The Panda Slap

If you run a website and have basic interest in SEO, you probably heard that Google recently released their so-called Panda update, a change in algorithm aimed at getting rid of the shitty sites such as eHow.com and similar content farms.

The change in the algorithm came in 2 iterations. The first one came out on February 24th, in the US only, affecting about 10% of search queries. The second one was released on April 11th and was rolled out in the rest of English-speaking countries, also making a slight change to the US algo, which supposedly affects an additional 2% of US queries.

On the morning of February 25th, I was glad to see that my iPhone blog had gone through the update and came out unhurt. Even better than that, it seemed I was doing even better in search engines. It was nice to see Google recognizing me as a good resource. Then on April 12, everything changed when I realized the second iteration of the Panda update had slapped me in the face. Big time! (more…)

The Google Freak Out

Something that freaks me out more than anything online is seeing some of my websites or pages disappearing from Google’s index from time to time. There is generally a good reason for that to happen and troubleshooting the issue quickly and thoroughly can help you save tons of “leaking traffic”. I had a similar problem over the weekend. Let me tell you what happened and how I fixed it. (more…)

How To Improve The Search Feature Of Your WordPress Blog

This post was inspired by a tweet from Lorelle, my favorite WordPress expert. Lorelle’s tweet was saying “Make WordPress’ search function suck Less” with a link to this post. I had WordPress search issues in the past and found a few solutions and I thought I would learn a little bit more from this post, but I didn’t.

Basically this post was about manually tweaking your search.php file, which improves the WordPress search feature but it still doesn’t make it a good search feature. The main problem with the WordPress search feature, besides the irrelevancy, is that if you have a large blog of a few hundreds posts, then there is not much you can do to speed up the search.

I don’t pretend to be an expert about WordPress (I’m actually far from that!) but I do think both solutions I will talk about in this post are much better at delivering very good search results for your WordPress blog. By “good search results”, I mean results that are delivered quickly, that are relevant to your search query, and sorted by relevance.

wpSearch Plugin

The wpSearch plugin is like having your own custom search engine on your blog. wpSearch is based on “Lucene“, a full-featured open source text search engine. wpSearch is fast, and relevant, which is pretty much everything I need from a search engine on my blog.

To set up wpSearch on your blog, simply download the plugin from here, then upload it, set permission to 777 (very important), and activate the plugin from your admin panel. After activating it, you will have to build the search index database, which may take a while (about 5 posts/second) if you have many posts on your blog. That’s all there is to it. Now check your search feature and you will see a huge difference in the results you will get. The relevancy will be so much better that like me, you’ll want to blog about it ;-)

Adsense For Search

Adsense for Search (AFS) is now my favorite search feature for my blogs for 2 reasons: for one it is the best search engine you can get; and two, you can actually make money from it. Even though I hate Google as a company, I can’t deny that their search algorithm delivers the best you can get from a seach engine thus far.

Now the main concern about Adsense For Search is that you have to rely on Google to crawl your website to index your new posts. Some people won’t use Adsense For Search for this one reason. Yes, you have to wait for Google to crawl your site and index your pages but how much does that really matter in your case? I mean, is it that important to you that your post must be foundable immediately after being published?

Besides, one benefit of Adsense For Search that I have been able to verify on all my blogs is that when AFS is implemented on your site, Google will come visit you quickly and more often. I haven’t done scientific tests on this, but I was able to notice it on many occasions. Most of the time, when I publish something on my blogs, the post is picked up by Google within hours, sometimes within minutes.

To set up, AFS, you will need a Google Adsense account.

No More DoFollow For Me!

saynotonofollow

A while back, when I started this blog, I installed the DoFollow plugin which removes the nofollow attribute of the URL of your commenters and any URL included in the comment itself. The reason I installed this plugin was to quickly get many backlinks to this blog.

Indeed, when your blog is “dofollow”, you get featured on many sites or blogs that give list of dofollow blogs. Doing this got me listed on a few hundred blogs in no time creating a large amount of backlinks, which is probably the reason why my blog has a PR4.

The downside of this as you can imagine is that you get quite a bit of spam comment. Akismet handles most of it but from time to time I had to manually delete comments. But most people commenting on my blog just to get a link back are actually very well behaved. Most didn’t abuse it and left genuinely interesting comments. In this case, I didn’t delete the comment.

Today I decided it is time to go back to the nofollow rule. My blog is clearly not intended to make money or anything like that so I really don’t care about traffic and Google PR, which in my opinion doesn’t even mean anything anyways. Besides, I will probably remain listed as a dofollow blog on many sites so I don’t think I’m gonna suffer any link juice dicrease.

Helping the iPhone community, one step at a time

For those of you who don’t know yet, I operate an iPhone blog that’s getting quite some attention lately. We average between 8,000 and 10,000 visits per day and I had to hire 2 co-bloggers (Alicia and Cody) to help me satisfy our readers’ hunger for iPhone news, tips, hacks and cracks.

I got in touch with the AllTop.com team to help them put together the iPhone page. I sent them a list of the best iPhone websites and resources out there. Obviously, they also included the iPhone Download Blog on their page.

It’s nice to be able to participate in the iPhone community and to make it better, little by little. If you go to the AllTop iPhone page, you will see that my blog is right at the top, in second position, which gives me PR5 links to 5 of my most recent posts as well as a link to the homepage. That’s some solid SEO juice!

Next step is to get my company’s franchising blog on AllTop but I’m going to wait a few weeks since we just launched the blog a few days ago and it doesn’t have much content.

12 WordPress plugins I can’t live without

I have 3 different blogs (1, 2, 3) that are powered by WordPress, which is without a doubt the best blogging platform out there. The good thing with WordPress is that it is open source, which means anyone can create plugins to improve WordPress’ backend to fit one’s needs.

There are 12 plugins that I find extremely useful and I would like to share them with you. (more…)

10 Tips To Improve Your SEO

Here is the summary of a blog entry posted this morning on SearchEngineLand.com. This post gives 10 tips on how to improve your search engine optimization:

  1. Do your keyword research
  2. Stay in touch with the SEO world, read blogs, websites, etc…
  3. Get the most of your code; use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  4. Make navigation easy so bots can easily crawl your site
  5. Get links from trusted and relevant resources
  6. Build a sitemap and submit it to major search engines
  7. Make sure the backend of your site is SEO friendly (ie. your host, redirects, etc..)
  8. Use web analytics to track your progress
  9. Submit your content to search engines
  10. Provide unique and relevant content