WordPress Development: WordPress SEO Plug-In One Month Later

After a month of using the “WordPress SEO Plug-In” by Yoast, I am happy to say that we have had some very positive results. In this article, I just wanted to elaborate on why I think this plug-in does such a good job. Now let me just clarify, we have had some progress, but we have done a lot of work to achieve it. The positive results we have seen are subtle and gradual, but the effects we are noticing definitely reflect an improvement in SEO performance.

Packed with features, and they work!

When I first wrote on our blog that we were exploring this plug-in, I was a bit skeptical of how functional the features would be.

WordPress SEO by Yoast First Look (You can read the original post here)

Specifically, I was concerned that this new plug-in would be a repeat of many “too good to be true” SEO solutions that I have found around the web. WordPress SEO seems to be written with some very solid code. All of the features work beautifully, except for one which conflicts with some custom code we wrote for our site, but that one was our fault.

A method to the madness

WordPress SEO doesn’t do anything spectacular when you turn it on. On the contrary, there is lots of work to be done once you install this baby. Yoast says on his website that the key to SEO is hard work and constant improvement, trial and error, yada yada.

Work Hard, Play Hard!

WordPress SEO gives you an easy to follow method of making your site as good as it can be. Furthermore, once you take care of the basics, you can analyse your pages in-depth, and get recommendations on what to do next. Paying an outside SEO consultant for all of this information would cost an arm and a leg. What I am trying to say is that if your not a professional SEO specialist, you can still make some big improvements to your site without getting too technical. If you ARE technical though, you can go really deep and get some good results.

For my technical SEO’s out there make sure to read Yoast’s WordPress SEO definative guide, it really does a good job of explaining things that you can do with the plug-in.

Don’t Be a Stranger

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WordPress Development – WordPress SEO Plug-in First Look

Another week, another experiment in the latest SEO technology. Yesterday, we installed the WordPress SEO Plug-in by Yoast and began to use it to help optimize our website and blog. In the past, we have tried playing with some other SEO plug-ins but have never been completely satisfied. It seems that this plug-in is different that many of the others, in the fact that it doesn’t, for lack of better terms, suck…

Nice logo for WordPress SEO
WordPress SEO by Yoast – Logo

Looking For Answers – Enter Yoast

For a long time we have been trying to use a classic formula with our blog to attract business. The concept is clear, if your an expert, you can write a blog that answers someone’s question, if you do that, they will be more likely to sing your praises and possibly turn from reader to customer.

Last Friday I was searching around for blogs specifically about SEO for WordPress. I found a post by Yoast about optimizing the slugs (also know as URLs) for your posts and pages. Yoast recommended that you change to a specific setting and redirect all old links using his easy redirect algorithm. I took the code to our lead developer and she plugged it in. To our surprise, it actually worked!

Here is the extensive article that won us over and lead us to use his plug-in.

http://yoast.com/articles/wordpress-seo/

I can’t get no…

We have tried many “easy fixes” and SEO plug-ins over the years and have been thoroughly disappointed. There is a lot of out dated, unsupported, flat out miserable code out there. What won us over? His bug fix worked, and with good instructions at that! I am paraphrasing here, but in the article explaining how to use WordPress SEO, Yoast says something that rings very true; “There are no easy fixes in WordPress, anyone who offers an instant SEO solution should not be trusted. SEO takes work, its not easy, but this plugin makes doing that work faster and more efficient.” (Paraphrased)

Drink the powerful SEO Cool-Aid! Brought to you by Yoast.

The Test of Time

We started implementing yesterday, and will be using his optimization strategy for the next few weeks to see if it makes an impact. We will keep track of the progress with our web analytics looking to see if the plug-in starts to make a difference in our traffic and conversions.

If you wish to see the results of our experiment, check back to this blog in a few weeks. Or even better, sign up for our newsletter by leaving a comment below or using the sign up form in our sidebar.




SEO Tips – Spam Defense Catpchas Vs. Bots

Catpchas for security

Many blogs use comments to provide a more interactive experience for their users. People can share opinions, criticize disagreements, or even just let you know that they found your article helpful. Sadly, when you allow unrestricted access to your comment feed,  spammers and spam “bots” quickly move in and start taking advantage for their own malicious SEO purposes. Furthermore, if you require every commenter on your blog to sign up, many people will be turned off at the seemingly blatant attempt to “capture” their information for the sake of interaction. So how do you allow easy access to posting comments and prevent the spammers from taking advantage?

Catpchas To The Rescue:

A catpcha is a special field added to a form that prevents automated services from polluting your feeds with filth. The concept is that it requires just a little bit of human thought to answer , preventing automated “bots” from spamming you constantly. We chose to use a simple question in written format that makes sense to any legitimate users, but confuses bots and thwarts spamming attempts by denying them access. There are many different categories of catpchas, some visual, some verbal, and some written.

HumanCaptcha

HumanCaptcha is plugin written by Outerbridge which uses questions that require human logic to answer them and which machines cannot easily answer.  Most captchas are based on the requirement to reproduce a number of randomly-generated characters (which are sometimes blurred, jiggled and/or on a fuzzy background).  HumanCaptcha generates a simple question which the user must answer using logical thought.  HumanCaptcha is much more accessible than standard captchas, which many people find difficult to read or understand.  Visually impaired people are more likely to be able to use HumanCaptcha than a character-based one.

Lock it up!

CAPTCHAs are useful for improving security in a number of situations, for example:

1.    Reducing Comment Spam in Blogs
Most bloggers will have come across programs that submit spam comments, often with the aim of improving the search engine ranking of a website.  By using a CAPTCHA, only humans can enter comments on your blog, and people do not need to sign up before they enter a comment.
2.    Protecting Email Addresses From Scrapers
Spammers crawl the web looking for e-mail addresses rendered in text. CAPTCHAs can hide your e-mail address from web scrapers, by requiring users to solve a CAPTCHA before revealing your e-mail.
3.    Deterring Viruses, Worms and Spam
CAPTCHAs may reduce the likelihood of e-mailed viruses, worms and spam, by only accepting an e-mail if it has been established that there is a human behind the sending computer.




SEO Tips: A Nightmare Before Google Sitemap Generator

Happy Holidays from your friends at Word Wizards! This late December blog post is dedicated to telling the story of an attempt at installing and setting up the fabled Google Sitemap Generator. For those SEOs out there wondering if it would be beneficial to install this fancy piece of open source Linux wizardry, we at Word Wizards Web Design have a message for you… DON’T BOTHER!

Now that XML sitemaps are the standard practice of most Search Engines, Google kindly offers a utility that can be installed on your system to automatically generate sitemaps that are optimized and ping Google with any new changes to your web site. They say it is easy, and requires no knowledge of advanced system manipulation or coding. “Easy”, as long as you feel comfortable opening a direct Linux Terminal Shell to your server, and using the command line prompt to hack your own site and install a mysterious unsupported piece of software! There is nobody at Google to call for help, and try asking your hosting service provider and their best tech support will scratch their heads and say, “we have to get back to you on that one.”

Luckily, we have our heads on straight in the web design studio. With seasoned programers, Linux users, and code ninjas all huddling over a secret portal to our sites inner workings, surely we could figure the thing out right? Wrong! With all of our extensive resources put to the task, we succeeded in the upload, the installation, but when it came time to set up the utility and begin the magical sitemap generating process, a nightmare of access issues, port securities, and unspecified functional errors plagued our hard working and frustrated SEO team. Thankfully, Google tech support consists of a series of very well optimized documents explaining the same information over and over again; we eventually realized we were on our own.

After weeks of this working nightmare, the effort was all for naught! It is a much simpler process to use an XML sitemap generator provided for free on multiple third party websites and do the uploading manually. If anyone has ever figured this little puzzle out, I am sure you deserve some credit. However, the lack of internet reviews or blog articles explaining the utility known as the Google Sitemap Generator should be the only answer you require.

Do your own sitemap and you will save your time, energy, and holiday cheer.

Bah Humbug!!!