I met Shannon Steffen at WordCamp Chicago 2010, and I was just impressed by her. She presented right before me about WordPress SEO and I was so happy to hear that my SEO beliefs were not off the wall. Also, it helped because she was my seat buddy too so I probably talked her ear off. (lol)
For anyone who has met her, she is really friendly and if you have questions, she does have answers. With her longtime background in SEO and working with online and well known companies, I thought it would be great to send her some questions and maybe share with you a little about her. And because of her background, I am sure her input will help anyone reading.
About Shannon Steffen, MBA/TM – Human SEO and Social Search Strategist:
As a CEO and chief SEO business strategist, Shannon has been responsible for creating cutting-edge, affordable solutions for small to mid-sized companies, including technical ecommerce solutions, search engine optimization (SEO) services and social media brand management. Shannon’s technical experience spans more than 15 years in Information Technology, content management systems, and multiple years of experience with Monster.com and Cafepress.com. Shannon Steffen has presented at conferences internationally, owns a number of successful e-commerce websites and is currently writing her first book on “Human SEO”.
Shannon is a native New Yorker currently living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband and two Chocolate Labrador Retrievers that she refers to as her “fur babies”. You can find her at her website, ShanSteffen.com.
Interview With Shannon Steffen
NILE: Should all bloggers optimize their websites for search engines? Or perhaps, is it necessary to?
SHANNON: Bloggers should always optimize their websites for the three major search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Bing, however, they should not alienate their readers in order to increase their search engines rankings (SER). Successful bloggers will write their content first and then read over the content to see what can be optimized. The search engines want to know the who, what, when, where and how of your blog post but only after you’ve first answered these questions for your readers.
NILE: In your opinion, what are some of the most common mistakes webmasters make with SEO?
SHANNON: Wow! This question made me stop and think for a while because there are so many common (and stupid/simple) mistakes webmasters and bloggers make when it comes to SEO. If I had to pick one, I would have to say it is when they over-optimize the website and alienate the humans visiting the website. First, search engine spiders can figure out that there is no real content but rather just search engine tactics. Second, what’s the point of getting people to your website, through the search engines, if you are going to lose them once they get there?
NILE: Have you done optimizing for videos? If so, what kind of advice do you have for both vloggers or any blogger than also creates their own videos? How can their blog help optimize videos?
SHANNON: Optimizing for videos is a great challenge and a lot of fun for me. Unlike website optimizing, performing SEO for videos is multilevel – the video itself and the content around the video. If possible, vloggers should always have their videos on their own website and optimize on the main domain. By doing so, the vlogger or blogger maintains full ownership of the video and how it is used. This also gives the owner the availability to control the keyword rich content, URL, title and so forth of the video on their website. Other tips would include choosing a keyword dense (but human) title and description, transcribe the video in the blog (search engines love this), and include your videos in your XML Sitemap feeds.
NILE: I often have clients who ask me what they should write about to rank SEO wise, especially for businesses that are new to the concept blogging. I normally tell them anything that is informative and worth mentioning in their niche. What other advice do you have for people that ask the same?
SHANNON: Let your passion flow! So many people jump on topic bandwagons because other people are making money or gaining in popularity through them. If you don’t like politics, don’t write a political blog. Readers and customers are smart and know when the website or blog owner doesn’t have a passion for that niche market. The key is that whatever you write, it should connect with others on a deeper level. Blogs are not white-papers and once you write content to engage, persuade and captivate your audience, success is guaranteed! Always answer the questions: “How is this going to help someone else?” and “What’s in it for the reader?” when writing content.
NILE: While WordPress is SEO ready out of the box, what 3 things do you recommend for users to do first in optimizing when they open a new website?
SHANNON: First, having a tool that is SEO ready out of the box does not mean your website or blog is going to be optimized out of the box. SEO is an art and a science that comes from many years of experience and great expertise. I love bread, have a bread pan but that doesn’t mean I can bake a loaf of bread that will have people knocking down my door. If you truly want success, hire an ethical, natural and white-hat SEO consultant. Second, you need to think like a human. Keywords are great but when you are optimizing your website, you need to take a moment to think how a human being would search for your content. If you were sitting in front of Google’s homepage and looking for your content, what would you type in the search field? Figure that out and then use that term in your URL, title or content. Third, lay out your website on a piece of paper before creating it online. You should know the navigation and structure of your website before you implement as it’s difficult to make changes later. Once the search engines start to index your website, it is almost impossible to make any navigation, link structure or coding changes without negatively effecting your search engine rankings.