It struck me today that I might be fighting a one-man war
That’s a weird place to be in. A copywriter who used to be
into web development versus one of the biggest ecommerce CMS’s on the planet.
Talk about some David and Goliath shit right there.
It’s not really a place where I expected to be in, nor
wanted to find myself.
And certainly not a couple years back when I actually
considered the platform kind of alright and thought my year and a half of
experience with it would be worth a damn.
But then came a project where it all came tumbling down and
I had the worst month of my life career-wise.
For a platform that prided itself on versatility,
flexibility and being robust, it sure ended up being a royal pain the ass.
I survived, but the web development side of my business
In response, I wrote a ranty, garbled blog about Magento to vent, and then the remarkable thing happened.
People read it. A lot of people. People just like me. Web
developers getting fucked by Magento.
Reading over the comments from developers and investors
who’ve worked with the platform, it’s clear that my story isn’t by any means
The scary part is that story is by no means the worst. In
fact, I count myself among the fortunate ones.
I’ve heard from people who’ve wasted years of their live stuck with Magento. Others, who sunk tens of thousands of dollars into that garbage heap, only to eventually have to pull the plug and start anew.
I didn’t think of it much at first, but by the second and then third year of the same comments rolling onto my blog and the emails hitting my inbox, I knew this was bigger than just me. Maybe bigger than a couple dozen other angry devs.
It had to be bigger, because Magento was and still is one of
the largest ecommerce platforms out there. It’s bigger because Magento wants
this fight to be bigger.
When it hit me, that’s when I became an anti-Magento
evangelist. It wasn’t entirely conscious, but any time I saw a question about
it on a forum, a suggestion on a site, anything, I would try to answer it
And the honest truth is stay the fuck away from that CMS.
Some weeks, it feels more and more like a war that I didn’t
start nor want to be part of, but because Magento is still out there, ruining
lives, I’m stuck in this never-ending clusterfuck of a battle.
I find people talking about it on Reddit. Others asking
about it on Quora.
Dear God, the people on Quora.
It’s remarkable how many asshat developers mostly out of
South Asia or Eastern Europe try to lure people into that platform. They talk
about it being the best, how it’s free, and then sneakily add a couple of spam
or affiliate links into their post, suggesting they could make the damn site
Fuck those gargoyles. All they’re doing is luring more
people into the trap. I know how it goes.
It’s something like: “hey, let me build you a Magento
site. Unlike Shopify, it’s free, so you’ll save money.” And then that
entrepreneur ends up having to shit money fixing their site with that dumbass
developer for the next five years.
Fuck those guys.
I’d say that 9 out of evert 10 questions I answer on Quora
fall under the ecommerce section. And of those answers, at least half deal with
Magento – or more specifically, warning developers and entrepreneurs as best I
can about it.
In all, over the years, I’d estimate I’ve messages or
replied to over a hundred people about the woes of Magento. Add the fifty or so
people who commented on my blog and the thousand or so others who read it
without commenting and I’ve warned probably close to 1200 people.
I’m just one person, and all things considered, my opinion
and reviews of the platform might have affected close to a thousand people who
were thinking of using it and then (hopefully) learned otherwise.
In terms of marketing cloud, that’s a lot of power. I
wouldn’t say that I’m an influencer when it comes to steering people away from
shitty ecommerce choices, but I’m down near as prolific.
Still, it seems like I’m out on the front line all alone.
I’m the only one. Why aren’t there other people like me trying to fix
ecommerce, warn the world and keep people safe?
Okay, scratch that. No more maybes. I’m fighting this war.
People have to know about the evils of Magento before it breaks them.
Honestly, that’s no surprise. WordPress is a great platform for launching and managing all kinds sites – especially for blogging.
Heck, I’m using one myself.
Anyways, you’re not here to listen to me gush over this platform. You’re here because you want some essential SEO optimization tips for your site.
Just so that we’re on the same base, these five essentials listed in this guide are considered fairly basic. So if you’ve never done any SEO to your site before, this is the right place to begin.
For everyone else, I’ll be sure to post more advanced tips in the near future.
What is SEO and why do I need it?
Just so we’re all on the same page. SEO stands for search engine optimization.
The two key parts of this are “search engine” and “optimization”.
Search engines (notably Google) are how we find most of the information and websites on the web these days.
Optimization means ensuring that your website gets found in the search engine results page (SERPs). The more optimized you are, the more traffic you should be receiving.
If you’ve got great site that no one’s visiting, it could mean your site needs a little SEO love.
Where do I begin with WordPress SEO these days?
There’s lots of ways to optimize your site, but with WordPress, it’s highly recommended that you install an SEO plugin.
These plugins let you modify your main SEO tags (more on these soon) and get your basic pages up and optimized in no time.
Anyone will do, but if you’re not sure where to begin, Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO are two of the most used. If you want more advanced options Yoast is the way to go, while All-in-One is slightly more beginning friendly.
Here are the 5 essential optimizations for your WordPress Site:
Titles are, obviously, the titles given to your web page (note: not your entire site). These appear at the top of your browser tabs, and more importantly, feature prominently into search results.
Titles are one of the most important factors in SEO as they tell both search engines and human visitors what your page is about.
How long should my title tags be?
Goodle technically uses pixels to measure the maximum length of title tags. However, since most of us can’t easily measure that, using characters is an easier way of estimating the maximum length.
It’s possible to write keywords with as many as 70 characters, but the ideal comfort zone is between 55-60. This ensures that they appear properly on all devices and that there’s plenty of space to get your message across.
How do I write better title tags?
Ideally, you’ll want to feature the keyword your targeting, some additional info and lastly some branding.
A standard format would be:
First Keyword - Second Keyword | Brand Name
For example, here’s a title about a fictional sauce called
awesome (and that clocks in at 60 characters):
Awesome Sauce - The Best Sauce Around | Awesome Sauce Makers
Alternatively, if it’s a blog post you can aim to have a
single phrase for your title – like I did with this page, which also clocked in
at 60 characters.
Pro Tip: if you’re looking for an easy way to count characters, try using a text editor with a built-in character counter.
NotePad++ is the editor I use for virtually all my writing.
Not only does it count characters as you write, but it’s got tons of other
awesome features. Plus it’s free! I whole-heartedly recommend it for literally
Headers often the biggest, boldest text on a web page.
They’re eye catching and help visually define sections on a page.
Headers come in multiple sizes, ranging from H1 as the
largest, down to a very minute H6.
Like the title, they play a significant role in SEO as well
as calling attention to your site and conveying information to your human
What are the right types of headers to use?
The two headers that see the most action are H1 and H2. H1
are the largest and most useful. Every page should have at least one header in
the content for both the keywords and providing value to visitors.
H2 are also very useful. They carry less weigh than H1, but
are great for introducing your subsections, or highlighting important
information for your visitors.
H3 and beyond really only need to come out and play if you’ve got multiple levels of sub sections. For instance, H2s under your H1, and then H3s under your H2s, and so forth.
For instance, this page opened with an H1, then followed with some H2s, and then under each section I’ve been categorizing the content with H3s and H4s.
How do I write better headers for SEO?
Ideally, you want them to be clear, descriptive and pack a
little “oomph” – something to get people excited. This latter part is
important, because all good SEO is written for people too – and not just search
There are no character limits for headers like there are
with titles, but that doesn’t mean you should go all out with the verbosity.
Keep them short and sweet, without adding more words than are necessary.
Most headers should be straightforward. Try to put your
keywords near the start of your headers.
For example, if you’re discussing the future of ice cream in
2019, you might want to put this in your H1:
Ice Cream Flavours to Watch out for in 2019
Then, down in your H2 headers, you can start sorting them by
type (chocolate, berries) or whatever else you want to say about them.
URLs are the locations of webpages that appear in your search bar and in the SERPS.
URLs play a big role in SEO, so it helps to make sure they
are accurate and contain keywords.
It also helps to keep them “clean” as opposed to
What do I mean URLs?
Well, clean URLs don’t have all kinds of unnecessary characters or words in them.
Whereas the clean URL would be better written like:
The good thing about most WordPress SEO plugins is that when you’re drafting a page or a post you can manually write in your URL. It helps to have them short and concise, but not so much that they don’t mean anything.
Try to strip them down to their bare essentials before you publish them.
If you’re not using one, a good alternative is to make sure your permalink structure is set to post name:
How can I change my URLs after I publish a page?
Changing urls after they’re live can cause problems. If
there are any links pointing to that page before you change it, they will all
end with 404 page not found errors, and these aren’t good.
Make sure you add a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new
one. If you’re not sure how to do this in WordPress, I previously wrote about
performing 301 redirects in WordPress.
Meta descriptions are short paragraphs of text that appear under the website’s title in the SERPs.
These snippets of text don’t play a direct role in ranking, however they are vital to informing visitors what your page offers and why they should visit your site and not someone else’s.
What is the ideal length for Meta Descriptions
Like titles, Google uses pixel length to determine their maximum length. Again, since most of us don’t think in pixels, a better target would be to aim for 155-160 characters in length.
Anything longer risks getting cut off, and shorter descriptions mean valuable space is left empty.
How should I write Meta Descriptions?
They should be descriptive of your page content, but also
contain a hook or selling point that will cause visitors to click your link.
Simply putting a long, dry abstract of your page won’t build
excitement and drive visitors to your site.
For instance, which of the following is more likely to grab
your attention and get a click.
On this page, we will list the benefits of eating ice cream during the day. We will cover a list of flavours and then spend some time discussing ingredients.
Or this one:
Discover this season's exciting new ice cream flavour and
the craziest ingredients makers are using. Also learn how your night-time
eating habits are all wrong.
Be sure to also include keywords in your description, as
they appear in bold in the SERPs and really help catch the visitor’s eye.
First Paragraph Content
The titles, headers, urls and descriptions should all be
indicitive of the content of the page.
The first paragraph or two (let’s say, first 100 word) needs
to have keywords. This isn’t just so that Google knows you’re being genuine
about your titles and other tags, but so that readers can quickly get to the
point of your page too.
A good article starts at the most interest parts of your
topic. There’s no reason to hide all your most important information at the
And there you have it.
Five essential SEO optimizations to get your WordPress site started. I’ll be back soon with more advanced optimizations. Feel free to comment below, or request any features you might want to see covered.
Thirty-six hours. Three flights. Two all-nighters. One ten-hour layover. A mean cold that kicked in a day earlier. 75 tissues. A whole row of pills. Half a pack of cough drops. Too many in-flight meals. No sleep.
I feel like I’ve walked through one of the deeper circles of hell. This isn’t even mentioning the crying baby one row over. An old aunt and uncle playing dog videos on their iPhone with the volume cranked up. A tall man in the seat next to me whose elbow keeps jabbing me in the ribs.
All this to get back to Montreal.
Small miracle that things at the airport were actually pretty smooth. Took under an hour to land, ferry, pass customs, collect my bags (one of them was literally the last to appear on the belt) and catch an Uber home.
I fell asleep easily three seconds after hitting the pillows and slept like a rock until four in the morning.
Hasn’t been such a bad day since.
Went to the bakery the minute it opened. I wasn’t the first one there. Did the same for the fruiterie and the post office. Both places were packed. Fridays in Outremont, I guess.
Been slowly unpacking. Both checked suitcases were sitting at around 22 kg each. Definitely the heaviest luggage I’ve ever brought home.
Thank all the gifts I crammed in there. A dozen scarfs. Hell of a lot of clothing. A whole crockery set. And the soup. So much sweet corn soup. Tasting that in the morning from boiled tap water was heaven. As were the plain scrambled eggs, fried spinach and bread I had for brunch.
Nothing deep fried today. No thanks.
Still working on the jet lag. If I make it past two PM without passing out, I’ll feel like some kind of God.