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  • There have been some great SEO questions in the forums in recent months, so I wanted to pop in to chat about on-site changes and their impact on rankings. This post is going to a little bit “inside baseball,” but it should be interesting for the SEO enthusiasts in the audience.

    On both small-scale tests and sitewide changes, the SEO team monitors both organic search traffic and average search rank across a sample set of communities. Our changes to the title tag on 12/10 concerned some in the forums, so I wanted to check back in with some results.

    Changes to on-page elements take a while to index (particularly on a site as large as Wikia!), so it is important to monitor organic traffic and rankings for 6-8 weeks before drawing conclusions. Both Google Search Console (formerly called Webmaster Tools) and our third-party ranking software indicate either a small lift or no impact across sample communities. Communities that had additonal keywords in their titles before the change gained an average of .5-1 positions in the 2 months after the update.

    Ducksoup kept me in the loop regarding this thread, so I was sure to track those communities that had specific concerns about the impact of updated titles on their rankings. Screenshots below come from Google Search Console.

    Title update alvin avg rank

    Munkapedia had an average search position of 7 on 12/9 and showed slow but steady improvement to position 6.5 on 2/6. 6.8 is the average search position across the two-month period.

    Title update saints row avg rank

    Saints Row Wiki had an average search position of 7.2 on 12/9 and showed a more volatile incline to position 6.1 on 2/6. 7.1 is the average search position across the two-month period.

    In the wake of a sidewide change that has SEO implications, it is tempting to comb through individual SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in search of gains and losses. The issue with this approach is that search results are in a constant state of flux; movement by a position or more is expected and not cause for alarm. (Mozcast, SERPmetrics, and other tools are available to check the turbulence of search across a broad sample of sites.)

    If you are concerned about the performance of a single article (or a small group of articles), you can try a few things:

    • Build each article around a single topic and choose a name that reflects that topic; be sure the title is not a duplicate (e.g. space vs. hyphen; caps vs. camel case) of another article.
    • Prioritize the use of natural language. Use synonyms and grammatical variations throughout an article, but not in the same sentence or paragraph. The goal is to cut down on repetition and create a broader range of possible ranking signals without keyword stuffing.
    • Send relevant internal links to articles from related articles, categories, and galleries and/or feature it on the main page, but avoid sending multiple links to the same page within the body of a single article.
    • Search for questions people are currently asking about this topic and include answers in your content. Feel free to state the question in the article, but it is not needed.
    • Check photos and videos to be sure each has a descriptive file name (spiderman_slinging_webs.jpg is more meaningful to search bots than img012.jpg).

    These steps do not guarantee a first position spot in search but can set our most important pages up for success.

    I love to get into the details about search rankings, so please feel free to ask questions here or on my Message Wall.

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    • No wonder the title inside the search engines are now into one common format: Search {{SITENAME}}. I still don't seem to like it though but perhaps I can get used to it soon, just like I did when the format of the pagetitles were changed.

      FANMADE Pinkie Pie jumping Pinkgirl234 Message Wall Element of Laughter04:21, February 17, 2016 (UTC)

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    • Ok

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    • ok so basically based on those search results is staff going to keep this forced change considering it actually Harmed SEO ratings rather than helped?

      i mean a drop from like 7.2 to 6.1 isn't much but since those numbers correspond to above average to average, I would consider this to be unfortunately a failed project...

      I mean I did try asking DuckSoup for an actual example of what the actual changes were but was told "unsure", not sure what to make of this...i still don't know why a feature was launched without any form of clue as to what impacts it would have...

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    • The actual change was on november 1st

      Also, most wikis have an important natural increase of traffic between December 20th and January 10th, because most schools are on holidays, not to be considered a result of this change.

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    • Nerfmaster8 wrote:
      ok so basically based on those search results is staff going to keep this forced change considering it actually Harmed SEO ratings rather than helped?

      i mean a drop from like 7.2 to 6.1 isn't much but since those numbers correspond to above average to average, I would consider this to be unfortunately a failed project...

      Isn't a lower position (number) really a higher position in searches?

      Ciencia Al Poder wrote:
      ...most wikis have an important natural increase of traffic between December 20th and January 10th...

      Most definitely true. Munkapedia was higher during that period due to Christmas and a new film (three of the top queries shown related directly to the film). Higher traffic was already expected and can't really be attributed to the change in page titles.

      My question is what are the more historic numbers?

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    • @Nerfmaster8 I should have been more clear! The best search position is 1, so the lower the number the better the result. Removing those additional keywords removed less relevant terms and gave each page a clear, concise title that better reflects the content on the rest of the page. Gaining .5-1 positions in 2 months is a great success (SEO is notoriously slow and gains tend to be incremental).

      Ducksoup isn't on the SEO team full-time (he has a lot of other responsibilities!), so he wouldn't have had examples. I apologize for the confusion and accept full responsibility for the lapse in communication.

      @Ciencia Al Poder changes like these are rolled out in small increments at first to be sure the code works properly before making sitewide changes. That is what you spotted in November - good eye! The sitewide rollout (minus special pages and some others that are less accessible to search crawlers) happened in December.

      @DEmersonJMFM Traffic on Munkapedia definitely increased as a result of the movie release, but that does not have an impact on rankings. In fact, the press and competition around a movie release can drive down rankings as others enter the competition for those search terms.

      Munkapedia's success in December had very little to do with titles. It is a testament to the hard work of its admins and contributors: Munkapedia pages offered the best possible content for those queries at the time search users needed it.

      To the point about historical data: Google provides a 90-day rolling average in Search Console but our team does not have access to rankings past that timeframe. For now! Our team is compiling and storing this data so we can see trends over a longer of period of time and for more communities. This is data we hope to share with users in the Insights dashboard in the future.

      In assessing on-page changes like this one, it is important not to go too far back unless it is to check month-over-month or year-over-year trends. Our site is massive and both contributors and engineers make countless changes each day; looking too much further back muddies the waters and makes it harder to measure the impact of that particular change vs. the impact of those other changes.

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    • Josephyr
      Josephyr removed this reply because:
      Unneeded (cloggish).
      03:05, February 22, 2016
      This reply has been removed
    • SEOkitten wrote:
      @Nerfmaster8 I should have been more clear! The best search position is 1, so the lower the number the better the result. Removing those additional keywords removed less relevant terms and gave each page a clear, concise title that better reflects the content on the rest of the page. Gaining .5-1 positions in 2 months is a great success (SEO is notoriously slow and gains tend to be incremental).

      Ducksoup isn't on the SEO team full-time (he has a lot of other responsibilities!), so he wouldn't have had examples. I apologize for the confusion and accept full responsibility for the lapse in communication.

      thanks for clarifying. Might help to next time have a member of the actual team make the initial thread post rather than someone else :)

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    • Does SEO change if there are multiple links to the same page, yet are in different sections (e.g. in gallery, infobox, navigation etc.)?

      Does this also apply to files as well?

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    • I still dont want to go into this

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    • I've spoken to Brandon Rhea on IRC over at Wookiepedia and we came to the conclusion that its impossible for this change to really cause harm. I have thought up of one way it can harm you (which is kinda on the user's head); if you have a wiki name that's an in-series reference not a franchise name, and you do not mention the franchise title in the body of the article but did in the pagetitle. Then the content will rank weaker for the search term "<franchise title> <search item>" without a customised pagetitle - but that would be on your head.

      As for article SEO ranking, I've got some strange SEO issues on a wiki I edit which I think has to do with similar phrasing in different articles, how would we investigate that?

      EDIT: BTW, making an article like that is like making an article on Han Solo and not stating that he's from Star Wars in the lede - its a little questionable.

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    • ._.

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    • hey

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    • Sigh... -_-

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    • @Enegry X great question! There is no "right" number of links to include (and if someone did figure this out, Google would change the rules), so focus instead on including links that are useful and interesting to readers.

      Contributors often include links to the same page in both the infobox and in the body of an article, but be on the lookout for opportunities to change one of those link targets to an image gallery or relevant content in a different namespace. This helps both search bots and human users find more content and understand the relationship between pages.

      @Speedit I am not 100% sure what you are seeing in search results, but one common issue on Wikia is that Google and other search engines find so much great content that it is hard to determine which page is the most relevant. Search results can be a strange blend of articles, file pages, and forum posts until a wiki establishes an internal linking structure and has built up some external links to its most important content.

      In a case like this, be sure to link to those most important pages from the main page and other related pages and then give the search engines some time to understand those page relationships.

      I might have missed the mark in this response, so feel free to share some examples on my message wall and I can do some more research.

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    • -_-

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    • @KeithMckinney89 @Tristanbuddy1 Can the both of you please stop spamming? This is a serious discussion and you're spamming our email notifications. Please take your pointless discussion elsewhere.

      @SEOKitten We haven't paid attention to the SEO practices of the Ace Combat wiki, but some of these suggestions, especially the infobox links being different, are definitely things I'm going to start looking at. Is there an SEO portal or help page that consolidates tips like these?

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    • Is there a way we can use google webmaster tools, even though Wikia is the siteowner?

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    • @SlyCooperFan1 there is an SEO help page that includes some of this information, but I can add more details or perhaps create some advanced help pages. I will put that on the to do list!

      @Deadcoder our team is working on getting actionable reports out and into Insights, but there are some technical challenges - not the least of which is that Search Console (formerly called Webmaster Tools) cannot track all of our 300,000+ subdomains at one time. We are actively working on solutions here.

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    • Can an Admin do something about the nonsense happening on this thread? Tired of seeing this thread in my notifications for irrelevant/pointless posts.

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    • I'm just new to the concept of SEOs in general, to be honest.

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    • Admins, please do something about Tristanbuddy and Starfireraven. This is getting to be a nuisance.

      @NickiSavage I think a lot of us are new to it, which is why efforts like these help bring awareness to all of us. It's vitally important.

      @SEOKitten That'd be great to see :) Any chance of getting an SEO portal like the Portability hub at portability.wikia.com?

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    • Tristanbuddy1 wrote: They can close it, but idk if they want to, though.

      No way will they close the thread early. If you really have nothing related to post in this thread, then you should not post anything at all. A serious discussion is serious.

      @Admins and Staff If anyone is reading this right now, may you remove all the nonsense and irrelevant replies pretty please? Thanks!


      On topic: Yeah. Honestly any information about the SEO tends to confuse me but it takes a while for me to get them. I hope any expected impacts in the recent changes of the SEO system will turn out positive.

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    • I don't care. I did not sign up to get a notification for this.

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    • TheRealKinne wrote: I don't care. I did not sign up to get a notification for this.

      Most people do, that's why it was highlighted. Sorry to burst your bubble. /:

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    • There is button at the top of the thread that allows you to unwatch it.

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    • Unfollow it, but yeah. It says following, but if you have your mouse hover over it, it'll say unfollow, and you can press that.

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    • I must unfollow that infobox thread, haha

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    • Annabeth and Percy wrote: Unfollow it, but yeah. It says following, but if you have your mouse hover over it, it'll say unfollow, and you can press that.

      Ah, sorry. My UI is in Polish.

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    • This might make me sound lazy, but could someone summarize the changes of what is written. I am not quite sure what specific changes were made. @SEOKitten is the SEO changes that were mentioned elsewhere?

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    • To comply with Google documentation on concise, consistent domain names and pagetitles, Wikia decommisioned the MediaWiki:Pagetitle page and made every wiki have Sitename - Wikia as the page title. This move was pushed through not for the purpose of removing customization but for bringing SEO practice on Wikia into line against the act of keyword stuffing. There was some trepidation and annoyance at the change but that's pretty average for a big update - and unfounded seeing as the move was of net benefit..

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    • Speedit wrote:
      There was some trepidation and annoyance at the change but that's pretty average for a big update - and unfounded seeing as the move was of net benefit.

      Just because there appears to be a benefit or that Wikia changes frequently cause opposition don't mean disagreement to the change was unfounded. The update changed sitenames of wikis that used MediaWiki to clarify their identity (those that weren't practicing keyword stuffing and where the majority of constructive disagreement came from). Now you must request Staff update on their end which has large negatives of creating a long Project namespace name or a partial loss of that identity.

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    • TheRealKinne wrote:

      Elexorien wrote:

      TheRealKinne wrote: I don't care. I did not sign up to get a notification for this.

      Most people do, that's why it was highlighted. Sorry to burst your bubble. /:

      My point is f*** off with the highlighting. I don't want notifications for your useless nonsense, especially if I never gave permission by subscribing to it

      Dude, please chill. Swearing is forbidden in this wiki, just a heads-up.

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    • @SlyCooperFan1 not enough hands on deck at the moment, but I would love to support an SEO hub someday. The good news is that portability efforts are a huge help with mobile SEO, so no complaints from me!

      @Superdadsuper Speedit hit the nail on the head! DEmersonJMFM also did an excellent job summarizing the main concern on the original thread. The loss of wiki "branding" (for lack of a better term) in the title is a valid concern; our team considered several options here, but we settled on sitename because changes are infrequent and it is short enough that most page titles fit within the character display limits. But I agree it's not a perfect solution.

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    • SEOkitten wrote:
      @SlyCooperFan1 not enough hands on deck at the moment, but I would love to support an SEO hub someday. The good news is that portability efforts are a huge help with mobile SEO, so no complaints from me!

      @SEOKitten: It would be interesting to have a blog post about portability efforts that may yield SEO benefits, or perhaps even some case studies using a specific wikia. This could actually be added one of the pages at portability wikia and listed as an added advantage of portability.

      Currently, most users don't know what SEO  is, nor what advantages it may yield. Perhaps associating it with portability would be a plus as we can document all features that directly or indirectly influence it.

      @SlyCooperFan1: While it may not seem like it, the portability hub was actually a user project that aimed to document portable infoboxes, and later on all portable components. It was later seen as useful and endorsed by staff. So considerable effort was made by volunteers before it became an "official" wikia. Perhaps a similar effort could be made by those interested in SEO.

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    • Great thread as I'm new to Wiki and want to make sure I'm building my page optimized for SEO.  One thing you've not touched upon is images I'd like to get my images ranking high in Google because who doesn't enjoy looking at pretty beach photos. When I get images from Google whats the best way to place them on my page so they will be good for SEO?

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    • @BestBeaches: SEOkitten has written a blog on that topic. From my experience, simply hosting content on Wikia gives enough SEO as it is, but if you're into optimizing it further, then good luck, I guess!

      @Ashlee: Please don't micropost like that…

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    • @BestBeaches, I found that a rigid categorisation of images by type with subcategories along with adding good descriptions - made for some great SEO on my image pages. Then all the images got scraped - good news as the image categories are now number-one on Google for being a high-quality source.

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    • @Speedit So its ok to scrape image from Google for building out pages? That would sure speed things up.

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    • Not so much (Berne Convention). Also, your wiki will perform much better in SEO with original content - and copyright gets more gnarly with images so you may see images all get nuked on request.

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    • @speedit wow.

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    • Hello id like 2. Wikis shut down trollpasta  and LMR.  reason: people  are so inappropriate on.  LMR. and. Trollpasta is prejudiced against artistic people it is so wrong

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    • This is not what this discussion is about. Staff doesn't shut down wikis unless they're going against the ToU. If you don't like them, just stay off of there and leave the users on there to do as they please.

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    • Jareck.smith wrote: Hello id like 2. Wikis shut down trollpasta  and LMR.  reason: people  are so inappropriate on.  LMR. and. Trollpasta is prejudiced against artistic people it is so wrong

      This has nothing to do with the thread. Go make some other thread if you want.

      -Mlnl (talk) 20:56, February 23, 2016 (UTC)

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    • I need you  to find a wikia administration to do it...

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    • This is not the place to do it. You can report it here, but don't expect them to actually do it for you.

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    • First, "Jareck", Wikia does not have the authority to do this in this case, as has already been stated. Second, this thread is not the place to start this discussion, as has already been stated.

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    • This thread is perhaps the most filled with off-topic and/or pointless posts I've seen on CC (at least in a little while). Why? I'm done - unfollowing. Better yet, it should just be flat out closed. Sorry, don't mean to sound dramatic, but I'm just tired of seeing this nonsense in my notifications. Bye.

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    • A FANDOM user
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