Thinking about updating your blog post template to include your Twitter handle in your title tag? Before you do, let me tell you why you shouldn’t.
The other week, a post on WP Engine really got my attention. The post, Is Your Content Optimized for Twitter Sharing, suggested updating your WordPress title tag template to include your Twitter handle so that when your blog posts were shared via a sharing tool (i.e. Buffer), the shared text which auto-populates from your title tag would attribute the blog post to your Twitter account.
First off, let me say I love this idea. I’m a fanatical Buffer user and, when I use it to push out posts to my Twitter account, I always have to search around and find the author’s Twitter handle so I can attribute the post to them and give them a mention. That’s exactly a scenario that Gunter was trying to solve with his post at WP Engine.
Nevertheless, I disagreed with his recommendation. Why, you ask? There are four major reasons…
Twitter isn’t everything
The title tag is an incredibly important element of any page. Therefore, no big change to its structure or content should be taken lightly. Remember that Twitter isn’t everything. Aside from being pulled into Twitter (or Buffer) as the title of your Tweet, the title tag also gets pulled into these other places:
- Organic search engine results pages (SERPs) – Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, Ask, etc., etc.
- Facebook posts
- Google+ posts
- Reader services – Instapaper, Pocket, what-have-you
- Social bookmarking sites – Reddit, Inbound.org, Digg, etc.
In each of these places, the author’s Twitter handle is pretty much irrelevant. Consider stuff like this before making a highly Twittter-centric change to your website.
Also, my gut always screams, “check the data!” Look at your “All Traffic” breakdown in Google Analytics; unless Twitter (and t.co) is dominating your traffic report with a 100% lead over the closest other channel, changing your title tags to serve Twitter just isn’t logical.
It’s bad for organic CTR
If you did end up looking at your data in Google Analytics, you likely saw that Google organic was the real traffic driver to your site. Remember that your title tag is effectively your ad headline in Google’s results. In many cases, it’s what earns a searcher’s initial glance and inspires them to click through to your website. Don’t squander the opportunity to grab more users from organic search by wasting 10-20 of those 70 characters on a “by @mike_arnesen”. You need that space!
It’s bad for keyword relevancy
Unlike other “meta” elements, your page title still impacts ranking in a not insignificant way! If you’re trying to rank a blog post for a specific long-tail term, get that exact match key-phrase in your title tag. Same as above, it’s a heck of a lot easier to do this with 70 characters than it is with 50.
It doesn’t work for multi-author blogs
A common scenario the original post doesn’t account for is multi-author blogs. You can’t just change the title tag template for all your posts because the author changes on a post-by-post basis. You also don’t want to just attribute everything to the company because that personal branding and audience building is incredibly valuable, especially if you have awesome people who write for you (you do, don’t you?). Now, someone with some decent WordPress hacking skills could just grab the Twitter handle field from each author’s profile and drop that in the title tag dynamically, but I don’t believe it’s worth it (for the reasons I’ve outlined in the preceding three points above).
A Better Way
Lucky for us, there’s a better way to do this. All we need to do is quickly set up our WordPress blogs to support one of the coolest content enhancements Twitter’s ever given us: Twitter cards!
See the name right below the main Tweet in the example? That’s the “creator” field in the Twitter card meta data! It looks like this: <meta name=”twitter:creator” content=”@mike_arnesen”/>. The best part is that, by using the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin, you don’t have to lay a finger on your code. You enable Twitter cards and it will automatically set you up so that the “creator” field pulls from any given author’s WordPress profile. You can learn more about Twitter cards here.
Have any of you tweaked your site to use the WP Engine recommendation? I heard a lot of people buzzing about the idea at MozCon. If you have, let me know how it’s worked out for you so far. I’d also love to hear any counter arguments!
Until next time, happy optimizing!