How to Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty on Your Blog

Are you worried about search engines like Google slapping a duplicate content penalty on your blog? Did you know that your blog posts can be accessed through multiple URLs which Google can consider as duplicate pages? Why not give them a subtle advise on which are your favorite URLs to get your content indexed?

For example, check this URL for this blog post:
http://www.rentablogger.com/blog/2009/03/12/avoid-duplicate-penalty-on-blogs/

Now someone may link to this post with his affiliate URL:
http://www.rentablogger.com/blog/2009/03/12/avoid-duplicate-penalty-on-blogs/?affid=”A02″

And if Google discovers both the pages, they will think we have duplicate content here and at will, index one URL and ignore the other.

Webmasters and blog owners have been stuck with this issue for long. However the big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN) recently agreed on the specs for a special meta-tag that will help them them identify the real URL. You can specify this in the head section (I shortened the URL to fit the window):

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.rentablogger...on-blogs/" />

This is a message to the search engine that we prefer to get this page listed under this URL. Please note that you are not ordering them to do so. They may act otherwise if they see a large number of places linking otherwise. Also you cannot point the engines to URLs under a different domain.

You can get a simple plugin to tackle the canonical URL problem here (courtesy –¬†Joost de Valk)

Links in blog post get more weight

Do you know Google is now giving less weight to run-of-site links (the ones you put in the sidebar or footer, available on all the pages)? It is much better to link to your favorite sites from the content – the blog post itself.

The reason is simple – we won’t think much before putting a link to a golf-training guide on a dog-related site’s sidebar. However the relationship has to be much closer if we were to link to it from the content. Thus it is fair to assume that a link from the content is a closer-in-context link as well as lesser likely to be a spam link (mass link exchange or paid-for link). And search engines tend to treat this as a more valuable link.

Google Analytics: Spot Search Trends

Add Google Analytics for insights into your traffic patternYou should integrate Google Analytics on your blog to get an insight into the traffic sources and update the settings and posts accordingly.

While this does not directly help in SEO of your blog, once you get to know which keywords people are using to land up on your blog, which search engines are sending you the traffic and other such information, you can make a plan to make suitable posts to serve these people.

I personally look at the bounce rate of the various pages on a high priority. If some pages have a high bounce rate, I check that to see if I can introduce some hooks to get people to stay longer on that page. You can add the related posts plugin to add some stickiness.

Don’t forget that your home page may have a high bounce rate because the repeat visitors will just read your latest post and go away.

How To Keep The Visitors On Your Blog Longer!

Add related posts plugin to Semiologic entries - keep them longer

Want to keep your visitors on your blog longer? The more they read, the more they are convinced of your expert status. This will definitely increase the chance that they will buy whatever you are offering. Here’s how to achieve this “stay longer” target:

Use the related posts plugin to show a few related posts just after your blog post. This way when a visitor has finished reading your blog post, she gets to see a quick list of some more posts on similar topics. Hopefully she will find one of these interesting and go ahead and read that. Then she will get another list of related posts and … you get the message.

  1. It is quite easy to accomplish this on a Semiologic blog.
  2. Click on Appearance | Widgets.
  3. Choose “Each entry” in the dropdown in top-right side and click on show.
  4. Add the Related widget from the list of available widgets (middle column list). The widget will be added to the list of widgets being used in each entry.
  5. Click on Save changes. The settings are saved and the list shows again.
  6. Now drag and drop the Entry: Actions widget to the end of the list. This is done to make sure that the related posts do not appear to belong to the next entry.
  7. Click on Save changes again. You are done.

View the blog to see the effect. Now your visitors will be staying on your blog longer than before.

If you don’t feel confident you can pull it off or are strapped for time, we can apply these SEO changes to your blog for a nominal feel. Contact us!

Blog Post Title – Did you think before you posted?

Did you know that your blog post tiles are very important for the SEO of your blog? There are some simple but important considerations to get your post (more) popular. Are you doing it the right way?

You must have heard that you must spend 5 times more time on your headline than your sales page. It applies equally well to the blog post titles. A good curiosity enhancing title can make more people consume your post. Here are some interesting options for the post title:

  • How to <do whatever you are writing about>…
  • 7 (or some other number) ways to <something you are writing about>…
  • Are you making these mistakes <in your whatever>? Or some other question?

You will notice that Wordpress or Semiologic will create a slug from your title that will become part of the URL. You should edit this to take out all sundries like did, or, of, the etc while keeping the meaning intact. Think newspaper headlines. Study how they create a meaningful sentence with the minimum words.

Changing page title and meta-tags in Semiologic

As a final tip (only applicable if you are using Semiologic or a SEO-plugin enhanced Wordpress), edit the title of the page. Normally the title of the page (the meta-tag, not the headline) is same as the blog post title. You can edit this to score well on the SEO front while retaining a different blog post title.

You can see the image on the left to see how you can enter a specific set of meta tags for each post.

Blogs Shine When Tagged

Further to my earlier post about improving the SEO potential of your blog with a suitable title, today I will like to cover the use of tags to improve the rankings.

In all your posts, you should add a few tags related to the subjects, name of people or other important topics that the post covers. Note that the tags are different to the category. While there are only a few categories which indicate the main subject of the post, tags are specific to this post. You can use some generic as well as some long tail tags to mark this post.

I will be putting this post under the Blog SEO category but will use several tags – some general, some very specific. The tags pages can help a lot in distributing link juice to the different pages and are very useful for SEO.