Thursday, March 15, 2007

[SEO] Quick and dirty way to improve the search position of your pages

Prompted by the post by Sarah about the position in which her page was appearing, I thought I would relate the results of some experimentation I've been doing. I've been reading up a bit on search engine optimization and such for my work, especially when it comes to Google search results. One thing that jumped out at me was that the way you title posts, and in what HTML tag the title is wrapped, is very important. Since I use my food blog in part as sort of a blog experimentation platform (I write about my experiences occasionally on my low key personal site, btw) I decided to do some tests.

Previously I was titling my posts at whim. For instance my post/recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Pie was titled something like 'I love rhubarb' (I forgot the exact title), and my post about how to make tofu was titled "Milking the Soy Bean, Part 2: Tofu". As an experiment, I tried renaming those posts to "Rhubarb Crumble Pie" and "How To Make Tofu (Milking the soy bean part 2)" respectively - in other words, to titles that plainly described the contents. Previously, both of those posts weren't appearing on page one of the search results for "rhubarb crumble" or "how to make tofu".

Results for the change to "How to make tofu blabla" - it's now listed on the front page at position 4 or 5, depending on the day or something.

Results for the change to "Rhubarb crumble pie" - the post is now listed no. 2, right after the BBC Food recipe for rhubarb crumble!

Note that both posts are quite old - the rhubarb crumble one is from 2004 even.

Another thing: if your blog is in English, don't use accented characters in the titles. Example: I had a review for a restaurant called L'Espérance in the village of Saint-Père-sous-Vézelay in France. Previously, my title was correctly accented, but it seems that the search engines skip the accented characters or something, so if your typical English speaker typed in L'Esperance my post didn't even show up at all. I changed the title to non-accented, and now it at least shows up on page 2 of Google results. I don't like to do this since it isn't correct, but there you are. (Same goes in my case for several posts with Zürich in the title - I make the u-umlaut a plain u.)

For your front page, it really helps to have your mission statement or something on that page, that explains in plain language what the site is about, positioned fairly high up on the page. Example - my previous mission statement or site slogan was "Why do you write about food, and not about wars or love?" (yes that is taken from MFK Fisher). While that was closer to my heart, when I changed it to what it is now my search ranking for people looking for Japanese food, or better Japanese food blog, did shoot up remarkably.

On the HTML level there are two important things:

- if you have control over this, make sure your blogging software puts the individual post title in the <title></title> of the page, preferably before your blog name - especially if you have a long blog name. (mine looks like Post Title | Just Hungry)

- Make sure your post title is wrapped in <h1></h1>, or at the very least <h2></h2> header tags. Headers are more important for search engines than regular text.

Anywho, this got rather long, but I hope this will help someone.

Oh, and one very important thing: if you change the title of an older post, make sure your blogging software doesn't change the URL (or permalink) of the post itself automatically, or old links to that post will break!

written by maki from Just Hungry


maki said...

I forgot to say that the search terms I used for the rhubarb crumble and tofu posts are "rhubarb crumble" and "how to make tofu", respectively.

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

This was very interesting, thanks!

Kalyn said...

Maki, great post on this topic! Although it was fun using quirky titles, about a year ago when I realized that the closer you can title your post to what people are typing into google, the more people will find you, my search results increased significantly. This is on Blogger, where I can't change the url structure, so just changing the way I write my post titles made a big difference.

Anonymous said...

No, this is so helpful! I would have never thought that.


sixy said...

I wrote about this same thing on Food Blog Scool here

stephen said...

Somebody told me early on about the simple post titles that describe what the post is about and I've always followed that rule....also I was advised to list all my post titles on the front page of my website, so I have a section (bottom of left sidebar) for the "recent posts" but I set the number of posts to list as greater than the total number of posts I've written so they're all there...I get about 90% of my traffic from search engine hits from searches for specific ingredients or recipes that I've written about...

stephen said...

oh, forgot to mention...if you look at the google listing for a hit on my site, you'll see that the date listed for the entry is always the date of the most recent post I've put up, not the date of the post the the google link points to...I'm assuming this is because the title (which is a link to the post) is on the front page of the blog (as discussed above in previous comment), which always carries the date of the latest post...this may help with the aging problem others have mentioned..

maki said...

An alternative to listing all your posts on your front page is to generate and submit a site map to Google. That is not as scary as is might sound... instructions for doing this in Blogger are here. There are plugins to do this for Wordpress, and you can find instructions for Movable Type and Typepad just google it. To see what a site map looks like here is mine. (it's an XML file.) (I use Drupal, but as I said there are ways to do this for all popular blogging platforms.)

I guess this goes beyond the quick and dirty phase, but it can yield results.

neil said...

As an experiment I titled a recent post exactly as the recipe and it showed up at the top of page two in a Google search, there's something to this. Damn, I love quirky titles.

Trig said...

It's just a matter of what you want to achieve. I post for my own pleasure rather than to reach the top of lists, so I like to title as I feel, rather than with marketing in mind. I don't seem to have any trouble with ranking on blog searches, though. For instance my last post is obscurely entitled "Coquille Saint-Patrice" as a play on "Coquille Saint-Jacques" and St. Patrick's Day. The word scallop is not in the title and if you blog search on scallops you don't immediately find the post. But I've just searched on scallops Patrick, scallops Guinness, scallops caramel and scallops foam and come out top on all four searches. That's good enough for me.

qishaya said...

Milan create week ended last night with donatella christian louboutin london disregard presenting the ending show of the autumn christian louboutin online frost 2003 italian collections.Donatella, the creative chief of christian boots the house her delayed brother founded, delivered a collection that was, christian louboutin uk as they say, very christian louboutin shoes.First up was the versus limit, louboutin boots the cheaper christian louboutin line. Girls stomped christian louboutin 2010 out with backcombed tresses bearing turquoise leather trousers, christian louboutin uk sale patchwork pullover and blonde fur sliced into stoles and active jackets. christian boots uk But this aggressive hell’s angels look almost seemed a caricature of the christian louboutin boots christian louboutin boots comfort. louboutin sandals Next up was gianni christian louboutin, buy christian louboutin the main collection.

longge said...

In bag world, nothing beats lv
when it comes to quality. There are many other great designers out there who make great quality bags, but vuitton replica
is top of the range. 2. louis replica are easy to recognize because of their unique shape.
louis vuitton replica have a solid appearance and have firm curves and tend to be able to stand by themselves.
This partly comes from the design and also from the tough material they are made of.

太子 said...

The trend of handbags has never been out from appearance scene. Then if you see the closets or wardrobes of appearance aberration women, you will appear to apperceive the accent of them in your circadian life. Nothing can be bigger than to backpack a Chanel handbag . The style, design, superior and bolt of a Chanel
backpack will accomplish it the a lot of beautiful and contemporary bag for you. You can aces clutches, tote bags, accessory bags, hobo accoutrements and an array of added kinds of bags, from Chanel bag
outlets. This cast gives you an accessible best of Chanel bags selection.

ED clothing is one of the a lot of ambrosial items out there in the appearance bazaar today. After all, if you like edgy, sexy, but as well active fashion, again you absolutely needs to analysis out the ED Hardy Shoes
. In the Ed Hardy Shop, you’ll acquisition any ED Hardy Shoes
you want, and they backpack hardy shirt for both men and women.