Automated titles gone wrong

Anyone SEOing a large database driven site will have used formulas for creating titles, headings, URLs and portions of page content. The improvements that can be made to a site by writing good formulas are vast, when the formula is rolled out over hundreds or thousands of pages.

This type of work is something I do on a daily basis. When looking at a product database, I'm thinking "how can I script the creation of titles etc to include the search phrases and not look too cheesy".

Mahena Island

We were tagging some photos for Facebook the other day, and needed to know the name of a little island near my parent's holiday property in the Hokianga harbour, Northland New Zealand.

Mahena Island


This photo was taken from the deck. This place is a paradise.

The island is fairly small and insignificant. It's a couple of hundred metres offshore, and is home to some rocks and bushes, but not much else. Fishing around the island is spectacular, and it provides good shelter for kayaking and sailing.
I was impressed that Google Maps knew the name of this island, Mahena Island.
Mahena Island


Take note of the scale between the size of the island, and my parent's boatshed on the right hand side of the image.

Looking for more...

Pleased that I now had a name, I continued googling for more information on this island. This is where the SEO in me started laughing.
Mahena Island SERPs


Maybe this is just something that SEOs will appreciate, but I had to laugh at the thought of "Street map of MAHENA ISLAND", showing up on the Yellow Pages result.

This island isn't significant enough to house a goat, let alone having enough roads to warrant a street map. At this point I'm thinking of the guy sitting on Mahena Island with his laptop googling for street maps because he's lost, and feeling glad that Yellow Pages has some street maps for him.

A bit silly

This probably isn't all that funny unless you have been automating your titles and can appreciate the dumbass combinations of text that can come out of your database. There is no way that the SEOs for the Yellow Pages site would know that Mahena Island has no streets, yet it's a glaring mistake in the SERPs.

I guess this is part of the cost of automating your content, which for the most part does a great job and saves hours and hours of work. I still consider formula driven automated titles / URLs / Headings / Meta descriptions one of the best "bang for your buck" SEO techniques out there, when you have a well constructed database to create your content from.
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