Brian Douglas in This Developing Journey

Adding SEO to your Middleman Site

Middleman is a static site generator built in Ruby. This site is actually built using Middleman.

Very recently I started working on a project at work that required me to consider SEO on the project. I have never considered how any project I have worked up to this point will be crawled on Google until this project, including this Blog.

My assumption is that through a long tail of existence on the web my blog will eventually be found and considered useful. Little did I know, I could actually help Google find my blog with SEO.

blog seo example

Meta Tags

Meta Tags are low hanging fruit in SEO. When you do a Google search and get results, each result includes 3 things: a title, a link, and a description.

The 3 things are sourced from the site’s meta tags. In HTML you can set your meta tag easily by adding to your document’s HEAD.

<!doctype html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>This Developing Journey</title>
    <meta name="description" content="Discoveries into Go, JavaScript, and Ruby">

    ...
  </head>
  <body>
    ...
  </body>
</html>

Middleman is served by Ruby and naturally user a ruby file to serve HTML. You can edit your Middleman site title and description in the layout.html.erb.

Sitemap

Once you have meta tags, you can proceed with making a site map. A site map is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users (from Wikipedia).

A sitemap is not needed to be crawled, but you are basically helping google find your site much faster, which means when people are searching how to create static sites in Haskell, your project will rank higher much faster.

In Middleman you can add a sitemap in a number of ways. The way I approach it is to be able to generate a sitemap automatically. My blog gets a new post once or twice a month (hopefully sooner in the future) and the sitemap will need to be updated when new pages/posts get added.

I added the middleman-searchenginesitemap gem to my blog and added the following code to my config.rb.

page "/sitemap.xml", :layout => false

# Sitemap
set :url_root, 'http://developingjourney.netlify.com/'
activate :search_engine_sitemap

By default, the generator will update once a month. You can now confirm this all works by going to your site’s root url /sitemap.xml. If you see something there, you did everything correctly, You check on this site here.

Submit your site to Google

Now that meta tags and sitemap are out of the way you can now let Google know your site exist.

This step comes with disappointment, because it is too easy. The only steps are:

  1. Enter your site’s URL in the form
  2. Completing the CAPTCHA.

submit your url image

Once submitted the Google Robots will walk through your site and rank you with their famous PageRank algorithm.

That is all, now go and update your site.