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I watch a lot of WordCamp presentations, and I pick up on a lot of ‘advice’ people give. Some of it is, I feel, useless. Today I want to tackle all the SEO advice I’ve seen and read lately that doesn’t matter as much as it might, or at least, not enough to make me change.
Before that, though, I want to stress the one part of SEO that will matter, now and forever, no matter what Google does, and that is to have Good Content. Second to that is to have a good network of people who link to you, share your posts, and retweet them. Human interaction is the best measure of your SEO. If people are sticking around, you’re going to be okay.
Don’t Use Dates in Your URLs Don’t Use Dates in Your URLs
“Putting the date in the URL has very few benefits, if any. I’m not a fan because it “dates” your older results, possibly getting a lower click through over time.”
So I use them here, and on my personal blog, as
example.com/%year%/%postname%/ for a couple reasons, but it boils down to the fact that dates matter with the content I provide. The first thing I look at when I see a post about a technical subject is when was it written. Then I read the post to see if it mentions a specific version of the product. If there’s a notice at the top like “Read the updated version…” then I’ll go open both and read the older and the newer.
The point is, as Jen Mylo might say, technology changes. And because of that, it should be obvious when a post took place. So I firmly think dates matter for the humans. And since they don’t matter for SEO, use what makes you feel good. Of course… shorter URLs are better. I’d suggest more people use categories if they could manage to only post in one category at a time. Still, go to https://halfelf.org/recovering-your-cape/ and you’ll be redirected because WordPress is really good.
Use Related Posts Use Related Posts
I can see why people think this is important. Establishing cross-links between your old posts can pull new readers over. But I find this is more important in getting the search engines to scan your older content. I cross link between posts manually all the time, not to get better SEO, but to help my readers see where I came from before. So I don’t need to have them automagically made for me. This comes back to good content. My good content is relating posts in the best way possible, and making sure they’re the best links to relate.
Always Use Images Always Use Images
Images are pretty, I agree, but I think it’s more important to use images that matter. You don’t have to use images all the time. Certainly people like them, it breaks up the monotony of a post, but for SEO, you should worry more about your alt/description fields than having an image. Also remember to compress your images, please. It’ll make your site run faster which will help your SERP. When in doubt about an image, leave it out. Or use something silly.
Never Change Your URLs Never Change Your URLs
While this is just good advice, as long as you have good redirects for your old links to the new ones, you won’t lose your Google Juice. So yes, you can change your URLs. I do it all the time, but I’m proud to say that links from fifteen years ago still work. They redirect to the new URLs, of course, but they work because of those redirects, and my Google Juice is amazeballs.
Keep Posts under 600 (or 750) Words Keep Posts under 600 (or 750) Words
I laughed a lot here. While people like Otto marvel at my verbosity, and other people tell me “Your posts are too long!” when I cut a post back from 2000 words to 1000 it’s not because of SEO, it’s readability. If a 4000 page post is the most popular on your site and CNN links to it, I’m pretty sure your SEO won’t get hurt. Your post should be as long as it needs to be to clearly and accurately communicate what you’re trying to communicate. That’s your rule. Keep with it. Now, if your human readers tell you that you’re too verbose, that’s something else.
Use Subdomains Use Subdomains
I’m going to quote Matt Cutts (aka Mr. Google) here, on the subject of sub-domain vs sub-folder:
“They’re roughly equivalent. I would basically go with whichever one is easier for you in terms of configuration, your CMSs, [and] all that sort of stuff.”
Can we move on now, please?
Use Menus Use Menus
Okay, yes, you should use Menus, but I’ve seen people stuff every possible link into a menu, and then be upset no one sees the menu item that’s four tiers down. I barely use menu tiers, or if I do I limit them to one, and only one, sublevel. So the SEO advice of jamming everything into a menu is just useless, and given how people are using it like keyword stuffing, I bet Google’s next release (Penguin, Panda…. Pterodactyl?) will check if the CSS or HTML5 code indicates a menu and, if so, ignore it. I know I would.
Anything Else? Anything Else?
What do you think is just plain ol’ outdated or wrong SEO advice?