Understanding Search Engine Optimization

From the time you start building your first WordPress site, beginners hear about the importance of “SEO”

In the past two WP Beginners classes Rich Plakas has discussed how WordPress site design effect SEO, and how to track inbound traffic with Google Analytics. Based on your requests at last month’s class, Rich agreeded to discuss the fundamental strategies that make your websites search engine–friendly. He reviewed how your clients and visitors interact with Search Engines and how site usability, user experience, and content organization can affect your site’s SEO rankings. Rich explained what exactly SEO is and is not, understand the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.

Rich delivered a superbly prepared presentation. He carefully guided those new to WordPress to a clear understanding of what SEO is, how to achieve ranking by following the rules, and why it is important to every site owner. the WPATX is a healthy and growing community because Dev’s like Rich share their time and experience through our meetups. A Big thank you to Ricardo Guerrero who helped answer the many questions of our attendees. Thanks to an engaged group we had an amazing evening.

You can find Rich’s slides at: http://www.slideshare.net/search/slideshow?searchfrom=header&q=Rich+Plakas

Sane Approach to SEO

WordPress Beginners Series — December 16, 2013

Presenters: Nick Batik, H. Sandra Chevalier Batik

Sane Approach to SEO

Sane Approach to SEO

Sane Approach to SEO was the sixth in our WordPress Beginners series sponsored by the Four Corners Chamber of Commerce and hosted by the Austin Baptist Church. This final meeting of 2013 had a great turn out and attendees contributed to a lively conversation about how to use focused action steps and consistency to build great organic SEO into your site without driving yourself crazy.

Below please find the reviews and URLs for the Keyword Research tools we discussed during presentation and links to the Sane Approach to SEO class notes as promised.

Sane SEO Research Tip

When researching your competition for a given keyword, make sure you take a look at your top competitor’s back-link profile. This can give you an idea of the time investment and link building effort that may be required to be successful.

Your next step is to start digging through your preferred keyword research software. These are some of our preferred tools to drill down to a useful set of Keywords.

Keyword Research Tools

Key Word Spy 

Keyword Spy allows you to quite literally “spy” on keywords. There are several features of the free version of this tool, but the one of the most useful is the Domain spy tool. Just type any domain into the search box, make sure the radio button for “domains” is selected, and you can get reasonably accurate data on how much that site is spending in paid search, who their competitors are, and what keywords they spend the most money on. Keyword Spy is a great tool to study, model and profit from your successful competitors keyword research. The tool can give daily database updates; estimate your competition’s AD Words expenditures. It can even suggest highly successful (profitable) Keyword+ad copy combinations. Keyword Sky offers a free trial so you can test the program to see if it is a good fit for your Sane SEO Campaign.


FreshKey is an effective, yet inexpensive ($20) go-to keyword research tool that allows you to see beyond the regular Google Instant suggestions and predictions that appear when you start typing things in on Google. Not only does it give you new keyword ideas, variations, and synonyms, it also sorts the keywords depending on popularity. Instead of just getting four new keywords from the Google suggestions drop-down, you can now potentially get an unlimited amount of keywords if you keep adding small letter variations to the end of your keyword root. FreshKey exports the keyword results as a spreadsheet or copy them directly to your clipboard. You can also use FreshKey tool to get Amazon search box suggestion terms.


Soolvie is a free Keywoord research program that is a perfect tool for researching multiple channels. It allows you to explore the most typed in keywords on multiple search engines based on the keyword root you give it. It even includes Amazon and eBay. Not only is it a great keyword research tool to use, but it’s also a very handy brainstorming tool as you can slowly start typing in your ideas and allow it to auto-generate its own ideas.


Ubersuggest is another very powerful free keyword research tool. It takes any keyword you give it and immediately gives you an almost unlimited list of alphabetized and numerical keyword variations of your original keyword.

Google Keyword Planner (free)

Many SEO professionals regard Google Keyword Planner as the beginning and end of any discussion about keyword research tools. You must have an AdWords account to access it. However that doesn’t mean you have to pay anything to use the tool, it’s still free. The Google Keyword Planner will show you some pretty neat stats like average monthly searches, competition level (high, medium, or low), the average cost per click, and more.

It doesn’t give you exact keyword suggestions like FreshKey or Ubersuggest, but it actually takes it a step further and suggests more synonyms and variations than many other tools available.

Common sense is the best practice when using any keyword search tool

When using any of these programs, use some of the core terms you already found and scan through those results for additional terms that you hadn’t thought of or added to your list. Many of the core terms will end up producing the same, or similar, results, but you’ll often find one or two (or perhaps more) new core terms with each search. Server logs provide keywords already people use to find your site and show low volume/high converting phrases.

Tip: Sorting Core Terms

With any of these research tools, sometimes you get junk — other times you find treasure  — excellent core terms. Just keep sifting and sorting and eventually you will find relevant core terms you can use to build your SEO strategy.

Note: Core terms research is an ongoing process. You can never find too many keywords, so just keep adding new words and phases to your core term spreadsheet.

Sane Approach to SEO Class Notes

The Sane Approach to SEO class material was based on a series of a Search Engine Optimization articles I’ve previously written and posted to my blog. Rather than summarize those articles here, it seemed more efficient to give you the links to the individual blogs, so you can read the topics that interest you, in their entirety.

Developing a SEO Strategy for Your WordPress Website

Keyword Research: Start With The End in Mind

Keyword Research Tools and Successful Search Processes

Keyword Research: The Difference Between a Hit and a Sale is Called ‘Profit’

Keyword Research Strategies — Conclusion

 Configuring Your WordPress Site for SEO

You might also find the following articles helpful when considering how to optimize your site’s content.

Developing a Content Strategy for SEO

Avoid Common Content Development Errors

Creating a Useful, Information-Rich Site

Optimizing Content

Linking Categorizing and Tagging Content

Building a Link Strategy



12 Biggest SEO Mistakes Web Designers/Developers Make

Presentation by Tony Tovar


  • Intro:
    • Question he got from a businessman: “What the heck is wrong with Google? I should totally be ranked high in Google.” This prompted Tony to start talking to the community about SEO.
  • < title > tag 
    • This is what Google sees when it visits your site and displays in Google search results. 60 characters seems to be a good rule of thumb. It could even be number of pixels. Also, good rule is 160 characters for description.
  • Image-based Headings
    • Use contextual links or a button with actual editable text.
  • Image-based buttons 
    • “If you need to fix your window contact us” – again, it’s good to use editable text rather than an image for these kinds of buttons.
  • Keyword research
    • This is very important – you can optimize your text and titles based on keyword research – those things you like to rank for.
    • Make sure keywords don’t amount to more than 7% of your content.
    • Google Keyword Planner – gives you a good idea of what people search for
    • Paid tools: SEM Rush, SEO MOZ; Raven Tools good for links
    • http://google.com/trends/explore
  • Keyword-rich content
    • Write good content. Don’t stuff your text and make it sound awkward, but use the keywords appropriately.
  • Content structure is important
    • Your first link shouldn’t be to “home”. You want the first link to have a keyword embedded in it. Your H1 tag should be the first header – like a headline. Don’t use header tags for formatting – use them for organizational structure like an outline.
    • If you link to other pages, you should make those separate pages. Siloed pages – link to pages of authority.
  • Regular content = more crawls = more traffic
    • The more content that’s on your website, the more often Google will want to come to your site. You can even repurpose content with new titles, revised. Consistent content is important.
    • If you have a low-ranking page with a high bounce rate – try revising it.
  • Don’t be evil: Use < alt > tags!
    • Alt tags on images will help those who are visually impaired know what’s on the page. Also Google crawls them – so they will help your SEO.
  • Flash
    • Flash looks beautiful. The problem is that stand-alone Flash content is not crawlable and can’t be used by screen readers. Search engines can’t use it to index a site.
  • Splash pages
    • Definitely don’t want to use splash pages (pages that show up while real content is loading). This can really hurt your SEO. Landing pages however, are fine.
  • AJAX
    • AJAX content is not crawlable. It refreshes content so Google doesn’t see it.
  • Too Late! 
    • SEO is implemented too late in the design/web creation process
  • 301 Redirects with htaccess files
    • redirect old domains to new domains – keeps SEO value
  • Panda and Penguin – Google updates
    • Panda focused on duplicate content
    • Penguin – link building and over optimization


  • Follow/No Follow
    • Reason why you would want to use a no-follow on your links – keep the most page rank possible.
    • Use no follow for new site links
    • Comments – make commenter’s links no follow
    • Does not affect your bounce rate either way
  • Websites with image banners as site title
    • use H1 tags are appropriately aligned
    • use alt tags for image
  • Links in footer
    • If goal is to do inner link building – yes
    • If your goal is to build SEO for a page – they can sometimes hurt you so it’s good to remove them because if they are on sites Google penalizes, it can hurt your SEO
  • Disavow tool
    • https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main?pli=1
    • use at domain level, not page level
  • Navigation menus
    • sometimes the upper navigation rather than main navigation will get added to search engine results. Not sure if these help or hurt.
  • Categories and tags
    • to index category and tag pages or not – fine line for ranking and general SEO
    • it depends on the site, personal preference, how content-intensive the site is – if the site has daily content then it can help
    • Categorizing content can help your SEO. Use the tree structure as much as possible – helps build depth to a site. No definitive number but 10-15 categories is a good ballpark, but it depends on amount of content. Most people don’t have that much content so they don’t need that many categories.
    • Keywords are important – use categories in line from that
  • How do you control what is shown as a search result?
    • Use the SEO meta tags < title > and < description > to control what shows up
  • Sitemaps – are these how certain content shows up in search results?
    • Yes, if the sitemap is well-designed
    • You can create one using a plugin – Yoast’s WordPress SEO is a good one
  • Under construction sites 
    • Make sure your plugin doesn’t actually allow Google to access your content
  • RSS Feeds
    • As a widget – probably good not to index it or use in an iframe.
    • Depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
    • Google has devalued footer and sidebar links
  • Keywords in CSS or image file names 
    • Recommends against keywords in CSS – looks like blatant keyword stuffiing
    • Having good image file names and alt text can help a lot

Meetup – DIY Search Engine Optimization

Eric Highland, @erichighland


These slides are on slideshare.

Visit Eric’s Facebook, and Twitter

How Search Engines Work

SEO encompasses any unpaid methods used to get a website to rank well on search engine results pages (SERPS)

Content is no longer king, it is one piece in an overall SEO puzzle.

How to find if a site is indexed


How to find if a specific page is indexed

inurl:wordpress site:wpaustin.com

Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools

Verify your site – use Yoast SEO plugin

Health -> Fetch as Google -> Submit to Index

On-page Optimization – the content of your page that you have direct control over. You need to perform keyword research first.

One very good tool to use is the Google AsWords Keyword Tool

Set your search parameters. Click on the box “exact”. Enter up to 100 terms. Check only show results related to my keywords. Select USA, english, desktops & laptops.

SEOmoz Pro Keyword Difficulty Tool (a paid service)

Keyword Focus

  • Title
  • Meta Description
  • URL
  • H1
  • First paragraph of text
  • In your text (as it reads naturally)
  • H2 / subtitles
  • Image alt tags
  • Proximate to images
  • Re-name images to include keywords

 Off-Page Optimization

  • Social signals
  • In-bound links
  • OpenSiteExplorer.org (3 free reports/day)
  • Guest writing
  • “Battle Rhythm”


  • Digg Digg
  • Shareaholic

How to Dominate Your Niche

  1. Build Relationships
  2. Content
  3. SEO
  4. Marketing

 Marketing (“Battle Rhythm”)

  1. Email the people featured in your post – “Congratulations…”
  2. Next email – publication date
  3. Your article is being published tomorrow, with 7 free ways to market it
  4. Thank you, with another link to the page

Emails sent over 10 day period


  • Influencers – In Real Life and on social platforms


  • SEOmoz
  • Search Engine Land
  • State of Search
  • Search Engine Watch
  • Search Engine Journal
  • Knektion


WordPress for Bloggers

Tonight we welcome Julie Gomoll and Clark Wimberly to talk about using WordPress for blogging.


Getting Started with WordPress (WP 101) class: Sept. 20th, 7-9pm at Cospace.

Blogathon Austin – Oct. 1st at Link CoWorking. All-day blogging, conversations, tech support for bloggers. Join us!

Submit a question for next month’s meetup


 Julie Gomoll

Julie is a graphic/web designer and entrepreneur. In the 90s Julie started up Go Media, which she sold to Excite. She “rode the internet wave” going from 35 employees to 3500. She started blogging in 2004 or 2005, but when she got into WordPress she felt she could control her own destiny. She feels like she has a lot of power with WordPress without being a coder.

How to develop a content strategy

When you’re planning a blog, you need to have several ideas at hand. You should have a plan for at least a couple of months or you’ll run into trouble. Do they all have to be all long thought-out articles? Actually a mix might be ideal. A long post makes people realize you’re serious. But there’s nothing wrong with a post that’s brief and spontaneous, as in, “this is a cool thing I found today” so you are generating content on a regular basis. A blog is a living thing.

Plugin to help with this process: Editorial Calendar – allows you to plan and schedule your posts.

Reposting content

Actually reposting content is a bad idea because Google will penalize you for duplicate content, even if it’s on another website/blog. But referencing a previous article is a great idea because it will drive more traffic to your site and help with your search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is using keywords, headlines, names of categories and navigation so that when people are searching for things, they will find your blog.

Inserting a link that says “click here” isn’t useful for Google. Instead, make the links contextual, so make your links more along the lines of “see another recipe”.

Coming up with content for your blog

An opportunity for new content that helps also bring traffic to your site: interviews. The subject of your interview will tell their friends, it will add credibility to your site, and is always a good way to generate content if you’re out of ideas. You can ask someone a few questions via email and then post the answers on your blog. Keep in mind that videos are also great but they won’t help you with SEO as much unless there’s a transcription.

Don’t be afraid of controversy!

For photos: try Flickr – search for Creative Commons photos that allow for republishing

Blog design

What’s the difference between a blog and a website? A blog is a website. It just has posts in chronological order with the most recent on the top.

What are good themes? There are great premium themes (ones you have to pay for) including Thesis and Genesis. There are also a lot of great free themes, but there are also some really bad free themes.


Register with MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc. first; they will then have a plugin that you can add to your site. –

Meenews – lets you style your newsletter to match your blog. (Nick recommended)

WP-Instapay – Sales Processing and Order Fulfillment system (Sandi recommended)

How to monetize your blog

Lots of options.

  • Google Adsense – ads on your blog
  • Join ad networks in niche markets
  • Sell your items – ebooks, merchandise
  • Affiliate sites – Amazon Associates, , Commission Junction
    (Keep in mind that you need to state that you are receiving compensation for items. You can have a disclaimer page that states that the read can treat all links as endorsements.)
  • Free stuff (like ebooks) can generate business leads, mailing lists, etc.
  • The best way to monetize your site: If you are becoming an expert and getting traffic, you will gain credibility all over the place. You might be asked to speak at conferences or given other opportunities to consult or write guest blogs – all of which can bring you considerably more compensation than ads or affiliate links will ever achieve.

Building traffic

  • Need really compelling content that people want to read
  • Are people who are looking for that content able to find it?
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Do you have compelling headlines?
  • Write about issues people are searching for
  • Contribute to local print media/newsletter with links to your blog
  • Follow other blogs in your field/subject matter and see what they’re writing about (and do this regularly)

Categorizing and Tagging

Categorizing is great for SEO, especially if the category is in your URL.

Tags are not useful unless you have a strategy for using them. Each tag creates new pages and it can lead to site bloat. However, if you tag effectively, it can keep people on the site as they follow the tags like breadcrumbs.



Clark Wimberly

All of the notes and links to Clark’s presentation

Clark runs the Android and Me blog.

Backup often: use import and export; back up via FTP; backup with phpMyAdmin; store offline with VP (Vault Press) or other backup plugins.

When code editing (CSS, PHP, etc.) – Edit smarter: use a real text editor; avoid the built-in editor; practice version control; run a development server.

Test smarter: use a staging area; run it locally; do it online with subdomain; find a fancy host.

Know the loop

Own your own theme: learn the template hierarchy; create custom templates; make a child or sibling theme

Google like crazy: Answers for everything; try, try again; check the date; copy and paste and tinker

Upcoming SEO classes

For everyone who wants to know how to drive more visitors to your website, over the next 6 weeks there will be a series of three evening classes on the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using Google Analytics.

These classes will be taught by Sandi Chevalier-Batik, Nick Batik and Jackie Dana. All classes will be held at Cospace.

Session One: May 17th, 7 pm – 9 pm

  • Keyword Research
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Configuring Your WordPress Site for SEO

Session Two: May 31st, 7pm – 9 pm

  • On-site Content Optimization
  • Link Building and Online Promotion

Session Three: June 21st, 7 pm – 9 pm

  • Understanding Website (Google) Analytics

For more information and to sign up: