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John T. Unger

Rank Better in Google by Adding Dynamic Title Tags to your TypePad Blog

John T. Unger February 8, 2007

Phil Van Treuren at The Wal-Mart Files sent me a link some time ago to his tutorial on creating dynamic title tags for TypePad blogs.

This is one of the easiest and most effective SEO (search engine optimization) techniques you can use to improve your rankings and your click-throughs with Google and other search engines. Most search engines use the title tag of a page to create the link to your site in search results… usually, there's a brief description below it pulled from either the top of the page, the post summary, or the blog description depending on the search engine and how they index. If you've written a good title for your post, having the title show up is the best way to get readers to decide that your result is the one they want. The link is the first and most compelling thing that people see when looking at search results.

Phil was inspired by Chris Pearson's instructions for creating dynamic title tags for WordPress blogs, The Simplest, Most Effective SEO Move You Can Make. Chris makes the case pretty eloquently when he writes:

This key SEO component is so powerful because it serves both search engines and people. Oftentimes, we become so involved in site building details that we lose sight of the ultimate truth here—search engines, without people, are basically useless.

Actually, TypePad does automatically do this for you but the default setting is for title tags to read Blogname: Title of post, which is not the most efficient way to alert search engines to your content. If your blog has a long name, this can work against you. Also, if all the results from your blog show the same name before the title, it can appear to be duplicate content. If your headlines contain strong keywords that apply to the individual post, having that content show up first can often make a huge difference in how your blog places in search listings.

Phil's tutorial shows you how to edit your templates so that the top of each page displays the title of your individual post… I've documented a few other options which you might prefer in my own tutorial below. Click the "continue reading" link to get started. Please note that you will need a TypePad Pro account to edit your blog in advanced templates.

Note: when altering your existing template code, it is a very good idea to copy your code and paste it into a text document in case you make a mistake and need to start from scratch. More tips on Code Hacking Safety can be found here: 10 Tips for Working with Advanced Templates.

  1. Log into your TypePad account and go to the Design tab for the blog you wish to edit.
  2. Click on   Create new template module towards the bottom of the page.
  3. Give your new template a name of head-individual by typing it in the Template Name field.
  4. Copy the code in the box below and paste it into a plain text document to do your editing.



    Note: If your text editor uses Rich Text format, it may cause problems when you paste the code back into your template. If you're unsure how to set your text editor to plain text, you can do your editing in a blog post using the Edit HTML view.
  5. Here's where you have some options. The standard code you just copied has a line which reads:
    <title><$MTBlogName$>: <$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1"$></title>.
    This generates dynamic titles in the following format: Blogname: Title of Post.

    To convert to dynamic titles which only show the Title of Post, you can replace the line with
    <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1"$></title>

    To convert to dynamic titles which  display Title of Post: Blogname, replace the line with
    <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1"$>: <$MTBlogName$></title>

    Or you could choose to create titles that say something like Post Title from Blogname. To do so, replace the line with
    <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1"$> from <$MTBlogName$></title>

    The examples above should give you an idea of the possibilities. I chose to go with Title of Post: Blogname because it gives search engines and readers the most important info first (the title) but also includes the name of the blog as an orientation for new readers.
  6. Once you have chosen a format for your titles and altered the code accordingly, copy the new code and paste it into the Template Body field.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Select Individual Archives  from the drop-down menu labeled Select a Template to Edit: and click "go."
  9. Replace <$MTWeblogIncludeModule module="head-individual"$> with <$MTInclude module="head-individual"$>
  10. Click Save. Click Publish and select Publish All Files from the drop-down menu.

Additional Options: If you'd also like to customize the title tags for your index page or archives pages, you can find the necessary code in TypePad's Help section on template modules. There's probably no need to alter the code for your blog's index page, since it automatically displays the title of the blog, but you might want to change the titles on your archive pages. The default setting is Blogname: Category which is how I left mine, but I thought about changing it to read Category from Blogname or Category at Blogname, etc.

More Like This: Advanced Templates , Google

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Comments

Jorge says:

This is really important and I am doing this in my blog. But, what about the post URL? I would prefer to have the full title in the post URL like Wordpress blogs have. I suppose this is also very important to rank well in Google and other search engines. John, do you know if TypePad will change this in the future?

Graham says:

I'm with you Jorge. Right now, in order to make the URL meaningful I do the following due to the 20 or so characters you are limited to in the URL string:

1) Consider the main keyword or words that will fit that may be most meaningful to the post.

2) Name the post with the keyword(s) only.

3) Save as draft. This saves the URL string using the keyword(s).

4) Write my post.

5) Name my post with the real title.

I hate having to do this. The system should assign a unique idea up until the moment that the post is published. At that time the post URL should change to the title of your post with underscores or dashes as the delimiters.

Would definitely help in the SEO department from all that I have read.

john t unger says:

Graham and Jorge,

I doubt that control of the URL structure is likely in a future upgrade to TypePad (but I could be wrong, and I'll ask about it). Basically, the URL is generated by the database structure and I'm pretty sure that the way the post interface works, it needs to be consistent across different users and accounts in order to find the right info. In blog software that is hosted on the user's server, it's a bit easier to customize something like this because it doesn't have to apply in the same way to each blog on the server.

That said, Graham's suggestion is not too bad a workaround.

One of the nice things about switching to the dynamic titles has been that some of the stats programs I use now show me the actual title of the post instead of the URL. I have a lot of posts that start with "How to" for example, and it was very difficult to tell them apart in the stats. Now that I have the title to work with too, it gives me a much better picture of what's being read.

Jenn says:

Are all of those "br" line break tags supposed to be in the code like that?

My pages didn't appear correctly until I removed them. My site in general has been acting up all day, though, so I don't know if it's actually just some kind of glitch.

Thanks!

john t unger says:

Jenn,

Oops! Thanks for the heads up… I wrote the tutorial in Dreamweaver and it inserted break tags where I did *not* want them. Nice catch! Those definitely had no place there.

Fixed now.

Susan Reynolds says:

Great tips here. I'm such an amateur at the more technical stuff, I'm looking forward to learning more - but I'm still taking baby steps!

Craig McGinty says:

Hi John

Personally this smallest of tweaks has had a massive impact on me turning up in search engine results.

Difficult to quantify but I've noticed a number of pages deep in my archives are suddenly coming up in results.

You could say that search engines have improved their algorithms and that is a reason, but I was convinced enough to go around all my main TypePad sites and make this tweak.

All the best

Craig

Kelly says:

Thank you! I've used both this tutorial and the one you featured regarding the adsense between blog posts with success. You rock. :)

Arthur says:

Very nice hack, thanks for that. What about the Category pages? Can we do the same trick there?

Also the H1 and H2 is now the same on every page resulting in nearly all pages being ommitted results with google. Type in google site:www.typepadhacks.org or any other typepad blog and you'll see the same problem anywhere. Any idea to resolve this and get a better inclusion?

john t unger says:

Arthur,

Yes, you can do similar things with the category pages. Obviously, you want to base it on the category rather than the title of any particular post. Read the last paragraph about additional options for pointers.

As far as the google issue, I think the point is that if you click the link to see additional pages you will find that most or all of your pages are indexed... And they will show up fine in a search for words that pertain to the actual post. For instance, I don't need every page of my blog to show up in a search for "TypePad hacks," I just want the index page really and maybe a sub page. What I really want id for each page to show up in searches that are relevant to that page: so if you search for ranking better in google, I'd like this page to be in the results. If you search for "how to change the order of typelists on about page" I want that tutorial to show up, etc.

I basically want people to find what it is that they are looking for. No point in bringing people to the site unless it gives them what they need, eh?

Peter Santiago says:

Once you make changes to the advanced template can you revert back to the typepad template without undoing the changes you made in the advanced template?

john t unger says:

Peter,

Nope. Changes made to advanced template will not apply to basic templates… You can save your basic template designs for later use (or more accurately, not delete them) but they aren't connected to the advanced templates in any real way.

Tom says:

great stuff john. this is one of the best hacks around. is there a way to have the search engines to re-index the posts using the new title convention. most of my blog's content is already indexed and comes up in search results using the old method and i think i'd get much more visitors if it showed the new headlines.

MissNYC says:

Hey,

I tried this tutorial. It works but only if you click on the permalinks on my home page. Otherwise it comes out Name of Blog: Title. How do I fix it so that its Title:Name of Blog all the time as indicated in the tutorial.

rearvumirr says:

Hi John,

3. Give your new template a name of head-individual by typing it in the Template Name field.

Is this suppose to be head-common?

Thanks for all your help...I'm new to typepad and CSS so it is great to find folks like you!

rearvumirr says:

duhhh LOL..never mind...been uo way tooo long!

Laurent Bazet says:

@John : Thanks a lot for the hack. Simple and fast. Tried on my personal blog but will use it for pros blogs as well.

@Graham : I use to use your workaround for a while for having clean file names and it works well. Especially important in french with all thoses accented characters Typepad skips.

Sunny says:

Great tips you have on your blog. How do I get rid of the text in the center of:

Continue reading "sample title name here" »

I will like to have the final link as:

"Continue reading »"

Thanks

Dave Weiss says:

@Sunny:

You have to edit your entry-list and entry-list-sticky modules. That's where you'll find the code for the extended post link.

Sunny says:

Thanks David for the wonderful help. I was able to resolve it. Other issues I will like to resolve:

1. Since I modified my blog including the "extended post link" I've been having error message each time I post a new news on my blog. I wrote to Typepad and below is the email reply from them:

"It looks like there's a tag error in your Advanced Template
Set. Specifically, you should check whether you are using
the tag in your Individual Archives or Pages
Templates. This tag should not be used in Individual
Archives or Pages."

I've done all they said and I'm still having the same problem.


2. Since I modified the blog, I noticed that the "Previous" and "Next" navigation links below the page disappeared.

3. I've used your instruction on "Rank Better in Google by Adding Dynamic Title Tags to your TypePad Blog" and it worked. GREAT!. Next I'll like to have the homepage display the name of the blog using the "<$MTBlogName$>" and also how do I include the blog main theme, which is "Breaking News, World Politics, Election" along with the name of the blog only in the homepage title.

Again, thanks for you GREAT tips.

Bob says:

Hello John,

Thank you for the code on the title tags....have been showing up as duplicate title tags in google webmaster tools.....now that I have installed the code my posts are missing....can you help.

JAMES HIBBERD says:

I made this change and saw a quick increase in traffic. But now a couple months later, my search engine traffic has crashed completely (except on old posts) and i'm mystified as to why. My page rank has even increased to 6 yet many of my posts i can't even find via google, even though i did this fix and the keywords one, and imput categories and keywords for every post.

Any ideas?

Mika says:

Hi John,

Just wanted to thank you so much for this. I have been trying to figure this out and you made it so easy! Thanks so much! :)))

Jyotsna says:

Hi John,
I have just come across this post of yours and would like to know if it is still relevant with the new Typepad platform.It takes me ages to figure it out and I just couldnt bear going through the process and finding it wont help. I Know -- LAZY ! No, seriously I am computer learning challenged.
Could you let me know if it is better ( for SEO) to link to older material on posts or by transferring it all to pages ?

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