How share buttons could ruin your SEO - da Agency

How share buttons could ruin your SEO

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How share buttons could ruin your SEO

The popular AddToAny Share Buttons WordPress Plugin tends to add a huge amount of irrelevant keywords to any page where it is used and thus to your website in total. This could override your OnPage SEO measures

If you’re wondering, why your page is ranking low in SERPS though you made all efforts to optimize it OnPage, perhaps it is worth to take a look at your installed WordPress Plugins like AddToAny Share Buttons. Some plugins tend to add a vast amount of invisible text that can overthrow all your SEO content and keyword density approaches.

In several projects it happened, that at the google search console (available at no costs to all professionals and half-time webmasters) under overall content keywords several irrelevant keywords were ranking high, like email, mail, google, facebook, twitter and so on.
Google Search Console Content Keywords Example 1Google Search Console Content Keywords Example 2

Tracking down the share buttons plugin

Cause we could not remeber having used those keywords that often, we started investigating where they came from. Since all of those keywords have the same context of social networks or email, we started to take a look at the share buttons plugin we used for several websites. This WordPress share buttons plugin is called AddToAny and so far one of the most used WordPress plugins around and maybe the most popular plugin for Share Buttons (4-5 million installed).

Having a look at the rendered website and even the HTML source code of the loaded document we had no clue where all those mailing and sharing keywords came from and even in the plugin’s source  code we couldn’t find it. In some JavaScript file we found some hard-coded social network names (most popular), but even rewriting this section with keywords relevant to the website itself brought no remedy.

AddToAny share butons use an asynchronous webservice in the background, loading a list of nearly all available social networks and bookmarking services when clicking (or hovering) on the (+) button. Somewhere in the remotely loaded JavaScript sources we found all those names of those services flooding the Content with irrelevant keyword combinaions, adding text to every page the plugin was used on (most likely EVERY page) like:

google facebook twitter pinterest email linkedin reddit tumblr wordpress stumbleupon google gmail whatsapp aim amazon wish list aol mail app.net baidu balatarin bibsonomy bitty browser blinklist blogger post blogmarks bookmarks.fr box.net buddymarks buffer care2 news citeulike delicious design float diary.ru diaspora digg dihitt diigo dzone evernote fark flipboard folkd google bookmarks hacker news hatena instapaper jamespot kakao kindle it known line livejournal mail.ru mendeley meneame mixi myspace netlog netvouz newsvine nujij odnoklassniki oknotizie outlook.com pinboard plurk pocket print printfriendly protopage bookmarks pusha qzone rediff mypage renren segnalo sina weibo sitejot slashdot stumpedia svejo symbaloo feeds tuenti twiddla typepad post viadeo vk wanelo webnews wykop xing yahoo bookmarks yahoo mail yahoo messenger yoolink youmob yummly addtoany google facebook twitter pinterest email linkedin reddit tumblr google gmail aol mail outlook.com yahoo mail any email email app more…

As mentioned those keywords are not visible at the rendered page in your browser nor the HTML source code, but show up in google search console in the content keywords and thus might tear down your SEO in general.

2- or 3-word Keyword density with AddToAny Share Buttons

Investigating the more SEO relevant 2- or 3-word phrases with any tool (even browser extensions do a good job) we found all the top positions blocked with irrelevant keyword combinations packed with all those social network names.

2- or 3-word keyword density with add2any

Workaround adding tags to the share buttons

First we tried to avoid the irrelevant keywords from third party plugin providers being processed and listet by search engines by adding some tags telling google and others not to index certain parts of the content. As google itself states you can prevent the search engine to index certain parts of any webpage by wrapping the

<!--googleoff: all-->

... Parts not to be indexed

<!--googleon: all-->

tags around those elements. We combined it with more noindex tactics like

<noindex>... Parts not to be indexed</noindex>

and

<div class='robots-nocontent'>... Parts not to be indexed</div>

recommended for different search engines like yahoo and yandex and recognized by many indexing spiders which in total had NO measurable effect on the keywords indexed by google search console.

Alternative share button plugins

So far, so bad…

The next thing was to substitute the entire AddToAny share button plugin by a different third party provider. In a SEO project with a website based on a different CMS using another share button tool (AddThis) we found out, the onpage SEO stuck to the relevant keywords even in 2- and 3-word phrases and was very good, though no special efforts had been made to optimize the website. (Here most work needs to be done offPage)

We tried the hupso share buttons before in some earlier projects and also the custom share buttons with floating sidebar which had some nice effects and styling, but was lacking some features like share counters. The SumoMe tools have some nice looking buttons too, but need some account registration (mandatory). I don’t know why we just didn’t try the AddThis Share Buttons WordPress Plugins before, although we know it from Website / CMS projects years ago – maybe it’s because they were just not looking that cool as they do now and had some makeover within the last months. As far as there’s no accounting for taste there are different layouts available and you can style them the way you like it using CSS. There are also other plugins worth a try, like the Simple Share Buttons Adder Plugin.

The AddThis plugin is easy to install and easy to configure if you like to use fixed buttons above or below your content. Then you can just use the configuration to select the most popular services.

AddThis WordPress Plugin share buttons fixed layout

If you want your share buttons floating at a fixed position to the left or right of your browser window, this pre-selection does not work. You just can select the count of shown services, but not the shown networks itself, nor the sort order. If you want an individually configure your floating share bar you should use the Smart Layers by AddThis WordPress plugin.

As a standalone plugin it has the share buttons built-in and also offers some more fresh features for keeping your website up-to-date and the users on your site.

Here you have configurable floating share buttons (no fixe buttons!) that you setup with some JSON in the custom API configuraion. Here You can select and arrange the service shown by adding some code like

'share' : {
'position' : 'left',
'numPreferredServices' : 5,
'services' : 'facebook,twitter,google_plusone_share,xing,whatsapp,pinterest_share,more'
}, 

Please refer to the Smart layers API for more details and all available services.

Addthis smart layers floating share buttons configuration

Don’t get it wrong: AddToAny is an excellet plugin and workes just fine, is easy to install and configure and you don’t have to worry about share buttons any more once it is set up – just wait for the users to use them and promote your website to social networks. Hopefully AddToAny will incorporate some of the ideas and criticism mentioned here in future releases and stop stuffing website content with irrelevant keywords.

Effect on other plugins

This might be relevant to many more plugins used with your WordPress installation or even to many modules / addons / extensions used by other content management systems. There’s no fool-proof way how to avoid stuff like that, but if you find your content polluted by irrelevant keywords and 2- or 3-word phrases you have to track them down to the source and take measures.


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