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A Critical Analysis of the SEO of WordPress.com Stephan Spencer, Vice President of SEO Strategies (Formerly: Founder of Netconcepts)

WordCamp SF 2010: SEO Critique of WordPress.com

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Stephan Spencer, VP of SEO Strategies at Covario, did a "lightning round" session at WordCamp San Francisco 2010 where he critiqued the search engine optimization (SEO) of WordPress.com.

Text of WordCamp SF 2010: SEO Critique of WordPress.com

  • 1.A Critical Analysis of the SEO of WordPress.com Stephan Spencer, Vice President of SEO Strategies (Formerly: Founder of Netconcepts)

2. First Off... Who Am I?

  • Founded Netconcepts LLC in Madison, Wisconsin in 1995.
  • Lived in New Zealand for 8 yrs, returned to US in 2007.
  • Founded Netconcepts Ltd in Auckland in 1999.
  • Inventor of GravityStream, a pay-for-performance SEO (Search Engine Optimization) technology
  • An author ofThe Art of SEO , published by OReilly. My co-authors are Rand Fishkin, Eric Enge & Jessie Stricchiola.
  • Netconcepts acquired by Covario January 2010

2009Stephan M SpencerNetconceptswww.netconcepts.com[email_address] 3. 4. A Blog is an Asset My 18-year-old daughter, Blogger & SEO. $5 - $30 / day passive income. Started when she was 14. SEO: So simple even a child can do it! 5. Now lets critique WordPress.com! 6. One of the most important home pages on the Internet 7. So why is the navigation so weak? 8. The lack of strong text-based navigation is a real missed opportunity 9. Contrast this with the strong text nav on Yahoos home page 10. Great that these are text links. Bad that these are uber-generic keywords. 11. Whats the keyword focus? 12. Google AdWords Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal 13. Sort by search volume and switch to exact match 14. CTR: ~40% ~10% ~9% ~5% 15. http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com 16. 17. 18. 19. The SEO power of WordPress.com lies with their community. Lets pick one of their blogs... 20. Everything looks copasetic until you dig deeper... 21. Duplicate content & canonicalization issues 22. Also note the 319 estimated number of pages indexed is bogus. Get a more accurate number with &start=990&filter=0 to the end of the Google search results URL 23. Uh oh. The redirect is a 302 instead of a 301, which doesnt pass PageRank 24. Theres a lot of SEO mythology out there

  • Our SEO firm is endorsed/approved by Google
  • Dont use Google Analytics because Google will spy on you and use the information against you
  • Your PageRank score, as reported by Googles toolbar server, is highly correlated to your Google rankings
  • Having an XML Sitemap will boost your Google rankings
  • Since the advent of personalization, there is no such thing as being ranked #1 anymore because everyone sees different results
  • Meta tags will boost your rankings
  • Its good practice to include a meta robots tag specifying index, follow
  • Its helpful if your targeted keywords are tucked away in HTML comment tags and title attributes (of IMG and A HREF tags.)
  • Having country-specific sites creates duplicate content issues in Google
  • You can keep search engines from indexing pages linked-to with Javascript links
  • Googlebot doesnt read CSS
  • You should end your URLs in .html

http://searchengineland.com/36-seo-myths-that-wont-die-but-need-to-40076 25. SEO Mythology...

  • You can boost the Google rankings of your home page for a targeted term by including that term in the anchor text of internal links
  • Its important for your rankings that you update your home page frequently (e.g. daily.)
  • Trading links helps boost PageRank and rankings
  • Linking out (such as to Google.com) helps rankings
  • Its considered cloaking and is thus taboo and risky to clean up the URLs in your links selectively and only for spiders
  • If you define a meta description, Google uses it in the snippet
  • The bolding of words in a Google listing signifies that they were considered in the rankings determination
  • H1 tags are a crucial element for SEO
  • There are some unique ranking signals for Google Mobile Search, and they include the markup being XHTML Mobile
  • SEO is a black art
  • The Disallow directive in robots.txt can get pages de-indexed from Google
  • SEO is a one-time activity you complete and are then done with

26. SEO Mythology...

  • Automated SEO is black-hat or spammy
  • A site map isnt for people
  • Theres no need to link to all your pages for the spiders to see them. Just list all URLs in the XML Sitemap
  • Google will not index pages that are only accessible by a sites search form
  • Placing links in teeny-tiny size font at the bottom of your homepage is an effective tactic to raise the rankings of deep pages in your site
  • Using a service that promises to register your site with hundreds of search engines is good for your sites rankings
  • Home page PageRank on a domain means something
  • Outsourcing link building to a far-away, hourly contractor with no knowledge of your business is a good link acquisition solution
  • The clickthrough rate on the SERPs matters
  • Keyword density is da bomb
  • Hyphenated domain names are best for SEO
  • Great Content = Great Rankings

27. SEO Mythology...

  • An addendum of myths (courtesy ofDuane Forrester ):
    • SEO is a stand alone activity
    • You can apply optimization after launch
    • I just hired a killer SEO agency theyll hit a home run for me
    • SEO is separate from SEM, social, etc.
    • SEO is free
    • I can hire someone with a years SEO experience and they can manage the work as part of their job
    • Can you give me the top 5 things to do to rank better and drive traffic?
    • Because someone is senior in the company they must understand everything and are making decisions with a broad knowledge base inclusive of SEO

28. The Worst SEO Myth of All....

  • A plugin can cure all that ails your site/blog
  • What would this mythical magical super-plugin need to do?
    • Identify/evaluate keyword opportunities, keyword focus / usage, authority/trust/PageRank of inbound links, internal linking structure, tags, mass editing of elements like title tags and post slugs, anchor text of internal links, canonical tags, Google snippet simulator, top referring keywords, control PageRank flow, sitemaps, pagination, post slugs, intro copy on category & tag pages, tag cloud optimization, Googlebot crawl activity, presets, RSS feed optimization, breadcrumb navigation, duplicate content mitigation, excerpts, bad neighborhood detector, forced search pages, URL shortener, etc.
  • Anyone want to pitch in and help me code the SEO plugin to end all SEO plugins?

29. Thank You!

  • You can reach me directly at[email_address]
  • For a freeSEO Best Practices whitepaper and checklist , e-mail me or pass me a business card.