Category Archives: SEO

Elgg SEO: How to Fix Your Title Tags

Update #1: My changes have been rolled into the current development version of Elgg, so they should be in the next release. So if you don’t want to implement these changes yourself, you should be ok waiting for the upgrade.

Update #2: The title tag for pages and files did make it into Elgg 1.5, but the blog title tag change got regressed somehow. If it was not an accident, then they did it on purpose. Either way, it is very amateurish in my opinion, which continues to be one of my complaints about Elgg. Anyway, you can still apply the fix below exactly as described, and it will work.

I’ve been writing about recently, and more importantly, how to improve it. I have said that Elgg needs some attention to SEO to be a serious solution. Even though Elgg developers have taken my suggestions recently, I couldn’t wait any longer and took it upon myself to dig into the Elgg source code.

My goal was to improve Elgg SEO by creating unique title tags within the content. I was able to create unique title tags for blog posts, pages and files, by adding the post title to title tag in the header, so that each title tag is formatted like this, “Site Name : Title.”

Here’s how you can do the same thing step by step.

To give your blog posts a unique title tag, go to mod/blog/read.php and uncomment line 38. Here’s how it should read.

$title = sprintf(elgg_echo("blog:posttitle"),$page_owner->name,$blogpost->title);

Now your blog post title tags should read, “Site Name: username’s blog: Post title.”

Next up is pages. To give your pages a unique title tag, go to mod/pages/view.php and insert this code on line 40.

$title = $pages->title;

Now your page title tags should read, “Site Name: Page title.”

Changing the file title tags was a lot harder, because there is not really a file view. You have to change it in the entity view. Up to this point, we have been modifying plugins files, which is fine because we are not modifying the core Elgg files. This means those changes won’t get erased by upgrading your Elgg installation.

But modifying the entity view requires modifying core Elgg files, so proceed at your own risk. To make the change, open up entitiesindex.php. Insert this code on line 40.

$title = $entity->title;

Modify line 57 to look like this.

page_draw($title, $body);

Then on line 60 insert this code.

echo $title;

Now your file title tags should read, “Site Name: File title.”

These were small improvements, but hopefully it will pay off in more search engine traffic to your Elgg site. I’ve submitted these changes to the Elgg code base here, here and here. Hopefully, the developers will consider integrating these improvements into the actual code.

I’ve tested this code, and it works. But I am not a developer, so if I’ve made any mistakes, I welcome suggestions for improvement. If this would be better done as plugin, I would love to have someone come up with an Elgg SEO plugin, as well.

301 Redirects

I recently took two blogs and combined them into one domain, In order to do that, I needed to find out how to do 301 redirects to redirect all traffic and links that were currently going to those domains to the new domain. 301 redirects are permanent redirects. According to Google, you need to use 301 redirects to let them know that your domain is moved. In addition, all links that were counted towards your old domain will be counted towards the new one. I also wanted to take out the www of this domain so that all traffic goes to

I have done 301 redirects before but I needed examples of code to use to do exactly what I wanted to do. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look too hard. SEOmoz has an excellent guide on how to do 301 redirects on Apache. This guide is right on because it tells you exactly what to do and it covers all the bases, including the no-www redirect.

I got it done, and so far, everything is working perfectly. I still need a few more days of analytics tracking to make sure it is working correctly. I had to give the shout out though to SEOmoz for doing such a great post on this. Great job guys!

Unsubscribing from Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch

I just took Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch off my feed reader. To be honest, I did this because there is too much news at both of those sites per day for me to keep up with. While I do think they post valuable information from time to time, I do not feel like I am missing anything by removing them. This is because the big news will hit all the other SEO, Tech and Internet Marketing blogs that I read.

I am not discounting Danny Sullivan here. Search Engine Land is a great site and Danny is the man! But I cannot keep up with 20 posts a day no matter who is posting it. I think that Search Engine Watch feels like they lost a lot of their audience when Danny left, so now they are trying to stay on top by keeping up with Danny and Search Engine Land.

If I could not get the information elsewhere, I think that would be one thing, but I can. Plus, I always know if I am looking for the latest search engine news, I can go to either one of those sites and find it quickly.

I wish both companies luck, but I hope others do not do the same thing I am doing. If this is the case, they may have to rethink the amount of material they are posting. Sometimes, less is more.

NoFollow = No Love?

Since the creation of the nofollow tag, there has been much debate over the validity of it. But, lately many SEO professionals are speaking out against it. Add Loren Baker’s rant against nofollow to the against pile. Loren gives 13 great reasons not to use nofollow, and he is absolutley right. I’ve never really said what I think about this, but I agree with him. I do not intentionally use it, but I use WordPress so I guess my blog comments have it. I moderate all comments anyway, plus I have Askimet, so as Loren says it’s irrelevant.

Google created the nofollow tag with good intentions of stopping comment spam on blogs. Two years later, it hasn’t worked, and Google is now using fear tactics to get webmasters to use it by basically saying “use nofollow or your links won’t count.” This is the equivalent of SEO blackmail. (Hey, cool idea for a domain name!)

It’s time for a new solution. Google has a history of solving problems with software. So why are they relying on webmasters to solve a problem they should be trying to solve on their own? I would guess that the non-SEO educated has no idea what nofollow is anyway. Come on Google, wise up and listen to us. Nofollow does not work. Do what you do best and use the data you are already collecting to make your own determination on the authority of links.

Free Keyword Discovery Tool

Saw this post on SEO Buzz Box about the free keyword tool from Keyword Discovery. This reminded me of the recent post I made about the new free keyword tool from Wordtracker, so I thought I would link to this one as well.

I haven’t used Keyword Discovery as much, as I don’t have a paid subscription to it. I have heard a lot of good things about it though. Currently, if you have sign up for a free account on their web site, you can get already 10 results for free with some functionality of the paid tool, similar to the version of Wordtracker’s tool which offers 15 results for free. The new tool is similar to Wordtracker’s new tool as well, also offering 100 results for free. One difference is that the KW tool has a “capcha” to prevent automated use of the tool.

After trying it out, it is very similar to the new Wordtracker tool. It seems to be very useful though. Plus, now you can directly compare results from Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker to see which tool you might prefer before you buy. And, it’s free. What’s better than 2 free keyword research tools in one week? You got it, 3 free keyword research tools in one week! Okay, so I don’t have a third one. If you hear of one, let me know.

Getting Out of Supplemental Results

Shoemoney posted yesterday about how Aaron Wall gave him advice on how to get his blog out of the supplemental results in Google. According to Shoemoney, after one month, his blog is out of supplemental results, and his traffic from Google increased 1400%. He also said that most of it was done in the robots.txt file.

In the comments, a user posted the content of Shoemoney’s robots.txt file. Here is what he posted at that time.

User-Agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /link.php
Disallow: /gallery
Disallow: /gallery2
Disallow: /gallery2/
Disallow: /gallery/
Disallow: /category/
Disallow: /page/
Disallow: /pages/
Disallow: /feed/
Disallow: /feed

It looks like Shoemoney is avoiding supplementals by getting rid of duplicate content issues. That is why he disallowed the gallery, category, pages and feed directories.

Shoemoney then responded that the robots.txt was only 50% of the problem. The rest was overcome by adding dynamic title and description tags plus more on page internal linking.

There you go. SEO advice straight from Shoemoney. He claims he sucks at SEO, but it looks like he is getting some good advice from the right people.

Free Keyword Suggestion Tool

It was announced today that Wordtracker unveiled a new free keyword suggestion tool. Wordtracker already has a free version of their keyword research tool, but it only gives you 15 results at a time. Plus, you have to register to use it. Otherwise, it has a lot of the functionality of the paid version of the tool.

The new tool gives you up to 100 results, but has no other functionality of the paid version. And you don’t have to register. It does still allow you to click on a keyword result to search on that phrase, rather than typing it in, further allowing you to narrow your searches.

I think this is pretty cool, even though I am already an active Wordtracker subscriber. I should find it pretty useful. Most of the time when I am looking for keywords, I need to find the top ones pretty quickly. Plus, it’s free. So if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. If you don’t already have a subscription, it is another place where you can get quickie keyword research for free.

Search Engine Friendly Page Titles

I have posted about creating title tags before but here is a nice refresher. The Latest and Greatest Search Engine Friendly Page Titles is a post from last week at Search Engine Roundtable. It contains links to threads from last week in the Search Engine Watch Forum and the High Rankings forum where people have asked for advice in creating title tags. If you follow the link to those forums, you can see what Danny Sullivan and Jill Whalen had to say about it respectively. I always enjoy getting input from other SEO’s on how to optimize web pages.

The optimization for the title tag shouldn’t change much, however. I have used basically the same formula for optimizing the title tag since 2000. Your title tag should be descriptive of the content of the page, and it should contain the keywords for that page. Don’t try to stuff keywords in your title tag though. It could hurt your rankings. Be sure to also include your site name, either at the beginning or end of the tag. It’s that simple!

SEOmoz SEO Cheatsheet

Rand Fishkin at SEOmoz has posted an SEO cheatsheet online that he passed out to conference goers at the Search Engine Strategies conference going on in New York right now.

The cheatsheet lists a rundown of pretty much everything I would advise a client who wanted search engine optimization.

  1. On-Page Optimization
  2. Search-Friendly Architecture
  3. Web Design & Usability
  4. Promoting & Marketing Your Site
  5. Creating Linkbait
  6. Link Building Tips

I should say I agree with everything except the linkbaiting part. While I do think it is a great tactic for SEO, not everyone can do this especially most businesses seeking SEO. This type of marketing usually requires a large budget as typical businesses do not have the resources to do it in house. In addition, most businesses are not right for social bookmarking sites unless they create something really new and noteworthy.

SEOmoz is a great SEO resource. Watch this site for more great coverage of Search Engine Strategies going on right now.

Optimizing the Title Tag and Meta Tags

The fourth article in the search engine optimization series on SEO Profile is Title Tag and Meta Tags. This is an article for beginner SEO’s and people wanting to learn more about search engine optimization. Here is a small excerpt from the article.

There are three tags in the head of a web page you should be concerned about when optimizing the page, the title tag, the description meta tag and the keyword meta tag. The head of a page does two things, provides search engine spiders information about the page and contains functional information for the page.