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Month: March 2015

Use the Canonical Tags Correctly

The Canonical tag requires some forethought before you apply it to any particular situation. Basically, what you’re trying to do is to tell a search engine that this web page is the preferred one. To this end, you will create a canonical tag inside the <head> data for that page, using the URL that is your primary landing page. You will need to include this in all duplicate pages to ensure that the canonical tag is effective.

6 Typical Misuses of the Canonical Tag

The canonical tag is a powerful tool, but just like any tool it can be underutilized or applied wrongly. In order to avoid misusing the canonical tag, you should be wary of the following missteps.

1) Using the Home Page as the Preferred Site. There may be occasions where your home page would be the preferred location to direct search engines to, but these occasions are few in number. When you use the canonical tag, you tell a search engine to avoid crawling that page because you have one that’s more relevant. By redirecting all crawls to your home page you run the risk of having none of your other pages referenced.

2) Having More than One Canonical Tag. Each canonical tag fits into the <head> section of a page. As stated before, this tag allows you to redirect the crawls from a search engine to a particular page, thereby avoiding having that page listed as duplicate content. If you specify more than a single canonical tag in your <head> section, all of those tags will be ignored and you’ll find yourself back at square one.

3) Placing the Canonical Tag in the Wrong Place. The <head> area of a page is where the canonical tag is supposed to go (along with the relevant page the search engine is supposed to crawl instead). By placing it in the <body> section of the page you circumvent its relevancy and make it powerless to do the job it is supposed to. If a canonical tag finds its way into the body of a page, it is simply ignored.

4) Using Canonical Tags with Multiple Pages. When you have a situation where multiple pages are necessary, it can become quite difficult to sort your SEO out. Ideally, the prev and next tags should be used instead of the canonical tag for these pages. The best practice would be to redirect search engines to index a “View All” page where the results are put together on a single page for ease of use.

5) Using Canonical Tags in Featured Content. Featured content usually makes up the backbone of your site. It is wise to avoid using the canonical tag in these featured pages since it is possible that the page may be ignored, making you lose out on traffic from your features.

6) Using Canonical Tags over Redirects. 301 redirects and canonical tags function more or less the same way, so that you may be tempted to use them interchangeably. This is not a good idea. Search engines treat redirects and canonical tags as the same thing, but redirects channel all traffic to a particular page whilst canonical tags do not. 301 redirects are the preferred methodfor fixing your site if the structure has changed whereas canonical tags should be used to deal with the problem of duplicate content. These are completely different problems and should be dealt with separately.

Used Rightly, The Canonical Tag Can Help You

The canonical tag is a useful and versatile tool that can help your SEO strategy if used properly. The hard part is ensuring that it does what it’s supposed to. You can only ensure that your canonical tags work properly if you understand how the tag works and when it should be used. Once you work that out it’s simply a matter of implementing it properly on your own pages. The canonical tag is an SEO staple and should be used when appropriate to increase your site’s reach and decrease the problem of duplicate content across your site.

Optimise Your Blog Posts for SEO

There are many things to consider when writing content, but the tips below will give you a good start to getting the maximum response from your blog postings.

1. Visual Content – Statistics say that if your post contains visual content, it will grab 94 percent more visits and engagement than those without. That is reason enough to start including videos and other visual content in your posts. The brain is automatically drawn more to images than to text.

2. Short Paragraphs — The amount of videos and other visuals used in marketing today is one of the reasons you need to keep your paragraphs short. You need plenty of white space to avoid long drawn out paragraphs. Large blocks of text will not draw much attention to your post.

3. Keywords — One of the most responsive ways to use keywords is adding them to your post title. Do not go crazy with the keywords. Use just a couple of keyword phrases throughout your post without sacrificing readability. Use the phrases in the very beginning, a couple of times throughout and then again at the end. Be sure to read up on keyword stuffing to prevent being penalized.

4. Subscription Forms Available — Having a subscription form available after every post will increase the chances of a person taking that action and subscribing to your list. Once you capture that person’s email, the chances of retaining them as a customer is greatly increased.

5. Headings and Bulleted Lists — People tend to scan over posts looking for pertinent information. Using headings and bulleted or numbered lists will draw a person’s eye to that information. Headings are also important for SEO because you can use your keyword phrases in the headings. With the ability to scan and find the pertinent information quickly, a person will more likely keep reading the article and respond to it.

6. Link to Previous or Similar Content — By doing this, not only will you provide your reader with more helpful information, you will have a linking structure, which would probably get Google’s attention and raise your ranking. WordPress also has related content plugins available so you do not have to do this manually.

7. Write to a Friend – Do not write your post like a college dissertation. Make it friendly and easy to understand. Write as if you are having a conversation with a friend. This manner of writing will be more appealing to most people and encourage interaction.

8. Avoid Clutter – Keep your site clean and sharp. As with the large blocks of text, if there is too much “stuff” to wade through, it will discourage people from staying at your site or taking the time to read your posts. Do not overdo on the ads. Don’t fill your site with banners, lights and flash. Keep it simple and to the point.

9. Ask Questions – A good way to get people to participate in your post is by asking questions or asking for opinions and thoughts. Most people enjoy offering their views and beliefs on most matters. Whether they agree with you or not, you want people to interact with your post.

10. Social Media – Always provide buttons to your social media sites. Give people the call to action to follow you via social media. Getting social (don’t forget Google+) can get your site indexed much quicker.

11. Fast Loading Time – I know with a WordPress blog and all the cool widgets and plugins they offer, it can be easy to get your site bogged down. Be sure to use only what you need so your pages will load quickly. Too many widgets and plugins can have the opposite of the effect you are looking for. There are some plugins available which can help maximize your loading time. A few examples are: Advanced Lazy Load, Super Cache, and WP Optimize.

12. Tell Stories
– People love a good story. We relate to the people in that story and what happens to them. Using them in your post can certainly raise the chances of people not only reading the post but participating as well.

13. Linking Structure – A good linking structure could improve your search engine ranking dramatically. It can also decrease your bounce rate substantially. Within your blog posts, link to similar relevant information but do not use the ever famous, click here. If you are writing about collectible dolls, rather than using, “Click here for more information,” you would use something like, “collectible dolls,” and link to that keyword phrase. Using anchor text, as it is called is much more effective than using click here.

14. SEO Plugin – Although you do not want to get bogged down with too many plugins and widgets, there are some that do provide essential functions. Be sure to get a good SEO plugin to add to your site to increase your site efficiency. One of the best WP plugins for SEO efficiency is All in One SEO Pack.

15. Polls, Surveys and Contests – Oh my! If you want to get your blog readers to participate on your site, then polls, surveys and contests are three good ways to accomplish this. People love winning so holding regular weekly or monthly contests is a great way to get response. As I mentioned before, people love to give their opinions, so surveys and polls can inspire a lot of interaction as well. Offer a gift as incentive for even more contributions.

Start integrating the above ideas into your blog posts and you will be on your way to a higher search engine ranking and more interaction on your blog. There are many more things you can do to expand on these ideas, so be sure to study up on the subject for more helpful optimization tips.