SEO Workshop With Neil Pursey

SEO Workshop

Neil Pursey from Webgrowth did a workshop on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at last year’s Food and Wine Bloggers Indaba. On a scale of 1 to 10 about my knowledge on this subject, I would have rated myself a minus 10 on the day of the Indaba. After the Indaba my understanding had increased slightly! I did not choose to attend this workshop but as I had won a prize of a full SEO package for my blog, I switched workshops and sat in on this one. I was mortified to learn how bad my blog performed on a SEO level, and even more mortified to have this shared in such a manner with people I consider my peers, as well as with people I deal with on a professional level. It has taken me so long to write this post as I needed to really think about what this all meant to me on a personal level.

A whole lot of words were bandied about in the workshop, and I diligently wrote them down!

  • google panda fights web spam
  • google penguin searches for incoming links so you must link back to your own blog
  • site accessibility is important
  • new search protocols
  • local maps and optimization → content strategy → search verticals → reputation tracking → social network reach
  • social media promotion → facebook fan page → google+
  • inbound marketing
  • title tag pulls from URL → everything underneath is the meta description → visual website optimizer
  • bounce rate = 1000 hits plus 1 page
  • introducing call to actions makes your reader do something
  • themed design for different readers
  • content strategy → use google alerts → participate in forums → interviews → competitions
  • on site optimization – you will need to add plugins to wordpress
  • twitter advance search → bookmark
  • chrome extension
  • raven tools → project seo → majestic seo → google search → site:
  • page authority / domain authority
  • do track! query parameter = s → site search settings
  • google analytics → traffic sources

I hope this made sense to some of you! After the Indaba I was still lost, and being lost was detrimental to my blog – this was the source of all the small little hiccups I had with moving to a self hosted blog! Make a note of the following:

  • all outbound links must be ‘no follow’
  • all photographs must have ALT tags
  • make sure there are no duplicate meta data
  • your page load must be under 2 seconds
  • have an HTML sitemap and an XML sitemap
  • have friendly URLs → permalinks settings → post name only

While checking the ‘broken link’ checker I made the error of deleting all the links. This led to me deleting all my posts and uploading my xml file again – which resulted in 740 posts being republished and 740 emails being sent to each of my (over 100) subscribers in one day. This of course meant I lost a lot of subscribers who did not want to be inundated with emails, and I don’t blame them. I also changed my permalink settings which caused all my links to appear to be crossed out. The moral of the story – unless you know 100% for sure what you are doing, leave well enough alone! I have lost too many blog posts and comments as a result of attending this workshop. Had I not gone, I could have carried on blissfully unaware.

However, Neil Pursey did come to my office for the first of two meetings in which he helped me sort out some issues and explained a lot of things to me. If you are interested in the SEO performance of your blog I would recommend going to a professional and do not attempt to do it yourself. I am still waiting to hear from Neil as to how what he did has improved the SEO ranking of my blog. Now that I am a few months along from this I have more confidence in what I am doing and more understanding of what needs to be done. If you are interested in the plugins I use then please send me an email. I will explain what I use and why and then you can make the decision for yourself what to add. I am not really interested in my ratings amd rankings on Google, but more interested in whether my recipes work and what my readers think. That has not changed at all since attending this workshop.


2014: Neil has still not contacted me. I have found more and more errors from the ‘work’ he did on my blog which I am slowly working through.

2017: This is still an ongoing issue for my blog!

2019: You would not believe that I am still sorting this out!

2021: The SEO issues are still creeping in!

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45 thoughts on “SEO Workshop With Neil Pursey

  1. What a wasteof that workshop my friend, it got you a load of trouble! I remember that day indeed!
    Thank god everything is better now 🙂


  2. Hey Tandy,

    You are right there is so much to learn. Can I just say that you shouldn’t make all links no follow. Google likes good organic links to your own pages and to other bloggers or relevant content. However, if you have received products or payment, then always no follow when linking to the brand and disclose or you could be fined and penalised by google.

  3. Oh and I have got together a group of experienced bloggers and an SEO expert. We are currently writing up some guidelines and templates for bloggers to make things a bit simpler. I will let you know when they are live.

  4. Tandy, you could have been writing in a foreign language…I have no idea what any of it means. I guess on the same scale I must be minus 100. 🙂 My blog must be very lacking in everything but I still enjoy having it.

  5. Oh, dear! I know exactly what you are talking about, Tandy! For the longest time I had the strangest and most unprofessional URL until my friend Kittie Walker sorted it out for me. And it seems that Late Bloomers is not a good choice as there is a movie with the same name (and Isabella Rosselini in it, how can I compete with her?) but .com and my .net is faring lousy in all searches. Ah, what do I care in the end? Like you I am more interested in content and to learn what my readers think. Good feeling to know we all sit in the same boat!

  6. Hi Tandy

    Wow, sorry to hear about those deleted posts 🙁

    The thing with SEO is that it’s like one massive puzzle, when you first look at it it’s very overwhelming but as you delve into it and start doing research, only then does it all start to make sense. We always find that SEO workshops need to be revisited because what you know now compared to that day at the Food Blogger Indaba is probably a lot more. And like blogging, it’s a lot of trial and error. So from those mistakes you would’ve learnt plus you would have a lot more questions.

    1. Hi Neil, thank you for responding to this post. It is indeed a puzzle. If you are offering another workshop I would suggest it is limited in size, and takes the form of a discussion group as that way maybe we can grasp a little more. I have learnt a lot and I thank you for that! Tandy

  7. Tandy I did recognize some of the terminology. I think as a food blogger you need to look at where you will get the most impact to your site and invest in those areas. Of course it needs to be presented in a way that you understand and it should be presented in stages — what is the foundational stuff that everyone should know that will give them a good start.

    1. This is an extremely valid point! I am mostly invested in the recipe aspect of my blog, which as a food blogger works best for me 🙂

  8. You poor thing. Thats a lot of time sand heartache loosing all you have worked up and built up. I am currently trying to find out about any of this stuff I can too. My blog doesn’t even come up in google when it’s searched any more and I am beside myself trying to work out why!!.

  9. Dear Tandy, this post was so interesting to read (I do not understand much of what to do for a better SEO). I was mortified to discovering how bad my blog was doing from a SEO point of view and I have tried to improve it with no very good results (at least I did not lose any data…). I agree that you need an expert to improve properly your SEO, blog layout, etc…but in the end of the day you need to decide why do you write your blog and what is your goal (meeting people, making money, promoting your business, having fun???). Thank for sharing this!

    1. I have never been bothered by my SEO performance. I blog to share my recipes, and to meet people who love food as much as I do. I love your blog so hope you don’t let the SEO issue stop you from sharing your recipes with us 🙂

  10. Thanks to share this information, I´m clueless about URL you are not alone on it, and I´m also sorry for your deleted posts.

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