We continue the SEO Tips series today with a discussion on the HTML “Title” tag. If you have read much about SEO, you probably already know that this little piece of code is one of the most important parts of your pages. The recent SEO Ranking Factors survey named keyword use in titles tags as the second most important thing you can do to improve your rankings. Unlike in the popular song we used to sing around campfires, where my name was your name too (Da, da, da, da, da, da, da), page titles MUST all be unique for them to be effective.
If you are using WordPress, or almost any of the other CMS tools, your HTML page titles are probably the same as your post titles. Having both titles match is not necessarily bad, but you could get better results if you mixed them up some.
Using a CMS does help eliminate one of the biggest problems I see on the ‘net when it comes to page titles. All too often companies ignore them, or put in something that may make sense to them, but actually does more harm than good. Why create a title that just says “home page” or “products?” Sure, it does tell you what page of the site you are on. However, it does nothing to tell you or (more importantly in this case) the search engines what content that page contains. Think about the book example I’ve used in the past – what if every book you looked at had just “the cover” written on the front of it. It’d make selecting a good one a bit more difficult.
Another common mistake is that too many site owners just insert the name of their company on every page as the title. What’s the point in that? If you are a known brand, your content should already rank for your name. If you are an unknown brand, who will know to search for your name? I’m not saying you can’t include your company name in page titles, but if you must, please put it near the end.
When determining a page title it’s best to consider the content of the page and then try to imagine how a person might describe it. Often, that’s also how they would search for it.
For example, if your company name is “Smith & Associates” and you sell real estate in New Castle, Colorado you should try something like “Real Estate in New Castle, Colorado – Smith & Associates”, or perhaps “New Castle Home Listings – New Castle, Colorado – Smith & Associates Real Estate”. This helps you be found for what you do, where you do it and who you are. If you can fit in alternative terms, like I did in the second example – I used both “home listings” and “real estate” – that will boost the odds of being found as well. For interior pages, consider adding additional details based on the style and neighborhood of the home being shown on the page. Perhaps a title like “Ranch Style Home – Big Creek – New Castle, Colorado – Smith & Associates Real Estate” would be a good match for your page.
A word of caution though; while there is no limit as to how long a page title can be, the search engines will only display approximately the first 65 characters (including spaces) and will cut off the rest, possibly resulting in an odd looking title being displayed for your pages. In general, you should try to get your most important words as close to the beginning as possible. The search engines will read the entire thing, but since search engines try to mimic humans, and since most humans only get a few words in before they stop reading, the engines place greater strength on those words nearer the beginning. You can see from this example what happened when I set one of my page titles a little too long.
OK , there you have it. Now you can get started reviewing and updating your page titles. Let me know how it works out for you.
In our next SEO Tip we’ll talk about the META Description tag and how its best used…or not used.