Chances are you already know that title tags are an important part of search engine optimization. Search engines give a considerable weight to your page titles when it comes to determining what your page is about. They will also use your title tag as the text to display in the link to your page when the page appears in search results. Your title tag can also help form the first impression someone makes about your web page and website.
Optimizing title tags is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to on page optimization. For a low to moderate keyword phrase having an optimized title tag can often be enough to get a page ranked on the first page of the results. Because they are so important here are 7 tips for writing optimized title tags.
Write Unique Title Tags
Evey page on your site should have it’s own unique page title. Just as each of your pages should be unique with their content they should also be unique with their page titles. Unique titles make your entire site more descriptive and navigable and also help search engines to determine what each of your pages is about. It’s ok to use common words across page titles and often you will, but no two page titles on your site should be exactly the same.
Use 1-2 Keywords Per Title Tag
Since you want your pages to be found for a given search you should naturally use keywords in your page titles. Optimally use your main keywords 1 -2 times. Once will probably enough, but twice is fine. Anything more and you might be pushing the envelope of what’s considered spam. I have seen pages ranking well using keywords more than twice in the title, but it’s probably still best to leave the maximum to two.
Write Title Tags That Describe The Content Of The Page
The point of a title is to describe what the page is about. Beyond that obvious point it only makes sense to have all of your optimization efforts work together instead of competing. If your page is about mountain biking it should be optimized for keywords related to mountain biking and your title should reflect that. It seems obvious, but I’ve seen far too many sites break this rule. Far too often a page will contain keywords like mountain biking because that’s what the site owner wants the page to be found for only to have page content that never mentions the words mountain or biking. If the words aren’t in the content they shouldn’t be in the page title.
Place Keywords At The Start Of The Title
Keyword prominence matters in page titles so the best optimized titles will start with keywords. The closer to the front the better. The same way it’s a good idea to have your keywords appear at the top of your document you want keywords to be at the start of the title. Search engines will assume that the words that appear first are more important to what the page is about and weight those words a little more than the words at the back.
Write Short Title Tags
Different search engines will display different numbers of characters of your page title. Google will usually cut the page title somewhere around 64 characters. Yahoo and MSN will show a few more characters, but anything beyond the cutoff won’t get seen in the search results. The search engines will read your title beyond what they’ll show, but all those extra words won’t really help with seo and won’t be seen by anyone. As you add more words you dilute the density of the keywords up front. Extremely long page titles can also be seen as being spammy and possibly raise a red flag about the page.
Write Readable Titles
Remember that your page title isn’t just for search engines. It’s possibly the first thing anyone will see about your site. Having a page title that reads well will lead to a higher click through on the link when it shows in the results to a query. What good is being on page one in the results if no one clicks on the link to your page. Your titles should not read as a list of keywords. Write a complete sentence.
Title Tags And Company Names
Unless your company name includes the keywords for which you’re targeting it shouldn’t be at the start of the title. In fact if your company name doesn’t include your keywords having it in the title won’t help at all. There are of course reasons to include your company name in your page title, most notably for branding purposes. If you’re going to include it place it at the end of the title. Site owners often think the company name is the first thing that should be in a page title, but there’s really no reason it should be there. Keywords up front, company name at the end.
Page titles are very important to the optimization of your page. It’s certainly possible to get pages to rank well without following any of the above tips, but having an optimized page title can help more than anything else you do on a given page. While seo is a combination of factors more than any one thing, writing optimized title tags can go a long way toward improving ranking. They don’t need to take a long time to write, but taking that time can yield huge benefits.
Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.