Want Better Search Results? Write Better Page Titles.


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web-page-title-tipsOne of the hardest things to convey to people outside the search industry is that SEO, in addition to requiring some technical proficiency, also encompasses research and writing skills. Your Page Title will almost always trump any technical ranking factor, unless the page URL lands in your robots.txt file. Then, even the most laser-focused page won’t be crawled.

Matt Cutts, Google Webspam Team, recently wrote about Page title tips on Webmaster Central. Essentially, he shared what most of us in the industry have known for a long time: Page Titles are an important part of page results. Of course, they don’t disclose why they’re stating the obvious (to SEOs anyway) now.

“We use many signals to decide which title to show to users, primarily the tag (emphasis added) if the webmaster specified one,” said Cutts.

I recently spent time rewriting just the Home page of a website and an interior database-driven page. For that one page I still performed keyword research and competitor analysis. Rewriting that Title took at least half an hour. I needed to squeeze as much relevance and keyword variation as possible into 70 characters.

Despite the time investment, rewriting Page titles has many benefits. The exercise forces you to understand the focus of any Web page; it can open up new keyword opportunities and subsequent resource pages; you may realize that, while the page may be thematically correct, it would be a much better user experience to create “continued on” pages.

Tips on Page Titles According to Cutts

1. Every page needs a Page title. Webmaster Tools conveniently lists missing or problematic title tags.

2. Make your page titles descriptive and concise. If your Web developer is still labeling your front page “Home,” fire him. I’m not kidding. And, most search engines truncate overly long titles after 70 characters.

3. If you’re tempted to use more than eight words, you’re probably overusing your keywords. (This is my interpretation of what Matt wrote.) Descriptors are great; spammy looking titles are not.

4. Minimize the use of boilerplate titles. One solution he made, which I thought made a lot of sense, is to dynamically update the title to better reflect what’s on the page. This approach also provides the opportunity to see if each of your Web pages contain unique and relevant content. You may find that you can consolidate or retire some pages.

5. Brand your Home Page title, not every single page. Subsequent Page titles may include your website name at the beginning or end (I prefer end) of each page, Cutts suggests, separated with a hyphen, color or pipe.

And, there you have it. Simple but not easy.

Photo credit: digitalart

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Nicolette Beard
As a former publisher and editor, I'm passionate about the written word. I craft content to help drive the autonomous customer experience (CX) revolution. My goal is to show call center leaders how to reduce the increasing complexity of the customer journey.


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