Blog Optimization: Manta SEO Blog

By Daniel Scocco

Welcome to the first edition of the Blog Optimization project. As I explained on the first post the goal of this project is to optimize blogs that have potential but are not capitalizing it, either because the design is not working, because the SEO is not there or because the overall strategy needs to be tweaked.

The first blog on the project is the Manta SEO Solutions Blog. Melt, the author, is a SEO consultant and the purpose of the blog is to fuel his business while providing useful information for anyone interested in SEO and Internet marketing. Below you will find the “Before” and “After” pictures, as well as a detailed explanation of all the changes we performed.

Before (click to enlarge)
mantaseoblog1.gif

After (click to visit the blog)
mantaseoblog2.gif

Design & Layout

The tagline was changed: the description of the blog was: “Blog about search engine optimization, Internet marketing, WebPR and link building news and tricks as well as latest developments at the Manta SEO Solutions office”. That was too long and it was not giving the reader a clear idea about what the blog focuses on. We changed the tagline to: “Search Engine Optimization and Internet Marketing”. Short and sweet.

The image on the header was removed: while the image on the header was a custom one it was wasting too much space. Removing the image lifted the whole content up on the screen, making sure that the reader gets more information right after accessing the site. The blog also looks more professional without the image.

The “About” section on the sidebar was removed: the first section on the sidebar was an “About” box. There is a big “About” link on the navigation bar so the readers interested can just click on it, there is no need to use space on the sidebar with that extra information.

The “Most Recent Posts” section on the sidebar was removed: the blog already displays 10 posts on the Homepage so there was no need to have a link to those 10 posts on the sidebar as well.

The “Meta” section on the sidebar was removed: the Meta section contained links to the WordPress Admin, HTML validation and so on. Those links are useless for the reader so we removed them.

The other sections on the sidebar were reorganized: the “RSS Feeds” section was moved to the top of the sidebar since the reader should be able to spot it easily. The “Categories” were moved right below the “RSS Feeds” to facilitate the navigation.

RSS Feeds were tweaked: before the optimization the blog had 3 feeds listed: the WordPress Entries feed, the WordPress Comments feed and the Feedburner feed. We removed the first two and added an “Email Subscription” link.

Post excerpts were introduced: the blog was displaying 10 full posts on the Homepage. The result was a really long page. We decided display fully only the latest 3 posts, and all the others are displaying excerpts using the “more” tag.

Post information was changed: below the title of every post there were an “admin” link and the date. We removed the “admin” link altogether since it is not relevant for the reader, and we moved the date below the post.

Footer was changed: we introduced a link to the Homepage on the footer. Some people use that feature to get back to the Homepage when they scroll down to the bottom.

Search Engine Optimization

Post excerpts everywhere: the blog was displaying full posts on the yearly, monthly and daily archives as well as on the category pages. The result was a lot of duplicated content. We changed all those pages to make sure that they display only post excerpts (you can read how to do it here).

Title Tags were optimized: the blog was displaying a long title tag for most pages. Single post pages, for instance, would display a title on this fashion: “Blog Name — Post Title”. A better title tag would be just the post title (you can read how to do it here).

Meta Description tags were optimized: the blog had a static meta description tag. We changed it to a dynamic tag that generates a customized description for each page based on the post excerpt or on the first words of the content (you can read how to do it here).

The www. version was enforced: the blog had both the http://domain.com and the http://www.domain.com versions working. Melt changed the .htaccess file to make sure that all the users were redirected to the http://www.domain.com version (you can read more about this here).

Other Changes

RSS auto-discovery was changed: the RSS auto-discovery link on the header was pointing to the WordPress RSS instead of the Feedburner feed. This would make some RSS subscribers invisible to Feedburner.

Related Entries plugin was installed: we introduced the Related Entries plugin to make sure that readers get some suggestions for related articles at the bottom of every post (you can read about this plugin here).

Blogging Strategy

Comment on SEO blogs: the blog has a very clear niche, search engine optimization, therefore Melt should get active on the most popular SEO blogs around the Internet. This will bring him visibility and more readers.

Write “Pillar” articles:
nothing builds more long term traffic than “pillar” articles. Those are longer, well structure posts that offer useful information for the reader. Melt should write at least 2 pillar articles every month. A suggestion I gave him to an article was “Top 10 Overlooked SEO Techniques”.

Blog with consistency: if you are trying to build a loyal readership you need to be consistent with your blog. That means writing posts with a regular schedule. Melt is not blogging full time so we agreed that 3 posts every week should work well. In the future if the blog starts growing he will probably need to intensify that frequency.



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26 Responses to “Blog Optimization: Manta SEO Blog”

  • Techii

    Hi..

    In my blog, i am using horizontal menu. When somebody search my blog, instead of description or summary they are viewing the contents like skip to main,menu items etc. How can i modify that.. ?

  • Bang Kritikus

    Great long article

  • huslter

    can anybody help me in giving a mini project in engnieering optmization…
    using any simplex method///
    or any dynamic or linear programming methoda please..

    thanks

  • Kirstin

    I think it’s a given that most people make a decision within a couple of seconds about whether they like a blog, a person, a shop etc so my feedback is at first glance the ‘tweaked’ version is a lot better. I get a better look at what’s going on without having to scroll; the image was taking up too much valuable real estate; the text looks cleaner and when text looks clean you don’t get a cluttered feel which can be offputting and leave you thinking ‘where the hell do i start.’ As for some of the other changes I’m sure they all add up to make the site better but for me, how something looks is pretty much going to decide whether i stay on and get to know the site. If i do and assuming you have good content you can make a few ‘mistakes’ and I’ll forgive you.

    My own blog has just gone live and definitely needs some work but when it’s ready Daniel feel free to be merciless…

  • Marshall Kirkpatrick

    I love stuff like this. Lots of good advice here. Additionally, I consider Feedburner optimization part of blog optimization. Turn on PingShot, select some FeedFlare features, etc. Thanks for the post.

  • Mini ZuD

    Great job!

    Wish I had WordPress so you could fix my Blog…

    Nice service you are providing!

    Z

  • Melt du Plooy

    All of the comments above are valid and we might not all agree, so whether you have the date below the post title or elsewhere, removing “10 recent posts” and not having a local feed rather than a feedburner feed are all subject to each of our opinions.

    Every blog is different, because they are run by individuals who are different.

    It’s great to have different views, at least we can appreciate that we’re not the same and move on.

    PS: Matt, thanks for spotting it – “Portolio” is now “Portfolio” – (pity, it was such an interesting word !!!)

  • Manta SEO Solutions

    Daniel, from my side I would like to thank you for your time and effort you put into optimizing my blog. I really appreciate it very much and am honored to be the first blog to have been assessed.

    To all readers: I kind of feel stupid to have my blog optimized by Daniel while I could have done it, but this was more about me not knowing my way around WordPress and how to “optimize” WordPress to get a better blog. When this opportunity came along – I leaped at it.

    When Daniel and I spoke (we chatted over Windows Live Messenger) I realized how little I know about blogging and how much I can learn from Daniel and others.

    Again, a huge thanks Daniel. I owe you!

  • engtech

    Sounds like the next wordpress release is going to make the distinction between tags and categories. I’m very excited.

  • Armen

    Very good Daniel. However, I too would differ on the recent posts section. I use it all the time on blogs, more than any other sidebar section infact. I look at the titles to see if it’s something I want to read. By clicking on that title, I also have the option to leave a comment without having to click through again too.

  • Roberto Alamos

    Just to let you know: I can perfectly see the same content on the blog with and without www.

  • Michael Wales

    This is an excellent post and I love the concept of the entire series – I hope to see a lot more of these.

    I would love to volunteer my blog – http://www.betaflow.com/ to be scrutinized.

  • Frank

    This was a very good read and another couple of useful plug-in’s (I was just searching for a meta tag plug-in).

    One suggestion that I would offer (for technically oriented blogs) it to make sure that you have style sheets for both screen and print. I don’t think I’m alone that I tend to print technical blog entires so I can file them and use them again. While most blogs look great on-line when they use only one style sheet then tend to look very bad printed.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Matt Wardman

    Daniel, thanks for the reply.

    I see arguments both sides on the date position. I’ll come back on one other comment tooL

    “Cut the 10 full posts and you solve the problem and free space on your sidebar.”

    I see one problem here – that you would only have one excerpt above the fold on the screen. One of the things that I have found makes a blog “sticky” is to have a number of options there, in case the reader does not like the current post.

    A “recent posts” list at the top can do that, as can “Key Posts”, “Recommended Posts” etc (best known example is Problogger).

    I’ll close now, and thanks for the dialogue.

    PS The menu bar on the Manta blog says “Portolio” not “Portfolio”. I think “Portolio” is a beautiful word – sounds like a Southern European word for veranda. We will have lunch on the portolio under the vines.

  • Daniel

    Matt, I am glad you agree with most of the points.

    Blogging is no mathematics therefore obviously our personal opinion matters. You mentioned, however:

    “If I don’t see a date, I think”

    In my opinion a better way to reason around the problem is:

    “if readers see something then what?”.

    Sometimes we tend to extrapolate our own preferences like if they apply to the majority of the Internet users. Just because “I like” something does not mean my readers will.

    Again I am not saying your point is not valid. Maybe your readers do prefer to see the date right on top of the post (I dont think that is the case for DBT readers), so i they do for sure use it.

  • Matt Wardman

    I take most of your points. Note sure about the date below the post however.

    If I don’t see a date, I think:

    a) This is a content site pretending to be a blog.

    or

    b) This is old material – it hasn’t got a date on it. If something is (say) 18 months old, I like to know so that I can discount it – an example would be a positive review of Sitemeter before they started serving 3rd party cookies.

    Another example would be Google SEO strategies, because these vary as Google adjust their algorithm.

    You could still put the date at the bottom, but I think I prefer it at the top in a smaller font size.

    At my blog, I currently have post categories at the top, but these will move soon. They were there to avoid confusion with the tags, but I have now made the tags “nodisplay”.

  • Brian

    I just realized that there’s also an SEO benefit to having the date at the end (unless someone is searching for the date) since the top of the page is given more weight by the search engines.

    Then again, I often get hits for “biotech stock 2007” as a search term, so maybe I should leave it.

    I think this is going to be a great series. I hope you’ll do a blog that needs “finer” tweaking since I think that’s where I’m at.

  • Daniel

    tanya, exactly!

  • tanya

    I’ve heard the rationale is that if the content is not date specific – then you don’t want the reader to focus on the date and think the content is outdated. Moving it to the bottom shifts the focus from when the article was written to the content – or so I’ve heard.

  • Daniel

    Matt, 10 full posts on the homepage plus a “recent posts” on the sidebar to avoid the scrolling? Cut the 10 full posts and you solve the problem and free space on your sidebar.

    “What is the rationale for dates to be put at the bottom of posts, please?”

    In my opinion there should be no information whatsoever between the post title and the post content. We live in society with short attention span, you want to make sure that right after being “catched” by the headline the reader will get the content. That is why I always prefer themes that list all the info like date, category, comments, etc below the post.

    Secondly, there is a reason for the date individually also. If you write “timeless” content the date should be below the post. Some people might get discouraged to read your stuff if they see it is “old”. If you move the date below they will read the first lines and judge by the quality of the content instead of by the age. Don’t remove date altogether because a time reference is important, just place it below if people want to look for it.

  • engtech

    @Matt: date at bottom — get people into the article immediately without visual clutter.

    So much of web design is removing/balancing cognitive clutter (like repeated links, etc).

    I think 10 recent posts is good to have on all secondary pages, but keep it off of the main page that already has the ten recent posts (note to self, fix this on my blog).

    The local feed redirecting to feedburner is an excellent idea, all the benefits of feedburner with none of the hassles.

    Daniel, I love the idea behind this series. Would love it if you’d review //engtech some time. 🙂

  • Matt Wardman

    Sorry – can I add a kicker.

    What is the rationale for dates to be put at the bottom of posts, please?

    Rgds

  • Matt Wardman

    A lot of this seems to be in the eye pf the beholder.

    A couple I agree with: dump the picture, shorten the tagline, categories above archives, prominent rss feeds

    I think the “10 recent posts” sidebar panel is a good feature if you have full posts on the home page – one solution to the “too much scrolling” problem.

    I disagree with your call on feedburner – I recommend a local feed redirecting to feedburner so I can move it if I need to. Though I have not set this up on my blog yet (only 1 month old).

    Matt

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