One of the reasons many of us blog is to attract research cousins. Blogging about your family history and your research efforts is a great way to connect with other family members. But first they have to find you. You can help things along by taking advantage of these simple tips to make your posts more search friendly:
- Consider which search keywords you would use to find the information in your post, then include those keywords as tags (WordPress) or labels (Blogger) in the post’s metadata.
- Titles carry a lot of weight with search engines. Make sure your title includes the main topic of your post (surname, event, location, etc.).
- Be sure to include descriptive alt text with each image. Without alt text, the search “crawlers” consider your image just an empty box. If this is a photo of Uncle Fred, say so in the alt text. Who knows which cousin might be looking for him.
- Text surrounded by HTML (things like headings, bulleted lists, numbered lists, block quotes, etc.) gets more attention from search crawlers than long paragraphs. Use descriptive headers to organize your narrative and whenever possible include your search keywords.
- Include links to other sites with related or supporting information.
WordPress.org (self-hosted) users can take advantage of the All in One SEO Pack plugin. With it, the text you include in the Excerpt field of your post becomes the content of your post’s Description meta tag and the post tags are used for the Keywords meta tag. The description is the information displayed just below the title in search results. The example below shows the results of a Yahoo! search for “Carl Austen”. Notice the first two found images are from Moultrie Creek. They were found because “Carl Austen” was part of the alt text for each image.
Look at the descriptive text for each of the entries listed in the example above. Although we can’t see all of it, the last item seems to have the most useful description. We all know how frustrating it is to get a list of search results with only cryptic titles and jibberish for descriptions. Including descriptions in your post’s metadata will insure your research cousins have a good idea what they will find when they follow the link to your site. Unfortunately, WordPress.com and Blogger (hosted) users do not have any similar option.
Content is king! A well-written article is the beginning. And, with these simple writing strategies, you can also improve your post’s visibility and ranking with all the major search engines. This in turn will attract more readers. And, with luck, some of those readers will be cousins – with lots of useful family information.