One of the things I love about SEO the most is that even after years of optimization there is still room for improvement.
Even the best among us still have potential to improve their websites and blogs.
While reading the leading SEO blogs I sometimes encounter basic SEO, usability and trust issues. They’re not big enough to write them an email or there are simply too many of them to reach out to each of my friends and mentors in the SEO industry.
Also I wouldn’t email the likes of Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin out of the blue, they have probably a hundred more important emails in the queue already.
So I decided to follow the line from one Beatles’ song: “With a little help of my friends“. You might argue that the best SEO bloggers out there are not my friends, but reading them a few times a week for years sometimes via multiple channels makes feel as if they are.
Thus I will do my friends a favor and help them to identify some issues their SEO blogs face.
Welcome to the “SEO, usability and trust issues even the best SEO blogs face” post. I bet you will recognize some problems your blog may face as well.
Those of you who are familiar with my earlier writings on my own blog know that I consider SEO, usability and trust to be just parts of one thing: SEO 2.0. Still I wanted to name them for all the others who don’t know me yet.
Issue: The RSS feed link is either difficult to find or doesn’t exist in the first place.
Example: Sadly one of my favorite search and social blogs Social Media Fish has no feed link at all. It takes quite a while until you find the button on the Humoah SEO blog which is also a must subscribe to resource.
Solution: The link to the RSS feed should be on top of a blog or at least above the fold/scroll.
Issue: Post headlines often get stripped from the link to the post itself. Moreover some blogs don’t offer text headlines but non-selectable image replacement headlines.
Example: My friend Rishi Lakhani doesn’t let me select the headlines on his non-SEO blog. How am I going to submit his blog posts to social media? Also I can’t copy the link from the post headline, it doesn’t link to itself. The link I arrived on sounds like this though:
So I can’t reuse it.
Andrew of Local SEO Guide doesn’t let me “copy link location” either. SEOptimise has this issue as well, the headlines are not linked once we’re reading the post.
Solution: Use text for headlines and link the posts to themselves in the headline.
Issue: PageRank sculpting doesn’t work anymore, it hurts your site. Matt Cutts told us so a while ago. Still some people choose to use the nofollow attribute on their sites and internal links. Generally nofollow means “I don’t trust you”. Some people don’t even trust themselves or their best friends.
Example: SEOmoz, perhaps the most renowned SEO blog on the planet, doesn’t seem to trust its own CEO, Rand Fishkin. His profile link uses nofollow. Hey Rand, don’t be so shy, I trust you! So you can trust yourself as well! Another example of bizarre distrust is the blogroll on Search Engine Journal. All links get the “this is potential spam” attribute. When you don’t trust the authorities of your trade why link them at all?
Solution: Dump nofollow altogether or use it really only on crap links you don’t trust.
Issue: The subscribe via email form is in the right top corner where you’d expect the search form to be. Also it very much resembles the search form.
Example: Check out Search Engine Land by search marketing industry legend Danny Sullivan. The subscribe via email input not only looks like the search form but SEL even writes “…Search News…” above it. In case you just quickly jump over to the search form without reading everything around it you hit subscribe instead of searching. The SEOptimise isn’t perfect here either.
Solution: Clearly separate both forms. In whatever way it suits you.
Issue: Commenting doesn’t work as expected or not at all.
Example: Search Engine People by Ruud Hein and his team of SEO superheroes is perhaps the best SEO blog from Canada. While commenting they trick me though. First they want me to give them my URL but then they don’t publish it with the actual comment.
The number one SEO blog in Google.com published by Graywolf doesn’t allow comments at all. That’s sad. I’ve been linked there recently and wanted to add something but there was no way to do so. Without comments a blog is not really a blog anymore.
Solution: To combat spam use a third party tool where people have to log in or let them become members of your blog. Make commenting then “members only”.
Issue: Popular security tools like WOT (Web of Trust) have marked your blog as malware or spam.
Example: David Harry of Huomah is one of the most reputable SEO bloggers internationally, but each time I visit his site I get a warning. Lately I have marked his site as trustworthy but still the issue persists. It’s just an orange alert now. I can imagine why he got that bad rep though. When you subscribe to his blog comments you get tnotifications for spam comments as well.
Issue: Your font choice does not work on older Windows versions (XP) or with font smoothing disabled.
Example: The “latest articles” on the Search Engine Journal homepage have barely readable headlines on my system.
Solution: Choose always backward compatible web safe fonts like Arial/Helvetica, Verdana/Tahoma and Times New Roman. At least as a fall back solution.
Issue: The date on your postings is or can be misleading.
Example: When I arrive at SEO Book by Aaron Wall via Google I often mistake old posts for new ones at first as he doesn’t display the year on top, only the day and the month. You can scroll down to find the date but who will? This way people might think you actually sell old wine in new bottles.
Solution: Display the date in a way that matters. For instance most people don’t care whether you wrote a post at 3 AM or 5PM. Even the days are often irrelevant unless you’re into breaking news. The year matters though.
So you see even the best of the best encounter problems when it comes to SEO, usability and trust online. No website is perfect. There’s always something to tweak. Thus SEO will survive no matter how often it will be declared dead.
Do you know other issues famous SEO blogs have? Do you know some issues here on SEOptimise or over at my badly neglected SEO 2.0 blog? Come on, punch us in the face in the comments!