SuttaCentral

Site subtitle change to include ethics/virtue


#1

I’ve noticed recently (although it’s been there all along I guess) that suttacentral.net has a subtitle:

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

I’m guessing this was created to include common keywords. Seems though, that if we are going to pick just a few words to explain the content of the suttas, one of those words ought to be sīla/ethics.


#2

But people don’t Google ethics as much as the other stuff. So you gotta hook them with mindfulness and meditation at the start.


#3

It’s never a bad idea to make search terms more inclusive.


#4

That may be true. However the terms mindfulness and meditation are so popular that without having “sutta” in the search I can’t imagine that suttacentral.net would come up in the results. For both “sutta meditation” and “sutta mindfulness” MN 10 is on the first page. It may actually be there regardless of what text is in the subtitle.

So if indeed Buddhist ethics is a less popular search term, then using that keyword might have a better chance at getting hits.

I also think there is something to be said for truth in advertising. The number of suttas about “insight” are dwarfed by the number of suttas about sīla.


#5

I mean really this should all be reviewed by someone experienced at SEO. It’s really hard to know what actually matters.

Again, Google has said for many years that metadata is not really a factor. They look at:

  • good content
  • well-structured HTML
  • links
  • lack of spammy ads and stuff
  • mobile friendly
  • https encryption
  • performance
  • a11y
  • and so on

All of which we’ve tried to do the best we can. I suspect that adding some keywords is going to have a negligible impact.

I just ran the Google Lighthouse test for SEO and well:


#6

I agree. I guess I didn’t frame my original post well. My idea was that the subtitle should be changed not to improve seo, (which I agree it won’t) but rather to more accurately reflect the content of the site/suttas. As it stands now, it feels like it was written for SEO when I don’t think it should be.


#7

Although I’m a practicing lawyer, I spend most of my time on marketing and seo for my law firm; so, maybe I could help here. As you mention, Bhante @sujato, meta data like meta descriptions do not directly affect SEO anymore. However, meta descriptions can indirectly affect SEO by affecting CTRs (click through rates). In other words, the more people who click on a SC link that shows up in a search result, the better it is for SC’s SEO.

That said, I’m not sure where the below subtitle @Snowbird mentions is showing up. I googled sutta central, and don’t see that subtitle in SC’s meta description, and I don’t see it on SC’s home page content. Moreover, I assume different pages have different meta descriptions.

All that being said, I don’t think adding ethics to a meta description will affect SC’s SEO directly; however, snowbirds idea of adding ethics to the above subtitle/meta description sounds great to me because it seems to accurately reflects the content of SC and is a big part of the Dhamma. Moreover, including “ethics” in the meta descriptions may appeal to potential readers motivating them to click and read the EBTs for themselves on SC. If adding “ethics” to a meta description has this impact on CTRs, then, such addition will have likely indirectly improved SC’s SEO.

Lastly, as Bhante Sujato points out, it seems SC has a great overall SEO score, and SC seems to be showing up higher and higher in relevant searches.

The only potentially significant issue I noticed last time I took a little time to investigate SC’s SEO is whether SC is including popular keywords in its titles and translations. For example, I’m really surprised that SC doesn’t show up on the first page when I google metta sutta. That must be because metta sutta is not in the title of SC’s translation of this sutta. Perhaps this is the only popular sutta this is an issue for though…I’m not sure.

with metta,


#8

That’s probably correct. It’s one of the little problems you have when dealing with a systematic mass of text, rather than a hand-crafted selection. Perhaps what we should do is make a list of synonyms for such cases and use them where needed for metadata. It wouldn’t be a long list. I’ll make a proposal for it.


#9

Perhaps Google’s keyword planner tool might be helpful. I used it to see how many people are searching “sutta” and to see Google’s keyword ideas for search terms related to sutta. It may give you a sense of what relevant keywords people are searching for. Then, you may want to consider using those keywords in the title of SC’s suttas, if appropriate.

That seems to be the issue with the ranking of SC’s metta sutta. “Metta” is not in the the title. Although, “mettasutta” is in the title of SC’s Snp 1.8, Google is probably not recognizing “mettasutta” as “metta sutta”.

Another fact leading to this conclusion is that SC’s translations seem to show up at or toward the top of the first page of Google searches when such searches include keywords that are in the title of SC’s translations.

For example, if you search “mindfulness of breathing sutta”, SC’s translation of this sutta will come up at or toward the top of the first page. However, those keywords are in the title of SC’s translation whereas metta is not in the title of the SC’s metta sutta translation. So, it seems like SC ranks at or toward the top of relevant google searches when the keywords of such searches are in the title of SC’s translations.

Hope this helps in some way get more people access to SC:-)