I’m going to be honest with you right off the bat – I have no idea. But what I will explain to you is my results after years and years of watching things happen.
Back when I first started blogging with WordPress, things went very smoothly. I would write a post, add some pictures and visitors would pour in. As time went on, Google, Bing and Yahoo began changing their algorithms to, sort of, filter out more and more “junk” content. I’m assuming that the world wide web was beginning to look like that cesspool folks were talking about. And I have to agree that it is now more than ever because I’m been doing a bit of peeking around. If you want evidence of this cesspool, simply look at your website’s backlink profile. It’s all there.
Now, as the major search engines updated how they crawl and rank websites, if noticed surges and falls of my blog’s website traffic. But interestingly, I’ve also noticed similar occurrences after I changed themes and SEO plugins. Probably more so with the latter.
Here’s my problem; it seems as though every time I read “advice” from an expert and act upon it, traffic falls. But please, let me explain – I’m an adult and I make changes very pragmatically. I don’t do things off the cuff. I act, then test, then act, then test – so my observations are fairly accurate.
Let me give you an example. Back in the beginning (2005), my blog homepage, category, tag and archive pages all showed full post content. Pictures and everything. Things were fine and my visitors appreciated how things were presented. Even my very own mother complained to me when I once tried to change the WordPress template to display only excerpts. She said, “Now I have to click around, back and forth, into each post. I don’t want to do that.” So I changed it back and all was well in the world.
Then, I began reading “advice.” Experts claimed that you should only show excerpts on these pages. The only place one should display the full post is on the post page itself. I eventually heeded the advice and guess what. Traffic fell. Apparently, my homepage, category and tag pages had originally ranked very well. Thanks guys.
Next up. When I first started blogging, I didn’t know what the term “noindex” meant. It was only after I read the advice of the experts, that I started downloading and using the “All in One” and “Yoast” SEO plugins for WordPress. While the logic behind the promises made on the plugin pages made perfect sense, guess what. Traffic fell again. And I’m not talking a little, if fell about 50%. Thanks again.
It seems that all people are talking about these days is snipping and blocking. Basically, block everything on your site and you’ll eventually rank better. I haven’t seen evidence of any of this. I’ve seen exactly the opposite. Even Google themselves say not to block pages. They say to leave things open so they can crawl and canonicalize (made up word?) the duplicate content they find. I think the Panda update didn’t say block the duplicate content, per se, I think it said block the junk and thin content. Contact pages and things like that.
Just this morning, I was looking up pages for the recent New England Submission Challenge up in Manchester, CT and found many sites with WordPress category and tag pages ranking right along with the post pages.
Here’s what I’d like. I’d like to read expert opinions backed up by graphs and data. I would like to read something written by someone who has had an issue, made the changes they suggest to the rest of the world and have things presented with the evidence that their changes worked. Until I start seeing things like this, it’s all fluff and bogus content created for their own blogs.
Here’s an example: Are You Setting Up WordPress For SEO Success?
While being very thorough and nicely written, I’d prefer seeing a WordPress blog set up with none of the suggestions stated in the above post. I’d like to see the stats. Then, I’d like to see the same blog, altered to take advantage of all the advice given in the post and I’d like to see the stats for that. That would be interesting, because I’ve got that blog and all I saw was stats fall. But I’m sure it’s all my fault. I’m not an expert – I’m just a guy who uses empirical evidence as my guide.
But if you searched for this post and want what you thought you’d find here, I’ll post it below. It’s the code I used and then removed to show only excerpts on the search, homepage, category, tag, archive and author pages for the WordPress Twenty Twelve theme.
Original Code – can be found in content.php file
<?php if ( is_search() ) : // Display Excerpts for Search ?>
<?php if ( is_search() || is_home() || is_category() || is_tag() || is_archive() || is_author() ) : // Display Excerpts for Search, Homepage, Category, Tag, Archive, Author ?>
If you’ve had similar experiences or if you think I’m way off base, please leave a comment in the area below. I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say.