Tuesday 10 December 2013

Things I don't know much about: SEO and WordPress

A reader has sent me an email asking for help, but I don't know much about the topics they're asking about. So perhaps you lot can offer some insight...

Here's the email (unedited, except where indicated for the sake of privacy):


I am contacting you because i need advise on Coldfusion.

i have the site [redacted] that has been developed in Coldfusion back in 2008 by my Developer.

I have a database of 15,000 service providers and clients making request, appointment online with them.

I keep reading that Coldfusion is dying technology. My new Developer wants to transfer my site to wordpress to get much better SEO.

i have 300,000 links on Google but none of them rank high and my site will be much more valuable if I get more traffic from Organic search.

i wanted to ask your guidance.

Thanks you very much

Firstly... it is my firm belief that SEO "experts" are to web technology what homeopaths are to the medical industry: snake oil pedlars. There's no such thing as an SEO expert, there's just someone who guesses shit at random and charges a lot of money for it. And like homeopaths: they should all be shot.

So I don't know any SEO experts, and if I knew someone who claimed to be one, I'd pretty much not have anything to do with them anyhow.

That said, I had a look at the site and couldn't see anything egregiously wrong. There's sensible titles, headings, description, keywords. The URLs include semantically appropriate content (eg: /what-the-page-is-about, rather than ?id=123). The content on each page is semantically relevant, if a bit sparse in places. The page weight is OK, and pages load quickly.

The keywords could do with a bit of polish: they are far too broad in places, eg: "spiritual, rabbi, priest, healing, guide, spirituality, counselor". This is a service listing site, so I might try to be more relevant here: "local rabbi", "counselor by appointment" or something. And I might try to put slightly more relevant content at the top of each page, before diving into the generic listings.

I also noticed the site serves on both www.thedomain.com and thedomain.com. I suspect this might not help things; one of those should redirect to the other, for the same of search engines. Otherwise what rankings one has could a) compete with each other on different domains; b) get dropped due to seeming like duplicate content. Not sure on that one though.

I'd perhaps focus on signing up to other listing aggregation sites and the link, to improve back links.

The chief thing that piqued my interest here is this statement: "My new Developer wants to transfer my site to wordpress to get much better SEO". That smells of bullshit to me. How would porting a site from one technology to another improve SEO? To me it sounds like the new developer should have been saying "I am a WordPress 'developer', and I don't know CFML, so I'd rather redevelop the site in WordPress and PHP because I can make more money on that". I can't see how re-developing the site is a good use of the owner's money. If I was starting the site from scratch, I might consider an off-the-shelf solution rather than a bespoke one, but now the site is already there, functioning, then redeveloping it "for the sake of SEO" sounds like really poor, professionally irresponsible advice. However - as I say - I am no expert in WordPress, so perhaps it does something magical with its content to make it more SEO-friendly?

Anyway, what do you think about this idea of porting a site from a bespoke CFML solution to WordPress? For any reason, SEO or otherwise? I'l like to help this dude out, but it's really outwith my sphere of knowledge.