Scribe Sale Ends Tomorrow

Promo code: PROMO27

Use that promo code to get the largest available package (300 evaluations) for $27/month which is usually $97/month. Just visit scribeseo.com, select the Advanced Plan, register and use the promo code PROMO27.

It won’t work after 5:00 p.m. Central on Friday, June 4, 2010.

What is Scribe anyway?

Scribe is a search engine optimization software service that analyzes the content of web pages, blog posts, online press releases, or any other web content … all at the click of a button.

Next, it reports back and tells you how to tweak your content to get better search engine rankings and more traffic, all while maintaining quality reader-focused copy.

And you’re probably a WordPress user so you can just install the plugin from the repository like any other plugin. But now there’s also a web-based version of Scribe as well as one for Joomla and Drupal with more platforms on the way. In other words, Scribe is available wherever you publish so you might as well take advantage of optimizing all your content.

Find out more about Scribe here.

You can read my review of Scribe here.

Do you use Hybrid?

Scribe was built to work alongside other great works of SEO. One of the theme frameworks the authors deemed credible was Hybrid. If you’ve ever used Hybrid you know that it does a great job of optimizing a site’s structure and HTML. Optimizing the content is up to you.

Since Hybrid has some built in SEO features (like the ability to customize page titles and description) Scribe takes advantage of those. So rest assured that installing Scribe on your Hybrid site will work like a breeze.

Free 28 page SEO report

Go grab the free SEO copyrighting report to help you before you hit the analyze button.

By the way, affiliate links were unashamedly used in this post. Scribe is the only thing I promote using affiliate links … because I trust it enough to do so.

Scribe SEO Review

Scribe SEO Review

This is the most biased Scribe SEO review you’ll ever read. Why?

Well, for one, I designed and developed scribeseo.com. Secondly, I had a hand in the development of the Scribe platform.

That said, bias isn’t all that bad. In fact, in this case it just allows me to give you a magnified review of Scribe.

If you’re not familiar with Scribe yet, here’s a bit about it:

Scribe is an SEO software service for WordPress that analyzes the content of web pages, blog posts, online press releases, you name it… at the click of a button.

The Scribe API then reports back to the WordPress interface and tells web writers, bloggers, affiliate marketers, and small business owners how to tweak their content to get more search engine traffic, all while maintaining quality reader-focused copy.

Let’s assume you’ve installed and configured the plugin (which is pretty easy) and you’ve written a post. Now, you just hit the “Analyze” button and Scribe gives you its report…

SEO Score Card

Scribe SEO Review Score CardThe first screen you’re presented with is the score card — an overview of scoring factors and recommendations. It gives you a quick glance at things you can do to improve your copy.

The Good

Beyond a simple interface that highlights the changes you need to make, it scores a host of factors that make the score card quality:

  • Character and word count of the title
  • Title keyword usage and placement
  • Character and word count of the description
  • Description keyword usage and placement
  • Character and word count of the body
  • Body keyword usage and placement
  • Keyword density
  • Hyperlink count and prominence
  • Reading ease

The Bad

Every post/page is unique and following the recommendations blindly could hurt you. Achieving a score of 100% shouldn’t be your goal. Keep in mind that the analysis is only scanning the content you’ve just written and not the rest of the content that will appear around the post (header, sidebar, footer, etc.). As long as you remember that the score card is a guideline you’ll be ok.

Keyword Analysis

Scribe SEO Review KeywordsYou’re likely writing content with the hopes that people will find it through a search engine (duh!) so you need to be aware of what keywords people are going to use to get to your page. Its pretty tough to pull these out of the air. You never know if a word you might search for is what other people would use. So, we have keyword analysis…

The Good

There’s some tools out there that let you paste in your content and specify the desired keyword. Well, like I already said — you don’t really know what people are searching for. Scribe takes the guess work out of it finds the keywords you are using. You can see which words will likely get you ranked and then you can make a judgment call about whether you want to target that term. Fortunately, that call is easy to make with all of the data provided.

  • The keyword’s rank within your content
  • Prominence
  • Frequency
  • Density
  • Annual Search Volume

Plus, Scribe gives you suggestions for making keywords more of a primary keyword or less.

The Bad

Despite what any analysis tells you, there aren’t any hard and fast numbers to determine what the golden number of keywords should be. So, the suggestions Scribe gives are based upon industry theories, but like most SEO advice, they need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Tags

Scribe SEO Review TagsCategories and tags are used in WordPress for organization which helps users just as much (or more) as it does search engines. Sometimes its hard to remember to add tags. Even more difficult is to come up with tags.

The Good

Scribe gives you semantically relevant terms that you can use as tags. These are terms that the plugin as determined to be good search keywords and are relevant to the content of your page or post.

The Bad

Scribe should give you an option to add tags to your post. Maybe a check box and an “Add to post” button? Its not all that bad, but would be a time saver.

Conclusion

I’ve left out a handful of other features (SERP example, SEO best practices, integration with WordPress themes and plugins, etc.). Although, I’ve covered the meat and potatoes of what make Scribe SEO what it is.

Scribe for WordPress is an excellent plugin that can be used by anyone and is especially helpful for those that already know what they’re doing but just need to save time.

Just remember that SEO can’t be completely automated and it requires some common sense. With that in hand, I give Scribe two thumbs up. But don’t take my word for it.

By the way, affiliate links were unashamedly used in this post. Scribe is the only thing I promote using affiliate links … because I trust it enough to do so.

WordPress Tips 2009

WordPress Tips 2009

I was looking through one of my old posts, Hardcore WordPress Tips, and realized just how outdated it is. It’s just one year old this week and already 5 of the 10 tips I would consider bad information.

Most of the bad tips are simply because WordPress evolves so rapidly that there are better solutions now. A couple of tips I need to revise because I’ve learned a lot more since last year and have better advice.

So, on with the show: WordPress Tips 2009

10. Use the Yahoo! User Interface Library

For theme developers, creating a theme that is flexible is a must-do today. WordPress has been around long enough that crappy themes shouldn’t even be made anymore (unfortunately they still are). One step to ensure that your theme isn’t crappy is to take advantage of some incredible resources Yahoo! provides.

The YUI Library is hosted code: Javascript and CSS. I just use the CSS. Using their grid system, creating a theme is easy, flexible, and much more easily browser compliant. Check out more details in my Easy Workflow for Site Creation post.

9. Interlink!

spider-webThe more you link to other content on your site the more bots access it. The more bots access, the more impressive you may be in search engines.

Link to Similar Posts

You can certainly do this manually in your post by referencing old blog posts…and you should. But you should also use an automatic method as well. Linking to related posts helps search engines categorize your page better. The more you can zero in on what your page is about the better you rank.

Similar Posts, by Rob Marsh, will do just that. Similar Posts not only does a great job with what it’s supposed to do (retrieving relevant posts) but it’s part of a plugin family that all use the same library for configuring functions. Read on…

Link to Popular Posts

Popular Posts is another member of the family of plugins written by Rob Marsh. So rather than use several methods of retrieving posts, stick with one to keep your life easier and things streamlined.

8. Lockdown

With every release WordPress becomes more secure. On the other hand, everyday hackers become increasingly smarter and more malicious. Out of the box, WordPress can’t be as secure as it’d like to be, so they even give us some tips.

WordPress’ site already has an article on on Hardening WordPress.

One of the quick things you can do is restrict access to the WordPress administration side. Create the file, “.htaccess” in /wp-admin/ and paste the following into it, replacing the IP address with your own. Find your IP.

AuthUserFile /dev/null
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
AuthName "Access Control"
AuthType Basic
order deny,allow
deny from all
# whitelist this IP address
allow from 55.555.555.55

Secondly, create an empty index.html file in your /wp-content/plugins/ directory. This will prevent the listing of your plugins for the world to see, making it a bit harder for hackers to find exploits.

Next, delete the username “admin” (obviously make a new username for yourself first), and use a strong password for your login.

Finally, install WP Security Scan to make sure everything checks out.

7. Boost Your Site’s Speed

You can optimize your site all you want, but if you’re not on a good host then you’re going nowhere. So first, switch over to HostGator because they’re the best host I’ve ever used.

After you’ve setup on HostGator, hardcode some things in your theme.

WordPress themes work by including functions that make calls to the database that give it the correct paths to files, etc. This is great for making a theme portable, but it ends up slowing the site down by taxing your database more than necessary.

Anywhere you see…


…you can replace it with your root level URL (ex. http://www.example.com/)

You can change…


…to the path of your stylesheet.

I could go on. But all you really need to know is to look for functions that you could replace with absolute paths and reduce the amount of database calls.

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is an awesome plugin that caches your pages and serves them up more quickly. It comes with lots of options which is really nice. It can be a bit difficult to install sometimes, but it may really pay off. It’s especially nice when you have a load of extra, unexpected traffic.

6. Give Some Flow to the Bots

robotOf course we know that bots (spiders) crawl the Internet checking out pages in order to provide results in search engines. These bots need some direction when they’re crawling — basically they crawl link to link. Obviously we need to give them some links. We need to give bots the right links. In addition to links, there is some meta information bots will pay attention.

The best solution for directing bots where you want them to go (and don’t want them to go) is by using the Robots Meta plugin.

For example, you probably don’t need bots to waste their time on the following pages (especially if you’re a one-author blog):

  • The login and register pages
  • All admin pages
  • Author pages
  • Date-based archives
  • Tag archives

Using this plugin you can prevent bots from accessing these pages and really create a well defined path for spiders.

5. Setup Shop With Google

google-analyticsGoogle Analtyics

Google Analytics is the leader in website stat tracking. Create an account and paste their code in the footer.php file of your current theme.

If you’re not comfortable with editing code, don’t know where your footer.php file is, or you change themes frequently then a plugin is your best option.

Google Analytics for WordPress makes the tracking script easy to install and also has a few extra goodies for making tracking your site usage even better.

google-webmaster-toolsGoogle Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is an awesome resource that gives you a behind the scenes look at how Google is interacting with your site. There’s too much valuable information here for me to even begin to describe, so just create your account already!

Well, there is one thing you should know about. You’ll need to submit a sitemap to the Webmaster Tools site and there’s no better WordPress sitemap generator than the Google Sitemaps Generator for WordPress.

4. Use Header Tags Correctly

A theme that is well made will have already taken this into consideration. Search engines pay special attention to how a site’s code is written. Certain tags like Header tags can give text more importance as well as define how a page’s content is organized.

Make sure your WordPress theme knows How To Use Header Tags Correctly. This particularly applies to your sidebar. It’s full of incorrect header tag usage by default, so make sure to correct those issues.

3. Meta Information – Title, Description, Keywords

Go grab Head Space 2, a robust plugin for customizing page titles, descriptions, and keywords. This will make your website much more SEO friendly…as long as you know what you’re doing.

Once installed, you can use the following as a guide for how to configure the plugin:

  • Posts / Pages: %%title%% - Blog Title
  • Categories: %%category%% Archives %%page%% - Blog Title
  • Tags: %%tag%% Archives %%page%% - Blog Title
  • Archives: Blog Archives %%page%% - Blog Title

Courtesy of yoast.com.

2. Permalinks

chainPermalinks, or the URLs to pages on your WP site, are part of what makes WordPress the best choice for a blog or CMS. WP allows you to customize your URL structure very easily.

By default, however, WordPress URLs aren’t optimized for search engines. Recently it’s been pointed out that your URL structure can slow your site down as well, so let’s take a look at building the best permalink.

Permalinks for Speed

WordPress needs to know what page to display when given a URL. For example, http://example.com/2009/01/22/hello-world/ is obviously going to take us to the “Hello Word!” post. How does WordPress know that though? Through several attempts of trying to figure out what the URL is trying to get to WP will finally figure it out. It’s in that time, though, that your user is waiting for WP to figure things out.

Basically, it’s easier for WordPress to retrieve the page/post if a numerical value is the first thing in the URL (i.e. %post_id%, %year%, etc.).

Don’t look to my site as an example because I’ve just recently learned this and haven’t gotten around to changing things up yet. Also, this method isn’t necessary. You won’t notice any difference in speed until you’ve got hundreds or even thousands of posts/pages, but it’s always good to build a scalable site from the start.

Read more details on efficient permalink strategies.

Bad:

/%postname%/%post_id%/
/%category%/%postname%/

Better:

/%post_id%/%postname%/
/%year%/%category%/%postname%/

Permalinks for SEO

So if we want a speedy site (by using the method above) AND we want to ensure that our URLs are the best for search engines, then the following method is the choice.

Having your keywords in the URL is always a plus. Search engines can use it as further evidence for what your page is about. Google also places the URL below each search result and bolds keywords — just another way that might help improve your chances of being clicked.

So we need to make sure to include %postname%. This will render the post/page slug (ex. hello-world). If your site is heavily reliant upon categories you may want to include your category name as well. So here’s our options:

/%post_id%/%postname%/

or

/%post_id%/%category%/%postname%/

We can even take this one step further. Your URL doesn’t need to contain every word from your post/page title, just the significant ones. Instead of hand editing every permalink you can use SEO Slugs to automatically strip your permalinks of stop words, like ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘in’, etc. SEO is all about the details!

1. Prepare for Disaster

alarmBackups are often an afterthought (like after you lost the data!). The truth is, the world is fallible and for one reason or another your site may get royally screwed up someday and you’ll either be back up and running within an hour or your heart will still be fluttering as you look blankly at your missing files and database.

We make mistakes, servers make mistakes, web hosts make mistakes, so just count on it. Be prepared!

Backup the Database

Get yourself the WordPress Database Backup plugin. You can schedule DB backups or get on-demand backups. I have my backups emailed to me weekly (with Gmail that’s no biggie). I’ll always have an archive…as long as Gmail doesn’t blow up.

Backup the Files

Secondly, backup your server files. If for some reason everything goes wrong, you’ll need the database and your theme (especially if you’ve done any customization). Plus, the image paths stored in the DB won’t have anything to show for themselves without files on the server.

Some hosts will allow you schedule file backups and this is the ideal situation. If they don’t have a solution to do this, then you’ll just need to be well disciplined and do this yourself via FTP every once in a while.

WordPress provides great detail on database and file backups.

Conclusion

I hope this guide has been a great help. Please add your own advice or questions in the comments.

You can also subscribe for regular WordPress, SEO, and web design tips.

Good luck with WordPress in 2009!

Using Header Tags Correctly

In search engine optimization every detail matters. Details are what set apart the successful search engine optimizers from the mediocre. Much like everything else in life, if you work a little bit harder and a little bit smarter you’ll get further ahead.

So let me explain the use of the header tag. You know, H1, H2, H3, etc. What’s it for and where do you use it for the best optimized content?

SEO for Dummies

Header tags show a great level of importance for text. While putting text in a header tag won’t make you king of the search results, it’s another detail that adds to the many other details you’re hopefully keeping up with.

Headers Make Big Fonts *sniff*

Yes, sometimes wrapping text in HX tags makes the font bigger, but that’s not WHY the header tag exists, and thus that’s not why you should use it.

Never mix page markup with style. Don’t count on your H1 tag being Arial, black, and 36pt font. Styles, nowadays, are set by the style sheet and should never be left to the browser to decide what page attributes will look like. I could go on and one with this, but the point is not to think of HX tags as looking any different than regular text.

Instead, think of header tags as…drumroll…section headers.

Outlining Your Pages With Headers

So this tag was created with the intention of marking a page with tags that signified some sort of organization. Headers outline the page. So the H1 tag is the title of the entire page, and each child header breaks the page down into it’s various parts.

Remember, each page on your website is a separate entity. Treat each page uniquely, tailoring your content around the title of your page.

What To Put In Your Headers

More easily, here’s what not to put in your headers. Don’t put things that are irrelevant to the topic of the page.

WordPress defaults to displaying sidebar widget titles as H3 tags. Some of these widgets are, “Recent Posts”, “Search”, “Tags”, etc. Are you competing for any of those keywords? Probably not. Put those titles in DIV tags.

Yes, they do organize the page, BUT if you’re building your pages correctly the sidebar should be at the bottom of the source code. Right out of the gate that means the sidebar is less important than the body content.

It’s your body content that needs the organization.

When writing your headers out make them easy for users to get the point and try to use some keywords at the same time.

“My H1 Is My Site’s Name” – Bad Idea

Well, it’s a good idea…for your home page. When searchers actually search for your website’s name your goal shouldn’t be to have results for any page on your site. Your goal is have your home page come up in results.

Your website’s name isn’t the main topic of every page on your site either. So why tell search engines every page’s most important information is your name?

So, put your site name in an H1 tag on your home page and in a DIV tag on all the rest.

For WordPress users, you can use something like this:

    

<a href="/">

All that says is that if the page is the home page use an H1, and if it’s anything else use a DIV.

Enjoy Your New Header Tags Knowledge!

Almost SEMPO Certified SEO Expert

In order to be an SEO expert you have to prove yourself, something I’m still humbly working at. But in my pursuit to become the Dallas SEO guru, I’ve been given a great opportunity to become SEMPO certified.

Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) Mission: SEMPO is a global non-profit organization serving the search engine marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it.

A couple of weeks my boss gave me a credit towards one of the three SEMPO courses offered to build skill in SEO and SEM. I’m about halfway through the Advanced SEO Specialist Training. Of course, anyone can take a class, wear a badge, and flaunt a certification (well, almost anyone).

Fortunately, my job allows me to constantly review our site’s SEO. Had we not been sidetracked by some other higher priority things, we’d be in the middle of a six week plan to significantly alter various aspects of our website specifically for search engine optimization (some of which we have thankfully gotten to).

My side projects have also been teaching me useful SEO tricks (not the bad kind!). Some recently launched sites have been heavy on consideration of the architecture and layout concerns of SEO. What I’m learning, though, will really show itself in my future projects.

Some SEO qualities I’ve really been able to refine and affirm recently:

  • Keyword Research
    • Planning the targeted keywords and using them correctly within the content and links of the page
  • Copy Writing
    • Writing content to be noticed by search engines first and compelling to users second
  • Site Architecture
    • Organizing pages in an understandable way for categorization of content by search engines
  • Navigation
    • Linking structures are crucial to how content is understood by search engines

So, I’m not SEMPO certified yet, but I’m well on my way and should have an update for you in couple of weeks. After my certification, I’ll have an in depth post of some things I’ve learned. Hopefully you’ll be able to put them into practice, as I’ll try to keep the post more practical than philosophical.

Make sure you’re subscribed to my RSS feed to get the in depth SEO post.