Roast My Site with Bartosz and Arsen #2: WordPress Blogger SEO Edition
- First Roast: UX Issues, Internal Links, and Topic Organization
- Second Roast: Broken Links, Recipe Schema, and SEO Basics
- Third Roast: Permalink Changes, Chain Redirects, and a Bloated Sitemap
- Fourth Roast: Multiple Sitemaps, Keyword Stuffing, and Duplicate Content
Casey Markee: Okay, fantastic. I think we're live, buddy.
Arsen: Welcome to our second episode of Roast My Site. We are joined here today by Casey Markee, who is the world renowned expert in SEO for WordPress and for food bloggers. And I'm joined by my co-host Bartosz Goralewicz. Bartosz, where are you in the world today?
Bartosz: I'm in Rome, Italy.
Arsen: Casey, where are you in the world?
Casey Markee: I'm in San Diego, beautiful San Diego country estates, in San Diego County, California.
Arsen: We're going to take a few minutes just to say hi quickly. Explain what we're going to be doing today and wait for some more people to join us. This is our second roast. We're changing the format a little bit from what we did last time. We're going to go a little different. Casey is going to do almost a live, right, audit, a live review in real time.
Casey Markee: Sure. Yeah, I promise not to be too brutal.
Arsen: We definitely want you to be brutal. Bartosz's going to follow behind Casey and he's going to be covering backLinks for the four sites that we picked out today. And then I'll follow Bartosz and I just will chime in with a few organizational architectural findings.
Everyone keep in mind please, we don't have access to your analytics or search console. All the data that we're going to be presenting and talking about is data that we picked up just by observing your website, crawling through your website or using third-party tools like SEMrush, our friends at SEMrush who are hosting this for us.
We are going to make fun of your sites, so we are going to be brutal. Please don't take it to heart. But along the way, we do hope that you will gain a lot of valuable and useful information from the three of us.
Bartosz: I think we can get started.
First Roast: UX Issues, Internal Links, and Topic Organization
Arsen: The first site in our inventory here is Mom On Timeout. Mom On Timeout, if you're here, I hope you're not going to be too offended by what Casey is going to throw at you.
Casey Markee: You are using a Pixel Me Design site. The only issue with that is that there's literally a 1,000 other sites that look very similar to yours. Now that being said, there are some things that you can change on that.
First of all, you'll notice as we go to the homepage here, you've got that email signup link at the top. If you pull out and look at this on mobile, it's very disruptive. Not only is it going to push down a lot of your content below the fold, but it's just never going to have a high enough ROI to overcome the fact that you're allowing people an extra couple seconds to get down to your main content.
Bartosz: Arsen I can actually build on what Casey said with the pop-up and let me quickly share my screen and show us technical SEO.
What you see is how their website loads slowly. This is six seconds, eight seconds. Boom, all of a sudden you have all these data popping out, which is a terrible, terrible user experience because imagine that now someone wanted to click on something and everything moved. This is extremely confusing.
I have this tab open from, so the Layout Instability API. If you want to read about that, how you can master that and there is a very good example of what can happen here.
You're going to be like, "Okay, you want to send me the order," and the thing is going move. And let me play the video again. Everything jumps in all together.
You should actually build now your website. Anyway, that's the most important parts of the website, something actually people want to read, obviously the content loads fast, but the next elements are not moving the layout down, not pushing it down, especially the email sign up thing that Casey mentioned. Google and other search engines I'm guessing are able to see that this is happening.
Arsen: Okay, so a few things. Mom On Timeout. Your homepage. You have a lot of internal links that carry a nofollow in them. On your homepage, your “view post” is a nofollow from the excerpt to actually view the post. It's an internal nofollow. This is a really bad idea. You're basically telling Google that you don't trust your own content. Definitely stop doing that.
The same thing is happening in your comments. When you're commenting and I'm assuming it's because whatever plugin you're using as an external nofollow attribute to the blog comment links to the name in the blog comment. See if maybe you can exclude for your own links but still leave it in for everybody else. Again, internal nofollow is not a good idea.
Topic organization. You have a lot of content on the site, but there's no real structure around it. I performed a search for “casserole recipe” and “chicken casserole recipe”.
You have 1,130 results for “casserole recipe” on your site. You have chicken casserole, you have tater-tot casserole, beef and corn casserole, and then specifically chicken casserole recipe. And as you can see, there's not one specific place where I can see all of your recipes.
All the results are taking me to specific pieces of content around these casseroles. And essentially what winds up happening is you start losing your ability to rank when you're not providing a place for Google to match a page on your site for these broad queries.
At the same time, it seems like you're using categories that are a part of a plugin and not actual categories that are a part of the site. If I select casserole as your categories...it takes me to this page. It's taking me to categories, recipes, breakfast, and casserole. It's not showing me all of your casserole recipes. There's only two in that excerpt, but you have 17 different recipes.
I would definitely take a look at your categories and see if we can find a better way to organize these.
A few takeaways from me. Do keyword research for categories, combine search terms to create hybrid categories like chicken casserole, so you don't have just casserole or just chicken.
A lot of the categories that I saw, and in some key situations, are not your WordPress categories. There's some other taxonomies that are coming in from, I'm assuming, some plugin.
You definitely want to make sure that those are matching, that you're not just using the ones that are in the plugin. It is possible to do this, but it is tough. We've done it for a few of our clients. You do want to create better relationships between posts and structure by implementing breadcrumbs.
There are breadcrumbs right now, but they're very simple and don't support a specific structure. Make sure your breadcrumbs, I'm on the fourth part here, make sure your breadcrumbs include categories.
This will create better architecture, better structure, and create more logical navigational paths. Use both hybrid and regular categories to match broader queries. I'm going to stop sharing and give it over to Bart.
Page Speed Issues and Ad Networks
Casey Markee: One of the things that I want you to be aware of is the fact that your page speed is really honestly very horrible, okay? We're not going to pull any punches here. When we talk about the fact that mobile page speed is a ranking factor, in no planet in the solar system, is it acceptable to take 40 or 50 seconds for the page to fully load with ads.
The problem is you're with AdThrive. AdThrive will just basically stuff your pages with requests. You have pages with 1200, 1400 requests in many aspects. The best thing for you to do is to immediately drop a note to your AdThrive rep, go ahead and opt into deferred ad loading,...and it's going to allow the absolute data and you're going to see an incredible improvement both in bottom line UX and also bottom line page speed.
Don't believe any nonsense that this is going to hurt or tank your ad loadings. My experience is that even the most I've seen is a drop of 3% but the increase in your overall UX is exceptional.
One of the things that I'm seeing here is that you have done some really poor image optimization. I'm showing probably around 50 images on your site that are over two megabytes in size. Mostly these are your hidden Pinterest pins.
The problem is that you are actually placing these on the page, so you can imagine how much bandwidth, you can imagine how many issues are going to be happening by Google trying to load those elements specifically. We just don't need to do that.
As a food blogger, as a do it yourself, as a lifestyle blogger, it looks like you're currently using social plugin, anyway, go ahead and hide those pins off the page. No reason to worry about any of that stuff.
And one of the easiest ways for you to make these changes with the images is just to go ahead and use a plugin like Enable Media Replace. Enable Media Replace, well, I need to go in and save over at the same URL, these old existing Pinterest pins, which are incredibly large.
I did a very quick analysis and if you go ahead and just save over the top 10 largest images, it's pretty ridiculous. Something like 45 megabytes just on your image repository, just doing those top 10 images, so it's noticeable. We really want to go in, save over those images, get a better performance and go from there.
Sidebar Optimization and Recipe Process Images for Food Bloggers
One of the things that I also see in your niche that is just not optimized very well is your sidebar. Your sidebar is exceedingly important, not only to showcase your top content but also to showcase seasonal content. We call that just-in-time content.
By doing that, now you're going to be able to drive traffic not only on desktop, but it's also going to allow some internal link equity to flow site-wide. And even though on mobile, that sidebar menu gets pushed to the bottom, you're going to see an X substantial updraft in overall link equity and overall organic visibility because you're pushing so much internal link equity to that sidebar content seasonally when it's appropriate, just in time.
When you're putting your recipes together, there is nothing highest meets needs about a post that has the exact same photo from four different angles. If you have not moved to process shots, I strongly urge you to do so.
When we talk about a recipe site that is the highest meets needs example for Google consideration. It is not one where you've included five photos of the finished dish and nothing else. As I tell bloggers all the time, we want you to treat your users as toddlers or drunk adults.
We want to dumb down as much as possible your content. I need you to show how I'm going to make these pumpkin pie snickerdoodles. That is how you get to the next level of traffic. Bar none.
Second Roast: Broken Links, Recipe Schema, and SEO Basics
Arsen: We're going to move on to Shaken Together, also a WordPress blog.
Casey Markee: When we're looking at this site, we have a lot of issues with the example that you changed. You did a permalink change and you caused some issues. And what happened when she did that is that she broke some links specifically that apparently are loading on my site.
Let's go ahead and talk about your page speeds and we can have that open. Here's an example of a Chrome Data Studio report showing the historical nature of your page speed with the CrUX data.
You can see that you've made some improvements. You see the big jump that you took from July to August. Most likely you did a little bit of changes with regards to setting up some quality caching plugins. Maybe you changed your host, but you can see that the metrics are still not competitive.
If I can go ahead and take a look, let me see if I can pull this up here. This is Shaken Together. This is your site. This is the roasted vegetables with garlic dijon sauce. You can see that she's scoring 19 out of 100 on the tool. Look at that time, the interacted at time of 81 seconds. Congratulations. That's one of the worst I've seen in a while.
And one of the issues with that is, again, you were running so many scripts with AdThrive, it's very hard for the whole page to fully load. The First Contentful Paint though, 2.5 seconds, not bad, but you can easily get under two seconds if we go ahead and make some optimization changes.
It looks like you specifically you're using WP Super Cache, certainly not what I would consider a superior caching plugin. You'll find that you'll do a little bit better if you do WP Rocket and go ahead and make some specific jQuery changes there.
This is an example of you over a 4G network, 38 seconds plus and you can see that you got 1200 requests loading on the page. It's just not competitive. We have to do more here to dial this stuff in.
One of the other things that I noticed on your site is that you are missing meta descriptions on a lot of your content. Meta descriptions are very simple, as simple SEO 101. You should go down and you should look at trying to improve on some of these missing meta descriptions.
We want to go ahead and get those filled out so that we can at least control how our site presents in the search results.
You're using a lot of ItemList Schema on your site and that's great. You're using Tasty Recipes, which does not have built in ItemList Schema. Look at probably adding either Create by Mediavine and using that specifically for the how to do yourself content or you can go ahead and just look at switching over to WP Recipe Maker, which honestly is the better plugin.
One of the things that you're failing to do is include any recipe notes. This is one of the biggest detriments for sites as a whole....that if you're going to go ahead and go to the trouble of putting a recipe card on your site, it needs to be complete.
We want to look at the recipe post and the recipe card as separate entities. We want to optimize them fully. Your recipe card should always have your top tips so that if someone was to print out the recipe card, they have all the information they need to make this recipe perfectly.
Finally, I want you to understand that there are a lot of broken links on your site. One of the simplest ways to manage your broken links at scale in WordPress is to download something like the Broken Link Checker. Anything that lowers the UX in the eyes of your users should be corrected. I found literally thousands of internal broken links on the site very quickly and I know that you can correct those, so I would really urge you to do that.
As a summary here, let's get the broken links fixed. Let's go ahead and have you crawl and add meta descriptions to most of your pages. Let's go ahead and get you opted into AdThrive deferred ad loading and also don't forget qualified breadcrumb path every time.
Reorganizing Food Blog Structures and Building Better Breadcrumbs
Bartosz: Thank you for that, Casey. And just addressing one more question that comes up with all these food blogs here is how to reorganize... categories, without breaking links. If you're rebuilding any part of your website, and I feel like this is something that Casey touched on, you need to edit internal links.
Casey Markee: This is a very common issue with websites, is that you will do it in a permalink change and you will fail to update all of the internal permalinks on your site. We always want to update all those internal permalinks. I do not like redirects, period. We should not have any redirects.
There's an example of a service called the Blog Fixer. His name is Christopher. Christopher works with the Blog Fixer. He has a lot of these automated fixes that he goes in and does for most bloggers and one of them is he has an internal permalink fix. Basically he installs a plugin, he runs it, boom, updates all your internal permalinks. There's other very simple ways to do this, but let's be honest, most of you need to work smarter, not harder.
Bartosz: Thank you so much, Casey, by the way. Let me share a few things about Shaken Together. And again, I'm talking about Backlinks today for a change. First of all, this website, I'm pretty sure that this is 99% connected to a link network of some sort.
Some of my thoughts for this particular website, internal linking site-wide, you are still linking to old URLs, lots of redirects. Duplicating categories and tags. You are currently canonicalizing, so I didn't show this, but you do have tags that are mimicking or are very similar or exactly duplicating your categories.
At one point, Google decides that these are confusing signals because keep in mind, canonical is a recommendation. You're going to have all kinds of issues from duplicating content to index blow to whatever have you.
Build better breadcrumb structure. It will help with logical navigational and organizational paths. And just like I showed you in a previous slide, you definitely want to make sure that you include the parent category within the breadcrumbs, the one that makes the most sense.
Make sure your breadcrumbs on posts include meal type, super important. Be very specific in naming categories to rank for broad queries like no bake dessert recipes instead of just no bake recipes or no bake desserts.
Doing this will not only help with better internal linking, your parent pages or category pages are currently linking to the child pages, but the children are not linking back to the parents. You're not building a relationship between these objects on your site.
And doing better breadcrumbs is also going to help with topical depth, which is something that I talk about a lot. And that's showing searchers and search engines how much information you have on a specific topic. It helps you establish yourself as a Go-to place for the information on this particular topic.
We're going to move on to Crafty Little Gnome. Casey, what do you have for this one?
Third Roast: Permalink Changes, Chain Redirects, and a Bloated Sitemap
Casey Markee: Fantastic. Adrian, thank you so much for volunteering your site. This is going to be very, very helpful for you. What happened specifically for you is that you recently went through a URL change.
What happened was you did a site-wide URL change and you did not do it correctly and you cut off a lot of authority to your site. We're talking literally hundreds of domains that you cut out. On the homemade bleach page alone, there's 10 domains, some really quality links here that you unfortunately cut away because of, again, just an incorrect permalink change at your end.
We could use a couple of lines writing your htaccess file and you can seek out either a quick fix from someone like Grayson Bell at iMark interactive or you can go ahead and reach out to a technical lead you have, but this needs to be fixed.
We need to make sure that we redirect these URLs to the current line, URL here and this is going to help you considerably because you had a decent Backlink profile but you cut off a lot of authority when you made the permalink change and it was years ago.
While you're fixing this issue, we also want to fix the fact that you have a chain redirect in place. Do you see this right here? This is a visual example of where you just have an extra server link on our extra server hub on your site.
Happens all the time, usually when you're using a CDN like CloudFlare, you can go in and correctly set it up so that the redirects are basically over the certificates. We want to go ahead and get this taken care of.
Now looking on your site as well, do you see that this is your sitemap here? You have a lot of what we call thin and nonsense content that is open to Google. You see right here, this page here, there's nothing on this page. There's really no reason to have something like this open.
Go into your Yoast plugin, you go under search settings, I believe it's just search optimization, you're going to go in and you're going to noindex these ingredients. We're also going to noindex your courses, which there's nothing there of note anyway, your cuisines and you've got this one built into your theme for rating, which you also definitely do not need.
Remember when we talked about your content garden. These are weeds. Let's noindex this stuff, let's make it easy for Google to find an index, your posts, your pages, and your recipes.
Also very quickly here, here is your site in Google. You can see that also you have a lot of expired giveaway content, a substantial amount of giveaway content. We just don't need any of this stuff here, so once you're done with it, go ahead and either noindex that or delete it from your site.
One of the things you might want to consider is upgrading to Yoast premium and then you can go ahead and 410 all these old URLs. If you click delete and you have Yoast premium enabled, you'll get a prompt at the top that'll ask you either to redirect this to something related or if you want to just use a 410, just use the 410, it's totally fine.
Let's optimize this sidebar. It's very bare. On that note, let me go ahead and turn it back over to you guys.
Creating a Logical Information Architecture
Bartosz: Just one thing I think that comes back in every single website and in the questions in YouTube as well, are the questions regarding the structure. And I feel like the structure and information that architecture is the main struggle for all the food bloggers out there and probably most of the bloggers, the technical part and the logical parts as well.
We need to make sure that, first of all, for all of those websites here and we have a clear category for each things we're cooking or advertising. And then our recipes, our websites are not somehow competing with each other.
And then the last part would be, don't be afraid to crawl a website. There're a lot of free tools out there. I think you can use SEMrush for crawling. You can use Screaming Frog, right, Deeper PRO and so on.
Arsen: Okay, I don't have much for this one also. All of your categories, Crafty Little Gnome, all of your categories are noindex, which is really crappy.
This is really bad. You're killing off a lot of your ability to rank again for these broader terms. And you'll see this as a recurring theme with what I'm talking about today is really paying attention to how you're matching queries to specific pages on your site. Optimizing your category indexes helps you rank for these broader terms.
Make sure that logical navigational paths are in place for your posts. And when I say logical navigational paths, I actually want you to look at it and think, "If a user lands on my homepage or visitor lands on my homepage, how can they get to this particular post? Which path are they going to take?"
You want to create something that's organized and something that makes sense. There's two ways of approaching. Apply logic, apply keyword research. You don't have to include home in your breadcrumb path. You don't need to, you don't have to include your homepage.
Bartosz: Yeah. To be honest, Arsen, I feel like information architecture is not something that most people can do by themselves. It's actually pretty complex and this is not something you can do with the blogging or even little bit of research.
But this is extremely easy to do for professionals. It gives very good results.
Arsen: Yeah. But at the same time, look, WordPress does make it simple enough, especially if you're using Yoast. If you're properly organizing, if you're paying attention to your categories, you don't have to have the technical know-how, but if you're properly paying attention to your categories and you're looking at things from a topic and interest and demand perspective. We need to find that perfect balance.
Casey Markee: Let's move on.
Arsen: Yep. This is our last one that we have here.
Bartosz: We've been all waiting for this one.
Fourth Roast: Multiple Sitemaps, Keyword Stuffing, and Duplicate Content
Arsen: So this is a Roast for WordPress blogs, and we ask people to submit their WordPress blogs, especially if you're a blogger, well specifically for blogger, for us to roast you.
But we did get some submissions from non-WordPress sites. We did get some submissions from non-blog sites. But this one really stood out to us because whoever submitted this did not really pay attention.
This is the submission from an SEO agency who submitted their website for us to roast. And since we're all SEOs here, we're about to really tear into this guy.
Bartosz: We took the bait.
Casey Markee: Yeah, absolutely. All right, Krishna. We applaud you for submitting this site, but you are doing so many things that give we, as SEOs, a black eye. I strongly urge you to take all of this to heart, okay?
Imagine my surprise when I went in and found that you had two sitemaps active. You're using the sitemap from Yoast, which is automatically generated. We've already talked about this. We need to make sure that you noindex your tags here, but you also have installed and used Google XML sitemaps here.
Again, we just don't do this stuff. It's easy for you to confuse crawlers. One sitemap is enough. You're going to go ahead and delete this sitemap and you're going to go in and correctly noindex your tag pages here, okay? Very quickly, we want to fix this stuff.
Now, this is your site in Google right there. There's a thing, maybe you've heard about it; it's called over-optimization and I know that Arsen and Bart are going to get into it a little bit, but there is nothing attractive about this in search console or about in the search results here, okay? How many times did you repeat SEO in here?
It makes you look bad. It makes the industry look bad. This is not going to convert users in the search results. There's no reason that you should be putting in SEO 11 times your manager’s description.
Moving on here, you have a substantial internal duplicate content issue. This is your online reputation management page. You can see here Online Reputation Management Expert. This is the first couple paragraphs on the page right here. I found this page as well; Online reputation management. It's literally the exact same page right there and they're both indexed, okay?
You're at a 4.4 second First Contentful Paint. See all these blank screens? That's how long. Think of those as one second. One, two, three, four. That's how long it took for the content to pop in on mobile. That's just not acceptable.
You need to be investing in quality tools. If you're using anything other than WP Rocket or you're not investing in the best tools, you're wasting your time and you're wasting your client's time because your site is going to reflect the offerings you provide for your clients.
On that note, I'm going to go ahead and stop the screen sharing.
Arsen: Your homepage, not counting all of the links and words that you have in your navigation, is around 1,265 words of content, 91 instances of SEO, 65 instances of expert, 48 instances of SEO experts. I think you're really trying to prove a point that you're an SEO expert.
This is stuff, what's considered not good practices. Even back in when I was getting started in 2007, 2008, this was already like, don't do this, right? This is not a good idea. At least spin these, do something, switch it up.
Anyways, moving on. Internal competition. Again, for the keyword, SEO company in Bangalore. You have your homepage, you have your SEO company, Bangalore best SEO company, Bangalore, India page and best SEO company, Bangalore, India page competing for this one keyword. Again, a lot of internal competition. I'm sure these pages or the last two pages have the same content.
I know there's some questions. I'm going to leave this slide up. This is our information. If any of you need to get in touch with us, I have all of our Twitter handles and our websites. Do we still want to go through these questions guys or do we have to run?
Category Pages vs Recipe Roundups
Casey Markee: Marjorie Pilly. “When do you use a category page versus a landing post with a roundup of recipes related to a specific topic?
It's a good question but they're basically different things. The category page, we always want to make sure that we've optimized that as much as possible. Think of the category page as a window into the house that is your block. We want to go ahead and link to that whenever we can.
The problem is that most roundups in the recipe nature are horrible. They're very thin content. There's no conclusions. You've just provided a list of the recipes with no real descriptor text about here's why I chose this recipe for inclusion in this roundup.
I guess the question is, do you feel that the roundup post is of high enough quality that would deserve a link and an existing recipe post as opposed to your category page or are they mutually inclusive? That's something you'd have to determine at your end.
Arsen: Everything that Casey said is exactly on point, but for roundup post, first of all, you don't want to create a post that's going to compete with your category pages. Definitely avoid that.
I always recommend roundup post to be something that's useful that's not currently being covered by any of the categories.
Bartosz: Thank you so much.
Arsen: I really enjoyed the sunset behind you through this webinar also. That was very nice and pleasant.
Bartosz: Thank you so much, yeah. Bye guys.