Do You Have A SEO Question?

by John Hoff on November 16, 2008

The other day Akemi, author of the blog Yes To Me, asked me a few questions in regards to my SEO tips article which I thought deserved a better answer than a quick reply in the comment section.

If you have a question regarding SEO, please feel free to ask below.

SEO Q&A’s

What is duplicate content and how is it created?

Duplicate content is when different URLs show the exact same content. Many times, as in the case with most blogs, duplicate content is generated automatically.

Let’s take for example my article, 20.4 Ways People Scan Your Website. When Googlebot comes to my blog and collects and records a list of URLs on my site, it will notice the following URLs all contain the content of my 20.4 Ways People Scan Your Website article (links open in a new tab):

And when my article is new, you’ll also find it on my blog’s home page, http://blogtrainingclassroom.com/blog.

Okay, so ya got duplicate content, great. Your next question then is:

Why is duplicate content a bad thing?

The best way to think of Googlebot and Yahoo! Search is to think of them as if they were a real human who likes to read and organize everything in a logical order so they can remember it later. They may choose to come to your website today and crawl 500 URLs, but what if 200 of those pages crawled were duplicates?

That would suck, wouldn’t it?

Now imagine for a moment you purchased a 30 chapter novel you’ve been dying to read. On the first day you couldn’t put it down and read 6 chapters before retiring to bed. You have fuzzy warm thoughts all night dreaming you were the hero and when you wake up in the morning all you can think about is getting back to your book.

Everything’s great; the weather is gloomy and cold out, it’s your day off work, and the aroma of your favorite coffee brewing stimulates your senses.

You pick up your favorite book and continue reading from where you left off, however, something is terribly wrong. Chapter 7 is exactly the same as chapter 3 – word for word. Then chapter 8 is new . . . but chapter 9 is the exact same as chapter 1?

“Why would anyone write a book in such a way?” you ask yourself.

John Says:The takeaway here is this: don’t confuse our buddy Googlebot. Show him your content where you want him to see your content, otherwise, he might not like your site as much as he could. Make sense?

How does the Platinum SEO Pack plugin prevent it (duplicate content)?

Platinum SEO Pack nofollow settingsTo the right you can see a snapshot of the “noindex” settings you can set for this plugin. By checking these you’ll be telling search engines not to index anything found in areas such as your Categories and Archives URLs (because they contain duplicates of the actual articles you want indexed).

It also might be a good idea, SEO-wise, not to show entire posts on your blog’s home page because that too would show duplicate content. This can be avoided by using the <!--more--> tag to split your post, or you could use a plugin like Post Teaser.

Is Duplicate Content Really That Bad?

This is a question I have asked myself repeatedly and to be honest with you, I don’t think it’s as bad as many SEO gurus lead us to believe. I realize that although I know quite a bit about SEO, I don’t dedicate as much time studying it as such people as Aaron Wall; therefore, I try to follow their lead.

However, in my 15 years experience online, I’ve owned websites with duplicate content and thus far I haven’t seen anything but success happen to those sites (i.e. promoted well in search engines).

John Says:To be safe, do as others suggest and try to avoid duplicate content. One of the best things you can do to succeed in business (and online) is to surround yourself with people smarter than you. It would be wise to follow the advice of people like Aaron Wall and Jennifer Laycock when it comes to SEO.

I know Barbara already asked this, but is it really safe to switch from the all-in-one SEO plugin to platinum SEO?

Yes it is, however, I recently checked the settings for the WordPress plugin All-In-One SEO Pack and you know what, it includes most of the options Platinum does. I’d say if you’re not too skilled in messing with plugins and you’re at all worried, don’t even bother. Platinum SEO does offer a few more options but not enough to sweat over it.

John Says:If you’re worried about switching plugins, wait instead for a more powerful SEO plugin to come out before you go through the hassle of switching.

I read about subdomains. One of my frustration about Yes to Me is that the domain is not SEO. Does this mean I can have domain like spirituality.yes-to-me.com?

Absolutely. This would be set up in your control panel. If you’re using cPanel, there should be a “subdomains” icon you can click on and from there you can fill in the blank form with the subdomain name, like “spirituality”.

This would then give you a subdomain spirituality.yes-to-me.com. Then when you go to your File Manager you should see a spirituality.yes-to-me folder with nothing in it. From there, you can install a fresh version of WordPress or design any kind of site you’d like in there.

And since subdomains actually have their own dns (i.e. web address according to search engines), search engines index your keyword “spirituality” as part of the domain name.

This should give you a slight improvement SEO-wise over creating a directory like yes-to-me.com/spirituality, which is the way most people are familiar with.

I talk a little more on how search engines index your domain name in my article Start A Blog: Free or Paid? WordPress or Blogger? if you’re interested in reading more.

John Says:Note, however, I do not advise making your actual home page a subdomain of your domain name. Your domain name, even if not very SEO, should still do fine as long as you’re concentrating on other aspects of SEO. Subdomains are great for pages showing services or products you provide (like support.yes-to-me.com or coaching.yes-to-me.com).

Open Floor For Questions

If you have further questions regarding the topics I hit on today or if you have a SEO question you’re dying to get answered, fire away – I’m wearing my bullet-proof vest today!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

John November 17, 2008 at 1:51 am

Quick SEO question, does adding title tags to links help with SEO? e.g.

{a href=”corewar.htm” title=”corewar, programming in redcode”}corewar{/a}

John’s last blog post..On a Cold November Day

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Akemi spiritual entrepreneur - Yes to Me November 17, 2008 at 9:05 am

Thank you for responding to my questions. I appreciate your detailed explanation.

I just checked my all-in-one-SEO, and it looks like this plugin prevents indexing categories, archives, and tag archives as well. So I guess it’s probably not worth switching to platinum SEO.

Akemi spiritual entrepreneur – Yes to Me’s last blog post..Gratitude For Time For Myself , Gratitude Friday, Edition 17

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John Hoff November 17, 2008 at 9:37 am

Hello John,

The short answer is, not really. It seems the title tag does help Google to understand better where that link is sending it, however from everything I’ve learned, it has little SEO value for your web page.

However, I would still include it for a couple key reasons:

1. Matt Cutts and the boys over at Google go to great lengths to keep their search algorithm top secret. The way I see it, the title tag is there and Google / Yahoo! does read it so it couldn’t hurt (as long as you don’t use it for spam).

2. Google continually modifies its search algorithm and who knows, tomorrow we might find the title tag all of a sudden has become a big player in SEO. You might as well be prepared, right?

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John Hoff November 17, 2008 at 9:42 am

I agree, Akemi. If someone was trying to figure which plugin they should get from the start, All-In-One or Platinum, I’d say go with Platinum. It does have a few other functions, but nothing so important over All-In-One that you must switch.

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Cath Lawson November 17, 2008 at 11:49 am

Hi John – I was going to ask you this via email but I figured it would be a real pain in the ass question. Basically, before I had my blog, I had a sucky website I built with XSitePro and installed on http://www.cathlawson.com

So, when I added a blog, I installed it on http://www.cathlawson.com/blog/

What I would really like is to get rid of the original XSitePro site and move my blog, so the homepage is at http://www.cathlawson.com

Would this be easy to do? And is it something you could do for me, if I moved my webhosting to you. I’ll check the date, but I think it’s only a couple of weeks until my bluehost webhosting expires. I’m guessing that all my url’s for blog posts wouldn’t change as they are all /blog anyway. But I don’t want to chance it without asking. The website behind is really sucky and I think it is spoiling the whole look of my blog – plus, I can’t really link the two together.

Cath Lawson’s last blog post..The Secret Business Success Formula

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John Hoff November 17, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Hi Cath. Give me a bit and I’ll shoot you an email on this.

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Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog November 18, 2008 at 1:20 am

Hi John – Hey, thanks for the link love. My question, (and this may sound silly). If I have the SEO plugin installed, do I have to optimize each post with keywords, etc, or does the plugin do “something” all by itself?

Barbara Swafford – Blogging Without A Blog’s last blog post..NBOTW – For The Love Of Words

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John Hoff November 18, 2008 at 7:23 am

Hi Barbara. The plugin’s home page says it automates keyword generation. To tell you the truth here, I am a little confused.

When I first installed this plugin, if I didn’t type in keywords (it’s done the same way you do it with All-In-One) then the plugin tried to figure out some keywords for my article. Sometimes the keywords were good, sometimes they weren’t.

However, my last article, the “Open Discussion” one, did not have the keywords automatically generated for me. There is an option on Platinum that allows you to make your chosen Category for an article to be the article’s keyword, but somehow I don’t think “General Discussion” is a great keyword! ;)

Here’s the plugin’s F.A.Q. page.

So I guess my answer is, no, it doesn’t seem to autogenerate my keywords anymore (but it use to?).

Hmmm.

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