What happens when you get Martin MacDonald, Peter Handley, Alex Moss and Jessica Rose into a room? 

You get a Technical SEO Roundtable.

Some introductions. Jessica Rose, technical sales at Majestic. Peter Handley, from award winning agency TheMediaFlow and Alex Moss, a web developer at some company we’ve never heard of.

Question 1. How many kittens died as a result of Martin MacDonald calling himself an “inbound marketer”?

Martin evaded this question, prompting suspicion from the room. His lack of a denial implies that he lost count a long time ago.

Question 2. “We have a new blog using WordPress multisite. Why aren’t the thumbnail images coming into Facebook when we share stuff on there?”

Alex Moss stated that WordPress (core) fails to include OpenGraph tags which are used for Facebook. This can sometimes cause issues as Facebook tries to guess what thumbnail it should use by scanning the page … and it doesn’t always get it right.

Alex mentioned his framework (Peadig) and a plugin called Social Structured Data.

I’d like to add that you could also modify your theme to pull in featured images using a couple of lines of code – or the code in this blog post or you can add a post meta. I think Yoast’s plugin might do this too but you need to enable the option.

Question 3. I have a sitewide link from a Russian newspaper. Is this bad?

Jessica Rose replied that she’d not be happy if they were all follow links. Martin said he didn’t think it was a good idea. Used to be cool. Ain’t cool anymore.

Question 4. Are people too concerned about sitewide links? Especially when there’s a logical reason for them to be there such as international versions of the site.

Martin replied “I’d have a different footer on home to other pages”.

For international versions, markup using hreflang or a hreflang sitemap justifies your relationship with other countries. By offering a different domain, you’re just taking a different approach to example.com/en/ or example.com/fr/.

Question 5. Is there a quick and simple way of identifying the route someone took hacking a site?

Pete said, “Reinstall WordPress”. Alex said, “Don’t buy anything from Themeforest”.

A good way is by scanning the code for obfuscation i.e. base64 encodes or eval statements in the PHP. Download all the files and scan the text using an editor such as Notepad++ which can scan entire directories. You should also check server logs to see which pages were accessed.

You can also setup Google Alerts for “site:example.com viagra”. See Matthew Woodward’s post on Google Alerts for more examples.

IrishWonder pointed out you should check for file change dates on your site’s FTP.

Question 6. What is your preferred approach to faceted navigation?

Alex said that sometimes people like to use AJAX but that creates its own problems. Right categorisation needs to be built into the site.

Pete said “I recommend doing keyword research and noindexing stuff that doesn’t serve a purpose”.

I personally like the approach that eBay takes of removing faceted internal links after the second filter option.

Question 7. Are Google using Analytics data (conversions) about site usage to determine how suitable a site is?

Suspicion from the group. Alex asked: “How does Google know what a conversion is?” The guys weren’t so sure.

Question 8. Regional targeting. How do I target individual regions such as continents rather than countries?

Alex answered a redirect based on IP might work. Pete suggested targeting each country. Martin agreed. If you want to rank for it, you have to make a page for it.

Question 9. How do I get a site ranking if all of its content is hidden behind a paywall or login?

Martin questioned the wisdom of this. Alex asked what they want to achieve. Figure that out and suggest an alternative approach.

Other topics. A discussion of the duplicate content created by faceted navigation and indexed internal search pages.