Does Spelling and Grammar Matter In SEO?

Vintage banner.Background chalkboard.Does spelling and grammar matter in SEO? Yes, it does matter. Even though blogging isn’t something that has to be perfect, being understood is extremely important. Every blogger brings to the table their own blog voice, and that includes their own style of writing.

This is influenced by the blogger’s past education and the individual’s own decisions in learning how to read, write, and speak. Some bloggers may have grown up with learning disorders or their primary language is different. However, in the world of blogging, if you’re putting your words out there for the world to read, then you’re trying to get feedback.

If you’re not using fair grammar, then you’ve just made it that much harder for another person to understand, especially if they have a learning disorder, or whose primary language is different. There’s really no excuse. Examples of common grammar issues:

  • Long run on sentences
  • Lack of proper punctuation
  • Awkward sentence structure
  • Using the wrong word for meaning or emphasis
  • Using prepositions incorrectly
  • Using the incorrect verb tense
  • Mixing up wrong homonyms and homophones (example: bark as tree bark, or bark as a dog bark, OR there, their, and they’re)

Spelling and grammar do matter even if you’re a blogger that has little ambition to becoming the top dog in your niche. You are STILL trying to reach people. The spelling, some people can forgive, but sentences that make very little sense tend to draw a big question mark from people. It’s very difficult for anyone to give feedback on an article they have trouble understanding.

For those just trying to play the SEO game just to gain money from Adsense or other types of advertising, you eventually will lose out to sites that are creating better content.

For those bloggers with good intentions that are providing great content, you should be going back to older posts and editing them to improve them. In fact, Kimberly Castleberry mentions some cool tools to help bloggers with grammar and spelling. Language barriers are just an excuse. Learning disorders are an excuse. There are bloggers in terrible situations, like disabilities, that do better than many of the great bloggers out there.

If you want to reach a lot of people, you’ve got to put that extra effort to giving your users a quality experience. Matt Cutt’s actually talked about this is a short video answering the question to “Do spelling and grammar matter when evaluating content and site quality?”

Remember – Content is King, and the Visitors are Queen. Their feedback is considered as important as the content by the search engines. Remember, in the end, it’s the visitors looking for the content, sharing the content, and commenting.

Some people are really nice, and won’t tell you a thing if there is something wrong. Others may give you some harsh criticism or some constructive criticism. If your reaction is to be snarky with them or get offended, then you don’t care about your readers.

Do yourself and your blog a favor – think about your readers for once.

Do you have problems writing? Do you use any tools to help you with your spelling and grammar issues? What tools do you use?

Graphic: SEO Is Not A Game

I’ve said that SEO is not a same, many times. It really isn’t. If you know how to write unique and quality content, and engage with your readers, you’re definitely heading in the right direction.

A lot of people like to whine about why their website has either dropped in traffic or has dropped from good search results. All the answers to that can be found in whatever game they tried to play in order to get ahead. Google isn’t out to get you. They are trying to make sure the search alogrithms are as close to what a person may search for.

This is the reason you will keep reading and hearing from SEO experts that you should write for humans or strive to hae a more organic strategy when it comes to search engine optimization.

So… stop trying to game the system.

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Google Rolls Out Hummingbird

google-thumbnailBack on September 26, 2013, Google officially rolled out their new algorithm update called Hummingbird. However, they had rolled it out quietly about a month ago.

The biggest of the update included with Hummingbird Google to handle long questions better further improving Knowledge Graph. Another update was for more advanced voice queries, which is great for web accessibility for those who can’t read. If your site hasn’t seen a drop in traffic in the last month, then you probably will not see a change.

Search Engine Land actually has a Hummingbird FAQ that you may want to read in order to understand the new update.

What can you do if your website traffic has dropped after the Hummingbird update?

Some bloggers in the blogosphere were recently complaining about having lost traffic. Did your website get hit by Hummingbird?

Please remember that Google is always doing little tweaks here and there to update their system. You also need to keep writing quality content and engaging with others online through your article. And with all these updates, SEO is not dead… it’s still alive and going to be for a long time.

If you lost traffic, check out how people are engaging on your site and who. Influential people who are sharing your content to their followers do make a difference. Are you connecting with them?

Remember to look around your niche for juicy news and don’t be afraid of blogging about it and linking. Don’t expect to get a link back. Your goal is to be informative to your visitors and if it means referring to another blogger’s article, then do it. Don’t be stingy.

Go back through old posts and improve them. And when you do bring them out, don’t add a bunch of fluff… go above and beyond. Don’t forget to share it out on the social network sites when you have updated.

If you are seriously wanting to rank certain articles well, don’t just think of using single keywords, think of also implementing long tail keywords and questions. In fact, with the Hummingbird update, using the exact question or questions in the results for your posts may help.

Make sure your article is organized with the correct headings and it would help if your site had Schema.org markup implemented into the design framework.

Remember that you should be thinking about linking organically. Don’t unnecessarily and excessively ping your website.

If you have gotten hit by Penguin, Panda, and also seen a drop after Hummingbird, and you still have no clue on why or what to look for, you may need to hire someone to give you a website audit or review to help you get back on track.

What do you think about the new Hummingbird update revealed by Google? Have you seen a negative or positive effect on your site after the Hummingbird Update?

Why A Website Review is Important

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Website reviews are not like reviews you do on Yelp or in some newspaper column. A website review is an in-depth audit, and involves pouring over the website’s design, its content, the stats, and the strategies that the website owner is currently using to promote their site. A website review is important because it allows the website owner to see what they have missed while optimizing their website.

As a website owner, you probably are always changing something up on your website. It might be due to wanting to change out images or content and display it to attract people to do something on your site. That something might be a call to action like:

  • Commenting on a post
  • Sharing a post on social network sites
  • Filling out a form
  • Subscribing to newsletters
  • Buying a product

Why A Website Review is Important

For some, you may be savvy and have in-depth knowledge with On Page SEO, Local SEO, and other methods to optimize your site for search engines. The problem is that sometimes when you are close to a project, you need a second opinion. Website reviews from other reputable search engine optimization professionals can help.

The website reviewer often looks into the following when assessing your website:

  • The design and load of your website. This can involve the actual markup (code) of the site, the graphics (for the structure of the site, not the content), the scripts used, stylesheets used, and more.
  • The website stats of your website. Usually, some of the basic tools used to gather data and make an assessment are Google Analytics, any heatmap software, keyword density checkers, backlinker checkers, software to compare your site against your competition, and much more.
  • The content of your website. This usually includes graphics used and placed in pages or articles, placement of subscription forms, advertisements, products, A/B testing, and more.
  • Your current social media marketing or any type of marketing for your website. This area is something that is not always looked in, but because of social search, it really is important to include looking into how to make your social networking bring in a better return on investment.

While the review, or in some cases, it is called a website audit, will have all the answers you need to improve your site, it doesn’t mean that the reviewer will do those proposed fixes. It is a way to assess your site for a fresh perspective, and let you decide what course you want to take to correcting your issues.

graph-stats-image-thumbnailPicking the right website reviewer is crucial. The reviewer needs to demonstrate a successful website. If you hire someone who doesn’t have proof on their own website, then they really need to be avoided. There are a lot of people that claim that they are experts in search engine optimization, but they are often doing it wrong or over-optimizating SEO. Website reviewers should not claim their are experts, and they should not be guaranteeing first page results or promising that you will become rich.

Website reviews are not cheap. For bootstrap websites or businesses, it might be a stretch to afford. They can cost as little as $300 or $400 or $800, and go into a couple thousand depending on how much work is offered. This is usually to cover the time spent and the knowledge used to put together a solution for each individual site. This is not a shortcut process.

How often do you change parts of your website or your social media marketing strategy? What tools do you like to use when analyzing your website? Have you had your website reviewed?

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Blondish.net Podcast – 2013 Mini Episode 3

blondishnet-podcastPodcast Mini Episode 3 is all about blogger Love and the benefit of linking to other bloggers in your articles. I cover some of the benefits and a couple good examples to capitalize on this method.

I’d like your feedback on whether you link to other bloggers or only to larger online resources? If only large online resources, why?

Also, do you still have question even after listening to this 4 and a half minute podcast on what it means to link to other bloggers or how you should be linking to them?

Video: Blondish.net Podcast – 2013 Mini Episode 3

Blondish.net Podcast – 2013 Mini Episode 3

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The Ultimate Checklist to Setting Up a New WordPress Blog

Blogging has evolved over the years to becoming a cultural thing. Each blog represents the voice of someone passionate (at least I hope that each blogger is passionate about what they do) about what they like to write about. However, it is no longer just open up a new blog and write away. There are tools that bloggers should use that can help their site. Here is an ultimate checklist to setting up a new WordPress Blog.

Please note that this checklist covers several areas for a blogging and not directed toward a singular blog niche. The areas of the checklist are separated into the following areas.

  • Focus of Site
  • Branding and Design of Site
  • Security
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media

Focus of Site

Without a focus, why bother having a website? Your readers would be confused on what to expect on your site. It is okay to have a blog that has random topics, but focus boils down to several areas.

  • What the site is about?
  • Who are you trying to reach? (your target audience)
  • What do you want to do with your website? (your goals for your site)

Each one of these areas are what you will always turn to as it is much like a business plan. You want people to do something on your site whether it be share, comment, subscribe, or buy something. Without establishing the answers to each of these questions, you cannot master how to convert your site’s visitors to the areas of your site that you truly want them to visit.

So, in a way, this is where you do your brainstorming.

For this area, please feel free to read more on site focus in the other articles on my site:

Branding and Design of Site

People connect and remember brands that have done something to get them to react. Aside from the obvious products or services that a brand may provide, with online blogs, it can be done through:

  • Site Name
  • Design / WordPress Theme

Your site name is of course going to say something about you or the services you provide. Whether you are focusing on optimizing it for search engines or in the case of this site, Blondish.net, you are wanting something memorable for people to associate you with, it all ties into branding. Once you have chosen a name that fits what you do, you need to be consistent with how your brand is portrayed. For example, if you provide internet technical services, obviously, you do not want people to confuse you with fashion.

The design of your website is definitely factor with branding. It IS a virtual business card. People should be able to come to your site and within the first minute, get a clear gist of what you are about. Design can be from the actual graphics of the site and logo, to even how your site is organized or viewable in multiple browsers including mobile devices.

In this section for branding and design, some of these articles may help you.

Security

Billions of people are online, and some of them are not very nice. Your blog can be at risk if you do not take serious action to prevent your site being hacked. The number one piece of advice when running a WordPress powered blog is to make sure it is up to date. After that, your plugins and theme need to be up to date. This is the first line of defense.

Of course, you definitely can harden you WordPress site’s security with hardening techniques or even security and anti-spam plugins. I normally suggest Growmap Anti-Spam Plugin and Akismet (which is provided by default with each WordPress installation) for handling comment spam. However, Akismet tends to produce false positives, which means that you may be missing comments from people who are really not spammers. There are other plugins out there, but I have found them to be a bit bulky and therefore, not really a viable option for larger blogs.

Hardening the security of your site usually involves placing code snippets in the htaccess file of your web hosting account that prevent spammers or other people from accessing specific areas of your WordPress blog or even the backend administration area.

Feel free to check out my article on hardening or securing your WordPress site.

Another issue with security involves with who you allow to use your website. If you have a multi-author website, you will need to pay attention to what roles you are giving them and furthermore, what they can do on your site through that role. Role Manager plugin does a great job of specifying in detail what a person can and cannot do.

Another great plugin is Login Lockdown. Please note that from the time this article has been published that the plugin has not been updated in 2 years, so use at your own risk

Search Engine Optimization

A lot of people use to believe search engine optimization was based on just backlinking and tweaking your content. It is more than that. It involves:

  • Keywords
  • Linking from within your site and outside of your site
  • You site’s design and organization
  • How much engagement and syndication is going on about your site.

When you planned your site, you have to know what keywords you want to focus on in order to make sure that it is listed correctly. For example, if you have a site that focuses on technology, you do not want it to be listed with fashion sites. Your articles should also reflect this by keeping true to your site’s focus.

You do want to take advantage of linking to other resources both within your site and from other websites to build links and even more so, your site’s authority. Don’t be afraid to refer to other articles or have a plugin like YARPP (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) to try to keep your readers interested in staying on your site, which decreases your website’s bounce rate.

As for themes, no matter if you use a free theme, a premium paid theme, one that you designer, or perhaps a theme designed by someone you hired, you definitely want it to be clean, loads decently, is flexible for you to work with, and is easy to use. Because of mobile use, it is definitely a good thing if you want to have a mobile version of your site, but please note, that if you are trying to go for valid coding, HTML5 blows that concept out of the water.

You can still check your site at the W3 Validator, but you will want to ignore the errors for code related to your mobile theme.

A really good WordPress plugin to assist with your site’s SEO is WordPress SEO by Yoast. You can customize your search engine listing down to the pages and posts on your site. The WordPress SEO plugin also has RSS feed enhancements, breadcrumb navigation options, and even can build your site’s XML sitemap. So in a way, it almost does it all.

However, if do not use an SEO plugin like WordPress SEO for Yoast, it is important to have a valid sitemap for your site. You can certainly try Google XML Sitemaps which is a nice alternative XML sitemaps plugin that even notifies search engines about your site.

Remember, even though WordPress comes SEO ready out of the box with its well written code and fewer database tables versus other content management systems, you still have to write unique and quality content. Plugins just add a little more help.

Here are some related articles to SEO:

Social Media

Social media has become a big dog in how blogs bite the dust or succeed. Google has even come to recognize that even having a site and relying on a computer to crawl your site, does not mean your site will become popular. The answer is that despite the fact that “Content is King”, our real people are the queen… or as I say – “While Content is King, Visitors are Queen.”

We all know the queen has a lot of power, even in chess, and marriage. :)

For your new WordPress blog, you should focus on the following arrows for your social media strategy:

  • Plugins
  • Where you want to have a presence
  • 3rd party resources

You can write all day, but really, you need to make it easy for people to share your blog’s articles. There are many social share plugins. I normally recommend Digg Digg or even Sociable, which add social share buttons on your site. Both give different ways you can display the icons on your site for the best impact for converting your visitors to sharing.

You need to tell people about your site, so obviously, just sitting at your computer looking at your site is not going to do anything. You need to go outside of your site and find people that are interested in what your site is about, and perhaps even other interests you have. You cannot be shy about it, but you certainly cannot just spam the crap out of people as soon as you introduce yourself.

There are millions of blogs, thousands of forums, and hundreds of social networking websites. Of course, you do want to have a presence with big players like Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. However, there are also places that may be specific to your niche. That is where you need to be.

WordPress can do many things, but you do not want to overload your hosting account’s data resources. You might want to try using 3rd party resources for pinging your site, or automatically sharing posts across several networks. This saves you time and not having to install another plugin on your blog. One of the 3rd party resource sites I like to use for publishing my articles is Dlvr.it. Another resource I like is the Facebook App called RSS Grafitti that you can put your blog’s RSS feed in and allow posts to publish to your Facebook fan page OR your profile.

Of course, there plugins like Tweet Old Post and Twitter Tools that can be installed in WordPress to publish to Twitter. Tweet Old Post actually allows you to re-share articles to Twitter, so all those evergreen posts will not stay dusty.

Please note that you may want to install other type of plugins based on what functionalities you need for your website. You may need to even make a new plugin or hire someone to make it for you. WordPress can do it! :)

When you are starting off with a new blog, you do not need to overdo it. You are still learning the waters, trying to pump out content, and even trying to engage with people that you hope become regular readers that help syndicate your site.

What type of WordPress blog do you run? What plugins do you use for your site? Any other advice you might like to share with newbies that are setting up a new WordPress blog?

The Importance of Sitemaps

Sitemaps are important because they allow the search engines like Google and Yahoo! to index your entire site and leave it available for other internet users to find. A sitemap is defined:

A site map (or sitemap) is a representation of the architecture of a web site. It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for web design, or a web page that lists the pages on a web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion.
From Wikipedia. Original definition by Peter Morville, Information Architecture on the World Wide Web, Feb 1998, pp:58

A sitemap allows search engines to crawl your site more efficiently and index fresh material from any website. If a webmaster has move or deleted material, the search engine would recognize and change the search engine results to reflect the website change. Although having a sitemap eliminates most of the work that a webmasters takes in submitting a website to search, it does not totally eradicate the effort.
Sitemaps accepted by search engines are general coded in XML format, not HTML. However, a webmaster may create a sitemap structure with HTML for their visitors. For WordPress users, this can be easily done with the installation of Dagon Design Sitemap Generator. (Of course there are plenty of other sitemap plugins too.) Currently, the Dagon Design Sitemap Generator plugin is not an accepted sitemap, however, there is a great plugin that Google recognizes, which is the Google XML Sitemaps plug-in. Once one or both of the plug-ins mentioned have been installed, it is best to go to Google Webmaster Tools to inform them where to find the sitemap.

Sitemaps are not another new fad as they have been around for years. It was not until 2006, that search engine moguls like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN got together to create the guidelines behind a proper sitemap. Since then, sitemaps have been used as a vital technique for search engine optimization. Why? Well, as said earlier in the article, a sitemap would tell the search engine how fresh the content of a page is on any website and post it so internet users can find information they need. Sitemaps would recognize new material and direct crawlers to the information for indexing.

Outside Related Links:

Do you have a sitemap for your site? Any other benefits you can think of when having a sitemap for your site?

Blondish.net Podcast: Guest Blogging 101

Episode 3 of the Blondish.net Podcast is a little over twenty minutes and all on guest blogging basics. This Guest Blogging 101 podcast covers strictly basics as there is a lot more to it that needs to be split into a series. The reason for this is that there are a lot of things to cover for both the blog owner and also the guest writer, so I had to make a decision to start with an intro-like basic episode on the subject.

This podcast on Guest Blogging will cover:

  • What is guest blogging?
  • Some tips for the blog owner on preparing their site for guest bloggers
  • Some tips for the guest author when applying and submitting articles
  • A couple ways to find places to guest blog at

This podcast is not for blog owners running a community blog where they have many contributors. This is for the individual blogger that wants to brand themselves and retain blog purity without using guest blogging as a crutch. Some of this can be helpful to community blog owners, but it is not intended for those who are.

Please feel free to ask questions and I hope you enjoy this podcast on Guest Blogging 101.

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