Misquoted By Google


I mentioned in a previous post that I have been helping a friend with his own blog (Brandon’s Buzz) over the past few weeks. Well, everything’s just about sorted, but we discovered something strange yesterday when playing with Google. In a Google search for “Brandon’s Buzz”, there were no results for his site anywhere to be found.

Well, since the site’s been around for a good while now and other searches for terms on his site are working fine, why not “Brandon’s Buzz”? Then it struck me. WordPress, the blogging software, has this habit of prettying up your titles and posts by converting plain old boring, straight-up-and-down, single and double quotes into fancy, curly quotes like the ones used by publishers in books and magazines. You can find them in this post too.

That’s (<– see!) great 90% of the time, but when you have an apostrophe in the main title of your blog, Google doesn’t want to know you if your readers use the wrong type of single quote character in their searches. Given that 99.9% of all Googlers use the wrong quote (after all, that’s what’s on their keyboards) poor old Brandon’s Buzz is being left out in the cold.

Other WordPress bloggers have had the same issue, and a couple of successful solutions have been posted, but they both involve hacking the WordPress source code, which is a bit messy. After a little trial and error, I stumbled upon an easier solution, so if you have an apostrophe in your weblog’s title, here’s a quick way to resolve your weblog Googling woes:

  1. Login to your blog’s admin pages and go to the General Settings page.
  2. Delete the apostrophe (single quote) from your title.
  3. Paste the following HTML character code in its place: ‘ (ampersand, pound sign, 39, semi-colon)
  4. Click Save Settings.

That’s it! Reload your blog’s home page to check out the results. Within a couple of days you should begin to see your blog’s name rising up the ranks in Google.

However, there is one big caveat to be aware of. If you go back into the General Settings page later, you will notice that the regular apostrophe has returned to the title. If you click away without changing anything, you will be fine, but if you have to change another setting on the page and click Save Settings again, your title’s apostrophe will return to its former curly self. To prevent that from happening you will have to replace the apostrophe with ‘ each time you change your general settings. Hopefully that should not be too often.

So, with that little problem solved, Brandon can now look forward to his weblog’s name rising in the Google ranks to the stardom he surely deserves, eclipsing all those pretenders to the Buzz throne. The only thing left to rankle in the depths of his gut is that even when you search for “Brandon’s Buzz” with the curly apostrophe, his site is not the top result returned. That, er, belongs to a certain little web site you might have heard of, called “English Mike”. Sorry Brandon.

(And mentioning Brandon’s Buzz seven times in this post alone isn’t going to help him leapfrog into first place any time soon. 🙂 )

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