Blogging, SEO & 1 Template Adjustment

Blogging Jul 28, 2006

OK, so we tend to recommend Blogger, WordPress or Movable Type for the HitTailing process and getting your feet wet with natural search. Why? What’s so special about these, and why are we so into Blogger, in particular?

OK first off, we recommend these three blogging services because they do just the right things for search engine optimization according to today’s rules. As Google acknowledges, over 100 factors go into ranking pages. As anyone in the SEO field knows, you really only need to know about 20 to do a bang-up good job. And as anyone living in the long tail of SEO knows, making your title text appear in only a few locations will get you top position in all the engines.

Yep, that’s it. If all content management systems did this, the field of SEO would be a very different place. And that’s about all you need to know about the mechanics of SEO to be a HitTailer.

Most content management systems just can’t compete with blogging software, and to add insult to injury, blog software has a pinging system that has effectively taken the place of “submits” from ages past. So, while websites wait for crawlers to come around and notice content, blogs broadcast new content bringing in a different breed of crawler which indirectly improves default search performance. Blog post tagging and social bookmarking systems have taken the place of meta tags. And because blog software so dramatically reduces “publishing friction”, bloggers can push out a week’s worth of new content in the time it takes most companies to make one small addition to their main marketing pages.

So, why Blogger in particular, and why the omission of TypePad as a recommended HitTailing platform? Blogger lets you easily FTP your files into the subdirectory of an existing website, effectively turning your entire blog into a subdirectory of an existing site–even on your main corporate webserver! The significance of this is it allows you to piggyback your blog onto an already built-up site. Linking to such a subdirectory from your homepage will instantly give the blog clout it would take months to build up. And conversely, any clout your blog starts building extends its halo effect to the rest of your main website. There is no clear line between where your blog ends and website begins. It gets you into the right mindset for broader non-blog HitTailing.

Movable Type and WordPress are both capable of a similar scenario described above, because they run on your own servers. They’re not hosted apps, and you can therefore plant the blog into a subdirectory of your existing site. You directly control all the servers involved, and no files need to be transmitted anywhere. But due to isolating program code, WordPress and Movable Type blogs often end up on a separate subdomain, even in-house, making them separate websites and loosing much of the instant boost. None-the-less, if you want a powerful blogging platform for HitTailing and are advanced at this stuff, these platforms are for you.

What about the popular TypePad blogging platform? TypePad is much like a hosted version of Movable Type, both from Six Apart. But because TypePad always hosts the blog, you can not make it part of an existing site (contradict me, please). Instead, you register a domain name and set the DNS to resolve to the hosted location on the TypePad servers. While you get your own custom domain, you cannot intermix it with an existing site as if it were in a subdirectory. This is not always a bad thing–especially if you’re trying to build up the clout of a brand new site, and all you do is blog. We use this approach with a number of Connors clients. It takes more work to get started, but gives you a third-party site to control. It is an alternative SEO strategy, and not the quickest way to get HitTailing results. But we like TypePad and will be taking some specific efforts to simplify its use in HitTailing. TypePad uses easy plug-in widgets to add features. It’s not a template system like Blogger, so inserting the code is a bit more challenging right now.

In Blogger, while it’s a little scary for new users, it’s quite easy. You go directly into the template, find the close-body tag and insert the HitTail code immediately before that. HitTail data should start flowing in right away.

We plan on making HitTailing as easy as it can be in all popular blogging platforms. We further look forward to recommending additional blog platforms. But don’t bother recommending it if it uses parameters and IDs in the URL. Such web addresses are simply not search optimized. Yes, it can still come up in search. But for HitTailing to work well, the same words you put in the title should be used to construct the URL (with no question marks or equals signs inserted into the web address). You’re ignoring all the other factors that go into competitive optimizing, such as keyword densities and choice of HTML elements. So, you need the basics working for you as much as possible.

And a final note on Blogger. There is one template adjustment you should make. Most default blogger templates use the time-of-post as the anchor text in the permalink. It needs to be replaced with the title tag. While that sounds complicated, it just means find this…

posted by <$BlogItemAuthorNickname$> at <$BlogItemDateTime$>

…and replace it with something like this…

Link to: <$BlogItemTitle$> (permalink)

See, you’re getting the correct anchor text in the link leading to the permalink page. And that’s about as techie as we want to get with HitTail. We’ll eventually work suggestions like this into our FAQ pages and other resources.

  1. Avatar

    I’d suggest another quick edit. Change the order of Blogger’s title tag. By default the put “SiteTitle: Post Title”. I suggest swapping it but you have know the blogger tags. Not hard, I’ve outlined how I did it here:
    Changing the way Blogger presents title tags

  2. Avatar
    Chad H

    Great post – I was thinking of moving away from Blogger. I’ll think twice about this. I also just wrote a post on 10 Reasons why I like Blogger – Part I . Your post fits right in and I like your title link idea. I’m doing this already but it’s more manual.

    Chad H.

  3. Avatar
    Chad H

    You need to adjust thi spost with the new Blogger Beta. You can’t actually adjust the guts of the template just yet but can insert code if you know what you are doing.

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