Monday, April 30, 2007

Blog Optimization

Search Engine Optimization of Blog Title Tags

One nice thing about blogging platforms is that they're generally very search engine friendly. This is especially true when it comes to indexing: search engines have few problems finding every page in a blog's archive. However, there are a few things that can be done to make blog platforms even more search engine friendly than they are off the shelf.
Optimizing Title TagsEvery page of your blog should have a unique title tag describing what's on that page. This can easily be done by including your blog post's titles in the title tag field. Many blog platforms do this by default now, but they tend to do so in a less than optimal fashion.
Your archives provide lots of great content for search engines. In fact, the majority of the traffic to your blog will likely come through search engine referrals where people click through from a search result to an archived page of your blog rather than to the homepage. However, your rankings and click through rates for each of those archived pages is largely dependent on how your format your title tags.
A high quality title tag describes what's on the page first, then describes the site itself. For example:
Article Headline - Blog Name
Yet many blog platforms lead with the blog's name rather than the the post's name. The blog's name should come second since that's more likely to align with the interests of the searcher. Every page of your blog will look more enticing to searchers when they stumble upon it in search results. Including your blog's name after the page's name helps users determine if your page is relevant to their particular interests.
Below is an example of how to fix this on a blog. The example may not work for all Wordpress blogs since templates and versions vary, but it may give you some direction on how to straighten this out. There are also plug-ins for Wordpress that can help.
1. Open your current template's header.php file, and look for the section near the top of the page's source code. Find this:
<? bloginfo('name'); php wp_title(); ?>
And change it to this:
<?php wp_title(); bloginfo('name'); ?>
That moved your post's title in front of your blog's name for every post's page of your site. Very easy. There is one more step:
2. Go to wp-includes/general-template.php and search for this line:
$title = $title . $prefix;
and change it to this:
$title = $prefix . $title;
That moves the separator to the middle of the newly rearrainged title tags.
Reload both pages and you're done.
It's worth noting that some companies have policies against optimizing their sites for search engines. Yes, you read that correctly. Some companies have decided that it's more important to put their company name first in their title tags. Personally, I think this is a ridiculous decision that hurts their business and should only be done for one page of the site: the homepage. That way, when people search for the company name, the homepage will look relevant in the results for the topic of the page. Basically the same rule.


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