Aido: The Little Robot That Couldn’t

By John Lewis and Guy Raz

 

This is the story of a scam…a very well-orchestrated one.

It is based on a little robot called Aido from Ingen Dynamics Inc (no, not that Ingen), and the wants and desires of a number of people who really believed that the future was NOW. That it was possible for them to have a robot just like the ones they see on TV operating in their own home.

And why not? For years,  science fiction has been promising us robotic servants to make our lives more interesting and easier. This carried over into all sorts of media, from Robert Heinlein print stories through Buck Rogers to Lost in Space and on into Star Wars, so that it didn’t seem outlandish to actually expect this.

The ground therefore was very fertile when the campaigners of Aido planted the idea of their robot in the minds and imaginations of people who gave them money on Indiegogo.

They had even chosen their robot’s name with care, making sure it was similar to Aibo, Sony’s robotic dog companion by phonetic association. (They could also have been thinking of Jibo and other crowdfunded social robots to piggyback off of.)

So. Many. Droids.

 

__________

Aido was supposed to be a social robot that was the answer to everyone’s desire to have a helping hand around the house – but it allegedly could do so much more.

In fact, an incredible amount more:

aido-1Source: Aido Indiegogo campaign

Ingen Dynamics Inc backed up these claims with a professionally done video, showcasing functions for all to marvel at:

 

The Aido video on their Indiegogo campaign to sell people on this robot raised a lot of questions. They didn’t have a working product, so how could they be showing an operational one to the public? There wasn’t a prototype to video!

People with sharp eyes, good memory, and a grasp of robotics fundamentals talked about their observations on platforms such as reddit.

First and foremost, the movements of the robot in the promotional video could only have been possible if it were maneuvered like a puppet by hand. In watching the video, you never saw the “prototype” operating in full body view. It was always either only the upper portion or lower portion – leaving ample room for a hidden puppeteer just off-camera to achieve the desired motion effect for the camera.

Second, all anyone had to do is remind themselves that there actually was no operational prototype. It was one of the reasons why they were soliciting funds on Indiegogo in the first place. They wanted that money to build operational prototypes.

Third, they showed the Aido performing all sorts of additional functions such as projecting images onto walls, helping with dinner, home repair instruction, and even opening doors with no visible arms with ‘hands’ to do so. This was quite startling, cutting-edge material for a product that had no working prototype of any kind.

Perhaps the ultimate in viewer manipulation was an obvious tug at emotion when they showed Aido with children, and looking pensively out at the family playing in the snow. You could almost hear the heart rending whimpering of the robot like an abandoned pet because it was unable to join them in the fun outside. After all, being a ballbot meant that Aido would be easily defeated by stairs, carpet edges and any uneven surfaces.

screenshot-2016-11-10-12-11-46
Won’t you carry me outside to play with you, please?

Of course, being a robot, Aido wouldn’t have had feelings that could be hurt. Like R2-D2 in Star Wars, this was pure marketing candy inserted for dramatic effect and backer manipulation.

So, what was it we were actually seeing in that video – the one so persuasive in getting people to part with their money ($833,950.00 USD at last check)?

Turns out, it was an empty shell.

One look at the Aido campaign video and it wasn’t long until the truth was uncovered on the World Wide Web. It seemed that the people involved with fabricating the empty Aido shell were pretty proud of the work they had done, and wanted to tell everybody about it.


Why shouldn’t they? They only knew what they had been told it was for…a movie prop, as you can see from these posts. It had come to them for rework from India, and they felt they did a fine rush job on it.

Oddly, all these references vanished later…perhaps from embarrassment, or some other reason. We’ll probably never know, but the evidence is preserved on imgur.com above for you to see.

__________

Aido’s designers put a lot of detailed effort in various things to sell people on the concept that they could bring in a household robot for the low crowdfunding price in their Indiegogo campaign of $599.00 USD. To that end, they made sure that there were some cutaway and skeletal diagrams of Aido both on the Indiegogo website and in the Updates made available to backers they had roped in. It gave the campaign a veneer of respectability by alluding to research being done – and completed.

There’s even a 64-page instruction booklet for Aido. Interesting, since the product is still supposed to be under development with no working prototype.

Visually, the artwork was quite interesting.

The problem was something that was glaringly obvious: based on the diagrams shown, it wasn’t possible to insert all of the extra pieces of equipment necessary to perform all the functions that Aido was supposed to be able to do.

You wouldn’t have known that from this drawing, though. It’s completely empty.

aido-no-guts

Source: Guy Raz

Some components made no sense.

aido-computing-power

Source: Guy Raz

That Android tablet and head casing to hold it would prove problematical for the multimedia projector claimed for Aido.

aido-ceiling-projectioninteractive-projector

Source: Guy Raz

Things showcased in the infamous video couldn’t happen as shown.

They were pure fiction strictly to raise funds.

Perhaps the most preposterous claim is the purported means of Aido’s locomotion: a large motive ball at its base and some 3-pronged drive wheel mechanism.  As seen in the video, the Aido ‘ballbot’ supposedly balances on a single point at the base of a sphere, staying upright the entire time.  This in and of itself is not impossible – that is, if the ball is BY FAR the heaviest component of the assembly and it is designed to work like a SPHERO robot (think BB-8 from Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens).  But it’s not.  It’s a hollow or solid free-rolling structure, like the rubber-coated iron ball in first generation computer mice, and it’s supposed to be rolled from the outside.

Here’s why.

more-aido-pseudotech

Source: Guy Raz

Imagine if Aido had to project a movie, an interactive menu, or take photos and video of its owners – there would also have to be image stabilization firmware on top of the camera hardware.  This is common in aerial drones.  Now imagine the noise of the gears, motors, and bearings while it was doing this – you’d have to wear noise-canceling headphones the entire time!

For that matter, no one had ever seen even a genuine mock-up of Aido rolling about under it’s own power, ever. This was something that increasingly perplexed the Aido backers, until someone finally gave voice of their concerns to the campaigners. In response, Ingen Dynamics acknowledged that they were having problems in developing the ballbot locomotion they had promised. Then they simply dropped the topic.

This is a common tactic used by those scamming in crowdfunding. Anything that might reflect badly on the goals of the campaign is either ignored, swept aside, or even eliminated entirely from the Comments section of the campaign site.

Case in point, the following comments are no longer found on Aido’s Indiegogo site:

Source: imgur.com September 9 2016

__________

The most common backer concerns were becoming uncomfortable at Ingen Dynamics, since they were coming up regularly now in their Aido Indiegogo Comments section. So they did an Update series to deal with the backer unrest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ingen Dynamics was in trouble. Problem was, their own continued actions were just digging them deeper.

__________

Aido’s campaigners at Ingen Dynamics Inc loved their videos. No matter how badly they were shot, they were included in the occasional Updates. Camera phones were the bomb, as far as they were concerned!

For instance, these are allegedly the Ingen Dynamics Inc  offices in California, which they shot for an Update. A fine, state-of-the-art facility:

Source: Dropbox Z upload

It’s supposed to be at this address in Palo Alto, according to their information on Google:

ingen-buldg

It’s 2600 El Camino Real, in case you wondered. The Brutalist building.

Let’s hope that they get Aido finished quick, since the building they’re in is destined to be torn down (it was originally built in 1966). That means all that open, cutting edge space in the video above will very soon no longer be available.

Moving along, how about a peek behind the scenes at Ingen to see just what they’re doing to bring Aido to life?

Apparently, they’re inspired by reruns of Space:1999 – a series noted for a lack of robots.

You’ll see in this video that they’ve given Aido the human-like quality of indecision. It took several long seconds for it to decide that onions could be made into a soup, instead of a Blooming Onion(tm) or onion rings or…

Another interesting thing in the videos was how easily (again, after several seconds) Aido identified items asked about – even though the exact locations were not specified, and alternate names could have been used.

The sequence involving emotion recognition is, frankly, hilarious.

__________

Just what are the Ingen Dynamics Inc engineers up to all day in the development of Aido? Like their cinematic namesake in Jurassic Park, do they have troubling thoughts of “even if it’s possible, it’s not always a good idea to try it…” while they work?

ingen..and do they hear those thoughts in Ian Malcolm’s voice?

The Updates continue to reveal all!

Holding staring contests with a decapitated Aido in one video seems a great way to spur cutting-edge robotic development.

__________

All of this frantic action is part of the effort to fit those unknown, random parts you just saw on those lunch tables into this plan:

This is fun to look at. It’s cool to see. There’s just one problem, though –

Source: Guy Razaido-android-tablet

All is not as it seems.

“Nothing more than a mobile tablet?”

Well, not exactly. Remember that the ballbot movement devices still have to be invented for it to be mobile. Hope they’re hopping right on that, since their newly announced rescheduled shipping deadline of February 2017 is fast approaching.

__________

The Ingen Dynamics Inc people went out of their way to appear before any industry gathering that would have them. It added assumed industry credit to their efforts.

Chief feather in their cap was this invitation on their Indiegogo campaign site:

Disney animatronics people are known worldwide for innovative thinking, so an invitation from them was just super for putting across possible Ingen Dynamics Inc bona fides.

And of course, they filmed it for an Update on a cell phone!

Remember, this was filmed by a state-of-the-art robotics firm.

What the heck did we just see? Was there anything going on at that Disney gathering – because you can’t tell from this video. That is one heck of a PR fail.

Which leads up to an observation concerning alleged awards, articles, and their actual worth to you as a backer in crowdfunding.

__________

Aido has been getting a lot of press, if the campaign site is any indication:

fortune_vqzjhqexpert-banner

Source:Aido Indiegogo campaign

It’s always impressive when a known journalistic source takes an interest in the product you are trying to get folks to invest in. Problem is, none of those noted publications above – or any others – have seen a functioning Aido. Just like the backers.

So what did those publications actually say about Aido in light of that fact?

Well, Slashgear’s article source was Indiegogo, so it’s a simple rewrite of the Aido site there. No questions, no depth. Forbes is one paragraph in a larger compilation of stories that redirects to the TNW site for details.

That TNW article linked above does not end well for Aido:

“I have to say, I’m a little dubious about the kind of specs you can really get for a robot at this price that promises to do pretty much anything you ask. Aido definitely can’t go upstairs or open doors right now, though, so maybe don’t kill your butler just yet.”  , TheNextWeb

The heavyweight publisher featured above, Fortune magazine? Here’s where selective quoting works, just like in movie ads. The title of Fortune’s full article by  on May 7, 2016 is:

This Is the Scariest Indiegogo Campaign You Will Ever See

“If you were already nervous about the A.I. revolution, there is a campaign on Indiegogo right now that will convince you to renounce all your worldly possessions and live forever in a southern Nevada commune.”

The entire article goes on in the same vein, but you’d never know that from the quote cherry-picked on Indiegogo above.

__________

Let’s look at one final bit of Ingen/Aido PR puffery.

t3
The T3 Gamechanger Winner in the corner.

We reached out to the T3 people about this claim, since we can find no online reference to such an award. We’ll let you know if we hear back.

__________

Who are the people behind Ingen Dynamics Inc, and by extension, Aido?

guys
These guys.

The CEO, Arshad Hisham, is pretty hard to research, despite the credentials touted on the Aido campaign page.

But when you Google Ingen Dynamics Palo Alto, he does show up:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/arshadhisham

___

We can’t find anything for Karpagarajan Natarajan from the UAE, even on LinkedIn.

___

Tilbin Paul is an Industrial Designer at TAG Automotive, according to his LinkedIn profile.

https://in.linkedin.com/in/tilbin

Claims to be a graduate of MIT Institute of Design, but it’s not THE MIT – it’s this one:

http://www.mitid.edu.in/

You should notice from his LinkedIn profile that he’s no longer associated with Ingen Dynamics Inc and hasn’t been for months, though he’s still on the Aido campaign pages as a team member.

These are the people you have been giving money to, Aido backers!

__________
There you have it.
This product was placed on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site famously known as a bastion of things offered for investment that aren’t required to have actual prototypes to show what you’re getting involved with–only the promise a product will be developed.
Wonder if you spent your money wisely now?

————————————————

Copyright 2016 John Lewis

All rights reserved. Anyone wishing to republish this content, in whole or in part, contact jlewisauthor@outlook.com for permission.

John Lewis is a freelance writer and editor for hire. Reach him at jlewisauthor@outlook.com . To see more of his product write-ups on LinkedIn, join the group Products In Search of A Market . On Facebook, join Products in Search of a Market (Facebook). He also writes for the site Crowdfunding Hell.

Guy Raz has his engineering career keeping him busy. He also runs the page Indiegogo & Kickstarter Scam Awareness Group on Facebook.

 

Advertisements

Artist Statement, Take 2

Statement

Simplicity informs my art. It’s why I have chosen to make black-and-white images – color is too busy, too distracting. Only by peeling back the layers and getting to basics do we actually see a subject. The interplay of light and shadow that tells the hidden story of what we observe, whether that subject is a found object, a person, a building. By not being confused by color we see an image for what it actually is. The bare-bones of a photograph cannot lie. It can be erotic, mysterious, or intensely still, showing the darkness which always contrasts the light, throwing both into sharp relief.

Artist statement

Light. Shadow.

The way the two intertwine are inspirational to me. It can be the warm curves highlighted on the human form, or the stark lines of a building. The entire world, all our experience and perception of it, can be seen in the way light and shadow come together.

The dried leaf. The tattered blanket. Worn wood. Worn hands.

Distressed objects no longer used. Discarded.

All take on significance when studying their ways of handling light and shadow. Their stories begging, aching to be released by the eye. Each eye finding a different story, valid for that person alone.

This is my work, my images found.

The stories – are yours.

Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a ‘Best-Selling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes.

I would like to tell you about the biggest lie in book publishing. It appears in the biographies and social media profiles of almost every working “author” today. It’s the word “best seller.”

This isn’t about how The New York Times list is biased (though it is). This isn’t about how authors buy their way onto various national best-seller lists by buying their own books in bulk (though they do). No, this is about the far more insidious title of “Amazon Bestseller”—and how it’s complete and utter nonsense.

Here’s what happened in the book industry over the last few years: As Amazon has become the big dog in the book world, the “Amazon Bestseller” status has come to be synonymous with being an actual bestseller. This is not true, and I can prove it.

*****

Last week, I put up a fake book on Amazon. I took a photo of my foot, uploaded to Amazon, and in a matter of hours, had achieved  “No. 1 Best Seller” status, complete with the orange banner and everything.

How many copies did I need to sell be able to call up my mother and celebrate my newfound authorial achievements? Three. Yes, a total of three copies to become a best-selling author. And I bought two of those copies myself!

The reason people aspire to call themselves “bestselling author” is because it dramatically increases your credibility and “personal brand.” It can establish you as a thought leader. You’re able to show that you not only wrote a book, but that the market has judged it to be better than other books out there. It’s a status symbol, one of that cashes in on the prestige of one of man’s oldest past-times. At last, I had acquired this coveted title for myself.

I’m a partner at a marketing company called Brass Check. Over the years, we’ve helped launch 30 legitimate New York Times best sellers (including several at the sought-after No. 1 spot). My company has helped sell over 5 million books and advised or managed book launches with every major publishing house, including Amazon.

We have important rules at my company about the projects we take on. We don’t work with authors whose books we wouldn’t read ourselves, and we don’t guarantee best-seller status. We say no to more work than we say yes to, but these principles help us avoid the gimmicky, one-hit-wonders who aren’t looking to write great books but instead are looking to trick people into thinking they have.

But it’s begun to feel a bit like a losing battle. Because those authors areeverywhere these days. The title of my fake book was “Putting My Foot Down” for a reason: I’ve become utterly exhausted with phony “authors” and the scam artists and charlatans who conspire with these folks–the cottage industry that has built up around them, selling courses, instructions and hacks. A quick Google search returns dozens of “bestselling books,” courses,packages, schools, secrets,summits, and webinars teaching you how to become a “bestselling author”. Hell,this guy even promises to show you how to be a bestselling author “Even if You Have No Book Ideas, Writing Skills, or Any Clue Where To Start” in a “5 Phase Formula.”

Heart Centered Media will give you “Guaranteed Bestseller Status” for just “3 payments of $1,333,” although they let you know “Book Sales are NOT Guaranteed.” Denise Cassino promises that with her services, “You’ll forever after be a ‘Bestselling Author!’ a tag that will open doors otherwise closed to you”…for just $3250. Jesse Krieger over at “Bestseller Campaign Blueprint” encourages you to “Imagine looking on Amazon and seeing…Your Book on the Best-Seller Lists Next to Your Author Heroes” and lets you know he can deliver that dream for just $997. Peggy McColl has “Launched Perhaps MORE Bestsellers Than ANY Other” and will teach you how for only $2,497.

Sigh.

It used to be a real mark of distinction to hit the best-seller lists–because there were fewer lists and fewer authors (and before ebooks, pricing across books was pretty universal as well). The list has been the most prestigious, published in one form or another since 1931. By 1942, a national list made its debut, compiled according to “reports from leading booksellers in 22 cities.” By the mid-2000s, over 4,000 bookstores were polled each week to determine who deserved to be on the list. The Wall Street Journal list, which has been around since 2009, is based on Nielsen Bookscan and tends to focus on a smaller number of categories. The USA Today list is also a prestigious but more of a catch-all list.

Any industry person can tell you these lists have their problems. There’s a barely concealed editorial bias. Bookscan, the database that tabulates book sales, inexplicably doesn’t include Amazon’s ebook sales. There’s even the possibility of manipulation, as outlined in a 2013 Wall Street Journal article called “The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike.” Still, they remain relatively hard to crack. In most cases, your book not only has to be good enough for a legitimate publisher to publish it, but you have to outsell all the other books out there, past and present, even if you’re paying for it out of your pocket. We’ve had clients sell close to 10,000 copies in a single week and miss landing on these charts.

Because of the high bar, the term “bestselling author” was a term with some meaning. It was seen as something that was earned through a lot of hard work. But today, that designation has changed—for the worse. It’s like when you see a food described as “natural.” The FDA doesn’t actually regulate that term, so it’s basically

It’s about time that readers—and the media, which breathlessly repeats the best-selling claims of these authors—wised up. So let me show you exactly how I became a became a #1 Amazon bestseller for $2 and a photo of my foot in less than five minutes (with screenshots and proof). Hopefully, as my partner Ryan has put it, once you understand how the sausage is made, you won’t want to eat it any more.

Step 1: Writing my book (~2 seconds)

I didn’t feel like writing a book so I instead just took a photo of my foot. I called the book “Putting My Foot Down” and included one page with, you guessed it, a photo of my foot.

Step 2: Uploading and formatting on Amazon (~3 minutes)

They say picking a title is the hardest part of writing a book. Don’t I know it!

Verifying rights and choosing categories

Amazon has their own “bestseller” rankings for books, based upon categories. If you’re in the Top 100 in your Amazon category, you will see a “bestseller ranking” below the title. A book at the #1 spot in any given category will get a “#1 Best Seller” banner featured next to the title. This lets potential customers know the book is the top-selling item in that category. If a book holds the top spot in a category for months, that’s saying something. Hitting it for an hour (which is how often Amazon refreshes its rankings), screen-shotting it, and calling yourself a “bestselling author” for life? Well…

A few more things to know, in case you want to try this at home:

  1. Amazon has over 500 categories for books, down to things as specific as transpersonal movements and freemasonry studies (as you’ll see below)
  2. When you publish on Amazon, Amazon allows YOU to choose the category your book tracks in.
  3. You can set the price of your book, down to $0.99.

I decided my foot was worthy of the “Transpersonal” category under psychology books and “Freemasonry & Secret Societies” category under social sciences books. I’ve always wanted to have an affiliation with the Freemasons.

Designing my cover

Amazon features a handy “Cover Creator” that will lay text over any image and create your cover in a matter of seconds. I chose my foot for the image.

 Waiting for approval from Amazon

The waiting is the worst part of the process. What if Amazon rejected my foot?

Never mind, we’re approved!

Amazon page is live

Just a few short hours later, another book is added to Amazon’s extraordinary catalog. One small step for me…one giant leap for the digital world.

Step 3: Asking 3 friends to buy the book (~1 minute)

Aaron always has my back, no questions asked:

The time invested in this promotion could have been even shorter if Nick had not asked so many nettlesome questions.

Step 4: Sell some copies

Burst onto the scene with three copies sold in the first few hours. Look at that hockey stick growth!

Step 5: WE MADE IT! #1

Success! Just a reminder to the kids that if you work hard, own an iPhone with a working camera, and have no shame, you too can be a #1 best-selling author. What a thrill to see that #1 Bestseller banner! Time to put Drake on repeat and update my LinkedIn profile to include #1 Best Selling Author.

Not just one list either. The book was so popular it also hit #2 and #3 in the “Freemasonry” category.

Leading the pack. Sorry Monika and Ken.

Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world. They carry over 33 MILLION titles and ship them pretty much anywhere in the world. At the same time Amazon also allows authors to publish titles directly onto the platform, without the approval of traditional publishers, editors, or, as my foot book proves, really any barriers at all. In 2014, a new book was added to Amazon every five minutes.

Gone are the days of having to be selected to put out a book. Gone are the days of having to go to a bookstore to see what is available. Now you can check online, with real time reviews, AND, real time “bestseller” rankings. It’s unsurprising that as the barriers to entry for the book business went down, so did the quality of the books being produced. These days, over one million books are published each year, with at least half of these self-published. So it’s almost obvious that, given the volume, you could game your way to the top of a category with very few sales. And yet, in spite of the fact that it’s as easy as I’ve shown to become an Amazon best-seller, those same people get to cash in on the goodwill and prestige build up in the title “bestselling author.”

*****

I didn’t write this to make my foot famous. I wrote this post because I’m tired of vanity titles and success without quality. I also wanted to show how simple it is to call yourself a best-selling author, in the hopes that people buying books become more discerning customers. Remember, if I can make my foot a “bestselling author” for under 3 dollars and a few minutes of work, you should take any person presenting themselves as such with a grain of salt.

For the authors: I hope my story illustrates that the best marketing tactic you can use for a book is to write a great book that actually sells over the long term. It’s easy to be seduced by best-seller lists, sales numbers, speaking fees, and all the ephemera in this industry. Don’t let all of that make you lose sight of the importance of quality and authority in your work. Anyone can be a one-hit wonder; focus on crafting a book that will sell for decades.

As for me and my foot, I’m awaiting a movie studio’s call for the film rights and plugging away on the sequel.  The working title is “Put the Right Foot Forward.”New York Times list, here we come.

Author’s update: Since writing this piece and making my debut, my book has inexplicably been removed from the Amazon catalogue. I have yet to hear from an Amazon representative on the matter, but it is clear that something is afoot.

Brent Underwood is the #1 Best-Selling author of “Putting My Foot Down” and a partner at Brass Check.

3 Press Release Templates to Write Now

242_2942314The Internet has changed practically every part of our lives including how public relations professionals interact with media. Where once there were a few media outlets, now, with social media, there are millions. While difficult for PR professionals, for your small business, it can be a gold mine because chances are someone thinks your news is big news.

The best way to take advantage of this segmented, specialized media landscape is an integrated approach to marketing that includes public relations. Being prepared for news you want to share with the media by creating specific press release templates can be an effective way to streamline your communication efforts. Rather than starting from scratch, you can up-cycle a template to create a fresh press release that the media want to report on. So let’s look at three common press release template to write now.


  1.     Product Launch

A new product or service is a big event for any company, so creating this template will alleviate some anxiety out of an exciting, albeit stressful period. The most important thing to remember when creating this press release template is to clearly explain what you’re launching and why it’s important for the world. You gathered this information to help determine a market need and investment level. You may have done some market research which in itself is too desirable for media to ignore. Use what you have and display it prominently in your press release.

[Get your Product Launch press release template here]


  1.    Thought Leadership Content

Just because you’re small doesn’t mean your content marketing strategy doesn’t include case studies, white papers, and other pieces of thought leadership content. Amplify this content with a well-constructed press release template that uses a catchy headline to grab the attention of the media. “ABC Services Chooses ACME, Inc. To Save Them $1.5M” is a great attention-grabbing headline for a case study. “10 Hidden Costs Most Realtors Miss” is equally interesting for amplifying a whitepaper on the subject.


  1.    Promote an Event

This template should be targeted to local media since they will be the biggest beneficiary and therefore champion of any press release announcing an event. Whether your company is offering free baby car seat installation or an in-store signing event, target this template to appeal to locals.

[Get your Event Press Release Template here]

If you’re short on time, make creating a press release template library even easier by purchasing them directly for just $2.95. Then, get back to work creating products, services, content and events.

IS WORDPRESS SEO-FRIENDLY?

This is a question many first-time bloggers and webmasters ask. If you are hoping to achieve a top search ranking for your website (and you should), it’s important to choose the right content management system (CMS). Since its release more than a decade, WordPress has become the preferred CMS among bloggers and webmasters. It’s fast, easy to set up, features both a code and WYSIWG editor, and it can be fully customized according to the user’s preference.

BUT IS WORDPRESS SEO-FRIENDLY?

NO…BUT IT CAN BE

The short answer to this question is that WordPress — like most CMS platforms — is not SEO-friendly when used right out of the box. It suffers from many problems, albeit small, that may hinder your site’s ability to achieve a top search ranking. Does this mean you should skip WordPress and choose a different CMS on which to build your website? Not necessarily, as most of the problems are minor and can be fixed with minimal effort.

PERMALINKS AND HOW TO FIX THEM

One of the SEO problems associated with WordPress is its use of permalinks. By default, new posts and pages are given SEO-unfriendly URLs, such as yoursite.com/xyz987. Why is this a problem? Although not a critical issue by any means, search engines won’t be able to interpret the content based on its URL. A better approach is toset your WordPress site to use the post or page title as the URL. This is done by logging into your dashboard as the administrator and choosing Settings > Permalinks. Here you can specify “Post name” to use the post or page title as the URL.

DUPLICATE CONTENT

Another SEO hurdle faced by WordPress users is the potential for duplicate content. Each time you publish new content, WordPress saves it in several different locations, including the original URL, archives, tags, author, and categories. Google has said that duplicate content shouldn’t harm a site’s search ranking, but it’s still a good idea to avoid it when possible. To address the issue of duplicate content on WordPress, consider downloading and using an SEO plugin like Yoast. This plugin will allow you to specify which locations of your site you want indexed and which ones you don’t.

GENERIC THEMES

You might want to think twice before using the default free theme on your WordPress website, because it could hinder your ability to rise in the search rankings. Free themes are great for testing purposes, but you have to remember that thousands upon thousands of websites are currently using them. Therefore, using the default free theme means your website will look, and function, the same as many other websites. If you are serious about creating a successful website or blog, spend the extra money and invest in a premium theme.

Have any other WordPress SEO tips that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!