I’ve been reading the Search Engine People blog for some time now, but today was the first time I’ve ever noticed them offering any kind of tool, plugin, what-have-you. If it is in fact their first foray into the world of plugins, they certainly are making a splash! At 52 Sphinns and 54 ReTweets, I’d say they’ve struck a cord with SEOs. Their new tool is called the “WordPress Blog Link & Traffic Analysis Plugin.” Once loaded into your WordPress account, this plugin pings Yahoo! Site Explorer (via Yahoo! API) and pulls in back link data and combines that with pageview and crawler stats.
First impressions mean a lot to me, and I’ve got to say this plugin is pretty cool stuff. It isn’t really ground breaking in the data it’s presenting, but it makes up for that in sheer simplicity. Just to experiment – I walked through the process of requesting a Yahoo! API key, loading the plugin into one of my personal blogs and getting access to the data in a matter of 5 minutes or less. Like I said, simple. And beyond speed, for any SEO to have back link and crawler data so easily accessible (directly from your WordPress Settings) and malleable (sort by any data point asc/desc) is just fantastic. That is if you’re using WordPress!
Now you can start to see those posts that get very little traffic, though have great inbound link equity. These are prime candidates for 301 redirection to more “current” posts struggling to rank.
Within the scope of blogging, this tool is great for assessing the popularity of old posts vs. new posts. The author (and I presume designer of the plugin) Jeff Quipp specifically mentions looking at old posts that have a great back link profile but are suffering from low pageview and traffic counts. Taking this element of analysis to the extreme, IMHO, this plugin also comes equipped with an almost too easy format for creating 301 redirects from those old posts to relevant new posts.
This is my only point of critique for an otherwise great WordPress plugin: Are 301 redirects REALLY the answer here? I suppose that in a few instances, it could make sense to essentially “delete” an old post by 301ing it to new content. But most blogs, especially those aiming to be thought leaders and information hubs could lose a piece of their credibility by eliminating old content in this manner! Any post, especially one that has a strong back link profile is likely also a popular bookmark for individuals coming back for more. If you place a 301 redirect on that post, their bookmark is rendered useless. Maybe, just maybe, your new content is similar enough to be helpful. But my guess is you will alienate that reader by removing their bookmarked, favorite content.
My 2 cents on this would be to assess this process on a post-by-post basis. If you can find no other workable solution, OK, go with the 301 redirect. But I would suggest you try updating the old post with a header or footer link that points readers to your new content. This is good for readers/usability and will also help to distribute that old post’s PageRank to your new content. I would go one step further and suggest that you test different strategies before settling on the 301 option.
To wrap things up, my main point here is this is a great plugin – and if you’re managing SEO for a blog (or even a full website) on WordPress, you should definitely start using it today! My critique on the 301 redirects may be a bit nit-picky, but I felt it was important to push a bit on that point. All SEOs should carefully review the thought process behind a 301 redirect before implementing. 301s have a lasting effect that can’t be undone. Otherwise, hats off to Jeff Quipp and Search Engine People on a job well done. I’m looking forward to seeing future updates and additions!