blog optimizationDo you want to get down and dirty and get into the really technical side of blogging?

 

Warning:  This article is a bit geeky and includes some advanced technical tips so I challenge you to read it!

 

Even if you don’t understand some of the article, you will understand the reasoning for each point and then you can get your developers to implement them.

 

Am I a geek?

Am I a geek?

 

Improve the Performance of Your Blog with Caching and CDN

Google loves a fast website.  Speed doesn’t necessarily give your site a boost, but if a website is slow it does get penalized.

Fast websites make your site visitors happy, too. People expect your content to display quickly on both a mobile device and a desktop.

Two quick wins for improving a fast performance are to implement tools for caching and a CDN.

Caching

When a user requests a blog post, the query is sent to your database, a page is built and then this is returned to the user.  If the next user requests the same post, the same process happens.

But this doesn’t make sense if the blog post hasn’t changed for the user.

With a cache, the initial page is built for the first query and then, after that, the next website visitor is delivered the cached page, which means it’s much faster.  Typically, with caching programs, new content will be automatically cached so you don’t have to open up your new blog post to make sure it’s worked.

Caching programs will also do other smart things like ‘optimized progressive render’.  An example of this is when an image is displayed on your blog.  Instead of displaying a high-quality image, bit by bit, the whole image is displayed and it appears blurry initially and then progressively gets better.  The user thinks the page is fully downloaded and they get to see everything much more quickly but then the quality gets better.  There may also be compression of images automatically using the cache.

A cache on your blog is a must-have.  If you use Wordpress, you can try out WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache.  You will probably need help from your technical team to implement these.

CDN

You probably have visitors accessing your content from all around the world.  If you don’t, then you don’t really have to worry about a CDN.  A CDN (Content Distribution Network) makes your content available from many servers around the world.

When a website visitor tries to access your content, it is served from the hosting centre nearest to them.  Content is replicated across many hosting centres and is updated as required.  There are no duplicate content issues as the CDN providers ensure Google don’t re-index.

An example provider is MaxCDN, which is what we use on our site.

cdn

Have many servers around the world not just one!

Reoptimization of Existing Blog Content

When you write a blog post and publish it, I assume you do some SEO optimization to ensure that Google has a chance of indexing the content correctly.  But you don’t always get this right, so it’s useful sometimes to go back and reoptimize content.

a) Reoptimize content that’s already doing well

If you go to Google Webmaster Tools and look at the search queries section, you will see keywords that are driving your traffic.

Imagine if you saw you were getting 500 visits per month for a one particular keyword, and this keyword relates to a particular post, and that post appeared in position 5 on page 1.

Here’s an example:

“How to make an infographic” gets me 2,000 impressions (i.e. it’s displayed 2,000 times on page one of Google in a month), it gets 358 clicks and it’s average position is 4.1.

If I could get from position 4.1 to 3 then I would probably get more clicks.

The options for moving it up are:

1.  Link to this content from other relevant content on the site.  I would go to Google and type ‘How to make an infographic site:razorsocial.flywheelsites.com’, and Google is going to show me the posts that have content related to infographics in them.  I would then look at internal linking from some of them.

2.  Write a guest post on a high-profile site.  When you are writing a guest post, always think of content on your own site that you can link to from within the content of the guest post.  These links are useful to push up the content.

3. Re-evaluate the content again.  Have a look at it and evaluate to see if you can do anything to improve its optimization.  For example, if you are using Yoast WordPress SEO plugin, try and fix any issues that it has identified.

b) Write blog posts for keywords that are driving you traffic and that you don’t already have a blog post on

When you look at the keywords that are driving you traffic in Google Webmaster Tools, you may find keywords that you haven’t optimized any content for that are driving you traffic anyway.  If these keywords are already sending traffic your way without a dedicated post, then a post focused on those words or phrases will more than likely give you even more traffic.  Check out my post on HitTail, which helps with this.

 

Implementing Twitter Cards, Open Graph and Social Meta Data

You’ll have heard a lot about search engine optimization, but social media optimization is just as important.  An important part of social media optimization is ensuring that the content you share on your blog is optimized correctly for social media.

When someone shares out your content, you want to give sufficient information to the platform they are sharing to so that it will present it in the right way.  For example, when someone shares your content on Twitter, how do you want your article to be displayed – the first way or the second:

 

 

Twitter picture

This is how a tweet appears without optimization

 

Here is the second option:

Twitter Picture B

This is a correctly optimized tweet

 

You might also notice that the first tweet wasn’t favorited or retweeted, whereas the second image was retweeted once and favorited twice.  So, it’s the exact same tweet, sent on the same day to the same audience, and the one with the image naturally looks better.

If I view the source code of my post (I told you it would get geeky), I see this:

meta name=”twitter:card” content=”summary_large_image”>
meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@razorsocial”>
meta name=”twitter:creator” content=”@iancleary”>
meta name=”twitter:title” content=”How to Make Simple Animations For Social Media”><meta name=”twitter:image” content=”http://razorsocial.iancleary.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/simple-animations.jpg”>
meta name=”twitter:image:width” content=”585″>
meta name=”twitter:image:height” content=”313″>

This is Twitter Card information that gives valuable information to Twitter when someone shares out your content.  For example, it identifies the actual image it should display and the dimension of the image.

It’s really important to optimize your content correctly with this type of information. With Facebook, it’s Open Graph tags instead of Twitter Card information.

To check to see whether your content is optimized correctly you can use the KnowEm Social Media Optimizer tool, which evaluates a page of your website.  Enter in a blog page and see what score you get.

knowem

Get knowEm to do an evaluation for you

 

See this article for detailed information on twitter cards -> Click here

 

Analyze Links, Learn From Them and Improve

As you write more quality content you’ll get lots of links to it.  Some will be from low-priority sites and some from high-priority sites.  It’s good to keep an eye on the links you get for a number of reasons.

a) Anchor text distribution

The anchor text is the text people use when they link to you.  In the olden days, you wanted anchor text that exactly matched the keywords you wanted to rank for.  But Google has had enough of this, and if you have 100 links back to your site and every single link uses the exact same anchor text, then there is something fishy going on.

So, is there something fishy with your site?

You want anchor text distribution, which means that there are lots of different terms that are used to link back to your content.

Of course, your domain name is likely to be the most used piece of anchor text and this is normal.  However, you want other content to be linked to in various ways.  One tool for checking your anchor text distribution is Ahrefs.

b) Is your Domain Authority going up?

Moz has a proprietary algorithm that ranks your website out of 100.  A really important part of this ranking is the quality of the links you get from external sites.  Each month, you should take note of your domain authority and check to see if it’s going up or down.  If it’s going down, this should ring alarm bells and you need to get your techie person to do some investigation.

 

Opensite Explorer

Check out your domain authority!

 

c) Have you got any dodgy links?

In Google Webmaster Tools, if they see any really bad links coming to your site they will be mentioned by Google under the ‘manual actions’ section.  If you see a mention of unnatural links to your site, you need to pay attention and try and get those links removed.

Webmaster tools manual actions

Check out the manual actions section to see if there are errors

You may need to reach out to third-party sites and ask them to remove links.

Another way of checking your links is to use a tool such as ahrefs to analyze all the links on your site.  You can go through the links and pick out sites that are linking to you but are not relevant to your industry.  Ahrefs is a paid-for tool but there is a free part as well, which will show you some of the links.

 d) Analyze competitor links

Analyzing competitor links is a really valuable task to complete.  You can use tools such as Ahrefs to sort the links so that you can see the best links your competitors get.

When a competitor gets really good links from authority sites in your niche, maybe you should get those links also?  You may want to reach out to the authority site and give them good reasons to link to your content.

For example, our friends at TopRank blog have a hugely successful blog and get a ton of links (over 350k).

Using Ahrefs, I can view their top links by sorting them by ‘Domain rank’ in the first column.  This is a proprietary ranking system that Ahrefs uses.  When I sort them, I can start going through the most popular links and see if they are relevant for me.

 

Toprank blog links

Sort the links so you view the best ones first!

 

I can see that Cisco and Technorati link to the guys.  I can find out which article they are linking from and which they are linking to.  I may reach out to either of these and connect with them to make sure they know of my blog, too.  Pick out the top links and make sure they get to know you!

Optimize Conversions

It’s not all about getting traffic to your blog.  What about converting that traffic?

For example, if the first part of your conversion process consists of building email subscribers, what are your conversion rates and how can you improve them?

Imagine if you ended up with the same traffic this month as last month but your conversion rates improved significantly.

Here’s an example.  We have a feature image on our home page and we were achieving a 2.5% email subscriber conversion rate.  Since we started using Optimizely (a split-testing tool) to serve a different feature image, our conversion rate has gone from 2.5% to 3.5%.  We believe we can get this up to 5% or more with additional work.

Here’s version A

Feature Image A

This was version A

 

This was split tested and the following currently gets 3.5%

 

Feature Image B

An alternative with better subscription rates

 

So, don’t waste all your time on driving traffic when you can have the same amount of traffic but double your conversion rates!

Summary

I love optimization.  It’s about taking what you have and making it better.  I realize that this post is quite technical but, even if you don’t understand how to implement everything yourself, you should show it to your technical expert and get the conversation started.

Let me know your thoughts.  Did I geek it a bit much in this post?

 

Optimization image by Shutterstock