WordPress Blogging Tip: Use your index.php page to tell Google what your site is about

Despite the fact that Rupert Murdoch and News Corp seem to think that Google is dangerous, I’ve come to the conclusion that the evidence suggests otherwise.

In fact, despite personally getting a real butt-whipping over the last month or so, I think the evidence shows that, objectively, Google ultimately wants to fight trash and reward art.

So, my new operating principle going forward is to clean-house by throwing away the trash. And instead, focus on building art. In the short term, I’m taking a major financial hit. But if I’m right about Google’s long term plans, then my decision should be a massively successful investment over the next 24 months.

That leads me to the content of this post. It occurred to me recently that a WordPress blog is not well-suited out of the box for giving the search user, via Google SERPS, a clear, lasting, authoritative description of your site.

For example, let’s do a search on Wisdump. What does Google pull up for the SERP description?

I’m here to take over Wisdump, get it back on its feet for real, and then taking it up a notch. From now on you can expect regular posts on design and other …

AS you can see, Google pulled up content from a recent post at Wisdump. But honestly, this doesn’t tell the search user much about Wisdump. What is Wisdump? Why should I visit Wisdump?

I noticed the same issue with my own site, TV Crunch. To me this seems like a significant defect: giving the user a strong and clear description of your site is critical to branding. And branding is the key to monetizing art.

To solve the issue, I placed the following code in the footer of the site:

TV Crunch offers the latest television news and gossip profiling the best new tv shows and most popular television stars.

So what does this code do? Well, it places a permanent, authoritative, descriptive sentence about TV Crunch exclusively on the front page of the blog. It tells Google, and more importantly, search users, what TV Crunch is about.

Whereas a search on TV Crunch used to bring up irrelevant nonsense, cut from a recent headline, it now brings up exactly what I wanted it to bring up.

Some people might argue that this move is insignificant or will have minimal effect. But I beg to differ. If I’m right, and branding is the key to long term online success, then it’s crucial that both the search engines and the search users know what your site is about. And this is one important step that will help you strengthen your blog’s brand.

12 thoughts on “WordPress Blogging Tip: Use your index.php page to tell Google what your site is about

  1. I think content *is* king, and we’ve never had any problem floating towards the top of the SERPS in our business, but we don’t compete on stuff like “viagra” or “SD Memory” so YMMV, of course.


  2. This is definitely not a good idea (read: not the best). The description should be keyword rich and descriptive. I have tested excerpts against my model (title, keywords, site info) and traffic dropped significantly (>50%) until I restored it!

    One of the biggest advantages was that in many cases two URLs are listed by Google. Most times it is one deep link to the article and one link to the tag search result page.

  3. @Ryan: Yep, I have some subjects in the pipeline and this one is definitely interesting. But I would need a co-author adding the WP stuff (plugins, PHP code). Or somebody else could pick up the WP part???

  4. I am using the All-in-one-SEO-pack plugin (despite getting ridiculously annoying updates every 2 hours) .. and sometimes feel like an idiot because I don’t know how to use it – I just activated, and leave all the defaults as is and hope it is doing everything it is supposed to do.

    I like the idea for putting a permanent code in the footer of the blog to describe the front page of the blog .. and then I wouldn’t mind so much what that plugin does for the single pages.

  5. Why not use one of the META Description plugins for WordPress that automatically parse the first 20 words from the post and generate a description from there? The All-in-one SEO pack for WordPress does this brilliantly, and it’s dynamic, so it’ll update the description if you change your intro paragraph.

    Plus, the SEO pack plugin allows you to specify descriptions for the homepage and other pages that aren’t normally covered by generated content.

  6. Markus,
    Maybe you could write up an article for Perf on why descriptions showing up in SERPs is IMPORTANT for every single URL on a site. Include some concrete “How-To” twewaks for WordPress and you’ve got yourself a linkbait.

  7. The whole subject with descriptions showing up in SERPs is IMPORTANT for every single URL on a site. In my experience it is one of the biggest SEO and CTR success stories if you are able to create a strong individual description and title for every single page.

    A sample How-To for Textpattern lovers:
    Trick: Textpattern with page dependent header meta description

    By now I am also having individual descriptions and titles for Tag search result pages, full text search result pages. As an extra feature I am using the search parameters to trigger Amazon searches (Examples: Tag video, Search Hamburg).

    If you check the source code of single articles you will find nice individual meta descriptions and keywords (Example Texas Legislation Video).

  8. Easy. Two main things:

    1. You have to have SiteName in the sentence: “SiteName is…” or “SiteName features…”

    2. Google, I think, parses permanent content versus dynamic content on a per page basis. It weights permanent content over dynamic content when selecting descriptive text.

  9. Great tip Ryan – thanks for sharing it. I see that it works, but I’m wondering how Google knows to use that text as the description in the search results rather than the first text it finds on the page?

  10. Personally, I’ve found that descriptions do much better than descriptions, largely because they are seen as on-page content. But descriptions are still important, sure.

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