SEO Workshop and On-Site Optimization by Neil Pursey

Good day bloggers and fellow Indaba followers, it has been a while since I last posted here on this blog and I do apologize for that. I have been suffering with some health issues that needed sorting out and I am very happy to report that I am just about back to normal…..whatever normal is! Something that is long overdue is this information from one of the really interesting workshops that was held at the Indaba. The workshop covered the category of SEO, one that I really need to learn a LOT more about and I knew that there were many bloggers who wanted to know more. Neil Pursey, one of South Africa’s top SEO strategists and experts, founder and owner of WebGrowth, co-partner in ThinkSEO and co-partner in the GROW Academy very kindly agreed to run this workshop and share some of his wealth of knowledge with us bloggers and social media folk – and what a wealth of information there is to share on the topic of SEO! WOW! Sadly as the coordinator of the Indaba I was interrupted and called out a few times  so I missed some of it and lost my focus a few times but Neil covered stuff like on site optimization, making use of plug-ins, google analytics, social media promotion of sites, bounce rate, content strategy, google panda and penguin, content strategies etc etc and etc. The day after the Indaba Neil generously posted his slide show onto his website and you can take a look at it here. For those who attended the workshop it will be  good revision! Further to this he also compiled a document with helpful information for blog authors and owners. Hope this will help to answer some of those questions that you might have pertaining to SEO and growing your site. It is such an involved subject and not well understood by many, especially myself. I definitely need more help on this topic. A very special word of gratitude to Neil for the great workshop and for his generosity to the Indaba. Until next time, Colleen 7 on-site optimisation WordPress plugins for Food Bloggers by Neil Pursey  The starting point for all good blogs, not only food blogs, is to ensure that your on-site optimisation is structured correctly. Not only from a search engine friendly perspective but also for user experience. So having a site with easy navigation and quick load times is imperative for your online readers. If you are not using WordPress, I recommend you change immediately. In my opinion no other platform is as powerful as WordPress from a dashboard management perspective and from a SEO perspective as well. It seamlessly takes away all the SEO technical elements that developers previously used to do. Making smaller sites much cheaper to optimise. Below are the 7Wordpress plugins we use, which will help you to get your website SEO ready.

  1. Internal linking controversial plugin in that it automates internal links which you specify. The problem is that it will take links out of context so you need to be careful as to which keywords you use. You can prevent certain pages from having links on it, which does help but doesn’t solve the problem 100%. My recommendations are that if you have a new website, don’t use this plugin but be sure you are diligent with your internal linking.  A really good example of internal linking is Penelope Trunk’s blog, when landing on a blog post you soon find yourself deep within her blog reading content that you weren’t even intending to read! Three cheers for page views! And another cheer for advertising value!! However, if you have a website that has been around for years and you have hundreds of posts then going back and doing internal linking will be time consuming, then using SEO Smart Links is an option. Run it for 3 months or so and see how it improves your traffic and bounce rates. If it does then it’s maybe worth getting your teenager or a friend’s teenager to do this for you over time. Manual linking is still the best option and try if possible not to use this plugin. I mentioned this plugin because in some cases it just needs to be done (for old sites with loads of content).
  2. Image optimisation simple but often forgotten tactic is image optimisation. DON’T rule out the potential traffic Google Images search can give your blog.  By placing an alt attribute to each and every image you are telling Google more about the respective images. To setup this plugin is really simple. There are pretty much only two options you need to know about for this plugin. In the settings area you can add a default alt attribute to every image and / or pull the image file name as the alt attribute.
  3. Broken Link Checker time your website will develop broken links. Not by itself though but by human error. We sometimes make these mistakes when adding links, so having a snippet of code to fix this is crucial. You will receive an email every time the plugin detects a broken link, just follow the prompts and you will easily be able to fix the link.
  4. Smart 404

If some of your URL’s are broken, Smart 404 does a good job in finding the URL string that is most similar. It’s not 100% accurate, as sometimes it cannot identify a similar URL but more often than not it will identify the correct URL. Here’s an example: (notice I left out “aba” at the end of the URL but it still manages to pick up the correct URL?)

  1. Title tag optimisation Meta description optimisation Page indexation is an often spoken about topic, however, not enough attention is spent on this by webmasters and content managers. Title tags still play an important role in ranking a post or page in Google. Yoast’s SEO plugin gives you insight into how best to optimise a title tag. Remember that the most important keywords should always be at the beginning of the title.
  2. Author mark-up plugin helps your likelihood of indexing your Google+ Profile, giving you a higher click through rate in Google’s search results. To find out how to connect your Google+ profile to your author page, read this article:  To set this plugin is relatively simple. However, depending on your theme you may need to style it so that it gives it a similar look and feel to your blog.
  3. Recipe ratings Depending how you have presented your recipes within your blog, this would dictate which plugin you’d want to use. Obviously the recipe plugin is built purely for a recipe look and feel. The GD Star Rating plugin is built more a blog format and general posts. Users can rate posts that targeted for any topic, so it doesn’t have to be used just for recipes. Where these plugins come into their own, is that it creates the correct mark-up for search engines to index as rich snippets. You can test whether your ratings/reviews are setup for rich snippets here: Click on the “Recipes” link at the bottom right of the page. Here’s an example of what a rich snippet looks like in Google’s search result:


Keyword Research Tool Google Adwords helps give you insight into what and where people are searching. From a blogging perspective, it’s important to know but it should not define your content strategy. It’s a tool used to enhance your blog posts. URL Structure If your URL structure has not being setup by your developer then I suggest they do thisfor you first. You basically want to keep the URL structure as neat as possible. The below image are the different types of URL strings WordPress can create. The “post name” selection is the best option.  SEO INSERT 2 Google Analytics search queries Identifying what search queries users are searching for within your website can help you identify content ideas. You may well be surprised as to what your community wants to read! Below are directions as to how to activate this in your Google Analytics. If you are using WordPress the letter “s” is query parameter you need to use. SEO INSERT 3




5 responses to “SEO Workshop and On-Site Optimization by Neil Pursey

  1. I was so sorry to have missed this as I was teaching a workshop next door at the time (!) but what a great and useful presentation! Such good tips for anybody who relies on Google for traffic (and to be honest, who amongst us does not??) – thanks Neil!

  2. Well summed up 🙂

    I’m hoping everyone came away from the workshop a little more knowledgeable rather than more confused 🙂

    It’s quite a lot to take in for the first time!

    • Thank you so much Neil. also for all the work that you put into the workshop and the follow up bits. Really appreciate it. Am now starting planning for 2013! 😉

  3. HI Colleen, not sure if you are aware, but Neil never did the follow up with me – I can say I learnt more from him during the one-on-one and I would suggest that you consider a smaller workshop for this year if Neil is willing 🙂

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