What’s more important for search engine optimization, your blog title or your tagline?
How does Headway treat these elements and what does it mean for you? How can you best take advantage of Headway for better blog SEO?
That’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this post, so grab your drink of choice and settle in for some answers. What follows may be viewed by some as somewhat technical, but I hope not too technical as it’s really only just a wee bit of HTML information as it relates to what search engines find important. It’s also a bit long, but I guarantee by the end of it you will really understand blog titles, taglines and SEO in Headway.
One of the goals with Headway has always been that it offer effective search engine optimization capabilities that are the best we can make them. Some of these capabilities are in the form of user features over which you have control, but others are baked in and not as readily apparent. Blog title and tagline fall under the latter: they’re vital. Let’s take a look at how and why. In order to do that, we need to understand some very basic HTML tags and how they’re important for SEO.
The Un-Technical Guide to HTML tags that Matter in SEO
The Title Tag – In every HTML document is a tag called <title>. The contents of this tag do not appear as page content, but rather appear in the web browser’s window tab. Search engines (by which of course we mean Google.. heh…) place some importance on this tag because it’s a good indicator of page content and search relevancy. If your blog index page (the one with all your blog posts on it) is also the home page of your website, then the name you entered for your blog when it was created is also what’s in the title tag for that page. This has implications for posts, as well, but right now we’re only talking about the home page.
Heading 1 Tags – When you create a page or a post in WordPress, what you type into the “Title” box becomes the biggest, chiefest heading (headline) on that single page. This is a Heading 1 tag and it looks like this: <h1> (in case you ever need to find it in the html code). Less important heading tags are also used to break up a page’s content: h2 – h6. Think of them like outline levels or like chapters and sub-chapters in a book. We often call these subheadlines or just subheads.
These aren’t the only two HTML tags that matter in SEO, but they matter the most for our purposes here related to home page SEO using Headway.
Header Block Text Content
When you create a Header block and use the default text content which appears in it, you will see your blog title (the name you gave your site) and the tagline, a short catchphrase or slogan for your site. In most themes, the blog title is the heading 1 and the tagline is merely a paragraph or other form of unimportant (to search engines) text.
Unless the name of your blog contains the primary keyword you want your home page to rank for, this normal set up is poor SEO. Most website names are the names of the company or entity represented by the site. In other words, most website names are brand names of some kind instead of search keywords.
Now, you could argue that in this day and age, a brand name should contain keywords if possible, and I’d agree, but the operative phrase is: if possible. Often that’s not possible because the name of the brand was decided long ago and it’s not going to change. So where is the opportunity for keyword placement?
In the tagline.
That’s why in Headway, the tagline in the Header block is a Heading 1, while the blog title is simply text which has been formatted to be in a larger font size (but has no structural/semantic importance related to SEO).
The Mighty and All-Important Tagline
Your site’s tagline is something you have control over, even if you can’t change the name of the company or controlling entity for the site. The tagline is your opportunity to use the top keywords by which you’d like your home page to be found in search. It’s also the best tool you have to communicate relevance to your visitors so they understand how your site can help them… and that’s often what decides whether or not they stay on the site or leave it. As you can see, the tagline is vital. Getting it right is not easy: it has to be short, pithy, relevant and it must contain your top keyword.
As an example, let’s say I wanted to create a blog to share my love and knowledge of the Beagle dog breed with Beagle enthusiasts all across the world (I had a Beagle when I was a kid but other than that, this is just an example… I am not in fact a Beagle enthusiast—nor am I into dogs of any kind, really).
Let’s say my Beagle site is called Beagleopolis. In WordPress and using Headway, entering that in as the site title or name means that Beagleopolis will appear in large letters in the Header block. This text holds no special significance for search engines because it is not the heading 1. It’s just a span of formatted text, nothing more. The word Beagleopolis contains the word beagle as part of the overall name, but that’s not exactly a great keyword for SEO.
So it’s fitting that in Headway, the site title is not using the important heading 1 tag for this.
In Headway, it’s the tagline that uses the heading 1 tag.
The primary keyword I want to target for the home page is beagle training. Secondarily I also want to rank for beagle breeding.
My tagline, then, for this Beagle-y site could be: Beagle Training and Breeding Resources.
No, it’s not terribly poetic or witty—I saved my cleverness (such as it is) for the name of the site. The job of the tagline is to prove the site’s relevance to visitors and to be a search magnet.
Text or No Text in the Header Block – What’s Better for SEO?
You can probably guess the answer but let me state the obvious: text is better for SEO, because search engines pay attention to text over things like image alt attributes. So, while you can have a Header block in a Headway-powered site that has only a hyperlinked image in it, you’ll get better SEO by having text in your header block. Luckily, you can superimpose text over a Heading block background picture and have the best of both worlds.
Blog Title vs. Title Tag – A Point of Confusion
Since there is more than one thing being called title in this situation, it can be confusing at first.
The title tag is found on every HTML document. For your blog’s home page, the name you gave your site and your site’s tagline make up the contents of the Header block and the contents of the page’s title tag.
Blog title becomes title tag content by default.
However, you don’t have to accept that. You can change the contents of the title tag yourself without affecting what title you gave your blog. Normally, they’d be the same, but with Headway you can make a title tag that’s not exactly the same as the blog name. The ability to enter in specific text for the web pages HTML <title> tag is not something WordPress gives you out of the box. You only get this capability if you have an SEO plugin which gives it to you or if your theme has this capability. Headway certainly gives you this capability.
This is valuable because for SEO reasons, you often may want title tag text to have different wording from any big headlines on the page a visitor would read or respond to. To quote an old copywriting maxim, the job of the headline is to get the reader to read the first sentence of the copy. However, from an SEO perspective, the job of the title tag on a web page is to improve that page’s chances at ranking highly in search results. So you can see why we might need different content for each one.
By default, WordPress will display your site title as the blog index page’s title tag also. However, when you use Headway, the title tags for pages is automatically: blog name | tagline. The blog name uses the %blogname% variable and the tagline uses the %tagline% variable. They are separated by a “pipe” character (the vertical line, which is Shift-backslash on your keyboard).
With Headway, you have the ability to create a special title for the home page (and all pages, really) that is customized instead of using the default variables. You can use the variables as you see fit or just simply type in whatever text you wish. This will override the blog title field in the WordPress General Settings. If you’re using an SEO plugin, such as All-in-One SEO Pack or Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin, Headway defers to the plugin.
Let’s go back to my Beagleopolis example. In this case, for the home page only, I might want the title tag contents to read: Beagle Training and Breeding at Beagleopolis. This will place my primary keyword as the first words in the phrase. The default settings with my blog title and tagline would create a title tag of: Beagleopolis | Beagle Training and Breeding. Both are good, but one is better. Time and testing will prove which, but isn’t it great that Headway gives you the freedom to do what you need in order to have the best SEO you can? And understanding how and why Headway does things a certain way is immensely helpful to getting the most out of it.
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