The Stuttering Fish: On SEO for Blogs

(Yes, I’ll fry that fish, but enjoy the appetizer!)

And in this particular case: WordPress.org blogs. You know? Those blogs you publish using a WordPress blogging platform on your own domain…

WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms (at least the most popular) in the World Wide Web. It is highly flexible and customizable. The WordPress plugin database seems to hold an answer for any problem. But I am sure you still have some “SEO for WordPress” questions. I know you do. I know because I browse the blogosphere enough, I know because I have some SEO skills (remember: I am not an SEO, but a PR).

The monster in the WordPress blog’s closet is the duplicate content penalty.

People have the tendency to consider that content not listed in the SERPs is being penalized.

Frankly I don’t really care. But I see bloggers struggling for high SEO ranks, joining “fave” trains, asking for blog reviews in exchange for a link, and so on.

I do employ SEO strategies for this blog. Randomly. Meaning… I’d rather spend my time writing for you than asking for a link back. Because I know that, if you like what I write, you will link back. And I don’t want to ramble longer about the real (emotional) value of a link I’ve never asked for!

Since the day we learnt about Google’s similarity engine and we watched stunned other Google maneuvers, we really fear the idea of duplicate content. Any “duplicate” might cost traffic, rankings and, in the end… revenue. And we don’t want that to happen, do we?

What you probably don’t know is that WordPress.org has real problems with the whole duplicate content issue. By default, WordPress themes are structured in category pages and archives.

Assuming that you write a post about SEO and list it in a category, this will also appear in a monthly/daily archive as follows: the original post on its on url, the same archivate entry under a special category url (very similar with the original entry, but including the category name in the url) and the monthly archive which will contain the name of the month too. OK. This sounds strange. Let me give you an example. Let’s take my previous entry “The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde” You find the original entry here:

http://www.ewriting.pamil-visions.com/2007/05/28/the-happy-prince-by-oscar-wilde/

When you look after this entry within the categories, the url will look like:

http://www.ewriting.pamil-visions.com/category/personal/

As you see, it is a different url, but it has duplicate content (plus a few other personal entries).

But wait! I’m not done! If you publish the same entry under more categories you create even more duplicate pages.

What to do? Before telling the obvious I’d like to remind you the nr. 1 SEO secret many SEO gurus don’t want you to know (sorry, I couldn’t help the cliché): it’s not about finding a niche; it’s about bringing real value to that niche, it’s about your readers/ visitors and answering their needs.

Now back to our topic: you don’t need to list the same entry under 2, 3 or 10 blog categories. Not if you really care about your search engine rankings and especially not if you don’t want your entries to end up into the Google supplemental trap (or sandbox). For the SE one or two pages are enough. Overfeed them and they’ll start acting exactly like a lover who feels too much of your love: they’ll suffocate and start pushing you away.

If you want your readers to easily find different stories when they browse your blog, you should follow your guts and publish your entries under as many categories as you need.

For the search engines, each time you publish duplicate content you repeat yourself. Even the trackbacks are duplicate pages and the feeds are treated by the SE the same.

Your readers though don’t care! On the contrary: they like seeing your entries categorized and archived comprehensibly. For your readers you might as well be stuttering, as long as it makes sense and it respects their intelligence, you are on the safe side.

To learn how to avoid the duplicate content penalty follow this link. Then join me again in a few days for the main course.

Comments

  1. I have to say thank you a few times for this post, Mig! It will be a big help when moving to the new domain. And I have to say I believe you are right: the readers are those who matter, the rest is just added to what you get from posting on a blog.

  2. Interesting, Mig. I didn’t know this. I confess I haven’t thought much about SEO for my blog – I know I need to start paying attention to that.

  3. Hi Alina and Lillie,

    I will write in a few days a complete SEO guide (meaning I’ll include there all I know) and I hope that will be more helpful than this entry, because it will have a better structure and it will be easier to follow. I’ll let you both know when it’s ready and I’ll even include a pdf file of it for you to download and print if you want to learn more…

    Mig

  4. Speaking of SEO, thanks for linking to my blog with such awesome anchor text, Mig. I appreciate the support.

    Cheers!

  5. Ian, you deserve the best possible links and your blog should be on the first page on Google so that the ones really interested in culture and literature to benefit from your work too. I LOVE your blog and I plan to feature it in this weekend’s entry anyway – that means I am going to give you a contextual link too. :)

    Mig

  6. I’m definitely looking forward to the SEO guide. I didn’t fully understand duplicate content until after reading this post.

    It seems a paradox–write for the readers and lose Google, or write for Google and lose the readers.

  7. Thank you, Laura. It will take time to write it and I hope it will be good enough for all to understand, including the bloggers who don’t have so much SEO and HTML coding experience.

    Yes, it is a paradox. But remember that as long as you write for your readers, Google will follow.

  8. Wow, thanks, Mig!

  9. Hi Mig,

    I’ve been reading a fair bit about SEO lately, and a lot of contradicting info.

    Looking forward to your impending article though!

    Thanks for your recent visits to my website and for your kind comments. They’re very much valued.

  10. Hi David, welcome back! I know SEO is a contradictory “science”. Lol! In my article I’ll only list what works for my clients. I hope the info will be useful for my readers too. While my clients pay me for this kind of expertise, I’ve decided that my readers will get everything for free. Because… this is the fair thing to do. My clients don’t have the time for DIY SEO. But my readers are WHAMs and freelancers. When I first started I needed a lot of help too, and other freelancers helped me. It’s my turn to help others.

    As a web and graphic designer you should also know the basic SEO rules, to provide the best services for your clients. I do web design every once in a while and my designs are SEO ready. Therefore my clients score high in the SERPs for their targeted keywords.

    Your comments here are valued too. :) As a matter of fact, your presence here was always valued.

    Mig

  11. Mihaela, You are an amazing person you speak with so much truth in your wording I could follow your thinking with my eyes closed its not often to hear some one speak Like you do, for me its a hole new world seeing all this SEo stuff never new how huge google was and what it can do for a business owner. Thanks you are amazing!!

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