We recently had a fantastic webinar that allowed guests to ask questions about blogging, WordPress, and SEO from three experts; let's learn about each of them.
[profile-mini name="Shelly Fagin" photo="https://static.semrush.com/blog/uploads/user/ff/c8/ffc88e4b8113650dfd1a533cd7c7cae7.jpeg" twitter="https://twitter.com/shellyfagin/" linkedin="https://www.linkedin.com/in/shellyfagin/" facebook="https://www.facebook.com/shellyfaginseo/" color="cyan"]
Shelly is a WordPress Dev, owns her own SEO consultancy business, is the President of SearchHou and is also a Community Manager for SEMrush.
[profile-mini name= "Casey Markee" photo="https://static.semrush.com/blog/uploads/user/96/63/96632e20a1e7ea4a9692d2caef5a5ffe.jpg" twitter="https://twitter.com/mediawyse/" facebook="https://www.facebook.com/mediawyse/" linkedin="https://www.linkedin.com/in/caseymarkee/" color="cyan"]
Casey has been in SEO since about 1999, and his specialty is site auditing. "So what I do is take a site, tear it to shreds, try not to make the blogger cry too much and then we tell them what they're doing right, what they're doing wrong and what we can get them to significantly increase the bottom line traffic and of course, their ad income."
[profile-mini name= "Arsen Rabinovich" photo="https://static.semrush.com/blog/uploads/user/7d/c6/7dc6749513eb8aab63b495117ef85115.jpg" twitter="https://twitter.com/tophatarsen/" linkedin="https://www.linkedin.com/in/arsenrabinovich/" color="cyan"]
Arsen is an SEO and runs an agency out of Los Angeles. They specialize in technical SEO but are a full-service digital marketing agency. Arsen has been in the SEO business for about ten years, nine years as an agency.
About the Modified Transcript Below
- Why Do Website Stats Differ Between Google Analytics and Jetpack? [6:46]
- Does The Genesis Framework Help SEO? [10:40]
- Decreasing WordPress Page Load Time [16:35]
- What Are The Best SEMrush Tools? [23:59]
- How To Write Alt Tags For Images? [30:12]
- Problems With Creating Too Much Thin Content and Creating Keyword Cannibalization? [33:48]
- How To Change Post URLs? [41:56]
- Can a Table of Contents Bring SEO Value to Posts? [45:56]
- How Many Categories Should A Website Have? [53:30]
- How Does Updating a Post Affect SEO? [1:01:19]
- Is There Any Issue With Pulling Instagram Feeds Into A Website? [1:12:20]
- How To Choose An Appropriate Website Design? [1:20:50]
- Should You Have A Sidebar On The Home Page? [1:24:44]
We have included some of the key questions discussed in the webinar below, but not all of the discussion is included because of the length of the webinar. We have included a time stamp so you can find each question in the video and watch the full discussion.
Why Do Website Stats Differ Between Google Analytics and Jetpack? [6:46]
Casey: There are three reasons why you are going to find that Jetpack stats are not nearly as reliable as Google Analytics. The first one is that Jetpack doesn't ignore as much bot traffic as Google Analytics. It is funny because it is a very well-maintained plug-in and it is maintained by Automattic, which is well-known in the WordPress community, but they just don't do as good a job filtering out bot traffic as Google Analytics.
The second issue might be the fact that Google Analytics uses sessions as the default metric. So sessions can contain multiple page views. Jetpack uses page views as the user metric and many people; unless you know how to go in and look at the correct stat, you might be looking at page views and trying to line them up with sessions, and they are never going to match. They are going to have significantly more page views than sessions.
And finally, kind of a pro user tip for Jetpack, if you are using Jetpack, you need to make sure that you go in and match your timezone settings to be the same as Google Analytics, because if they are different, you are going to find overlapping traffic and that is going to throw off your Jetpack traffic considerably.
Arsen: At the same time, you want to make sure that your analytics is firing properly, as well, all right? So I would take a look and make sure everything's installed properly and do some recordings and make sure that that's coming through without any issues for you.
Does The Genesis Framework Help SEO? [10:40]
Casey: Actually, that is a good question. So Genesis is a very well thought out framework and Genesis is, again, a framework. The good thing about Genesis is that you can buy the framework and a child theme and basically, you are given a developer license. You can install it on 300 sites if you want. That is really pretty cool. You can leverage it considerably. The good thing about Genesis is that is has a lot of built-in bells and whistles that give you a competitive SEO edge. One of them is schema, for example.
Many bloggers always ask me, Casey, how can I generate the search box in Google? You know, like sometimes you will type in a site, and it will have a nice search box there and Google for the whole site? That is website schema. Website schema is built into Genesis frameworks, as an example.
It is amazing how many sites don't do that. They also have other schemas built-in from web page down to creative work and then site navigation element. Site navigation element is great for helping you qualify for site links. So, really, really very important with regards to using a theme that has these built-in features.
And there are some other things, too. There are tons of customizable widgets; the code is pretty nice. It is not bloated. There is a fantastic way to customize the site, and one of the really cool things is that you can optimize your category pages. This is an extremely underutilized benefit of WordPress, is that your category pages are basically your windows into the house of your blog.
Shelly: I could not agree more. The company's been around for a long time. They are established, and now they are with WordPress Engine, so they really are a big part of the WordPress community. I know that is super important because we want to make sure that whatever theme you are using, that the developers are staying on top of changes and that you don't have to worry about things.
So one of the things I'm seeing as I am working with some of the food bloggers that have been referred to me, some of them have these massively customized websites, which is amazing that they were able to invest, they found developers that could realize their dreams, essentially, but that customization is actually hurting them.
I am finding a lot of duplication with a lot of these custom post types, and the way things are patched together really can come back to harm you. And as there are major changes that occur in WordPress, we are talking about like Gutenberg, this big change that's coming, that's here but is not going away, essentially, we want to make sure that we're building on a framework that is forward-thinking and that can evolve.
You don't want to have to start from scratch every single time with a brand new custom website when there are these major changes so you really need something that is adaptable and that you can feel confident that a dev team behind it is there to support it and continue to approve it and they're on top of stuff. So for me, that is super important coming from the technical side of building out some of these sites.
Shelly: I couldn't agree more. If you ask me, I have a hate relationship with certain like page builders like Divi.
Decreasing WordPress Page Load Time [16:35]
Casey: Now, that actually brings up a good point, because there are some things you can do to minimize the unnecessary stuff or fluff that is loaded in the background. I actually have a plug-in here. Let me see if I can actually find it and paste it over here. It is called WP Asset Clean-up; this is a fantastic plug-in. It might be news to Arsen and Shelly, as well, but basically how this works is it will scan each of the pages on your site and let you know what needs to be loaded on that page and what does not.
The good thing about WordPress is that you have the ability to find plug-ins that will minimize the impact per page. If we don't need certain resources on a page, a plug-in like I mentioned above will do that for you. It will tell you, here is what is loading, here is what's not loading and it will just eliminate that. It is going to immediately help your page speed.
What Are The Best SEMrush Tools? [23:59]
Shelly: Honestly, I have always loved the original toolset in that I can put in a website, I can see what is driving traffic to it. For me, creating a content strategy plan for clients and deciding what should we go after keywords. It is so, so valuable. So that is always been my favorite.
But I will tell you, there are so many new tools; if you are looking at exploring new content and as bloggers, you guys are always publishing posts and needing new material, and I feel like I would certainly run out of ideas. So it might be a struggle from time to time. You get a little writer's block. We have our keyword magic tool, which is amazing. There are just so many different components in our toolset that will allow you to come up with ideas as far as creating new content.
But we also have our really great tools for writing content, as well, that embed into Google Docs. And so as you are writing your articles, there is all this really great feedback about is it readable? Are your keywords in there?
Arsen: I love the domain overview part of SEMrush. Can we say the original toolset? Amazing. My second most favorite part of SEMrush is the API. We do a lot of interesting stuff, and you don't really need to code. You can use Google Sheets, and you can pull in a lot of information, and you can visualize it in so many different ways.
Especially from a forensic standpoint if you are trying to figure out what happened. Why did I lose ranking? Which keywords exited which positions over time? Which keywords that have a specific search feature like a local pack or a featured snippet or a YouTube video. All of that is a layer on top of what you can get out of Google Search Console.
And then obviously, my third most favorite tool is the auditor, and I recommend this all the time. And the auditor can crawl, I think right now we are up to 100,000 pages, right Shelly? With SEMrush, but yeah, for any blogger, I recommend using the auditor, have SEMrush set up ongoing crawls to make sure you are monitoring everything that is happening with your site, surface level or subcutaneous and ongoing level. Blogging, you are adding more content, internal links and there is so much room for error, having these ongoing once a week or once every two week crawls of your website is so important.
Shelly: Oh, I couldn't agree more. That is one of my favorite tools, as well. We have some amazing tools for monitoring your site. Setting up the site audit is super simple and fun. I love it. I love being able to discover new things that I would not see to the naked eye, so it is just so helpful, especially if you don't have that technical background. Absolutely try it out. Casey, what do you think?
Casey: You know what? I love featured snippets. And the good thing about SEMrush is they have a featured snippet report under position tracking that is really cool. So look at what is currently being tracked. You can look at what is being launched. You can look at opportunities. It is fantastic. So I tend to recommend that.
Shelly: And I will tell you, we have actually Melissa Fach on here and she runs the SEMrush blog. There are so many great articles. I know it might be a little overwhelming when you are like "How do I utilize this tool?" It isn't free, so obviously, you gotta figure out "Can I justify this expense?"; utilize the blog to find the answers to these questions.
How To Write Alt Tags For Images? [30:12]
Casey: This is a very good question. Alt tags are extremely underutilized and usually done incorrectly by the majority of people online, especially within the food, do it yourself, and lifestyle niches.
It is just amazing how we can tell a blogger, here is what Google would like you to do, and then they will go to a Facebook group and do exactly the complete opposite even though you have got a guide right there in front of you or you have got a professional telling you "Here is what we want to do." So the thing is that alt tags are for visibility. Alt tags are for accessibility. Alt tags are for visual readers.
The SEO is important, but it is a secondary consideration. The goal with alt tags is to visually describe what is in the photo to someone who cannot see it. Check out these resources with detailed examples from Google about what you should be doing:
- Google Image best practices
- A picture is worth a thousand (coherent) words: building a natural description of images
Now your question about how many words should be in an alt tag. Google basically counts up to about 16 words in the alt text. I think 16 words is quite a bit for alt text so I don't agree with that, but if you have to go that long, it is clear that Google is picking it all up.
So if I am looking at a recipe and it is banana cream pie because I love banana cream pie, and there is a picture of a piece of banana cream pie on a white plate with bananas in the background, that is what I am going to explain in the image. I am not going to say banana cream pie dash food blog.com/#bananacream pie or something along those lines. Because I get that all the time; alt tags are for users only.
Pinterest, if you want to optimize for Pinterest, you can use the title tag, or you can download a plug-in like Social Warfare or Social Pub or Tasty Pens, which will generate a custom pin description field, which Pinterest will also pick up, but one of the things that we are looking for when we are doing site auditing is quality.
And there is nothing high quality about a site that has spammed or incorrectly used alt tags on every image. So as we go in, we want to make sure that we are putting that information down in a way that is digestible and that is correct. So definitely review the resources we have mentioned and get on that in 2019. That will help you long term.
Problems With Creating Too Much Thin Content and Creating Keyword Cannibalization? [33:48]
Casey: Oh, so I am all about consolidation with regards to thin content. One of the things that I hear a lot is that "Oh, my God, I'm ranking for banana cream pie, so I need to publish more recipes about banana cream pie." That kind of topical relevance or that kind of belief is just incorrect. Just because you are ranking well for something doesn't necessarily mean you are going to have a better chance of ranking for other things that are very similar or it is going to hurt you to write other things that are not as similar.
Now, that being said, if I have got five banana cream pie recipes on my site or if I have got five posts on a very similar topic. I am going to cannibalize the ability of each of those pieces of content to rank competitively individually. So we want to make sure that you are looking at that and asking yourself, well, maybe I can combine or merge or consolidate two or three of these resources into a longer form piece of content.
I know many of you have probably heard the term skyscraper content, and it is as old as vegan bacon, which I don't want to talk about anymore. But if you were going to do this, you would go, and you would take these resources and look and say, "Gosh, I can't understand why these two resources. I have got one resource here solidly on page one, and I have got these other two resources, which are just not competitive".
Well, I think what you might want to do is just consider maybe consolidating those other two resources into one better resource or trying to really look at eliminating thin or low-quality content.
I want you to think of your site as a garden.
Your blog posts are all of your flowers. If you have got these low-quality blog posts or these thin content pages or empty pages, maybe you have a tag page, author archives, paginated content, keyword fills, you are leaving all those open. Think of those as weeds. If we don't do anything to those weeds, they will strangle our flowers. It will make it harder for individual content to rank competitively. So we want to prune those weeds. We want to prune that thin content.
Arsen: Yeah, so to follow-up to what Casey was saying, so a few things that I am noticing, and I think we have a question about this, tags competing with categories. So let's say you are writing about desserts or you are writing about all kinds of different recipes and you have a category for desserts and you have a tag for desserts. Those two will compete with each other; that is cannibalization.
You want to pick one or the other and stick with it, most likely a category and then you can use tags as frequently as you want and as many times as you want, as long as they're being blocked from crawling.
Casey: Just to kind of add one more thought on this, really quickly. It is okay to delete content, folks. 404s are not going to kill you. 404s are not a sign of low quality. 404s are how the internet works. I have people that are just vehemently opposed to 404s, and they will try to redirect something to something that is not related, they will redirect it to the home page. They just don't like 404s. That doesn't do you any good.
Google treats that kind of redirect as a soft 404, meaning that they just wipe out the redirect. You don't get any authority, and it was a waste of action on your part.
If you are not sure about the quality of the content, no index it, that is fine. If you no index something, we are just telling Google don't algorithmically score it against me. But I am going to leave it open so that those who are navigating through my site can find it easily.
How To Change Post URLs? [41:56]
Arsen: So the question is why do you want to change the URL of the post, right? Are you changing it because you are migrating? Are you changing it because you are redoing your site? Or are you changing it just to add a keyword to it, which I would completely recommend against doing. But that is just my opinion, Casey?
Casey: Yeah, I would rather you go outside and stick, get a stick and stick it in your eye than to change your URLs. It is that big of a deal. When you change a URL, you are resetting all the end authority on that post. We just don't change URLs. The only time that I advise people to change URLs is when it is a site-wide issue, like for example, they have dates in their URLs.
If you still have dates in your URLs, that puts you at a disadvantage to update and republish content. And updating and republishing content to make it better and more future proofed is one of the single greatest things you can do to generate new and existing traffic.
Arsen: Especially if it is ranking, because a lot of times, I have on my consult calls with clients, they are like, "Oh, I have a blog post that is doing really well. I want it to do better, and I wanted to expand for more keywords so I want to add more exact match keywords to my URL". That is a terrible idea; if it is already ranking why would you want to do that? If it is bringing in traffic, optimize page level, don't change the URL, don't change an address.
Can a Table of Contents Bring SEO Value to Posts? [45:56]
Casey: So that is a user-first optimization. It is kind of interesting because we also call those jump links. And Google will actually generate a jump link for you or multiple jump links in search if you do that, as a matter of fact, and they have been doing that for a while, and I am of the belief that any time you can make your content easy to navigate for users, you should.
It is why if you are a food do it yourselfer, or lifestyle blogger, you really should be using “jump to recipe” buttons or “jump to content” buttons because users want those. It is amazing, whenever we do a survey, we always ask, "Hey, what do you want to see on the site?" And like, yeah, I like the content, but I don't want to be forced to read through a ton of stuff that at the time. I don't have the time to really digest. I want to just get down to the meat of things.
Table of content works very similar to that. So Google also creates these jump to sections in search, and you can use a plugin or a table of contents plugin to create what are called anchor links.
Shelly: If we are building our website, we need to take into consideration the experience that people are having on our website. If they are having a poor experience, then they are just not going to come back. So yes, when we add these jump to link, you might see a decline in your ad revenue.
However, I feel like, in the long run, it is going to work to your benefit. As you build that brand experience with people, they recognize that they have a great experience on your website, and they come back to you and that is what it is all about and then ultimately, if that happens, you are going to make more money in the long run, so for me, that is kind of my experience coming both from trying not to objectively stand outside of that.
How Many Categories Should A Website Have? [53:30]
Shelly: I always recommend that we noindex our tags because people tend to go tag happy. They are there for usability purposes. We want to try to prevent that duplicate content that can happen. I have also seen with categories; for instance, if you find that you are putting a post in multiple categories, and it is always like the same posts that are always going in multiple categories, I feel like that might potentially be an issue with duplicate content, as well.
Casey: So with regards to the tags and the categories, I look at it this way. Tags are great for onsite search; they are not a great way to hierarchically order a lot of content. I find that the categories work better on that. Now I find that the category pages can absolutely send very noticeable levels of traffic.
And to do that, though, you have to optimize the category pages. I have seen some blogs who are very finite in their categories: 12 categories. I have other blogs that are 50 or 60 categories. The secret behind categories is understanding that you need to fill them out with content. It makes no sense to have 50 categories if you only have two or three posts in each category.
It would be better for you to have less categories and more content in those categories, then it would be to go to the other spectrum. And then, of course, again, if you are on Genesis or some of these other themes, you have the ability to add an on page H1, add a couple paragraphs of above the fold content, you can even crosslink the categories to some of the other, you know, some top recipes and then we can always link to the category pages within our content.
Arsen: We have had audits where we have had more category pages than actual posts on a website. We have had 800 to 900 categories on a blog that had 300 posts. And when you do a crawl of that, it looks really weird because a big chunk of your site is paginated because of that. So there is a myriad of issues that kind of work out as a byproduct of mishandling your categories and not setting them up properly.
Casey: What about recipes that fall into three or four categories? Totally fine. Here is the secret, though; you need to be choosing a featured category for every recipe. So as you go into your recipes, you should go on your right-hand side, especially if you are on a Genesis framework or any, most blogs do this, there is an option to choose a featured category. That should be the featured category, the main category for that recipe.
Now the reason this is important is also for the generation of breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are to me, mandatory. If you are on the call and you don't have breadcrumbs on your site, to me, I believe that that is a substantial disservice to your users. It is a user-first optimization. Breadcrumbs also allow you to generate an increased rich snippet in Google.
So by choosing your featured category, that is the category that is going to be populated in your breadcrumbs on the pages so be aware of that.
Arsen: Yup and then always make sure that the breadcrumbs have markup and they are properly positioned within the head of the page.
Shelly: I agree. Having the proper schema with that, those breadcrumbs can allow you to generate those pretty breadcrumbs in Google search, so those are so useful when those appear, so absolutely.
How Does Updating a Post Affect SEO? [1:01:19]
Casey: Well, any time you update a post, you are going to run the risk of upsetting the apple cart. You are going to run the risk of, any time you change anything; you have the chance that it is going to rise and you have the chance that it is going to drop.
I basically tell people, especially in my audits, update and republishing content is the secret to long-term success. If you have got 70% of your content, and it is just not generating much traffic, after we have audited it and decided, "Okay, I'm going to keep this", then we work on a checklist and say, okay, here is what we need to do the make that content better and then we are going to schedule it out.
Now if you are already in the top three for a post, I will be honest with you, I wouldn't touch it. There is just no real long-term benefit for that unless you previously were at the position zero and you lost your position zero or your featured snippet.
Maybe you have a post that is generating you five, ten, twenty thousand sessions or clicks a month in Google Search Console; it is one of your big recipes. I would hate for that to fall too much because you are going to notice that drop considerably and I have had audits where I have audited sites where 60% of their traffic is two or three recipes. That is not a good situation to be in. So what we want to try to do is get more of their content to take up the slack from these larger posts, and try to insulate those from large ranking changes.
For example, I tell people, if I could improve the recipe card, for example, if I can fully enhance the recipe card, I might have them do that. If I know that the photos didn't have alt tags, I might go in and add some alt tags correctly. I might make small changes, and then I will wait.
Now many of you have heard the term Google dance. It is absolutely a real thing. Google even has an algorithm, a patent for it, where they basically will penalize you when you have made changes. So if you do something on a page and you make a lot of changes and all of a sudden, the post drops like a rock, Google's trying to scare you into reversing the changes that you made so you don't have enough time to understand if you did anything correctly.
So as I tell people, and I know Arsen and Shelly have seen this as well, we just have to be patient. You are going to have to wait a couple of weeks. Usually, you will start to see the posts slowly climb back up, but that is just something to be aware of. You will know that based upon experience, as you work through this.
Arsen: You can also like send external signals to the posts once you have made the changes to help it start bumping up a little bit more. External signals could be backlinks to the post.
Is There Any Issue With Pulling Instagram Feeds Into A Website? [1:12:20]
Casey: Right. So just to let you guys know, that is a site-specific recommendation in the case of the site that we were talking about, she had an excessive dom node issue. DOMs are Document Object Models. And a node is basically, it is simply an HTML element and nodes make up the regular pages on a site.
Google would like the Dom node size of the page to be less than 1500 nodes, so if you are using the new Google page read insights tool, there's a big red warning now that says, "Hey, warning. Your dom node size is excessive." So in this blogger's case, the Instagram widget was generating an extra 300 or 400 nodes that had no benefit for her. Users were not clicking on that, which is why you want to use something like Hotjar so that you can use heat mapping to see what is being clicked on your pages and what is not.
Now, most of you maybe are running ads, maybe not running ads. You should be aware that one of the biggest issues we are seeing right now is the disappearing of rich snippets in search. This is happening because of excessive dom node generation because of sites on WordPress that are running ads, running a lot of built-in widgets, running a lot of excessive elements on the page,and/or not paginating their comments.
Okay? If you got a page that is generating two thousand, three thousand, four thousand nodes, it could easily cause you issues because if Google can't crawl the page, they can't parse and render the page. And when they can't render a page, you lose rich snippets. So be aware of this, okay? Go into the new Google PageSpeed Insights. Scroll down and take a look at pages.
Also, go back and look at the resources we have recommended today. Look at using the best plug-ins. Short pixel or Imagify for image optimization. WP Rocket for caching. Use Cloudflare for your CDN because it works great with WP Rocket. Use some of the quick link optimization plug-ins that we have shared. Paginate your comments.
Now, this is a funny one because...if you go into WordPress and you paginate your comments, Yoast will give you a warning; this is why you need to not worry too much about plug-ins because Yoast is just idiotic in this aspect.
One of the fastest and easiest ways for you to make a page faster is to only show a certain amount of comments on a page. We call that pagination. So you can go in and choose maybe 20 comments and 20 follow-ups or whatever to show on the page. Yoast doesn't like that because it causes these extra comment 1 and comment 2 pages; Google is great at ignoring those. You will be fine, and the bottom line benefit is you will be faster, and when you are faster, you are going to generate more traffic because you will have more users interact with your content every minute. In audits, I can just dramatically increase page speed, and the traffic goes through the roof.
Arsen: So there is, to follow up with what Casey was saying about the comments. We have had situations where the total amount of comments on the page was outweighing the actual content that is on the recipe or the blog post. And over time as that post became more popular and more comments were being added, they started diluting the overall focus for that page. So the blogger started seeing a decrease in rankings.
So that comment pagination, especially if you are a very popular blog that gets a lot of traction, a lot of engagement on your post levels — post-level engagement — doing that pagination is super important. You also want to make sure that the pagination is properly set up, without any confusion of canonical signals in the realm of next prev, because if the signals are confusing those pages will be indexed and will be picked up into search. Read all the documentation of your theme, or use a third party to help you with that.
How To Choose An Appropriate Website Design? [1:20:50]
Shelly: One of the things I see are the themes clients are using, or customer layouts are causing layouts. Perhaps how the home page is set up. And we need to address mobile. The analytics and data I am seeing for food blogs is 80-90% mobile. Google has been pushing that we are in a mobile-first world. I see the point of having a beautiful site, but on mobile, you are not going to see all that. What are some of the things you think are super important when choosing a theme or design for our website?
Casey: So one of the biggest issues that I see is a desire for people to, again, I totally understand designing for mobile-first, but if you take that mobile-first design and you look at it on a desktop, oh, my god, it is so ugly.
You are always going to have a percentage of people who are going to choose to navigate on desktop and tablet. One of the things that I see a lot recently and it is just terrible advice is people eliminating elements on sidebars. Now the thing about the sidebar is this, it is one of the fastest and easiest ways for you to generate internal linking. Internal linking is an extremely underutilized way to drive authority to your top content.
I have heard this often; “Casey, I had a redesign. My traffic dropped 20%. My traffic dropped 40%.” What happened? The designer took the sidebar away. They took the sidebar away, they eliminated internal links, they eliminated user-first optimizations all because they were trying to optimize for mobile as much as possible.
Well, if you are using responsive design, don't lose any sleep over it. Those items on the sidebar, as Shelly will tell you, will just be pushed to the bottom of the page. They are not going to be a huge issue for you.
A sidebar is very important. You should be using that sidebar to reflect a nice above-the-fold photo of you whatever possible because that reinforces E-A-T, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
You should also be using it to show your demonstrated expertise. If you have good creator expertise, maybe you have been featured on big sites like Reader's Digest or the Cooking Channel or Buzzfeed or any of these other very common links, Good Housekeeping. Country Living is another one.
We want to show that demonstrated expertise right smack on your site. So I tend to have that on your sidebar, as a small graphic and I tend to have that as a footer, as well. And if you have got a competent webmaster, they can code those in and make sure that they are covered by lazy loading. And so, you are not going to have any impact with regards to bottom line page speed heads.
So when I am looking on a site, one of the first things I am looking at is when I am auditing the site on desktop, can I see a nice section of their trending recipes? Maybe five or six of their top recipes, most popular recipes, because by putting there, I am reinforcing through internal sitewide linking, my top content.
If you did nothing but that, many times you are going to get traffic increases because you provided a strong signal to Google, this is my best content. I am linking to it from every page. It is super easy for users to find and of course, they are also going a to be easier for them to click, which is why you want to use something like Hotjar again, so that you can track how users are navigating your site before you optimize your sidebar and how users are navigating your site after you optimize your sidebar. It is mind-blowing. So something to think about. Yeah.
Should You Have A Sidebar On The Home Page? [1:24:44]
Shelly: We have some questions about does a sidebar need to be the home page, but also snippets on the home page. Some people for design reasons might remove the snippets. How many words need to be there or should we just have pretty pictures that people can click on.
Casey Markee: Well, you know what? That is a good question, and I will tell you, if you go into Google Search Console and you look at your top pages report, most of you will find that your home page doesn't generate a ton of traffic, even though it is the strongest page on your domain. I always look at that as a red flag.
It is usually because you haven't included enough indexable content on the home page itself for Google to fully algorithmically score the content, which is why again, I don't like to see a whole home page with nothing but thumbnails. Or ads. Thumbnails and ads.
I would like to see maybe a nice little sidebar. Maybe your featured posts with a nice summary, a little bit of a summary. It doesn't have to be four or five pages long. It doesn't have to have a six or seven-page scroll on mobile, but it should feature your top content. It should show your most recent content, and yeah, I think an optimized sidebar on your homepage is just smart.
Shelly: I can't tell you how many times I still see home as a title tag on the home page, which is such a waste so, for sure.
Arsen: One thing I am going to say, and I think we can all agree on this, and there is a lot of this information out there about this, WordPress is not SEO-ready out of the box. Absolutely, and anyone that is saying that is doing a disadvantage to you.
Casey: No. Again, there are a lot of podcasts, even people associated with ad companies who will tell you don't need an audit or WordPress is okay out of the box. Hey, you know what? I think we have shown today, that is not the case. We really want you to be as successful as possible so thanks so much for your time today.
Shelly: Thank you. Thank you all for coming out. Bye-bye.
Arsen: Bye everyone.