SEO Secrets for WordPress.com

Posted on September 10, 2010

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Everybody wants to know about SEO. Everybody wants to make Google their bitch. And some days it seems like EVERYONE wants to run giddily away from WordPress.com so they can access the supernatural power of the All In One SEO plugin and I’m just about fed up with destroying their pretty little dreams one by one, but I do it because I must.

Listen closely:

There is no combination of plugins or sooper sekret SEO tricks that you can use with an independently-hosted blog that will give you the same SEO advantage, all other things being equal, of an out-of-the-box WordPress.com blog. It is the single best platform for SEO that I have ever seen, and the primary reason is the Global Tag System.

Every public post that uses a particular tag or category counts as a link from that post to the Global Tag Page for that tag or category, so that Global page gets to be very, very important in Google’s eyes. VERY important.

And that very, very VERY important page also links back to each blog post that used that tag or category, right? So some very, very VERY important page is linking to your little post, and Google says “well, heck, she must be important, let’s give her a doozy of a pagerank!” and poof, you’ve got Googlejuice up to your nostrils.

And this is a very good thing.

Technorati tags don’t work the same way; they don’t have that googlejuice-maximizing effect. And WP.com tags function as Technorati tags anyway, not that anyone cares about busted old Technorati anymore.

So do use tags and/or categories on your posts; the distinction is arbitrary at WordPress.com, but if you’re intending to move then put some thought into your hierarchy, because on independent blogs it DOES matter. Staff suggest using no more than 12 categories and/or tags on any individual post; more than that and you risk getting classified as a tag spammer and dumped out of the global pages entirely (your posts will still link to them, but they will not link back to you).

Another thing you can do to maximize SEO is use keywords wisely. I won a bet with a very senior Drupal developer about how fast I could get on the front page of Google for the term “camel cheese.” I said within 48 hours I’d be number one, but alas I never made it; still won the bet, though, because he bet it would take weeks to get on the front page, and it took less than ten hours. I went home, blogged it, and went to bed; when I woke up I was #3. And it was keywords (well, keywords and tags!) that did it.

Here is another example I posted in the forum:

The single best way to add keywords to your blog (other than tags and categories as previously mentioned) is in the content. Use them in your titles. Use them in your filenames for uploaded images. Use them in your Alt text.

For example:

I did a post on the Toronto Explosions. I titled it “Toronto Explosions”, I started it with an image the filename of which was “Toronto Explosion 2″ and captioned “Toronto Explosion” and linked to a post on another site called “Toronto Explosions” and the alt text on the link was “Toronto Explosion photos” and in my first sentence I used the term “Toronto explosions.”

That post has been #1 on Google since twenty minutes after I put it up. It outranks every news organization on the planet in searches for “Toronto Explosions.”

And that is how it is done. Figure out what your post is about, put that in the title, put a picture of whatever that is up front because a picture is four places to put that keyword (the filename, the alt text, the caption and the description), and then use the word early in your post; the earlier the better. And do it honestly, with integrity, because if you put on your Evil SEO thinking cap and try to scam, Google will find out, and they will throw you in the sandbox and bury you.

There was another tip I was going to give you, but I forgot what it was, so you’ll just have to wait until I remember to blog it!