3 Key SEO Features I’d Like to See on Ghost
For a company that’s building the “technology for the future of journalism” on a $300,000 seed round, Ghost.org seems to be a bit behind when it comes to the SEO toolkit. With that said, I’ll note here that the goal of this post is not to bash, but rather to encourage the folks behind the open-source project to prioritize a few key SEO features in their product roadmap. Who knows, maybe we’ll be the ones to contribute to the Github repository—once I can figure out how to get the damn thing hosted locally!
Until then, the best I can do is jot some thoughts down here and hope they reach the right ears. In fact, if anyone reading has more thoughts, I’d love to hear and include them—just shoot me a message or comment below!
Alright, let’s dive into Ghost’s missing SEO tools:
Custom canonical URLs
When we first set ourselves up on Ghost(Pro), the nonprofit’s hosting service, I wanted to republish the work we do for our customers, widening their content’s exposure and creating a highly valuable, comprehensive portfolio on the PubLoft blog. I started with a piece for CBD For Life, our longest and best-performing customer to date, spending almost half an hour formatting the piece, refining the URL, and adding meta information.
When the time finally came to publish, I couldn’t find any way to set the canonical URL for this post—something that every blogging platform does automatically, but that only some, like HubSpot and Wordpress, allow you to customize. Without realizing it, I’d expected this feature to exist on Ghost and was instantly disappointed, frustrated, even dumbfounded that the “future of journalism” didn’t allow me to set a custom canonical URL.
If you’re not familiar as to why canonicals are important, you can brush up here:
How To Cross Post Content Without Being Penalized By Google
Anyone who's decently familiar with SEO probably knows that having duplicate content on the web is a major mistake…
And, it’s not even possible to inject these manually into posts—because Ghost automatically adds the canonical tag to the end of the
<head> tag in published content, any custom HTML will be overwritten and cause visible conflicts in SEO audits.
Until Ghost adds support for canonical URL overriding, or I learn how to host the blog myself and edit page templates, we’re stuck unable to cross-post our customer work without cannibalizing their SEO.
Title and H1 tags
Run any Ghost(Pro) blog through an SEMrush audit, and you’ll get this SEO warning: XX pages have duplicate H1 and title tags.
While it’s not a deadly error to have identical H1 and title tags, it can appear over-optimized and potentially lower your credibility in the eyes of search engines. When I discovered that this was happening, I tried to fix it but found that Ghost’s admin dashboard doesn’t currently offer any option to manually override how these meta tags are set.
On top of being a potential “scam alert” to Google, having duplicate H1/title tags is also a lost opportunity to include additional relevant keywords in your page content. Overall, it’s just not best practice and I’m highly looking forward to being able to set these myself in Ghost when needed.
Adding alt attributes to images
One of the easiest and most overlooked ways to get a small boost in search rankings is to properly tag your images with descriptive “alt” tags. Publishing tools like HubSpot and Wordpress include support for custom alt text by default, and it would be nice to see Ghost, founded in 2013, offer this type of feature in its own dashboard of blogging badassery.
Opinion piece is very opinionated. Also, if anyone knows of Ghost themes that solve these issues, I’d love to hear about them! Just let me know in the comments.