leave a Comment and I’ll take a look and consider revising my post!

Image Credit chitrasudar via Creative Commons

PageRank Update for June, 2009

I now have PageRank 2!

Reported on Search Engine Roundtable, it seems like Google has updated PageRank sometime yesterday, which was a bit unusual as PageRank was just updated in May and usually there is a 3 month cycle between updates, although a commenter on that post points out that updates have been more frequent since the last Google Toolbar was released.

Personally, I wonder if PageRank hasn’t been updated in part since the SEO community has now had time to react to Matt Cutt’s bombshell on the change in how Google will treat nofollowed links and PageRank sculpting.

So, if you’re in SEO, check your client sites and see if anything has changed, and if you’re a blogger, hopefully you saw a boost. Again, PageRank isn’t really that important of a metric, but its hard to ignore a “score” given to you by Google on a scale of 1 to 10. And at the very least, an improvement in score is an improvement nonetheless, so I’ll take what I can get.

My last report on PageRank was on May 28 where I had achieved PageRank of 1. At the time I had 53 incoming links on a 3 month old website/domain. As of today I have 224 inlinks (in Yahoo! Site Explorer) on a 6 month old domain. Most of these inlinks aren’t that valuable, and Yahoo! counts links that are nofollowed (whereas Google would not).

Change in PageRank Sculpting, nofollow treatment by Google: A Mad, Mad (SEO) World

<a href=image credit ari via creative commons

This is really only for the technical SEO folks, but Matt Cutts of Google has recently clarified how Google treats nofollowed links and it’s implications for Page Rank Sculpting, but this has much broader implications on how people will link out both externally and internally in general, IMO. Below is your recommended reading to learn more:

Here’s my quick take on things: the nofollow tag (which tells Google bots not to follow this link or flow any page rank through it) has been increasingly abused to manipulate rankings in Google. The nofollow tag started as a way, in part, to block blog comments with URLs in them from being followed or counted as links by Google’s bots, so that if there are 80 comments with links in a post the bot would almost pretend that those links weren’t there at all. This is no longer a valid simplification, as this recent clarification by Mr. Cutts indicates that the bot will still “count” those links as being on the page, it just won’t pass along any PageRank if you use the rel=nofollow attribute.

The implication that is getting the SEO world in a tizzy is this: every link on the page, even when nofollowed, may be counteracting your efforts to pass along PageRank to the webpages that you are acutally intending to link to and actively trying to give credit to. To take the argument one step further, the fewer links on a page you have, the more PageRank can flow between them. The more links you have, even when nofollowed, the less importance (via PageRank) is passed along. It would be in your interest, then, to only link to pages that you really want to pass credit along to, which are probably only internal navigation  links within your domain, and a few (but probably not many) high quality external links (since Google does view linking to authority websites as an indicator that your site, too, carries some authority, maybe).

Does this mean we should turn off the ability to leave URLs in blog comments? Should we stop linking to spammy websites as examples of what not to do? Should we never link out to a page unless its of high authority with good PageRank and backlinks? Stop linking out to external domains altogether?????

It’s too soon to tell, but I sure hope not, and I highly doubt the implications are really this grave. Various authority blogs (which I can still comfortably link to, as seen above) will probably do more research to both confirm these changes and see to what extent gratituitious  nofollow linking will really harm things. I’ve always been generous in linking out to other pages, as I know that’s the only way I’ll get links back and I don’t mind giving credit where credit’s due.

But, I’m worried that less benevolent, somewhat “greedy” bloggers who are too focused on SEO and not enough on their readers that will start taking up that annoying habit of only linking to your own webpage, even when talking about an external source.

Okay kiddies, back to work, my lunch break is over (just like PageRank sculpting via the rel=nofollow attribute, burn!)

Facebook Vanity URLs now Live!

Here’s what you need to know about the new Facebook Usernames:

Go to http://www.facebook.com/username and reserve your username right now!. Your username will then become the subfolder on facebook.com where your page is stored. For instance, my username is “nickroshon” and my new URL is http://www.facebook.com/nickroshon

Hurry up and grab something if you haven’t already, but here are a few tips on picking your custom Facebook vanity URL:

The dot doesn’t matter: if you choose nick.roshon or nickroshon, it still goes to the same place. Much like Gmail, Facebook will ignore the period between words and treat the two as the same. You can go to http://www.facebook.com/nickroshon and http://www.facebook.com/nick.roshon and they both take you to the same place, so in essence I got 2 vanity URLs from Facebook today.

Facebook pages are different: If you are a page, and not just a personal user, you can only reserve your username/vanity URL if you created your fan page by May 31, 2009 and have at least 1,000 followers. The rest of you will get your shot in July.

Get a Unique Username: If you want http://www.facebook.com/awesome, it’s still available. However, http://www.facebook.com/nick is already taken 🙁 and so is http://www.facebook.com/likeaboss

Don’t pick something stupid: It is permanent, and at the time of writing Facebook offers no method of changing your username / vanity URL, so you’re stuck with whatever you chose. So in 10 years, when no one has any clue what “likeaboss” really means, you’ll feel like an idiot.

Avoid Trademarks: If you pick a brand name or trademarked term as your username/vanity URL, the owner of that trademark can appeal it on Facebook and you will be stripped of it, so don’t go out there grabbing something you know you don’t deserve.

Username Squatting: If you want to create a bunch of dummy accounts to reserve other user accounts, you are too late. Right now, the ability to reserve a username is only available to Facebook profiles created before June 9, 2009, as I’m told by @ledet. That means I can’t go and create a second Facebook profile to grab http://www.facebook.com/nicholasroshon 🙁

301 Redirect: Your old URL, i.e. http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Roshon/2401203 will now automatically redirect to your new URL. It is a 301 permanent redirect as I confirmed via Web Sniffer, which is what you want in order to pass along the link juice correctly.

Leave me comments with your thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, and snide remarks!

DandyID: Centralize your social profiles

I recently heard of DandyID on Twitter and setup an account today to test it out. My initial thoughts: pretty cool!

Here is a link to my DandyID social media profile. I got a score of 81 and Gold Status (based on how many networks I use relative to other DandyID users) – I’m not sure if that certifies me as geeky or popular (or a popular geek), but I’ll take any awards I can get 🙂

DandyID describes itself as:

DandyID lets you easily collect all of your online profiles in one convenient place and allows people to discover the real verified you across the web.

To me, its basically a *free* page that I can configure to show all of my social networks in one central location. For a fee ($4.99/month) you can upgrade to the pro account and get additional features.

The catch?

From an SEO perspective, all of the links on your DandyID profile page don’t actually link directly to your profile page on another network (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Instead, they link to a subpage on DandyId.org which uses a 302 temporary redirect to the social media profile URL that you were intending to link to. For instance, the link to my facebook account links to: http://www.dandyid.org/id/nickroshon/facebook instead of directly to: http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Roshon/2401203. A 302 temporary redirect means that the page on dandyid.org/id/nick… has been temporarily moved to a new page (located on facebook.com) but still permanently resides at the original location (dandyid.org…) and that Google and other search engines should give all credit and “link juice” to DandyID, not the facebook domain where the page actually resides. So, although my page looks like there are 18 links pointing to my various social media accounts, its really 18 links to DandyID.org (in the eyes of the search engines, anyway).

I was a little bummed to find that I can’t harvest this as a free source for outbound links to my various social media profiles that I’m trying to get to rank better in Google (I knew it had to be too good to be true). Sure, I don’t own any of the domains I want to link to anyway, but for businesses or individuals that want their Facebook profile (or other social network profile) to rank on the first page when you google their brand/business name, you need links pointing to them, and the links on DandyID unfortunately won’t help that goal as long as they are a 302 redirect.

Enjoying the personal access to strangers only Twitter can provide, I pinged DandyID with my complaint:
twitter-me-at-dandyid

I was very pleased to get a prompt response from the official DandyID Twitter Account as well:
twitter-dandyid-at-me

Good news! In my tweet I was complaining specifically about the WordPress plug-in also using 302 redirects, but my DandyID profile page uses them as well. I’d totally be willing to pay a small (albeit very small) yearly fee to get some analytics and use this page as a “link farm” for all of my social media profiles, passing along link authority to my pages on their respective domains.

That being said, I think this is definitely a service to try out, and I know I’ll be watching them as they build out the service further and continue to enhance their offerings! If this service does catch on and become more mainstream, then maybe I would want my DandyID.org profile page to rank at the top of Google for my name. Like my title says, it does centralize everything – so from a users perspective, if you want to find me on the most popular social networks, this would be a very useful page. This service is especially useful for people who don’t have their own website/blog like this one that can use a plug-in like the Social Media Page plug-in found in my sidebar (which gives nice, direct links without any messy redirects). Until then, the Pro account doesn’t seem like something I’d want to spend the money on until there are more users on it.

In the end, I’d highly recommend you check it out and sign up. It’s free, it’s unique, and it provides a cool service. My dream scenario that it could also be a link farm for social media profiles is probably asking a bit much anyway, as most sites would just nofollow the links to begin with 🙂

And a final word: like any other social media / networking site, you’ve trusted yet another domain with some personal data, so don’t link to anything you don’t want the whole world to see. This is common sense, but can’t be repeated enough, as you hear about this kind of stuff all of the time: Check out Cisco Fatty if you don’t know what I mean!

UPDATE Wow, that was quick. One day after my tweet and DandyID now uses 301 redirects for Pro account users! And they hooked me up with one! I’ll give a follow-up review of the Pro features sometime soon. SO AWESOME!

I have PageRank!

Starting yesterday, Google updated the PageRank scores found in the Google Toolbar. I officially went from PageRank 0 to PageRank 1! Woohoo! While the actual value of PageRank is debated amongst Search Engine Markerters (SEMs), it definitely still holds at least some value. Having PageRank is a quick indicator to your readers and search engines that your blog has at least some merit & authority, isn’t spammy or malicious, and links and reviews on your blog pass along some authority based on your PageRank. The easiest way to check how much PageRank your blog has is to download the Google toolbar, which will display PageRank for any other sites you visit as well. PageRank varies from page to page within a site, so its a good way to see what Google thinks are the “most valuable” pages on your domain as well.

More info on the PageRank update can be found here: Search Engine Roundtable

At the time of writing, my domain has been registered and active since early Febuary 2009, so a little over 3 months. I have 53 incoming Inlinks in Yahoo! Site Explorer, mostly a combination of blog comments, blog directory submissions, and social media linking, as well as a valuable link from my friend’s blog on nobosh.com. For blogs, it also seems that Google looks at frequency of posts in determining your PageRank, and I’ve done pretty mediocre at that, but for the most part I’ve seen that if you don’t update your blog in a really long time, your PageRank may drop, or disappear altogether, otherwise you’re probably okay.

Create WordPress Pages

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there is much of a difference between a new post and a new page. In fact, there really isn’t a difference if you are using the default WordPress theme. But once you upgrade to a new theme (like mine) you’ll see why Pages are helpful:

  1. They are placed in a prominent location for quick navigation
  2. They don’t need to be put in a category so you can have really simple URLs if you are using optimized URL permalinks like described in my earlier post.

These are most commonly used for pages like About this Blog, About Me, Links, Partners, etc. These are permanent pages that you think everyone should read, and these “posts” won’t get buried once you post new content – a link to them will always be easy to find. So as you start out your new blog, go ahead and make a few pages so that new readers can quickly learn more about you and what your blog is all about. You create a Page just like you’d create a new Post through the Admin panel (only you go to Pages – Add New instead of Posts – Add New) – just remember to make the Title of the Page something that will easily fit into your quick links navigation at the top…

Here is where the pages show up on my current theme, called “Carrington”

Example of WordPress Pages
Example of WordPress Pages