Oct 1, 2012

Tip: Make effective use the post title, URL and permalink

You've done it. You've finished a long, thoughtful blog post, spell-checked it a few times, re-read it to make sure your grammar wasn't too awful, and you're ready to publish. You come up with a cutesy title, or maybe even a descriptive one, and you hit publish.

You just missed a big opportunity to give your site an extra boost in traffic.

Between 80 and 87% (depends on who provides the stat) of web traffic originates from search engines. Now we're not advocating going SEO (search engine optimization) crazy, but we do advocate doing the little things properly in a way that helps your site generate traffic better.

Keep the titles relevant

One of the worst things that you can do is to have a title that has little to do with your blog post. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but I guess we all want our titles to be something special, something witty, something creative. The problem is that search engines use that title information as one of the ways to determine what the post is about and what type of content the post contains.

For example, you write a blog post about landing new business opportunities and sales strategies. After a long, detailed blog post with lots of factual information, you decide to wax poetic and give your post the title of "Blue skies, nothing but blue skies" (Bing Crosby reference). Your post has nothing to do with the weather, or why the sky is blue, so to a search engine this translates to nonsense. I can't say that it works against you, but it certainly doesn't help you.

Keep the titles short

... or at least keep the interesting parts at the beginning of the title. And by beginning I mean the first 67 characters. After those 67 characters Google cuts off and adds a ...

How much does this matter? Besides the search engine spidering, it matters when a person performs a search, and in scrolling the results, tries to pick the best search result that matches their query. That short title information, along with perhaps the excerpt (assuming they read that much when visually scanning) are the only information they have to make their decision.

Keep your target visitor's search in mind

If you're fine with not being a creative titler, the best way to write your title is to think of the search query that you'd most like to show up for. For example, when we wrote the article about using Blogger instead of Wordpress, our goal with the title was to answer the question of "why blogger instead of wordpress" of which we then gave 10 reasons. We answered the question that we wanted leading to our blog post. Sure, we went a little long on that title, but we then made up for it with a customized permalink...

Keep your permalinks succinct

Permalinks? If you're not a SEO person, you might not know what they are. Permalinks were a new feature when Blogger added a slew of new search engine-friendly features that people were requesting. Permalinks enable you to essentially create, or at least customize, the last part of your blog post's URL. Generally the URL of your post would be created automatically using the first few words of your blog post's title; permalinks enable you to refine it and change the URL to contain your key words or phrases.

For example, instead of the blog title of "Opinion: 10 reasons why we recommend Blogger instead of Wordpress for most websites" being turned into "opinion-10-reasons-why-we.html" we are able to set a permalink of "10-reasons-blogger-better-wordpress.html"

Pretty good, right? Much more succinct and will certainly align with lots of search queries.

Keep your unique part of the browser title first

Just a little code, because a blog post on this site wouldn't be complete without it, right?

The default Blogger templates, as well as most templates that you download, use one data tag for the page title: data:blog.pageTitle. That tag generates content that looks like "Site Name: Page Title". If you go to the Edit HTML in your layout, you'll see the code like so:

<title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>

We want to improve on that. Replace the code above with the code below, replacing "YOUR EXTENDED DESCRIPTION" with any tagline that you'd like to show on just your homepage.

<title>
 <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl'>
  <data:blog.title/> : YOUR EXTENDED DESCRIPTION
 <b:else/>
  <data:blog.pageName/> : <data:blog.title/>
 </b:if>
</title>
<b:if cond='data:blog.metaDescription != &quot;&quot;'>
 <meta expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' name='description'/>
</b:if>

What this block of code does is 1) gives your homepage a unique title page beyond just the name of your blog, 2) places your page title before your blog title on every page except the homepage, and then 3) makes use of the "search description" field that Blogger gives you in the Post Settings for each blog post so that the description displays in search engines when your post shows up.


So remember: put more strategic thought into your post's title!