Monday, March 19, 2007

Top 10 Don’ts for a Genealogy Web Site Title

  1. Don’t neglect to use one consistent title throughout the web page or the rest of the web site. People tend to fluctuate between titles, phrases, or keywords, which can create confusion as visitors navigate from one page to another. Choose one title and stick with it.
  2. Don’t use redundant, useless words or phrases such as:
    ---“Welcome to the home page of….”
    ---“Home Page of…”
    ---“Personal Genealogy Web Site for….”
  3. Don’t choose a title that isn’t descriptive enough, such as:
    ---“My Family History”
    ---“Smith Family History”
    ---“Our Family Tree”
  4. Don’t choose a title that isn’t completely honest or truthful, such as:
    ---“The Only Site You Ever Need to Use”
    ---“Every Smith Birth Record Ever Made”
    ---“The Complete Genealogy for the Johnson Surname”
  5. Don’t forget to include important items in the title, such as:
    ---Place names
    ---Anything that is topic-specific to the content of the site
  6. Don’t include the title only on a custom-made graphic, and not in actual text on the web page. Search engines can’t read graphics. You must include plain text on the page as well.
  7. Don’t load up the TITLE bar with a list of keywords in the hope that this will improve search engine hits and indexing. Wrong. That is an Internet old-wives’ tale. It doesn't help improve your search engine hits, but it does make for a very messy looking title bar, bookmark, favorite, or search engine hit.
  8. Don’t forget to include the actual title of the web site in the TITLE bar. Some people remember to put everything else but the title in that spot.
  9. Don’t leave the TITLE bar blank or empty so that the web browser default of “home” or “index” or “Insert Title Here” or the URL appears there instead.
  10. Don’t use the site’s domain name in the TITLE bar unless that is the actual name and title of the site as well.

Examples of concise, descriptive, and useful titles:

  • Descendants of David H. Ingle, Towner County, North Dakota
  • The Story of George & Kesiah Smith, Exira, Audubon County, Iowa
  • Smith, Johnson, Knox, Nash, & Frederick Families: Iowa to South Dakota
  • Greengrass Cemetery, Anywhereville, Ohio - Complete Transcription, 1998

Good luck!



Drew Smith said...

Ah, one of my favorite topics to rant about: the exceedingly abysmal use of the TITLE element. I created a list of bookmarks to all of the state genealogical websites, and just today, I had Firefox open *all* of them (nearly 50 of 'em) at the same time, so I could compare the results.

I am very tempted to name names, but let's just say that there was more than one site with a TITLE element of "Home Page". Guess where *that* ends up when you bookmark it, folks?

And if you abbreviate your society's name in the TITLE, and I bookmark it, are you really going to make me have to open the darn page to figure out what the abbreviation stands for?

And if you put "The Freedonia Genealogical Society" in the TITLE element, that alphabetizes under "T", not "F". And if you're "The Genealogical Society of Freedonia", I *strongly* recommend putting "Freedonia - The Genealogical Society of Freedonia" in the TITLE element, again so that it alphabetizes best.

OK, I just had to get that off my chest.

Cyndi Ingle said...

Why not just "Freedonia Genealogical Society"

And how about all the "Washington Public Library" web sites in the world? How about telling us in which state? Such as: "Washington Public Library, City, State" (and actually insert a real city and state name).

I was setting up links to public library blogs yesterday. Ran across one that had absolutely no reference to its city or state. I had to backtrack OFF of the blog to the regular library web site to find the location. grrrrrr


Randy said...

Having already committted the sin of using a generic title for my site were I to change it now would it (adversely) affect Google indexing or anything else?

Cyndi Ingle said...

Randy - it shouldn't be a problem. If your site has already been indexed by Google the URL is in their database. So, that makes it much easier for them to find you again and Googlebot will then reindex the URL updating the title, etc. You can always re-submit your site to Google to ask it to index your site again.

Have you submitted your site to Cyndi's List? If not, do so after you re-title it and Google will get the reindexing done faster because Google indexes on a regular basis. If you have already submitted the link to me be sure to use the "Update a Link" feature and we'll change the link title here. Again, Google should get wind of the change then when it reindexes my site.