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5 Strategic Decisions to Get the Most Out of Automated Blog SEO
When it comes to blog SEO, everyone talks about title tags, meta tags, search engine friendly URLs (slugs, permalinks, whatever you want to call them)… That’s all pretty common stuff and there’s plenty of information about the WordPress SEO plugins to help you find them and set them up. But here’s the most important thing that no one tells you to consider – website architecture. This is closely related to silo linking, but MUCH more powerful.
Medium Blue Search Engine Marketing clients are sent my way when they need a little extra above and beyond ideas, technical recommendations and help for their organic search engine results. Clients look to our search engine marketing consultancy for advice, but make their own ultimate decisions on optimizing their website. The trend I’ve noticed is that most people are uninformed to a certain level of SEO information regardless of what their consultant recommends. The most common unknown is the magnitude of missed opportunity not optimizing their website architecture. And this is the biggest opportunity for setting up your wordpress blog so that it’s automated SEO feeds optimization for the rest of your website.
- Where To Install a Blog: Subfolders, Subdomains or Separate Domains?
- Fully Integrate Your Blog into Main Website Architecture
- Optimize Your Website Navigation Anchor Text
- Optimize Blog Categories
- Remove Certain Parts of WordPress Default Template Blog Navigation
So you already have a website and you want to start a blog to help improve your website’s traffic, but where do you put it? Maybe you already have a blog and want to leverage it to benefit your main website. These 5 steps will show you how to set up website architecture to maximize the impact of your blog on your main website. Compared to a static website, blogs quickly gain power. Architecture, silo interlinking, freshness and pinging built into WordPress along with SEO plugins make it a powerful online asset, often seen by spiders as independent or even none related to your main website. If set up wrong, the power will dissipate into hordes of useless pages. If set up right, link-juice, PageRank and traffic will be funneled from your blog and into your main website.
Do you host it on WordPress.com? Do you give it it’s own unique domain name? Do you give it a subdomain like blog.domain.com? I’ve seen people do all these things. A blog can be very powerful and can quickly rival your main website rankings in search engines. But put it in the wrong place, and this power is wasted. Missed Opportunity.
The location where you install your blog: subfolder, subdomain or separate domain determines the URL structure for every page, post, comment, category, tag, etc in your blog. The goal of the strategy I will show you, is to closely associate your blog URL structure with your main website. Where is the best place to host your blog? Where is the best place to install your blog? Installed in the right place, your blog can be used to increase traffic and conversions on your main website. Here are a few options to get the most SEO benefit out of your blog.
Your best location for your blog: Sub-Folder.
Host it on the same domain as your main website, installed in a sub-folder in the root folder. In other words, your main website homepage (or index page) is located in the root folder. Make a new folder inside the root folder and install your blog there. This will create a URL structure like this: www.domain.com/blog/. But don’t be satisfied naming the folder “blog”. You can do better SEO than that. Apply the concepts in optimizing your navigation anchor text to your blog folder.
Your next best option: Sub-Domain.
Does your main website server not support WordPress? If there is an issue with your host server, and you cannot install WordPress on the same server as your main website…. all is not lost. You can use a subdomain. Install and host WordPress on a different server, preferably a Linux server. From the service that provides your domain name, set up a subdomain and point it to the new server hosting the WordPress files and database. I won’t get into the specifics, but basically you will need to create an A record for subdomain.domain.com that points to the IP address of your root directory on the new server where the blog is installed. Now you should have subdomain.domain.com where the blog (hosted remotely) appears. As far as visitors and search engines can tell, it will look as though your blog is a sub-domain attached to your main website. A subdomain is treated by search engines as a separate website, but if you integrate the main website architecture into your blog, it will appear as part of the same website.
Your third, and only remaining option: Separate Domain.
If you have already installed and launched your blog on a separate domain name…and it is already gaining traction in search engines, it may be best to keep moving forward. You may miss out on a URL structure, but the remaining steps below will be your best tools for funneling link-juice and traffic to your main website.
What is website architecture anyway? Basically, it’s your sitewide navigation. Any links that appear consistently on all pages of your main website will be recognized by search engines as navigation…whether they look like navigation or not. This includes text links in the footer, text links at the top, any left-hand or right-hand navigation, and of course your horizontal navigation. The one caveat to this being any navigation that cannot be followed by search engine spiders (I’ll leave search engine friendly navigation to a later article). So, any sitewide links that can be crawled and followed by search engine spiders will constitute your navigation, the backbone of your website architecture.
Now consider your blog as an arm of your main website. Think of it as another top level category of your website. Include a text link to your blog in your sitewide navigation. Furthermore,consider putting links to your blog in more than one location of your navigation…the main navigation, as well as the top or footer links. However, vary the navigation anchor text linking to your blog.
Next you will need to put your website navigation into your blog template. To fully integrate your blog into your website, you must have your website navigation appear on every page of your blog. When used properly, your blog will attract links and bring inbound link-juice and PageRank from other websites. Your posts will contain fresh (as in recently published), unique content that will quickly rise in search engine results rankings for long tail search phrases. By integrating your navigation, the backbone of your website architecture, you provide a highway for the link-juice and PageRank (and visitor traffic) to be distributed throughout your website. In SEO terms, your main website homepage and blog homepage will be the 2 most powerful pages of your website. The architecture of linking and automatic SEO already built into your WordPress blog is then leveraged for your main website.
But before you publish this new navigation on your main website and in the blog template…you’re going to want to optimize the anchor text.
At this point, you should have a couple places for text links to your blog within your navigation, and you may be wondering how to name your sub-domain or sub-folder where WordPress is installed. Here you will find strategy to optimize your anchor-text, folder names and subdomain names. In this step we are applying basic SEO strategy to the uppermost level of your website.
Your navigation is the main highway for your website. Links in your navigation are like exits from the highway. The text used for each link is like the exit sign for the highway. Highway signs tell you what you will find if you take that exit. If I rely on highway signs to find my way, I need those signs to be as accurate and descriptive as possible for me to quickly read while driving. Anchor-text for your navigation links need to tell human and search engine bots what they will find when they follow that link.
Generally website architecture is planned so that different pages are organized by subject matter and accessed by following the navigation links. If you’ve done some optimization, you’ve already planned to send targeted traffic to different areas of your website. You should have keyword phrases assigned to each of the pages where your main navigation links. Those links in the main navigation are the most powerful links on your site and should also use your keywords or phrases identified for the pages to which they lead. If you have a page about downtown Atlanta, then your highway sign or link needs to say “Downtown Atlanta”. If you blog is about metro Atlanta area, than your link to the blog should say “Metro Atlanta”. In other words, choose a set of keywords to target with your blog, and create thee anchortext appropriately.
The same goes for naming the folder or subdomain. You want your targeted keywords for the blog in both the links as well as the URL. What you name the folder or sub-domain where WordPress is installed will appear in the URL for the blog and for every page, post, category, tag, etc in the blog.
Continued in a later post on Blog SEO.
Continued in a later post on Blog SEO.