Searching SC: Limited Hits for Anapana


Hi Brooks,

Given you experience in the area, I wonder if you could help us out, taking a closer look at SEO best practices? As a general rule, we follow Google’s advice: just make the site well structured and good content, and let Google do the rest. I think our metadata and the like is pretty reasonable, but it never hurts to have an independent review.


I’d be happy to Bhante @sujato. As you mention, from my experience, the key is good content, and SC has fantastic content. It’s also organized in a clean, clear manner. There are just a couple of things that stand out, however, that could help with SEO:

  1. In The Mindfulness of Breathing Sutta, and perhaps other suttas, anapanasati is spelled following an approach that seems to not be commonly used or followed. Namely: Ānāpānassatisutta. For example, google doesn’t recognize that spelling, whereas it clearly recognizes anapanasati. So, although the content in MN 118 is fantastic, it follows a spelling that google doesn’t seem to recognize. Thus, SC will never likely rank for anapanasati, and may be hindered by not having the common spelling as content on its page.

Moreover, anapanasati seems to be a synonym for mindfulness of breathing, and there’s evidence that Google gives credit for using different words related to the same topic. So, for example, in virtually all of my pages, I use both keywords: lawyer and attorney.

  1. Mirroring other sites: One approach that has really helped me is to study the sites that are at the top of the rankings for keywords I’m targeting. So, in the mindfulness of breathing example, if one google mindfulness of breathing, the only sutta on the first page is from access to insight and it uses both mindfulness of breath and anapanasati in the title and on the page. Also, as I mentioned above, one of the top results from wikipedia only has anapanasati in the title, even though I searched the terms mindfulness of breathing. So, it seems to me, the best SEO practice for the mindfulness of breathing sutta is to make sure anapanasati is in the content of the page and possibly the title too:

  2. Making good use of titles: As mentioned above, the top sutta hit I get when I google mindfulness of breathing is from accesstoinsight, and it not only has anapanasati on its page, it also has both anapanasati and mindfulness of breathing in its title/title tag. From my experience, making sure the targeted keywords are in both the main content of the page and in the title is important, and I think the article I posted a link to above echoes that.

  3. Meta descriptions: meta descriptions also seem to be important for SEO and because that’s the first thing a potential visitor sees after the title. Thus, SC’s good content/keywords needs to be on the page, in the title and in the metadescription. Seems like SC is following this practice. However, we may want to consider adding common synonyms like anapanasati. Although, this probably is not that important.

  4. Another best practice that a leading sutta site follows, which I follow too, is to including interlinks at the bottom of pages. See here for some reasons why.

There are many ways to accomplish this. For example, at the bottom of a sutta we could say see also MN… If there’s a closely related sutta. The site I’m referencing also accomplishes this by including footnotes with interlinks. The options here are limitless. Seems like this is a good SEO practice because it helps visitors find other related content they might be interested in. Google rewards sites that helps enrich visitors experience.

The only page I’ve noticed where SC may not be following the above best practices related to content and titles is the mindfulness of breathing sutta, which is mainly caused by a spelling issue. However, I wonder if this spelling issue also affects other commonly searched terms? I just don’t know.

So, in summary, some easy fixes for SEO purposes, if other purposes don’t override them are: consider using the common spellings for certain pali words like anapanasati in all content, including on the page and possibly in the title. For example, if there are more than one common title for a sutta, like in the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutta, then perhaps include in the title something like Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati). Or we could learn from what another site is doing but flip it around a little bit and make the title: Mindfulness of Breathing: Anapanasati Sutta.

We could also include the synonyms in the metadescription, but this is less important.
It doesn’t seem like SC uses interlinking much; so that might be a good SEO opportunity and way to help visitors. That said, the current approach SC follows gives an amazingly clean and sleek appearance. However, adding interlinks somewhere in the content would likely help SEO and visitors.

Sometime this week, likely on Saturday, I’ll try to find a program to scan SC for SEO best practices. I’ve used these before, and they sometimes provide some helpful information.

Hope this helps.


Okay, here are the 200+ ranking factors Google uses (search truly is a dark art).

Free SEO Analysis report 1


Review of, the 289,350th most popular website in the world.

Some takeaways–check report for more

  • 3 SEO recommendations & 12 speed recommendations for the home page
  • Low number of backlinks & indexed pages
  • Homepage keywords are not relevant at all (!)


Free SEO Analysis report 2

(source: Seo-report)

Six critical errors, ten warnings.

Free SEO Analysis report 3

(source: Report)

Free SEO Analysis report 4

(source: SEO Tester Online)


Thanks, Robbie. These were the types of audits and reports I was talking about. I will thoroughly review them by Friday or Saturday and see if I can add anything given my experience managing the SEO of a personal injury website.

Note: If you google our primary targeted keywords “West Virginia personal injury lawyer” or a similar search, our site (West Law Firm @ should rank at the top or very near. So, hopefully, some of the strategies I use for that site will be helpful to SC.

That said, my technical abilities are limited, and I tend to focus on the most important SEO strategies like optimal use of content, titles and backlinks, and using keywords in each of those, which require very little technical ability. So, hopefully others here, will have more to say about some of the technical issues mentioned in these reports.


Risking an off-topic moment to say “Go 'eers!!”


For the confused this website may clarify.


After some additional investigation and reviewing the SEO checkers @Robbie lists above, here are my general findings, Bhante @sujato:

One of the most important things to consider when thinking about SEO are what keywords does SC want to rank well for. SC is ranking on the first page for the keyword sutta, which is great. However, for meditation, buddhism, early buddhist teachings, and buddha, SC is currently not found on the first 10 pages. The following site stopped searching for SC at that point because no one is likely to search past the first 10 pages presumably. keyword position checker - A Free online Google keyword rank checker

So, since I’m not sure what keywords SC wants to rank for, it’s hard to give much specific advice. That said, all or most of the SEO checkers above did notice one easy fix that is commonly agreed to be important for SEO: The title of the home page is shorter than the recommended number of 35-65 signs. SC’s title is only 12 signs. It is just SuttaCentral. That said, the description of the home page seems strong in terms of SEO and conveying a clear message about what SC is about. Presumably, the description includes SC’s targeted keywords, too. Here is the SC description that shows up in google searches:

Early Buddhist texts from the Tipitaka (Tripitaka). Suttas (sutras) with the Buddha’s teachings on mindfulness, insight, wisdom, and meditation.

So, based on that, we could expand the title to something like SuttaCentral: Early Buddhist Teachings
or if you want to reach more people searching for meditation you could even expand it to something like:
SuttaCentral: Early Buddhist Teachings on Meditation & Dhamma. I’m sure there are many other options depending on what keywords are important.

There are other ways to improve SEO based on my experience and the reports above, including using social share media or at least adding social media share buttons. However, some here understandably seem to disfavor social media, so I’m not sure this is an option. I don’t like social media personally but find it very helpful for SEO. Also, the other SEO strategies and tactics I and others use could affect the layout and appearance of SC, including some of the strategies I mentioned in a previous post. So, I won’t go into more detail about them unless someone wants me to.

Also, because SC does have such great content and features, I’m confident it will appear in more and more relevant searches so long as the important keywords are on the pages and included in the H1 titles of pages.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them. I hope this helps.


I’ve been posting to other forums such as the Buddhist stack exchange, providing links back to individual SuttaCentral suttas. If we all provide a few links back to SuttaCentral suttas, I think it might help. Google seems to like sites that are highly referenced. Indeed, right now, if I type mn1/en/sujato into Google, the top link is MN1 in SuttaCentral.

The success of “mn1/en/sujato” working in Google makes me wonder if perhaps we can achieve similar success searching with terms from the sutta. I do like your own suggestion that we include common non-Pali terms relevant to each sutta.


I have noticed that even if the Sutta name is properly spelled, unless the space between the name and the word Sutta is eliminated the Sutta cannot be searched in the SC search. For example if we search for Nagara Sutta, it should be input as nagarasutta. In google, even if it is input without the space it brings up results.
May be this is something relevant for the developers to keep in mind for the future.
With Metta


Thanks, Nimal. This is related to the anapana spelling issue mentioned above. In some instances, SC is using spellings that are not recognized by google and not commonly used it seems. That brings up one last issue I wanted to mention to Bhante @sujato, which is the home page title is “SuttaCentral.”

One of SC’s primary keywords is sutta. The title of the home page is perhaps the most important place to include SC’s important keywords. However, the way Sutta Central is spelled – without a space – could mean that for purposes of search engines, the keyword sutta is not used in the home page title, only the one word “suttacentral.” The one word suttacentral is not likely a keyword and won’t likely be included in many people’s google searches. I didn’t mention this because SC is ranking well for the keyword sutta, despite the SEO issues mentioned above. However, adding a space between SuttaCentral, may help a lot. Another option, if it’s important to make sutta central one word, would be to include the word sutta in the part of the title that comes after the name suttacentral. Again, that said, since SC is ranking well for sutta already, this is not as critical as adding some additional keywords to the home page title as mentioned above. This is basic SEO that’s probably not disputed by any SEO professional.

Hope this helps the dhamma reach more people.

#32 has a different search algorithm that allows the space. Given the recency of the introduction, it may help as people use voice search. One possible SC solution would be an option to use SCV search via REST api as a user option. Another SEO option would be to add the acronym in the actual sutta (e.g., “DN 33: Long Discourses 33” vs just “Long Discourses 33”)