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    I was recently reading a post by Chris Lake over at e-Consultancy discussing the relative merits of Witty vs Descriptive Headlines for your blog posts.

    Interesting stuff and some nice examples but not quite the whole story.

    Firstly though, why are they important? They are important because they act just like a newspaper headline – they attract the readers’ attention and encourage them to read the full article. With the huge amount of information that we have nowadays it is vitally important that we attract people’s attention in the short space of time that we are given to achieve this and generally we only have the post title at our disposal to achieve this.

    However, we need to remember that we are in fact trying to attract the attention of two groups: readers (or should I clarify by saying ‘human readers’) and Search Engines. Unfortunately, they don’t react in the same way and they aren’t attracted by the same things. While human readers are attracted by humour, nuance, plays on words as well as information, Search Engines are attracted purely by the words which we provide.

    But there’s more!! More? Yes, there’s more! Because we are working on-line, we have to remember what people actually see in different situations and places – bear with me here, it’s important!

    In RSS Feeds, the title of your post appears, as it does in the main Blog Search Engines such as Technorati or Google Blog Search. As people browse here, then the title is critical because it is the only real element that you can use to attract their attention as they skim through the articles on offer.

    However, in the main Search Engine Results pages (such as Google and Yahoo) what you see is not the title of your post but the “Title Tag”. This is distinct from your post title and something which you can control separately. The Title Tag is doubly important because it is a key element that the main Search Engines look at when ranking pages – they do take note of the title of your post, but they take much more interest in the “Title Tag”.

    So which way to go? My own preference is to keep the title interesting without making it too cryptic, and I always try to include the main keyword for the article. I then make sure that I modify the Title Tag to ensure that that is keyword rich – if you want more details then you ‘ll find more information in my SEO series.

    So, try to appeal to both audiences. You are best placed to know what will appeal to your readers and you can guess that, for Search Engines, the principal keyword phrases for the post are going to be key. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to combine both as well as you can.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    2 Comments 
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    Each page within your Business Blog has its own URL or address and the Search Engines take notice of the words contained within the URL as they determine its relative value when ranking pages for a search term.

    As we have already seen, the URL of posts and categories in a blog is called its Permalink and as such is very important. The default permalink in many blogging systems will simply give the number of the post such as:

    www.yourblog.com/?p=18

    or the number of the category. However, you have the ability to change this to reflect the title of your post and other elements which would give a much more descriptive URL. For example, changing the structure of the URL to include year, category and the name of the post would automatically generate a URL such as:

    www.yourblog.com/2006/business-marketing/successful-seminars-for-clients/.

    Which you select is ultimately your decision, but the second is preferable both from a visitor and a Search Engine perspective.

    Most of the elements that make up this descriptive URL are created automatically from parts of the blog that you have already put in place. The main elements that you have control over in this respect are:

    • the domain name of your blog

    • the name of the various categories you have created

    • the name of the individual post itself

    To make sure that the URL gives as much support as possible to your SEO efforts, whenever possible you should aim to get your primary keyword and at least one of your secondary keywords in the URL. In most instances, this will happen naturally as your categories are likely to be descriptive and relate to the posts that they contain, and the titles of the posts themselves will do the same.

    The ideal set up for the whole URL for the post given as an example above breaks down as follows:

    SEO for Blogs: keyword rich URL

    Therefore, each element adds weight as you go along. The Domain Name will have been selected right at the start and then you will also have decided what categories you wish to use to hold your posts. Finally the title of your individual post will generate the final element of the page URL.

    One important element to remember is to choose carefully when you decide to set up the automatic permalink format. If you change this format in the future then the permalinks of all the past posts will be changed as well. This means that if people click on pages which have been indexed in the Search Engines, they will be directed to the old address and arrive at a page which no longer exists.

    So, plan ahead and select the best format right from the start and stick with it.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Everything in SEO seems to refer to tags – if it isn’t Title Tags, then it’s Metatags or there’s alt tags for images. Well, here is another type and one that will probably become much better known than any of the others, particularly in connection with Blogs.

    In this instance, a Tag is like a subject or category, and it is one of the few elements in SEO which is unique to blogs because of the way that some of the Blog Search Engines use their own type of Tags to help categorise posts. They are not used instead of a normal search function but alongside it and it is the author of the post who attaches the Tags to it. The rationale is that rather than just rely on the Search Engine to categorise it in the way they wish, the blogger can also indicate where and how they think it should be categorised as well.

    Probably the best known of the Blog Search Engines which use these extensively is Technorati, though there are a number of others which offer the same format such as Del.icio.us. You also have sites such as Flickr offering the type of categorisation for photos.

    Some people believe that this is the direction in which indexing information on the web is likely to go that remains to be seen, but in the meantime it is certainly worth including relevant tags for Technorati at the least so that your visibility with the users of their Search Engine is improved. In wider SEO terms, they have the additional benefit that they contain your keywords or ones relate closely to the subject matter of the post which in itself adds to the keyword levels in the post and on the page.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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