10 Day Blog Detox Challenge.
Update 01/13/18 – Don’t follow the challenge in order but do as follows: Day 1, Day 2, Day 4 , Day 3, Day 7, Day 5, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10.
Hello January and hello 2018. 2017 was a crazy year for me. One that I would have to abandon my beloved blog pretty much. A car accident, a significant relocation and a new job. The good news is that now I get to share more SEO and marketing knowledge I have gained from working at a digital agency.
January is the perfect month to evaluate what worked and what did not work the year before. You may be reviewing how to increase leads, lowering expenses or even how to expand your creative business. It is also the perfect time to update your online portfolio and make the website changes you have longed to make but have not had the time. And what better way than to start with a blog detox challenge? If you want to set up your website for success and attract new visitors to your online site, then don’t ignore your blog. Let’s do this thing.
If you a brand new to SEO, I suggest you do last year’s blogging challenge.
Day 1. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is a great free SEO tool. We will be using the files exported from Screaming frog during a few days of the challenge. For day 1 I want you to follow the following steps:
Step 1. Download Screaming Frog. ( Great Free SEO Tool )
Step 2. Enter your website URL and hit start.
You may get a warning stating that the free version only checks up to 500 URL’s per website. Ignore the warning. You will be fine just with the free version.
Step 3. Go to the Page Titles Tab.
Voila! This is how many pages Google thinks your website or blog has. Are you surprised?
Step 4. Export this doc as an Excel Spreadsheet.
Step 5. Upload this excel spreadsheet to Google Drive.
Step 6. Delete the Occurrences column.
Step 7. Sort by Page Titles.
Step 8. Save this doc for the other days.
* Don’t get ahead of your self and start freaking out with what you see in your scan! Yes I can read your minds. FOMS.
Day 2 . Permalink Structure
This day is jam packed so lets do this thang.
For a few days, we will be using two blogger websites as examples. The first one is aa super talented newborn photographer Kandi Anderson; the second is my blogging bestie, Home Decor blogger, Reinvented Collection.
If the title of Day 2 scares you, don’t worry, Fuse is here. Let us get through the tougher stuff right away. Permalink. also known as a permanent link, is how the URL of web pages on your website and even your blog post are. Ideally, they should not change ( because it causes a broken link) and thus the name permanent link or permalink.
The problem though is that most small business owners & bloggers did not even know about URL’s or SEO when they set up their blog or website. They just took the name of the pages that their theme came with. Over time the back end of your blog almost looks like an episode of hoarders, at least that is how Google sees it. We want Google to love our website and content, so here is how to check your current permalink structure.
Before we get onto checking your structure, we must have a heart to heart lesson on what is the ideal permalink structure. The main mistake I see bloggers making are not understanding how hierarchy with pages works. Essentially pages have different levels. Let us call the main level the parent page and the second, third, etc. the child page.
When I say parent and child pages, we are mainly discussing permalink so the URL and not necessarily what you have on your nav bar.
Think of the parent page as a whole pizza pie and the child pages as a slice.
With the example of the blogger Reinvented Collection, she has a blog category called Holidays. Since she is a home decor blogger, I recommend turning these holiday categories into pages. Google gives more credit to pages vs blog posts, so ideally she should take the top holidays and make them into unique pages. So let’s pretend these are already pages, then the parent page would be: http://www.reinventedcollection.com/holidays
*Note that by parent page I am referring to a section called Page Attribute on your blog/site. This is located on the right side area when you publish a page. This will adjust the actual permalink structure making it all nice an clean!
Then any holidays should be its own child page so for example:
So first Olivia would create a brand new page called holidays. Then when she creates any child pages, for example a Christmas page, she would choose holidays as the parent attribute.
You may start getting a little perplexed here but keep on reading. You got this. Plus you can sign up for my bonus videos to learn more.
Kandi Anderson does Maternity, Newborn, and Senior Photography. Her main parent page should be photography ( parent category) and then the type of photography that she offers comes after that ( child category ). Again, here I am not talking about blogging category but the page attribute so the permalink is correct.
(It is vital that if you offer different types of services like different types of photography, that each service has its own page.)
http://www.kandiandersonphotography.com/photography – parent page
http://www.kandiandersonphotography.com/photography/newborn – child page
http://www.kandiandersonphotography.com/photography/maternity – child page.
Then any style or variation ( THE PIZZA SLICE) that makes sense after that would go under the parent page so lets say she has a newborn props page, maternity tips page etc. For example, she could have newborn tips, or newborn props after the newborn word in the URL. So for example: http://www.kandiandersonphotography.com/photography/newborn/props
Now that you are hungry and a bit more familiar with the ideal page structure of your website, it is time to decide what changes that you need on your own website.
Check the following:
#1. Look at your Screaming Frog scan and decide which pages need renaming.
#2. Also look at your scan and decide if you need any new pages. For example, you may see that you have two services on 1 page and each service requires its own unique page.
#3. Now take the old links and add it to an Excel Doc. In the column next to it, decide what the new links need to be.
With Kandi, we needed that the following needs to be renamed.
Portfolio is her parent page but what comes after should be cleaned up this:
See how cleaner that looks. Now she would need to login to her blog, find the page and choose the parent category in page attribute side and or rename the page if needed.
So scenario #1 – Maybe you have the correct pages, but they are not in the Parent/Child format, then all you do is log into any child pages and select from the right side where it says page attribute and choose your parent page, then republish.
Scenario #2 – You need to rename your page and also choose correct parent category. So first choose the right parent attribute then rename the page.
So for Kandi’s Bridal Photography page looks like this. It does not have the parent page called Portfolio.
First I go to the back end of the page. Then I choose the correct page attribute and republish the page
Next I go to the URL up on top and I rename the URL by clicking on that Edit button.
Now I will republish the page and check if I messed up anything from the navigation bar and menu.
She used ProPhoto and since I only changed the permalink and not the name inside the page, her theme automatically changed it so we are all good.
PLEASE SKIP TO DAY 4 THEN COME BACK TO DAY 3
Day 3. Now your turn to trouble shoot your permalinks
Warning, this may terrify you, like the wildings ( and everyone else) were terrified of the white walkers in G.O.T but the good news is that we are only going to look at a few important things that will set up your blog for success. Believe me, it frustrates me as well, and I do this all the time so chin up and keep on reading.
Second Warning. Before you make any changes to your website permalinks, save ac copy of your current permalinks for your files or use the bonus Excel Sheet I am providing with the bonus videos. Ideally you want to have a list of all your current links then another column to show how the new link will be displayed.
Grab the your Screaming Frog Scan and check the following:
SEO lesson. Index means items on your website you want Google to see. Non-index or when I say apply a no-index means these are things you don’t want Google to see. Basically the hoarding that happens on your back end.
1. Extended permalinks aka extra crap in your URL.
I have redesigned my blog so many times that I have lost count. In doing so, I also create new pages but with unique names like : About-me-2, about-me, revised or perhaps I changed the contact page to be http://www.feuzareis.com/contact and not http://www.feuzareis.com/contact-us Here you are looking for any weird permalinks that are not clear, strong or necessary.
With RC example, I see an about-me-2
Ideally, she should rename that page to About me or About French Country Blogger and republish that page. She can change the permalink by editing the actual page itself in the Yoast Setting. But she must remember to redirect the old broken links ( Day 7 of our challenge ).
2. Tags being indexed.
Here we see that this blogger uses some tags and although they are related keywords to her business, essentially she would need to optimize each tag for SEO, and that is a lot of hard work. Whenever you see anything labeled archive pages, you should not have Google look at that, she should apply a no-index via Yoast Plugin.
3. Bagilion Blog Categories.
This should also not be coming up, and yours may look like the hurricane map, at least in your mind. For this blog, she does not have loads of categories which is excellent. Then they are easier to optimize if she wishes to keep them. But I do see a variation of her categories making it sloppy for Google. Holiday Decor should just be holiday decor and not anything else. This would require some parent/child clean up.
4. Comments or Replies.
These should not be displaying to Google so you can turn this off in Yoast Settings. Check day 10.
Again she does not have too many tags these should not be indexed or even used when blogging. Check Day 8.
5. Archive pages.
She can apply a no-index to Archive Pages and Author Pages in Yoast.
Your homework checklist
- Decide which main items need indexing turned off in Yoast
- Create any new parent pages needed
- Create any new child pages needed or just reassign the parent attribute to clean up the permalink
- Republish or publish these pages
- Fix Broken Links ( Day 4 )
Sign up for the bonus videos and also get a Permalink Structure Google Sheet Template.
PLEASE SKIP TO DAY 7 THEN COME BACK TO DAY 5
Day 4. Fix Broken Links
Now that we have fixed some of your permalink structure issues, it is time to check broken links. You can use a plugin like Broken link checker. This plugin will scan all the current broken links on your website. Then you tell the plugin which new URL’s it should redirect it to.
As per the creators: ” The broken links, if any are found, will show up in a new tab of the WP admin panel – Tools -> Broken Links. A notification will also appear in the “Broken Link Checker” widget on the Dashboard. To save display space, you can keep the widget closed and configure it to expand automatically when problematic links are detected. E-mail notifications need to be enabled separately (in Settings -> Link Checker).”
If the link is to someone so an external link, you can check if they have a new one. If not then I would just unlink it.
To learn more, check their instructions here.
Day 5. Reindex your website in Search Console
Now that we have done all this super duper hard work, we need to tell Google about it. You will need to head over to your Google Search Console dashboard to resubmit your website aka reindex your website to Mr. Google.
Google Search Console which used to be known as Google Webmaster tools used to be my least favorite SEO thing ever. I always left it as the last module in my Blogging SEO Academy and knew it would get complicated. Luckily I have had more experience with it by now and I no longer feel dumb when I have to go in there. This won’t be a lesson on how to sign up but first you do need to signup to Google Search Console. Follow the instructions on their site here and verify your website.
Secondly, reindex your website. Visit your dashboard and then click on the property link you want to manage so your website.
Go to Crawl > Fetch as Google > Fetch. Do this step for both Desktop and Mobile.
Day 6. Set up Goals
Fuse this keeps getting harder. I know, but this is the last tough challenge day. Your blog is your online home base where you can showcase your voice, work, and story. At the end of the day, your blog and website should serve a purpose. You sill peeps, all that info above is actually a whole strategy for your website that you did not even know you needed.
The primary goal of your blog is to generate new business and keep the current clientele happy. If you do not set your blog up for conversion, then what the heck is the point? Why push through the techie stuff you cringe about? Why read so many DIY tutorials and watch those Youtube Blogging videos? Why spend countless hours of blogging and promoting your posts?
So how can you know if your website is lacking in this department? The answer is to set up goals in Google Analytics. If you are brand new to Google Analytics, then you need to check out my Non-Techie Google Analytics blog post.
GA insights are invaluable, and the best insight is to see how many conversions you are receiving from the number of visitors you get on your website.
With goals, you can see how many people are going to the contact page or sign up page and how many are actually taking the desired action. You can evaluate patterns and compare data. Data equals power. You may find significant website issues you did not even know you had by merely setting up your goals. I could write a whole new blog post about the alone!
PAUSE for the cause.
Before you can proceed, you must have the two items checked off your list.
-A Contact page with a contact form
-A Thank You Page where you send clients to after they filled out their contact form.
-If you do not have either, then check with your theme designer on how you can update your form as a page and also add a thank you page once folks sign up.
Now you may move on
Here is a quick step by step on how to setup your Google Analytics Goals:
- Open your Google Analytics Dashboard and locate the conversions tab
- Next go to Goals.
- Enable Goals if it has not been set up yet.
- It takes you to the admin area where a new box pops up
If yours was already set up or has an old one just go straight to the Admin tab then views section. Now choose NEW GOAL.
They have templates but I only use the custom option.
5. Choose Custom Goal and hit continue.
6. Give your goal a name and choose destination.
Destination should be your thank you page. This is how you know how many people actually signed up versus how many just visited the page.
7. Save the goal. Make sure recording is on.
8. Test the goal. You can test it in real time and do it yourself. Open up a tab where you will go to your Google Analytics dashboard. Go to the real time section then click on conversions. In a seperate tab, open up your form and fill it out. Then toggle back to the GA tab and you should see a conversion populate for your newly created goal.
** If you have filtered out your own IP address then you need to temporarily remove the filter or ask some fiends from other places to fill out the form so you can watch the conversions at the bottom.
Day 7. Fix Yoast Settings
Tags are ancient SEO, and after all, we are in 2018. I recommend that you stop using tags for your blog posts AND that you apply a no-index to tags on your website. Check the steps below on how to do so. Go to your SEO section on your WordPress dashboard. Then go to Titles and Metas and Taxonomies. Toggle the tab that states Tags.
Categories: As I stated should not be indexed either. Go to Yoast > Titles & Metas > Taxonomies
Tweak Yoast Settings – Date & Author Archives .
Just like tags, there is no SEO relevance in having Google see your date archives so you should also stop indexing them. Yoast > Titles & Metas > Archives
Day 8. Remember those uncategorized posts?
The category is a section of blogging that can get easily clogged up. Google loves a well-organized website, so messy categories & posts is a big turn off. One disregarded part of categories is the uncategorized section. Go to Categories section under Posts. Then check how many posts you have in the uncategorized section.
Mine says zero but most likely yours will say a number. Click on the # and for each uncategorized post do a quick edit. Reassign each uncategorized post to its correct category until there are none left. Don’t get lazy here, reassign them all!
Day 9. Empty Out Spam Folder
I finally caved and got the Akismet plugin. Yes, you have to pay for it , but it is worth it. I used to have another plugin and just sat back thinking it did all the work for me. Then one day my hosting company decides to shut my whole website down. Why? Because I was not emptying out the spam folder. What do you mean? if it is already labeled as spam, isn’t the problem solved? Well not really. They told me I should be emptying it out and since they did not see me do so, they thought I was hacked. Things have definitely changed since then so this may not apply to you but please don’t let the spam comments pile up in the regular section either. Take time and nip it in the bud.
I have used other security plugins and have never found an ideal one; they generally slow down the website. If you do not wish to purchase Akismet, then add a captcha to blog comments or even turn off blog comments altogether. I have worked too hard on my blog to risk it being hacked or turned off.
Day 10. Finally Hallelujah! Check that Site Title
I had this in my last Blog Detox Challenge, but it is the time to revisit. Go to your site settings and look at your main page title. Is this page title still relevant to your business? Think about the main keyword phrase you would like to be found for and stick to it for your main page title. You should not use your business name in your page title.
Bad: Feuza Reis Studios
Better: Fort Lauderdale Wedding Photographer | South Florida
To change the main website title of your website or blog, go to your WordPress Dashboard > Settings > General
If you want to learn more about Page Titles, then check out the previous blog detox challenge or sign up to my Blogging SEO Academy.
You can finally catch your breathe now. This completes your challenge. You did it and should be super proud!
Remember to sign up for bonus materials such as video lesson and PDF version of this challenge, plus a Permanent Link Structure Worksheet. Sign up here.