SEO and wordpress

goblue1
goblue1 used Ask the Experts™
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I'm primarily a graphics guy and built a site for someone using Wordpress because that was their preference.

To make this as easy as possible to understand, ill provide the exact information.

The person I made the site for, emails another party who apparently has Wordpress experience, and had him look over the site.  I want to make sure he is providing accurate info in his reply and if these things still apply to this day.  And if necessary, possible help for correcting some of the issues he mentions in his email.

First of all, the web site is here:  (url is safe, done so that site is not listed in search etc.)

http://bit.ly/ki2Hho

This is the email I received and need to know if this is accurate information.  I will post questions after you view.


"Your page url's should have relevant names. Right now your services page url is www.yoursitehere.com/main/?page_id=14, it should be something that is more beneficial to SEO like www.yoursitehere.com/nc-website-services.html. You should get rid of the /main/ directory if you can, wont help with SEO at all.

One thing you will get black flagged for by search engines is including content on your page and then marking it as display=none. That will push your way back in search results because Google will see this as, this guy is including irrelevant content on his page and then hiding it from its users, giving the illusion that you are trying to target keywords and phrases that are not directly related to your site. Your H1, H2, H3 and so on are important to SEO as well. Search engines will look as these header tags in that order giving relevance in that order too. Make sure your H1's include longer items than just Service or Portfolio. Try to use something like Your Company Name Offers Expert Services. So now Google starts indexing all of those keywords for this page and content as opposed to just Services. "



First question.  Do the page urls really matter this much?  I don't see how I can switch the wordpress pages in to .html pages when they are obviously php files.  Is this really that necessary to do?


Next question.  How important is it that the wordpress site and installation not reside in the sub folder /main/?  We had to do this so we could work on the site without public view, and then open the index page to point to it after the fact.  Is there a way I can put this entire site in the root directory without re doing it all, and is this really that necessary?  What do you suggest I do if I have to make a wordpress site in the future without the public viewing it until release?


I don't follow the suggestion he mentions of

"One thing you will get black flagged for by search engines is including content on your page and then marking it as display=none. " 

Is this something I am doing on the site?  I do not follow him nor am aware if this is something going on at the site.


In addition, the part where he mentions header tags being important.  I am aware of that, again, is this something you can see on the outside if it is setup properly and can you offer some advice or tips?  The services page is just that, services...and they are listed in the paragraph below accordingly for that matter.  Why would I need to be that specific in the page title as well when it is all text anyway?  This will make all of the buttons in the header bar too long to fit because that is where the page titles pull the info from anyway.

Any other information you would like to include would be greatly appreciated to help my understanding of his comments and whether or not they are even accurate and any ways I can go about fixing these issues (if i even need to)

At this point, I currently have all in one seo and all in one webmaster installed as plugins and both configured properly with the sitemaps and submitted to all search engines...analytic s and individually submitted to the search engines with keywords in these plugins.  

This all comes down to the original owner of the site not being happy with his search engine results after the site has been open for only 2 weeks to this point.


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Commented:
You are right to be skeptical, he over stated your problems.

Keyword in the url may have a minimal effect on ranking for keywords without much competition.  The real reason it is important is for getting someone to click on your link once you do show up on the first page.

If I'm searching for 'organic pool supplies' (is there such a thing) and I see

1. www.amazon.com/Pools-Spas-Supplies/b?ie=UTF8...
 
2. www.xysupply.com/page?id=14

3. www.yourcleanpool.com/chemicals/organic-pool-supplies.html

Putting title aside, I'm probably clicking on 1 and 3 first.

The part where he says "You should get rid of the /main/ directory if you can, wont help with SEO at all. " shows his seo tunnel vision.  Just because something won't help with SEO, doesn't mean you need to get rid of it.

That said, keeping the public from viewing your site before it's done is not a good reason to install in a sub directory.  Next time wrap the code in index.php in an if/then statement...

if your ip address (or any other ip address you want to view the site)

.. wordpress code

else

coming soon html


Commented:
Here's how to easily change your urls

http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.

Commented:
Gwkg is right.  Change the permalinks (second post) and most of the issues with the site disappear.

Just for the future, you may want to invest in a cheap shared hosting account somewhe that you can use for a development test bed at the root level for CMS systems like WordPress.  It's easier to move a site from one place to the other than it is to move it up or down a directory level.  
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Author

Commented:
Appreciate the replies very much.  Ill have to look in to how to do the if then etc. for future usage.  Not to mention I have a few shared hosting accounts with full cpanel access but have always been accustomed to having to have a domain name to point over there.  So there should be a way to setup a blank site by IP address instead and install there?  Then probably do a dbase backup export, then an import to the real domain etc.  Im a bit fuzzy on that and maybe ill post a new question (in the future) when creating another site when this situation arises.

I have seen that permalinks before and am very confused by how to do it but I guess I will give it a go if it is that important.  From the sound of it, it seems as though it is just an extra little help and not entirely necessary.  I see what you mean for sure Gwkg and I actually always look at the titles myself so I never thought to be much of an issue.  

In regard again to the /main/ directory issue.  Do both of you feel confident that this is of no harm at all for SEO purposes?  Or, should I really consider reinstalling this site to the root directory?

Im also still unaware of his point about

"One thing you will get black flagged for by search engines is including content on your page and then marking it as display=none. " 

I am not even sure if this is going on at the site, or if either of you are even able to get that information from the outside anyway.  

On a side note, what are the most important things for SEO with wordpresss?  I remember asking a similar question in here a while back and was directed to the plugins I have installed.  

Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.
Commented:
>> So there should be a way to setup a blank site by IP address instead and install there?

Yes, that's one way to do it.  The other would be to set up a local AMP environment on your work computer and just install WordPress there.

>> Then probably do a dbase backup export, then an import to the real domain etc

Broadly speaking, three steps to move a WordPress install:

1) Move the web files from location A to location B.  This is a simple FTP operation

2) Export the database from location A to location B.  This is easy if you use phpmyadmin...just do a SQL dump and import

3) change the config settings from server A to server B.  Depending on what location A is, this is as simple as editing the config.php file in wordpress to having to do some search and replaces in the database to change domain names.

>> I have seen that permalinks before and am very confused by how to do it

It's simple and easy.  http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

>> Do both of you feel confident that this is of no harm at all for SEO purposes?

There is no harm.  It doesn't HELP, but it doesn't hurt either.

>> "One thing you will get black flagged for by search engines is including content on
>> your page and then marking it as display=none. " 

He's talking about these lines at ~ line 113 in the generated source:

        <h1  style="display:none;" class="header_title"><a  style="display:none;" href="http://www.ncwebgroup.com/main" title="Go back to the front page">NC Web Group &#8211; - Web site design, hosting, domain names, email, search engine optimization and marketing, and internet services</a></h1>

        <h2  style="display:none;" class="header_desc"></h2>

Open in new window


when you have display:none in the page, it's visible as code but not to users.  The search engines treat this as "cloaking" and can penalize you if the content being hidden is different from the content being displayed (i.e., an adult site using display: none to seed the page with content related to Excel in an attempt to deceive the user).

So while he's correct that it's not real good to do, he's not 100% correct about how it will get you black flagged.  I would remove that text though if it is not displayed and serves no other purpose.

>> On a side note, what are the most important things for SEO with wordpresss?

Honestly, a good site title and good page/post titles as well as changing to pretty permalinks are all you need for a WordPress site.  If you are using a plugin like All in One SEO or Platinum SEO you will get a lot of pinpoint control over each page/post and can really tweak things but it sounds like you are not all that sophisticated with SEO at this time, so the ability to get to that level of tweakage is not going to help you as you don't know what to change and how.

Author

Commented:
Appreciated..a few more questions and hopefully I will be on my way.

Does the entire line need to be deleted?  Or just  the " style="display:none;"" on each line?  I will still have to find the page this is located on and am not quite sure which one it is, maybe all of them?

I have activated the permalinks and the structure looks like /main/contact-us/ for example with no "ugly" look urls.  Now, what is your take on installing this plugin to help a bit more?

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/html-on-pages/

No, I am not sophisticated with SEO involving WP or flash, php, sites.  I've never had issues due to the type of customer I have regarding graphics design and mostly html...SEO has always worked great for me the way I have done it using Dreamweaver, that is why this is new to me.  Having said that, how can i become more sophisticated with SEO for WP?  Do you recommend going to the All in One SEO forum (if one exists) and ask for help there?  Or, are there other options available to me that I can get to a comfortable level allowing me to tweak these pages with the plugin?  (or any future plugins that may relate)
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.

Commented:
>> Does the entire line need to be deleted?  Or just  the " style="display:none;"" on each line?

If you remove display: none, the text in the h1 tag will be visible.  If you want that, then do that.  If not, remove the whole line.

>>  I will still have to find the page this is located on and am not quite sure which one it is, maybe all of them?

WordPress is not made up of "pages".  It's a bunch of different PHP files and content from a database that are combined to make a page depending on what is requested.  So when you have some text floating around in the header or at the top of the content, it is probably part of the theme files so you will need to look in places like header.php, home.php, single-page.php to find it.  I suppose it is possible

>>  Now, what is your take on installing this plugin to help a bit more? http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/html-on-pages/

Help a bit more with what?  Adding .html isn't necessary for anything at this time...what problem do you think it addresses?

>>  Having said that, how can i become more sophisticated with SEO?

SEO for WordPress is a red herring.  You need to learn SEO, period.  Pick up some books and start reading.  Search for tutorials and start reading.  Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools for any site you control and starting looking at how people find your site and how Google sees it.  Once you get a better sense of how the search engines see things, you will construct elements of your sites differently and use different techniques.  The "SEO has always worked great for me" part will become "SEO is working better than ever"

Author

Commented:
>>>Help a bit more with what?  Adding .html isn't necessary for anything at this time...what problem do you think it addresses?

In the email from the guy who "critiqued" the site mentioned that the .html links were better for SEO as opposed to just the permalink fix.  That is why I figured I should ask about it at this time just in case.  You have pretty much answered it by telling me the .html part isn't necessary.

>>>>>WordPress is not made up of "pages".  It's a bunch of different PHP files and content from a database that are combined to make a page depending on what is requested.  So when you have some text floating around in the header or at the top of the content, it is probably part of the theme files so you will need to look in places like header.php, home.php, single-page.php to find it.  I suppose it is possible


My apologies, yes, I do know that but what I meant to say is I need to find which php file that the code you mentioned in line 113 in the general source is located.  The owner of the site is still worrying about being black flagged even though I explained to him that this is not a concern, and I will remove the display none area because it is not being used.  That is what I was referring to when asking about if the entire line should be deleted or just the " style="display:none;"" part of the line.  And I still need to locate it this and will look in the pages you mentioned.

As far as the google webmaster tools I have been doing that already.  The rest, not so much...so I will definitely take your advice and get on that step next.  I can't thank you enough for your help it is very appreciated to say the least.  
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.

Commented:
>> the guy who "critiqued" the site mentioned that the .html links were better for SEO as opposed to just the permalink fix

Ah, that's horsebleep.  Start searching for random topics and see how many results have the /permalink-not-dot-html/ format.

>> php file that the code you mentioned in line 113

header.php
index.php
single.php

are the likely candidates.

Author

Commented:
Ok, I only found it in the header.php file and removed it.  Immediately when I did that, the default header text title reappeared in the top menu over the logo.

Such as referenced in this wordpress support forum:

http://wordpress.org/support/topic/removing-text-title?replies=5

So next, i went and found another instance of the display header text in the header.php file (<?php bloginfo('name'); ?>)  and removed it.  Which in turn took this unwanted text off the page fixing the problem.

Is there any way you can verify (what you mentioned above cloaking) that the lines are no longer there in 113?

I now believe this may have originally come up because of the fact I am using a custom header top logo instead of the default wordpress text and removed that code as referenced above in the wordpress forum link.

Author

Commented:
Yeah, because of this error on the site (if it even is an error), this guy is literally losing his mind about it.  He thinks we are cloaking right now and going to get "black-flagged"  :)   I've got to make sure this is not the case even though I am almost certain it is just fine.  I already explained to him what you mentioned above but he wants to be sure those two lines are removed that are up with display=none, which from what I know, relate to the text bar at the top so it didnt sit above the site header logo.

It is the text coming from the wordpress site name category in the settings.  When you type your site name in there, it just pops up at the top of the screen (acts as your logo) so i removed the references to it (<?php bloginfo('name'); ?>) so it didnt appear.  That is what I think this is but could be mistaken.

However, let me say after i deleted the display=none on the header.php page, i never saw any instance of H1, or H2 like you posted here.
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.

Commented:
The display: none is gone.  You can verify it yourself, just view source from the browser.  The H1 and H2 tags are still there though:

        <h1   class="header_title"><a   href="http://www.ncwebgroup.com/main" title="Go back to the front page"></a></h1>

        <h2   class="header_desc"></h2>

Author

Commented:
Ok.  Is there any reason to remove those H1 and H2 tags?  I believe that is just allowing the top image to be an active link that acts as a link to the home page. or no?

So we are definitely not cloaking at this point, or at risk of being black flagged, is that correct?  

He is just after me pretty hard core on this and I have no idea why....the guy that originally emailed him scared the hell out of him i think...
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.

Commented:
>> So we are definitely not cloaking at this point, or at risk of being black flagged, is that correct?  

Correct.

>> He is just after me pretty hard core on this and I have no idea why

Finish this job and then fire the client or raise his fees for future work.  

http://www.experts-exchange.com/A_2080.html

Author

Commented:
Appreciate the help very much and thanks to Jason1178 for continually providing information throughout the entire process.

Commented:
ususally display=none is used for some type of javascript effect... like a slideshow.  The page starts off with the images hidden and then some type of user action (a click) triggers javascript to change the display:none to display:block.  display=none is very common on the web and, short of Jason spam example, I highly doubt it causes any site to get "flagged".

A proper heading <h1, h2, etc> structure is more for usability than seo.  I still think it's a good idea to have a unique <h1> tag on each page.
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.

Commented:
>> short of Jason spam example, I highly doubt it causes any site to get "flagged".

Yeah, that's why I phrased it the way I did.  It's perfectly valid to have display: none on elements and if Google "black flagged" every site that used it then every site with any sort of slider or rotator would fall off and we can plainly see that doesn't happen.  So the client is listening to someone who has "SEO SkillZ" probably obtained by reading the back of a Rice Krispies box and is not really up to date with how things work.

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