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Optimizing your Title Tag for SEO on 3 Different Platforms

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

A lot has been made of SEO as it comes to blogging, both here at Problogger and elsewhere. If you are a regular reader of this site, then this is especially critical to you. You read this blog because you want to know how to most effectively leverage your blog to make money. A lot of those earnings will come on the back of traffic from search engines.

A few weeks ago, we looked at how to get a very effective integration of Adsense into your WordPress-based blog. I realized as I interacted with you in the comments that my affinity for WordPress would help many out but that there are a large portion of you who use non-WordPress solutions.

Today, there’s another tip I’d like to pass along – one that Darren turned me onto and that I have been implementing across my blogs. It’s optimizing your <title> tag for Search Engines. Specifically, how to implement a “Entry Title – Blog Description” style title scheme. This time, I’ll cover more than WordPress.

The Importance of Title Tags

I’m preaching to the choir when I tell you that title tags are important. They could very well be the most important piece of your blog. We know a couple of things about title tags.

  1. Title tags describe a page. They are a one line summary of what the page is about. The common (and semantic) understanding of the tag is to wrap the title of the site. Unfortunately for many people, the title of the site is completely un-descriptive of the content of the blog. For example, my blog is called “Technosailor”. If I put this in the title tag, search engines really have no clue as to the content of my site. It means nothing to spiders. It would be much better for SEO to place a keyword-rich description (e.g. “Technology, Blogging and Politics”) in the title tag.
  2. It’s the Title Used in SERPs! The content of your title tag is what will be displayed in search engine results. Before I optimized Technosailor to use a “Entry Title – Blog Description” titling scheme, I had results like this in Google:

Okay, Title Tags are Good, but How Do I Tweak Them?

Depending on the blog platform you use, and the theme/template in use there are a few options.

WordPress

For WordPress, most themes include a header.php file. This is an optional file that developers do not have to use, but almost universally do. Because WordPress has some cool template tags that help determine what kind of page the current one is, we can use this to figure out how to display the title accordingly. Just replace your <title> tag with something similar to this:

<?php
  if(is_home())
  {
  	echo'<title>';
  	bloginfo('description');
  	wp_title();
  	echo'</title>';
  }
  else
  {
  	echo'<title>';
  	the_title();
  	echo ' » ';
  	bloginfo('description');
  	echo '</title>';
  }
?>

This block of code is used at That Damn PC but can be adjusted or tweaked based on your own preferences. It simply determines if the current page is the home page. If it is, then the <title> tag will be displayed in the form:

<title>Tips and Tricks to help you Master Your Computer</title>

On all other pages, You might see a title such as:

<title>Windows System Data » Tips and Tricks to help you Master Your Computer</title>

Moveable Type

Moveable Type handles things a bit differently. With Moveable Type, there are actually two different templates that must be edited to achieve this same result. From the Templates page, edit your Main Index template. Change the line with your <title> tag to reflect this:

<title><$MTBlogDescription$></title>

Save that and open up your Individual Entry Archive. To achieve the same result as the above example, change your <title> tag line to read:

<title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1"$> » <$MTBlogDescription$></title>

You can actually tweak your other archive templates to reflect a similar style.

Blogger

Blogger is a tricky one because there is no real way to massage the effects of the provided template tags. You don’t have the options of plugins or hacking at code to achieve the desired results. Therefore, the following solution provides similar results to the above but still places the blog title in your title tags.

<MainPage>
   <title><$BlogDescription$></title>
</MainPage>
<ItemPage>
   <title><$BlogPageTitle$> » <$BlogDescription$></title>
</ItemPage>

Each blog platform provides a mean to massage your output so it displays in a way that meets your needs. As a Problogger, I encourage you to consider using one of these methods (or roll your own!) to tweak your title tag and get the most bang for your buck.

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Comments

  1. Helena says:

    For WordPress there is also the Optimal Title plugin.

  2. For Blogger you can use instead of . In order to do so, you have to use the tag also in the section, not only in the section, otherwise Blogger has no knowledge about the title of your article at publish time.

    Here is the solution you want to achieve:

    »

  3. kelly says:

    Have you ever posted any advice for those of us that actually own a blog network? I have very very niche blog site. I’ve had it up for 5 years, never marketed it simply word of mouth and gooooogle! :) i got lucky enough to be #1 in google when you search on the keyword most search on to find me. I get half if not more people joining via a google search. And ironically out of my 79,000 pages of completely original content they probably have only spidered 1% of those. Why? Because the page is totally dynamic and google usually can’t handle it.

    I’m about to do a major overhaul and upgrade and am going to be saving all posts out to static html files which of course will update if they update them in the database, then I plan on creating a google site map and getting it reindexed. the jump to almost 80,000 pages I think might help just a bit, but I figured I would ask you if you had any insight. Right now I do not really allow much customization individual journals but all that will change. A good portion of my current audience is willing to go pay, at a very low yearly price, assuming I add what they’ve requested. We have come up with smoe great ideas so I think it will turn out nice.

    But anyway paid members will have customize and advertise on their own blog if they want, so I’ll definitely link to you as a resource. Being that all the content is SO unique and diverse, about as unique as you can get, it will be interesting to see who gets to my site based on what searchs. It’s already a pretty interesting list. Plus when someone searchs my database, I save every unique search word, with a count of how many times it’s been searched. I want to try to implement something so google will pick that keyword up and display whatever related info they can. Although I tested it out afew times and so far the results eh… not really what i expected even though I am coding it so it only picks up the search term. Anyway sorry for rambling on, just thought I’d share and inquire. Like the new picture. :)
    Kelly aka WebDiva

  4. Sorry, but your comment system truncated my first answer. Here’s the second try.

    You can achieve your proposed solution by using instead of . Unfortunately Blogger doesn’t know the title of the article (item) title at publish run time, so you have to cheat a bit.

    Just bit it in between tags, so it looks like this:

    »

    You have to delete the $ sign in the Blogger tags to make it work.

  5. Wow. This comment system sucks. Another try!

    You can achieve your proposed solution by using “BlogItemTitle” instead of “BlogPageTitle”. Unfortunately Blogger doesn’t know the title of the article (item) title at publish run time, so you have to cheat a bit.

    Just bit it in between “Blogger” tags, so it looks like this:

    “Blogger”
    “title” “BlogItemTitle” » “BlogDescription” “/title”
    “/Blogger”

    Replace all ‘ ” ‘ with the Blogger and HTML typical

  6. James says:

    HA HA HA! Thanks for a good laugh, “German Car Blog” (strange name, what did your teachers call you? ;-) ).

    The reason I’m laughing is because I was posting code to my blog yesterday, and WordPress kept converting it. It took me about 10 attempts to post it. So I sympathise.

  7. Victor says:

    As an addition, you can do this in Typepad relatively easy as well.

    The way I did it on my blog, is to use the “Keywords” field to input my individual titles as I create each post. If I wanted one post to have a title of: “Writing for Beginners”, I would simply type that into the Keyword field that’s always available.

    I then use the accompanying Typepad Tag that goes with that field, and use it in each header template.

    It may not be what it’s intended for, but since Title tags are so important to SEO, it’s a good way to do it.

  8. Paul -V- says:

    Any advice for Drupal users?

  9. Eric Giguere says:

    I discussed this topic the other day in my blog under the mysterious title Southern Canada disappears under the waves — it’s actually a posting about title baiting.

    If anyone uses blojsom as their blogging service, doing this kind of title manipulation is very easy, too, just by modifying the Velocity (or JSP if you’re like me) templates.

  10. geetika says:

    Excellent…. You can also visit on our http://www.ecdaily.com blog.this contains information about online business,various seo reviews,small business CRM etc..Thanks

  11. Tim Houghton says:

    Nice new pic Darren, although I dunno about the feeble attempt to disguise the fact that you are as follically-challenged as myself :-)

  12. Tim Houghton says:

    PS Kelly, despite your very long comment I did manage to discover a question hidden in there! :-)

    One thing that jumps out at me is the risk involved with your site expanding (from Google’s point of view) from 800 pages indexed to 80,000 pages indexed in a short time. This could raise a red flag as it would resemble the groowth of a spam site.

  13. kelly says:

    year sorry i got a little carried away, its a project i love. and i agree, although i’ve actually talked with google about it because they have had problems with my site and trying to get it indexed. so i think as l keep some open dialog and let them know my plan or create good google site map and let them check it out ahead of time i might be ok. we shall see. of course i could slowly roll out the pages too if ends up becoming an issue but since i’ve been on line for so long and they approved me for adsense and all that i think or at least i hope they wouldn’t just make that assumption without checking first. :) nonetheless I’ll just make sure I contact them and explain the situation.

  14. Chris Scott says:

    Here’s how you can do it for Blogware blogs:
    http://blog.blogzerk.com/blog/_archives/2005/10/28/1327728.html

  15. Mariano says:

    Very good tip Aaron but it seems the_title() tag must be used inside the loop have_posts() to have content assigned, so your code should be in post template rather than in header template. wp_title works but this annoying >> before its output makes it useless.
    Am I missing something?

  16. Mariano says:

    Update of my comment:
    If you use wp_title(”,TRUE); the annoying “>>” disappears.

  17. john says:

    Great tips, I used them at my website http://www.webmasterspad.com under the blog link.

  18. On SEO in general, I’ve just added “pages” to two of my WordPress blogs. Technorati seems no longer to be indexing them. Does that mean that when “pages” are used, the blog is assumed to be a static website and not indexed by Technorati?

  19. sampsa says:

    One of the best tips ever, thank you!

    However…
    I customised the Blogger version a bit. In this post’s original version search engine will only show your blog descriction and post title on “search result title”. In this version of the code it will be your blog name , post title and description as a results title.

    “MainPage”
    “title”"$BlogPageTitle$” » “$BlogDescription$”"/title”
    “/MainPage”
    “ItemPage”
    “title”"$BlogPageTitle$” » “$BlogDescription$”"/title”
    “/ItemPage”

  20. sampsa says:

    I forgot to mention you need to replace those ” signs with signs like the German Car blog told you.

    Thanks again for your great blog darren.

  21. sampsa says:

    Like the German car blog told, this commenting system sucks. I hope you can figure out which signs I ment.

  22. Great post. I figured out how to optimize your title tags for TypePad blogs and posted on it here, hope you like it:

    http://www.walmartfiles.com/the_walmart_files/2007/01/how_to_create_d_2.html

  23. Yea, neglecting the title can be a bad thing.
    There is also a limit as to how many characters are good.
    I think roughly up to 65 is fine.

  24. Victor says:

    compared to the tile,mainpage should be more important?

  25. tiffany says:

    thanks for sharing, really enjoy reading your blog.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Change the title tags of individual pages – if you look at the title at the top of your browser when you look at Scotts post you’ll see they say – ‘Scott D. Feldstein >> Blog Archive >> Blog Ads by the Numbers’. AdSense looks at your page title when determining which ads to show, especially those words at the start of it. Having the title of your post as the title of your page is excellent practice (especially if you choose good keywords for your title) but having the blog’s title and ‘blog archive’ is just going to confuse AdSense. I’d definately get rid of ‘blog archive’ and consider making the title of the post first and if the Blog’s name is essential to move it behind the post title. This will also help considerably with Search Engine Rankings. Aaron wrote a post on how to do this a few days back here. [...]

  2. [...] Note: The above code is from Problogger, who also wrote a post about Optimizing Tags here. [...]

  3. [...] Here is another “hot topic” on SEO for your blog (and, of course, any other website you might be working on). The ProBlogger site has an article on this as well, which you can view here: “Optimizing your Title Tag for SEO on 3 Different Platforms” [...]

  4. [...] Aaron Brazeel, columnista en ProBlogger posteó un tip fundamental en cuanto a posicionamiento en buscadores: optimizando el tag TITLE en tres plataformas de blogging diferentes, WordPress, Blogger y Movable Type. [...]

  5. [...] I noticed a neat little article over at ProBlogger, about optimizing tags in your <title>for search engines, which also helps for tabs in Firefox due to lack of room to display long titles. In this article, Aaron Brazell says to use: [...]

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