Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Raising Site Tag Value

The more links on a page, the less "juice," or value, Google assigns to each. This also applies to the words in areas like title and meta description tags. When populating any tags where you use your favorite keywords, quantity depletes quality.

One way to control for this is to eliminate words that Google doesn't bother with anyway. A decent little reference book called Getting Noticed on Google by Ben Norman* offers this list of examples:
  • And
  • A
  • The
  • In
  • On
  • Of
  • Be
  • I
  • Me
A good example of where this could make a difference is if you have a site, as I do, that shares a name with a company. Scratchin Post is both a webcomic, and a pet supply vendor, so we want to differentiate ourselves from them wherever possible.

If I see the title tag for their site is "The Scratchin Post," then a better choice for my home page might be "Scratchin Post" or "Scratchin Post Comics."

This "useless words" rule applies to any tag or attribute where you install keywords: title, meta description, meta keywords (which is mostly obsolete, but I usually add it anyway) and the ALT attribute that lets you caption an image.

Remember, of course, not to re-use titles on page after page. Differentiate them. This is more important for daily, rather than continuous story, comics.

Norman's book, by the way, is a pretty good addition to the bookshelf for ten bucks. It will mostly interest people with little or no coding skill who want to make embedded coded features work for their site, or recognize them when viewing the code for other sites. It also helps you communicate better with coders.

Should you rush off to see if I use little words in my coding, the answer is yes, because ungrammatical text bugs me, even though I sometimes produce it. However, many of my tags have been re-worked to squeeze out non-essential words, and I pay special attention to the most important pages. Having a "the" in the description of episode number 243 of a webcomic doesn't concern me as much as helping people find my home page when they want it -- or a cat scratching post when that's what they want.

For a helpful article on the web that covers a lot of Title Tag stuff, check out All About Title Tags.

Note also: a recent study reports that up to 25% of searches are navigational -- the person is seeking a particular site and are trying to zero in on the name. Obviously, sharing keywords between URL and tags will help them. Twenty-five percent is a lot of search traffic, and they are already motivated to find you.


*The book relies heavily on downloading free software that only works on Microsoft platforms.