The Milestone Church Blog Project
Recently Milestone Church’s creative team contacted Moon & Owl regarding their search appearance of the Milestone Church blog. As we examined the blog site we noticed it was on the Squarespace CMS platform. We have never used Squarespace on websites we design, so we looked forward to digging around a bit.
It was obvious why this platform was initially chosen. The ease of design and closed garden concepts are Squarespace are obvious. The site LOOKED beautiful.
However, once we really started digging, we noticed some simple but stark SEO challenges.
Attribution Link Issues
The most obvious SEO issue is the lack of ability to create attribution links on syndication posts. To the non-SEO techie that might sound like gibberish.
In simple terms, an attribution link is a link at the bottom of a blog post that isn’t seen on the original post on the main site. Instead, when the article is syndicated, it has a link at the bottom of the post that gives credit back to the original post. For example, if we syndicated the post to a Tumblr, and Blogspot blog, it is vital that these syndicated versions contain the link:
The article Uncommon Gratitude first appeared on Milestone Life.
This tells the search engine, don’t give search engine credit to this article, instead give it to the ORIGINAL location.
Why is this important? It passes on the SEO juice from a reputable site like Tumblr back to the original article. To increase in rank, each article needs as many STRONG backlinks as possible.
At Moon and Owl we run a strategy called Guerrilla SEO (read more on HOW we do it on this article).
We noticed that Milestone wasn’t using a categories system to build deep silos of content under the keywords on which they wanted to rank. Typically, we set up a site with 4-5 strong keyword silos. We talk with our client about how they see the user interfacing with site in a logical way AND how this can also benefit showing up higher in the search engine rankings.
We came down to three categories on the Milestone Church blog.
Life Stories (stories of life transformation)
Milestone Missions (stories of transformation through mission efforts)
Pastor Jeff Little (thoughts, reflections and devotional posts from the lead pastor)
Making the Decision on a WordPress Platform
After discussions with the creative team, we made the decision to move the blog over to the WordPress CMS. WordPress allows us to do the things we need to do for SEO efforts.
We duplicated the look of the Squarespace page to a large degree as Milestone’s design team is top notch. (Just wait until you see the new main Milestone Church site launch in January. It’s jaw dropping). We also placed the site on a subdomain to create a simpler back and fort user interface between the main site and the blog site. We 301 redirected all the previous posts to their new URL to help pass on the SEO juice.
Jump Starting Search Results on the Milestone Church Blog
A new site with new URL structures (what you see up in your web browsers entry bar) takes a while to regain its rank. Google has to crawl the site with something it calls bots and then index the site. Only after this is complete will the site begin to show up well in search. This can take up to a month.
In order to optimize this process, we created a search console (aka webmaster’s tools) profile on Google. We submitted the site and made sure the sitemap (outline of the site) could be read by Google.
We then started our proven process of syndicating out each blog post to 20+ respected and legitimate platforms, also sending social signals and applying SwarmSearch to help the site find its moorings on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Now To Watch
The Milestone Church blog (aka Milestone Life) site launch went smoothly. Now we watch using our tools to check on emerging backlinks. We like Microsite Masters to track rankings and Monitor Backlinks to track the new links coming into Milestone Church’s blog. Of course, we also placed Google Analytics on the site to allow us to know the user behavior and what sites drove referred them to the blog.