Whilst it is important to keep up to date with new SEO technologies and techniques, it’s also important to sometimes look back at the very basics of online optimisation and web development, and to make sure that these are all understood and in place. After all, there’s precious little point in creating fresh new optimised content or branching out through new online social media marketing platforms if the core foundation of your website is weak.
In today’s post I want to focus on page titles… but wait! Before you click away, just ask yourself how well you really know Google’s attitude to page titles? Ask yourself whether your knowledge of how page titles should be used stops at an appreciation of the importance of unique page descriptions in the <title> tag? Is there much more to it than that? Well, as it turns out, yes, there is.
In fact Google themselves have brought this subject up again recently, and have included an interesting fact which reveals that around half of the time they actually ignore the <title> tag completely.
What!!? You mean after all your hard work creating unique, optimised and descriptive title tags throughout your site Google is ignoring them? If this sounds like news, then perhaps it’s best to revaluate our understanding of title tags and page titles and understand what does work, and what doesn’t, and how to make sure you don’t end up with your site being dragged down by something as silly and as basic as a title.
First of all, make sure that you include a <title> tag on every single page of your website. This should go without saying, but it’s astonishing just how many pages don’t have this tag. But there’s more to creating a good title tag than simply including the tags and stuffing a few relevant words between them.
Remember, in about half of all cases Google ignores the title tag, even if it has been included. Why? It could be for several reasons, including your title being too short, too long, too similar to other titles within your site, non descriptive titles or boilerplate titles. All of these should be avoided. Having a title on almost every page which says “Rocket Powered Chickens – heavy metal band, gigs, lyrics, album, tour, contact & book” simply won’t work. Having shorter titles which are more specifically focussed on the actual page content are more likely to be used by Google. Trying to be too clever with your titles could well end up with them being ignored by Google and replaced with their own, which may not be to your liking.
Having an important or relevant keyword in your title is important, but not to the detriment of that title being useful or informative. Remember, if you want to add a quick sales pitch which grabs attention include it in a well written description tag, not in the title tag.
Think about how you respond yourself to titles within the search results. If you’ve carried out a search for ‘cuckoo clock repair specialists in Cleethorpes’ then you’ll probably look for a title which closely matches this. So if you see a title which is too short such as ‘clock repairs’ or one that’s too long such as ‘Ticktastic – superb clock repair service and clocks for sale at low prices’ then you’ll probably ignore both, and your eye will be drawn to the result which most closely matches your search phrase. But just using titles which closely match search phrases won’t always work either – remember, if Google thinks your title is too short, not informative enough or keyword stuffed it will be ignored and may be replaced.
Remember – keep it short, but not too short, make sure it’s unique, tightly focussed on the actual page title and doesn’t allude to anything not actually included on the page. Check how your pages are appearing in the search results, and look out for instances where your own page titles aren’t being used, and try to identify why not.
If you need any further help or advice with your page titles, or you have any top tips you’d like to share please use the comments box below – we’d love to hear from you.
Image Credit: http://rodymoney.com/