Bug #2959


CUNY Academic Commons SEO issues

Added by Matt Gold about 10 years ago. Updated almost 10 years ago.

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WordPress (misc)
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A few members who use Commons blogs for their main points of identity on the web wrote in to say that they were surprised at the lack of google juice the Commons has -- it does not come up high in search results for their names despite being their central points of identity. I will forward the email to you separately, but let's use this ticket to troubleshoot the issues involved. Adding Chris Caruso to the list of watchers given his knowledge of SEO.

Related issues

Related to CUNY Academic Commons - Feature #3662: Duplicate Content/SEO/Google issuesAssignedRaymond Hoh2014-11-17

Actions #1

Updated by Dominic Giglio about 10 years ago

I am by no means an SEO expert, my knowledge is pretty much confined to the Yoast blog and his SEO plugin.

I'm not sure if his plugin works on a multisite install to improve SEO across all blogs but that is definitely worth investigating. If it does not, an initial answer to these users could be to enable and configure the WordPress SEO plugin on their sites.

Actions #2

Updated by Chris Caruso about 10 years ago

Yes, activating the Yoast SEO plugin for their site will help, especially if they take the time to create unique keywords and descriptions of each Page and Post of their site.

Re-creating their site with the search term in the URL (for example, instead of would be a big help.

Inbound links are also important (currently Google finds none when you search "link:").

Linking their site in their Google Plus account and setting up the rel=“author” tag (which the Yoast plugin makes easy) in their Commons page will help.

The larger problem with WordPress and SEO is the issue of duplicate content. While from the point of view of openness and flexibility, it is great that WordPress can easily display the very same full content of a Post on a Tag Page, Category Page, Date Archive Page, Author Page, etc. But from a search engine's point of view, this begins to look suspiciously like a "content farm" - why should they link to all these pages with redundant data?

Replacing “the_content” in the PHP files with “the_excerpt” for archive pages can help with this, though that would probably be an impossible amount of work given all the themes we have. An easier way is to use the Yoast SEO plugin to exclude from Meta Index and XML Sitemap the following Page types: Tags, Date Archives, Pagination, and Author (default page), but do index and include Author (custom page).

Finally, website load speed is an issue. When I check her site with the YSlow Chrome Extension, it rates a "D", as does the Commons home page. Taking steps to increase the speed the site loads would also help with our SEO. I wonder if there are caching options we could look into for the site as a whole?

Hope that is helpful.


Actions #3

Updated by Matt Gold about 10 years ago

Hugely helpful on many levels: thanks, Chris. Others, please let us know your thoughts.

Actions #4

Updated by Chris Stein about 10 years ago

I'm no expert either so I don't have too much concrete to offer. From a next-steps perspective we might want to break this up into three categories

  1. Things we can tell people to do to help themselves, like Chris's first points. This could end up being a Codex page
  2. Plugins and the like we can add to the Commons that will help this
  3. Development activities we can do to help that will require work on the part of the dev team. Within this we may also need to differentiate between things we can do with the main Commons site that has a theme we can control and things we can do for individual blogs where we don't have that control over the themes.

We also might want to consider bringing in an SEO expert to look at things especially before we do a major redesign; it could be part of that process as well.

I took a quick look at the YSlow results and a lot of it seems common for WP sites (too many JS files, too many CSS files). Boone knows better about whether things like combining CSS and JS files, GZipping them, changing where they are on the page are possible, and we would have to make a decision based on how hard it would be vs how much it might benefit the rankings.

the other Chris :)

Actions #5

Updated by Matt Gold about 10 years ago

Great synthesis, Chris -- thank you!

Actions #6

Updated by Boone Gorges about 10 years ago

  • Status changed from Assigned to Reporter Feedback
  • Target version set to Not tracked

Thanks to all for your input so far.

For the specific case in question - a user searching Google on her name, and expecting her blog to show up at the top - probably the most important suggestion is this one:

Linking their site in their Google Plus account and setting up the rel=“author” tag (which the Yoast plugin makes easy) in their Commons page will help.

Likewise, setting the Commons URL as your home page in your Twitter profile and in other public places will help: it'll reinforce the rel=me relationships, and it'll create more incoming links.

It's also true that we have some issues with page load speed, but in this specific case, the user's Commons profile is being linked quite high in the results. So that alone is not a serious problem.

As for some of the other tips (about duplicate content, keywords, and other things that the Yoast plugin does), I don't think any of these will hurt, but I think they're more important when you're trying to increase your pagerank for the subject matter of your site. Unless you're tagging all your pages with your first and last name, I'm not sure it'll help much with pagerank for your name.

Actions #7

Updated by Matt Gold about 10 years ago

Okay -- I will point the users in question to this ticket. Boone, if any of the strategies others have listed strike you as useful for the Commons on a larger scale, please create separate tickets for them.

Chris, I like the idea of having an SEO expert (ideally, one who specializes in WordPress) consult on the site. Do any of you know someone who does this? Maybe Yoast?

Actions #8

Updated by Chris Caruso about 10 years ago

Great idea. I don't know any of these folks personally, but I agree that the Yoast team would probably be my first choice.

Another possibility is a guy named Nick Herinckx at Obility Consulting: I've seen his seminar on advanced WordPress SEO and been impressed.


Actions #9

Updated by Boone Gorges almost 10 years ago

  • Status changed from Reporter Feedback to Resolved

Hi all - it looks to me like we've addressed the primary concerns raised in the original report, so I'm going to close this ticket as Resolved. If there are specific requests/suggestions about how the Commons might improve these issues, let's handle them as separate feature requests. And let's bookmark this ticket as a helpful thread for people looking to improve the Google juice of their Commons sites. Thanks!


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