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Wordcamp UK Porstmouth Advanced SEO for wordpress


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An advanced take on seo for wordpress where i go through white hat techniques right the way through to the very hard core black hat stuff. I also add a cautionary tale explaining that being too hard core will probably eventually get you banned from google

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  • 1.
      The White, Black and Illegal Hat in Wordpress SEO 
      Advanced SEO for wordpress
  • 2.
      Once upon a time...
      A webmaster decided to sort his on-site wordpress SEO out! He wore a white hat.  Aside: the 'hat' idea came from Edward DeBono's 6 thinking hats
  • 3.
      Page speed > rankings ....
      Story: The 1st thing was to speed up, It was too slow... :-(  What? Make your site faster to view. Smaller page sizes, faster server response. Why? Google (rightly) say users don't like slow sites. They (supposedly) rank faster sites! ref:   How?  Reduce the server load upon page request, so get caching, Get reports on your slow pages    Comment: It's worth doing some background reading on speeding your site up:
  • 4.
      Yoasts SEO Plugin 
      Story: Once the speeding up was sorted, he needed an all in one SEO tool, so he didn’t have to think about loads of separate plugins Why : having one mega seo plugin means less admin overhead and probably better overall onsite SEO coverage across your blog What : Plugins that make general onsite SEO easier to admin: 
      •  (d:348k 4/5*)
      • 5.  (108k 4.8/5*)
      • 6.  (d:8214k 4/5*)
      • 7.  (d:334k 4/5*)
      How: Read up on the subject 1st  so you know why you are using the various features.  Comment: Get going!
  • 8.
      Category structure     
      Story:  Now it was time to Tidy up the content structure on the site. All this duplicate content in category home pages isn't good for your rankings!   What: 1 Post - 1 Category Why: Decrease duplicate content and importantly create unique category home pages How: Be disciplined about categorising content or use a plugin like  (D:1k 4.5/5*) an easy to use plugin which will replace the default category check-list to one that uses radio buttons. This change will force all writers on your blog to use only one category per post. Comment : If you have 3rd party content writers then its probably better to impose this plugin up them!
  • 9.
      Hide a post 
      Story: Now! he thought, what about keeping less important long tail content off my home page, that way I control the content theming on my most important page! What: Control what posts go where on your site Why: Sometimes you might just want to have more 'long tail' content you want to rank for, but you don't want to dilute the front page of your site with random slightly off subject content How:  (DL:38k 4.9/5* Ratings:85)  Comment: It's just another nice way to manage content across your site. 
  • 10.
      Add a description to your categories 
      Story: Now he was getting in control of all that duplicate content, it meant that his category home pages were getting more important because they had unique content. Now he wanted the engines to grab some nice keyword rich static content! What: Your category home pages are natural 'hub spots' / page rank aggregation points on sites, so they will rank.  Why: Generally content churns too fast for search engines to 'grab' the posts on these pages, also the content is of course duplicate (by definition), so you need static content to allow the engines to 'grab' onto some words to allow them to rank you. How: add the description tag into your theme and write up a relevant description in the category in wp-admin. Comment: This is so often overlooked and so its worth the extra work. 
  • 11.
      SEO friendly images plugin 
      Story:  What else could he to on his site?...Time for a cup of tea and time to surf Google images for a new desktop background..Ah! he exclaimed - image optimisation!   What: Optimise your images for google image search Why: Google image search is more traffic, albeit 'drive through'  How:  SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress SEO plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes for SEO purposes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. Additionally this makes the post W3C/xHTML valid as well.  (D:320k 4/5* 74 Ratings Downloads Per Rating:X) ) Note: One downer is that it's an all or nothing plugin i.e. it will do all alt and title tags. To edit one of them as you wish, you have to disable the plugin.  Conclusion: Great if you are indifferent to ranking specific images and are ok with drive through traffic.
  • 12.
      xml sitemaps 
      Story: He was nearly done. He knew know WP pings the engines when a new post goes up, but what about this sitemaps thing, they like those too, he pondered. He had better sort it out! What: Engines use structured xml data to help their crawlers through sites. Why: Some sites have poor navigation, or are just so big they need a map to tell the crawlers where to go! How:  (D:5389k 4.5/5* Ratings:2484)  Comment: I haven't used this on any really big sites recently. the last time i did was 4 years ago and it hammered the server. I assume this has been sorted out by now...
  • 13.
      Blackhat potential 
      The Story so far.... White Hat thought he could get more search traffic on White Hat was still afraid of Mr Google,  he didn't want go against Mr Google's webmaster guidelines, but the traffic was starting to come in and he could now afford to buy a new computer. So White Hat swapped hats and became Grey Hat. 
  • 14.
      Internal Page Rank Manipulation
      Story: Now Grey Hat had parked his fears, he got to work making sure the pages that were making him money ranked as well as possible , so it was time for internal page rank manipulation. What: Manipulate which pages have the most links within the site pointing to them. Why: Google factor in which pages within your site have the most links pointing to them. They figure that if you link to a page a lot, then it must be important to the site How:  The following tools will help you....
  • 15.
      Related posts  Internal Page Rank Manipulation
      Story: Grey Hat decided that he wanted certain pages to look stronger than others, so he put some plugins in to manipulate the 'internal voting system' on the site. What:  More internal page rank manipulation, by having automated lists of related pages. Why: Linking to related content allow the site to naturally build page rank hot spots within your site. It gives it better overall thematic consistency, which is good for engines. How: There are a few choices:  (d:58k 4/5* ratings: 154)  (d:2.2k 4/5* ratings:4)  (d:28k 4/5* ratings:22)
      Comment: You have loads of choices. I think a mix of auto gen links mixed in with your manual ones will help you keep everything looking natural, but also help manipulate the site to get certain pages ranking.
  • 16.
      Pagination  Internal Page Rank Manipulation
      Story: Grey hat was surprised he forgot to add pagination into the theme. Didn't he remember that page rank is more efficiently distributed through pagination!  What: For the home page, category pages and archive pages, have links to older / other posts Why: Engines determine the volume of internal page rank by the number of clicks from a certain page another is. Keep the number of clicks down and you distribute internal page rank more efficiently. How:   (D: 79k Ratings:115 4.1/5*) Comment: It's an easy thing to do and really helps get older content crawled more easily.
  • 17.
      Different Menus Per Section  Internal PR Manipulation
      Story:  Grey Hat was also surprised White Hat didn't understand the concept of pooling page rank around certain pages by having menu's per section. It also helps the user, but Grey Hat didn't care too much about that.  What: Have separate menus per section on your site i.e. sidebar menu 'a' for (for instance)  6 'about us' pages you might have. Why: It's good for users and it helps 'pool' internal page rank How: Get  (D:26k 4/5* Ratings:16)  The set the widget to only show on certain conditions. Create a series of menus, add the necessary code (CSS'd  etc..) :   <?php wp_nav_menu( array('menu' => 'TestNav' )); ?> and assign specific menus to specific sections, posts and pages Comment: I had a look around for a suitable plugin and didn't find one. I think this scores on lots of fronts which is why this method has been presented.
  • 18.
      Alerts when Google has visited    
      Story: B ecause Grey Hat was building up a nice network of sites, he decided that it would be easier if he had email alerts telling him when Google arrived. It meant he did'nt have to go thorough lots of webmaster tools accounts. Grey Hat liked this. What: If you feel like Google never visits your site, then get am email alert each time they crawl. Why: Because you can! and because you havent bothered to validate your Google webmaster tools account. How:  (D:25k 5/5* Ratings:5)  Comment: It's kind of fun getting a ping when you get a visit from Google, but of course if you have a big site your mailbox will fill fairly quickly! If you have a network of sites and yo don't get many visits from Mr G, then this plugin could actually be a useful way to track the visitation rate without having to check webmaster tools. 
  • 19.
      Blackhat potential 
      The Story so far....  by now Grey Hat was getting a decent amount of traffic. He bought a new car and life was good.  But he wanted more traffic so he could make more money and buy a house. He got away with it for now, so how about getting more aggressive. So Grey Hat , swapped hats and became Black Hat.
  • 20.
      Automatic linking  Internal Page Rank Manipulation
      Story: Black Hat thought; &quot; how could I make it easy for me to manipulate 1000's of links across my site automatically, that way I could quickly manipulate the engines into ranking my 'money page' &quot;. Lucky Black Hat, he found just the right plugin. What: Automatically drop links into your content based on given criteria.  Why: Google partially rely on anchor text to asses relevance. Pick your anchor text, pick your target page and auto link.  How:  (DL:402k 4.1/5* Ratings:90)  Comment: This works well, but be careful otherwise its going to create an unnatural footprint. Its also a good way to distribute affilaite links across a site. If you are an affiliate, then maybe try .   Directions on aff links: set up pretty link, set up the redirection url i.e. h >  . Then set up seo automatic links, pick your words for autolinking, use the new pretty link as your destination link... clean affiliate links
  • 21.
      Hide affiliate links
      Story: Black hat made most of his money through affiliate marketing, but he knew Google didn't like affiliate sites, nor did users really like clicking ugly tracking links. So he found a couple of neat ways to hide his tracks. What:  Turn a messy link: >
      Why:  It's well known Google doesn't like affiliate sites because, apparently they don't add value to the user, so hiding these links helps camouflage your intentions (a little). And users are marginally less likely to click messy affiliate links as well, so hiding these can help your click through rate.
      How: .   (DL:307k 4/5* Ratings:90) And you can take this further, but making all your text based body content calls to action i.e. 'join now' etc, an image instead of text using a plugin like this one: (DL:1k 5/5* Ratings:1) Comment:  It's a simple thing to do and IMHO really does improve the feel of a site.
  • 22.
      Auto distribute hidden affiliaite links
      Story: Black Hat had a bright idea, along with manipulating the page rank on this site, he could also start dropping his 'pretty' affiliate links across the site. He could make more money! What: Automatically drop affiliate links into your content based on given criteria.  Why: Its hard work manually adding links in content across your site, especially if its a big one, also as an affiliate, you might decide to work with another provider with a better offer, so it makes sense to be agile & flexible.  How:  (DL:402k 4.1/5* Ratings:90) .   (DL:307k 4/5* Ratings:90).  Set up pretty link, set up the redirection url i.e. h >  . Then set up seo automatic links, pick your words for autolinking, use the new pretty link as your destination link... fast, clean affiliate links!
      Comment: This works well, but don't go too crazy with it, since over linking is messy for the user and looks weird to search engines.
  • 23.
      'Maliable' 301 Internal redirections
      Story: Black Hat knew that conversions spiked around certain events, so by building banks of links to certain pages and mass redirecting those pages, he could rank his 'money page' just when traffic peaked. Now he was really doing well! He repeated this often. He was happy. What: Set up internal redirects within your site  How:  (DL:639k 3.9/5* Ratings:341)  Why: Under normal circumstances, its a great way of tidying up a  site. If you are being hardcore, you can use it to redirect chinks of your site to certain pages to temporarily rank on things.  Comment: I have used this technique to great effect, but the engines will normalise after a few days, so its the kind of thing you do when you really want to go after a specific event driven phrase for instance and you only do it once or twice a year.
  • 24.
      Hack date references 
      Story: Black Hat had been SEO'ing for a while and some of his older posts were looking out of date. So clever Hat that he was, he decided to hack the date stamp so engines showed a fresher date stamp - nice for clickthrough! Clever Mr Black Hat. What: Hack the 'post' dates on your content to make it look fresher Why: Google love to display the post date in the SERPs, and if you have evergreen content, why disable yourself on clickthrough rates by having very old 'sell by' dates How:   Comment: It's a bit shady, but if you have great content, then don't penalise yourself ;-)
  • 25.
      The Story so far....  by now Black Hat was getting a nice flow of traffic. He bought his 1st house and life was good.  But he wanted more traffic, so he could make more money and buy a second house with a tennis court and a swimming pool. He liked swimming and he wanted to impress the part time model he was going out with. He always got away with it, so how about gaming the search engines even more to make more and more money. So Black Hat decided it was time to really get dirty and aggressive.
  • 26.
      Cloaking: What is it? How does it work?
      Story: Black Hat was getting good on technical stuff and he knew that Google had real problems identifying cloaking...
  • 27.
      Story: The image hack was easy, so Black Hat went to the wise masters of search engine deception   and bought the tools he needed. They told him, &quot;O nly do this if you really know what you are doing. This is dangerous stuff!&quot;. Black Hat laughed and said &quot; I see no big risks &quot; and thanked them for their concern. What: Have an information/text rich page for search engines, automatically switch the content to 'commercial' content for users. How:  ( video demo ) /  / Wordpress shapeshifter ( screenshots ) / Using a comprehensive list of parameters i.e. all google bots and IP addresses / Using redirection plugin Why:   So you can monetize traffic more efficiently! Comment:   Cloaking, or 'redirection based on given perameters'   happens all the time. Google do it for instance. (try typing URL: and see where you go).  Another more interesting variation is ' Mosaic Cloaking ' where you only change elements of a page vis CSS or Javascript to help it convert better
  • 28.
      Google image redirection (soft version)
      Story: Black Hat didn't like the way Google made it difficult for users to visit his site via image search, so he came up with a clever little hack... What: User sees image 'X' in search engine, clicks image and immediately gets directed to page the page the image sits on. Why: In Google image search, they 'remove'  the user from the originating page by 1 click . How:  (DL:2.9k 5/5* Ratings:1)   (DL:1.9k 5/5* Ratings:2) It will break the google images iframe and bring the user directly onto your page. How-to Blog post.  Comment:  Here is a Google support thread busting frames  (It seems - kind of - ok)  Also, you also make your images more attractive to engines using  (D:320k 4/5* Ratings:74)
  • 29.
      Google image redirection/cloaking 
      Story: Since Black Hat's image hack was working, he thought it would be clever to show search engines a picture of a beach and automatically redirect users straight to his affiliate pages, after all a beach picture must be relevant to cheap mortgages? What: User sees image 'X' in search engine, clicks image and gets automatically redirected to page 'Y'. Why: Acquiring traffic and monetising it How:  Set up 'bait images', embed these in a nice 'normal' page with relevant content. Use a Cloaking plugin to conditionally show 'Y' content :  ( video demo ) /  /  Wordpress shapeshifter  ( screenshots ) /  Using a comprehensive list of parameters i.e. all google bots and IP addresses
      Comment:  Spammers do it and get away with it - often. As you see from the google support thread, spammers use disposable blogs like blogspot .
  • 30.
      Hidden content 
      Story: Black hat was happy, his new image redirection trick had actually bought in a few new customers! So he turned his attention to content pages... How about telling the engines the page is mainly about Mortgage advice and showing the user a big list of banners with mortgage offers? Nice idea, easy to do and Black Hat now got even more conversions. Happy Days!   What: Conditionally hide content from search engines in your wordpress blog Why: Because Google uses keyword co- occurrence , keeping your content themes consistant helps you rank better.  How:  (DL:2.2k 5/5* Ratings:6)
  • 31.
      More Hidden content  
      Story: The partial page cloaking was working nicely, but he wanted to try another idea because he knew search engines didn't use optical character   recognition data from images as a ranking signal. Black Hat was a clever bunny! What: Hide content from search engines using text to image replacement Why: Google likes 'concentrated' content, so If you have a content page that it thematically 'tight', then its going to help you rank better.  How: Easiest way is using an image editing programme and upload the image to the site, this way you can theme the images more easily. Comment: Of course Google can do 'OCR' on images, but as far as I know they don't chose to use this information in their search algo's, so this is a fairly useful way of adding acquisition messaging and text to a page without leaving a text footprint.
  • 32.
      Link Farming. Build a network  pt 2
      Story: Now Black Hat had worked out cloaking, it was time to build up his site network. He wanted 1000's of sites to rank his main sites, so time for a new tool. &quot; Imagine how rich I will be in a years time! I'll buy a huge yacht! My wife will love me even more &quot; he excitedly thought.  What: Build a large network of sites from which you harvest low level links Why: This is a low level way of getting links in a controllable way. How: Build 1000's of sites!  
  • 33.
      Link Farming. Pt 1 Quick Install
      Story: Since Black Hat was clever, he also used a cloning tool, it meant he could build a master site and replicate it 1000's of times very easily. He felt like he was on his way to £££ millions.   What: Create a blog in seconds Why: If you have 1000's of sites to install, this will speed up the install process How: Use an automated installer tool like this: or  you can use a cloning tool that copies your master templated site to 3rd party servers Comment: Obviously there will be security issues here...but if you have to knock out loads of sites then this kind of tool makes sense. Personally I like the cloning tool best because i can set up the site with all the necessary plugins already enabled and good to go, along with my set of templates that I can change per site. Comment:  
  • 34.
      Link Farming. Pt 2. Site management
      Story: Of course Black Hat needed a way of managing all these 1000's of sites, so he used a control panel to keep track of all the hosting accounts he now had. What: Now you have a large number of sites, they need management Why: Looking after 1000's of sites is a real headache and any useful tools you can use to save time is important. How: Use a site management tool like this :
  • 35.
      Wordpress Multisite
      Story: Black Hat experimented with running clusters of blogs off one server. It sort of worked, but he didn't want too many sites off a single IP address in case his footprint was too obvious.  What: Create multiple sites off a single server with a central admin panel  Why: its easier to build more sites control them How: Enabling WP multisite, you can run several differently themed / differing TLD URL's from the same instance of WP . Comments: I'm personally not that experienced  with Multisite, but from what I can judge, its fine  for small clusters of blogs. The number of sites is restrained by the number of shared IP  addresses you will end up using. It can look  very strange if you have 100 autogen blogs  off 1 IP, so be moderate with this stuff. And  make sure you are not on a banned I.P. address
      Multisite Multidomain tools
  • 36.
      Auto-create content. Pt 1. (the not clever way)
      Story: Black Hat now had another problem 1000's of sites and no content! The thought &quot; what if I could slice and dice RSS feeds? &quot; The problem he had, was Google's recent push on duplicate content. &quot; I need a better idea &quot; he mused.    What: Create content on the fly without any human intervention   Why: If you have 1000's of sites, how will you feed them with content otherwise?   How: Using a tool like this: you can import content from RSS feeds and automatically generate posts from it. Comment:  This kind of tool obviously produces vast amounts of duplicate content. Google are getting very good at de-duplicating this low level content, so in reality if you have a dupe content site it may be indexed, but is unlikely to have any authority.  There are lots of such plugins to play with
  • 37.
      Auto-create content. Pt 2. (This is more like it)
      Story: Black Hat heard about the mysterious Fantomaster, a genius only a few outside the dark arts of Black Hat SEO knew of...He had the answer to industrial scale human readable content spinning! Now Black Hat was really on a roll. He thought, &quot; this gravy train will carry on for ever... &quot; What: Create non-duplicate on topic content on the fly without any human intervention   Why: If you have 1000's of sites, how will you feed them with content otherwise?   How: Talk to someone like the fantomaster , give him a brief on the content you are after, pay him about $550 USD and get back about 2000 non duplicate human readable English pieces of content in what ever format you need it in.   If you don't have the money and are less ok with possibly being nabbed...then could work for you. Using a tool like , distribute this content amongst your network. Comment: I have never done I'm not sure what combination of which tools will work best. The important thing is well structured non duplicate human readable content, quickly distributed across a network at randominsed times.
  • 38.
      The Story so far.... Black Hat got unlucky  :-( Google's spam team had been after him for a while and finally they identified his site network and big earning domains and took them out of the index completely.  Black Hat relied on search traffic for 95% of his income. His massive income plummeted over night.  To avoid tax, everything was in his wife's name. It made sense. But now his now ex-wife took the big house, the Aston Martin, all his other properties and he was only left with his credit card and a stash of £50 notes.  Poor Black Hat, maybe...had he drawn the line on aggressive SEO, he would be happily married and rich today. But the story doesn't quite end here...
  • 39.
      Illegal Black Hat
      Story: Black Hat was desperate for cash, so he swapped   hats and became Red Hat. He had learnt a lot of tricks  and knew a teenage Russian hacker, so to get Red Hat's   viagra sites ranking, the hacker worked out how to get  into vulnerable   wordpress sites and drop 1000's of links  an hour to his disposable viagra sites. He would rank his site,  Google would toast it and on it went. But he made some money.  What: Hacking sites to drop links   Why: Because sometimes its faster to hack weak sites and be a parasite, sucking page rank from these sites   How: I don't know, but there are plenty of dark marketeers who do! Comment: Here is a wordpress thread where someone has had links injected into his theme . And another and another . 
  • 40.
      Don't be a victim! Secure your site! 
      Story: The Wordpress community knew about Red Hat, so they gathered together to fight him and they documented the issues had many core security updates and created plugins to keep Red Hat out.  What : Make sure your instance of WP is secure   Why : Do you really want to be another victim?     How : Read and act upon these:
      • 41. (DL:57k 4.3/5* Ratings:70 Downloads Per Rating:X) 
        If it's already happened:
      • 42.
  • 43.
      The Story so far.... Times were tough for Red Hat, The FBI and MI5 were after him now, so he had to move to South America where he could hide.  He still lurks around the internet and if you leave your site insecure, he may well visit.  He says he is doing ok, but he blames Google for his life falling apart after they penalised him.  Deep down though, he wishes he go back in time and pause when he was Mr Grey Hat. The End.
  • 44.
      Advanced SEO resources
  • 45.
      Other random stuff
      What: An excellent post with a list of 76 'stupid WP tricks' Why: Because there are lots of naughty tricks here. How: There are code snippets and how to's for you to use. Comment:  Notable examples are: 
      • Custom Message to Returning Visitors
      • 46. Custom Content to Search Engine Visitors
      • 47. Automatically Disable Comments and Trackbacks in Old Posts
      • 48. Automatically Highlight Search Terms
  • 49.
      Webmaster world
      What: A superb reference for any technical SEO-er.
  • 50.
      What: An interesting Black hat SEO reference library   Why: A good reading list from one of the greatest minds in black hat SEO.
  • 51.
      What: Social bookmarking resource for the SEO community.    Why: It is the single best blog resource on SEO because the posts shown are nominated by the SEO community
  • 52.
      What: They host a comprehensive SEO survey.   Why: This is the aggregation of 132 well know SEOers    Comment: SEO moz make a big thing of being white hat, whilst at the same time providing SEO'ers some of the best tools out there to manipulate the SERPS!
  • 53.
      Tools - A few essential tools I use all the time!
      What: Majesticseo - Link analysis tool Why: The most powerful and mailable in bound link analysis tool I know. Superb!   What: SEMrush - It checks the keywords a given site ranks for Why: If you are analysing a site for links, if SEMrush shows keywords on its database, you know the relevant subject and approximate strength of  a site.   What: Advanced web ranking Why: Industrial scale rank checking software I keep on a windows shared box
  • 54.
      Thanks for following this  heavy PPT through!