Don’t let your content end up in Google Hell!

As the popularity of blogging continues to grow, the desire to gather as much traffic from search engines like Google grows as well. Everyone wants their piece of the pie (and that of the blogger to the left and right of them as well)

There are several factors to consider when setting up a site, developing content and optimizing that content for the best ranking in the eyes of big brother Google and uncle Yahoo, many of these factors we all know, and yes, as far as SEO is concerned, content is king and always will be. If you simply keep feeding the monster fresh, original content on a regular basis and do nothing else, you will do well. However, for those of us that are looking for that extra leverage, or that little added edge to not only increase the perceived value of our content, our sites and in turn our site income, I will give you a few sure fire solutions right here, right now.

  1. Don’t plagiarize content (stealing, borrowing or copying)
  2. Update your content regularly.
  3. Use categories wisely (don’t have them just to have them, make them count)
  4. Tag your posts accurately (attempting to overload your tags with keywords will backfire if the content doesn’t back it up)

Additionally, and this is the little known “tip” that I hope you read to the end of this post to see. We all want the easy way, so using a proven and effective SEO plug-in such as the All in One SEO Pack is a great start (more recent post with much better solution can be found HERE)

Providing effective link structure (permalinks) as well as page titles (post title before site name) and guess what? This is the big one, the one almost always overlooked step to make sure your precious content doesn’t end up in “Google Hell” or as it’s officially referred to as the “supplemental results” section requires a few added steps.

  • Avoid duplicate content.
  • Avoid duplicate content.
  • And, Avoid duplicate content.

The All in One SEO plug-in accomplishes much of this, but not all options are enabled by default. In the options page for the plug-in you should tick the boxes where it says “Use NOINDEX for categories, archives and tag archives. By setting these parts of your site to noindex, search engines will look at those pages, follow any links (also still allowing these pages to gain PageRank) but it will not index any content that is on these pages, avoiding the dreaded duplicate content punishment that will get your posts thrown into the supplemental index. This is a great start, but there is one last step. If you prefer to use the entire post instead of just an excerpt on your homepage, you are breaking everything that this plug-in is working so hard to do. When a search engine indexes your site, it will see the entire content of the post in 2 places, once on your home page and once on the posts page that is accessed by it’s permalink and  this is bad, very bad. There is also a secondary side effect of doing this, when user Joe Bob searches for content, he may be directed to your home page because the content was there the last time your site was indexed, well… being the effective blogger you are, you have added a pile of excellent posts since then, so the content he is looking for is no longer shown where he is directed and he gets mad, cries a little and never comes back. So, what do we do to fix this? Its quite simple actually, we tell the search engines to not index our home page but to still follow all links on the page. Doing this will ensure all your posts are indexed and that your blog does not produce any duplicate content.

*This will require some simple code edits to your header.php file (backup a copy before you edit anything)

In your header.php file you will see a line that looks like this:

<head>

After the <head> tag, and most definitely before the closing </head> tag you will want to paste the following bit of code:

<?php /* If this is the frontpage */ if ( is_home() ) { ?>
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow” />
<?php } ?>

Adding this code will insert a command telling search engine robots to not index, but still follow links on your home page as well as any paged versions of the home page. The final test after editing this file and saving it will be to open your site, view your homepage and “view source” of that page and look for the line at the top that looks like:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow” />

Additionally, check your separate pages and single post pages to make sure this line is not present on those pages, we definitely don’t want to stop all indexing, just the duplicate entries. I hope this is useful. If you have any questions please feel free to comment.

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