SEO - HTML Titles Tags

Writing Titles

One of the most important components in achieving better rankings, the <title> tag should be given a lot of attention when preparing your optimized pages. In fact, it should be focused on heavily for all of your pages, not just those that you’re optimizing. A relevant, well-written Title can affect your rankings pretty significantly, when combined with other site optimization components.

The <title> tag serves two (2) important purposes:

  • The text is shown in the top (blue-bar) of the browser window, so it gives the user a quick summary of your page, product, or service.
  • Most search engines display the text from your Title tag in their search results.

Writing your Title tag requires a bit of salesmanship, as well as knowledge of your important keywords and phrases. You could just include the keyword/phrase in your Title tag by itself, but that won’t get people to click on your site (in most cases). You have to mix your important keyword/phrase into the Title, while still attempting “to sell” your site to the searcher. The whole goal of search engine optimization is to get qualified visitors to your website. If you don’t entice the searcher properly, all your work is wasted.

Another use of the Title tag, while not as important as those above, is that the text in your Title tag is what’s used when a visitor Bookmarks/Favorites your website in their browser. Depending on your audience, you may want to write your Title with this in mind; perhaps keeping the Title short and including the company name so the visitor won’t have to edit the Bookmark/Favorite before saving it.

When writing the Title tag, it’s important to use your keyword/phrase as close to the front as possible. The search engines give it more weight the more prominent it is in the context of the tag. A lot of designers and webmasters tend to use the company name in every set of Title tags on your site, simply alternating the page topic after a hyphen or colon.

In some cases, webmasters simply use a design template and don’t change the Title or Meta tags on each page. Think for a moment that you’re a search engine, scouring the internet for valuable information and content to parse back to your search visitors. Would you include 10, 20, 100 or more pages if they all had the same Title and Meta tags? What benefit does that provide to the search visitor? Answer: None. So if it does the search visitor no good, the search engine is not going to want to index all of those pages individually. It’s going to assume that your site is all about the same topic and that it only needs to include one of your pages in its search results. In most cases, this is not going to be an effective representation of your entire site.

The best recommendation for getting all of your site’s pages in search engine results is to write individual Titles and Meta tags for each one of them. This is very time consuming and laborsome, but done correctly, it should pay dividends with a lot of traffic coming into those pages that weren’t there before.

Examples of common Title writing mistakes:

<title>Blueline Shoes – Basketball</title>

<title>Mens basketball shoes, basketball shoes for men, mens basketball shoes</title>

<title>Blueline Shoes -> Products – > Shoes</title>

In some cases, if the company name is a popular term, perhaps this might be effective, but in most cases it’s not going to work very well.

Instead of repeating your company name in all of your tags at the beginning, utilize this space to add relevant keywords/phrases and copy that will entice the searcher to click, and visit your website over your competitors.

Here are a few examples of better Titles:

<title>Mens basketball shoes – Great Prices at Blueline Shoes</title>

<title>Buy mens basketball shoes at Blueline Shoes</title>

In this example, we’ve used our primary keyword/phrase towards the front of the tag, as opposed to being at the end, or not used at all. Because visitors are going to be reading this, we’ve made it as grammatically correct as possible, while still trying to include copy that the search engines are going to read and rank this page for.

Some webmasters and even search engine optimizers overuse the Title tag to fill it with a lot of keywords/phrases that are relevant to their site. While this would seem like a good idea, you’re actually hurting each keyword/phrase by adding more to the tag. The search engine algorithms rank your page based on the keyword density, so if you keep adding more content (even in the Title and Meta tags), you’re diminishing your chances of being ranked well for one particular set.

We’ve seen the best results when using shorter Title tags, anywhere from 3-10 words long, but no more. You should be able to include 1-2 sets of keywords/phrases and some sales copy within that amount; if not, consider using only one (1) keyword/phrase instead of two (2). Each engine is going to display a different amount of characters from your Title in their search results: Google – 64 characters, Yahoo – 120. Anything over these amounts will be “chopped” off, and will not be visible to the searcher. This is why it’s important to use your keyword/phrase in the beginning of the Title; because the searcher may not see it if it’s used too far back.

If your site is geographic or location specific, you should utilize the Title tag to include the major City and State where your business may be located.

Example: <title>Mens basketball shoes – Blueline Shoes in Phoenix, Arizona</title>

Tip: Make sure you do your research to determine if the City or State is searched more frequently spelled out ( Arizona) or abbreviated (AZ). You’re trying to get traffic to your site, so selecting the right form will ensure that your optimization is targeting the largest audience possible. Also – you can alternate which form of the term you use on your pages to make sure you’re covering both.

You might read in some publications that using multiple <title> tags is a good idea, or that it might help your rankings, but it’s a pretty blatant spamming attempt, and is not recommended. If you’re discovered by the search engines practicing this method, you risk having a penalty accessed to your site or being removed from their search results altogether.

Another Tip: Your Title should always be written with correct grammar and punctuation.

Writing HTML Title Tags overview:

  • Include your keyword/phrase.
  • Use it as close to the front as possible.
  • Don’t use more than 3-10 words in the entire Title.
  • Consider excluding your company name if repetitive or unnecessary.
  • Write with the visitor in mind – are they going to click on your site?
  • Include City and State if your website is geographic or location specific.
  • Don’t use multiple Title tags.
  • Use unique Titles on every page.
  • Don’t repeat the keyword/phrase more than twice.
  • Write your Title with correct punctuation and grammar.

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