Jan
21

Great Website Title Tags

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As we greet the beginning of the New Year, it is an opportune time to review and if necessary revise and update your website’s title tags. First things first, so what exactly is a title tag? The title tag for a web page is displayed in a visitor’s web browser to identify the page, but it originates in the underlying code used to design the website. By right clicking on a website with your mouse you can find the ‘View Source’ command. Selecting view source will permit you to view the underlying code for that web page. You can read an in-depth description of title tags here.

The title tag for any particular page is proceeded by the <title> tag and ends with the </title> tag – the text that appears between these two tags is what will appear in the browser in the main display bar at the top. More importantly for most webmasters is the fact that the title tag indicates to search engines what the page is about, and ultimately where to position that page in the search index. The title tag is often also displayed in the search engine results as the first line in a website’s listing. That means it can either attract or disuade clicks from a web search. It is critical that the title tag be well designed and relevant to the page content in order to rank well at search engines for your chosen terms.

Let’s take a look at a few real-world examples of sites with well constructed title tags.

Our first example is this page: http://webdesignfinders.net/massachusetts-web-designers.html:

The title seems a touch long to me – ”Massachusetts web design: find professional web design firm, web design company, web design services and web designers in Massachusetts”. However, the company has done a few things right. The very first phrase in the title – Massachusetts web design – is the search phrase that I typed into a search engine to find them. This is an important concept in title tags: the most important search phrase for that page should be positioned at the beginning of the tag.

Our second example is from Web Host Magazine:

This title is a great example of addressing multiple audiences via a single title tag. Note the various niches covered: ”Web Host Magazine: Web Hosting Reviews, News, Resources, Articles, & Information”. If a searcher is looking for any one of the target areas, be it ‘web hosting articles’ or ‘web hosting information’ the title tag will catch their eye in a web search. One note on this tag – although not directly listed, the ‘&’ symbol may be considered a ‘stop word’ by Google. What is a stop word? It is a word that will not count when conducting a search. So if you search “keyword” you will get the exact same results as “and keyword” – Google and other engines generally ignore the stop word. Here is a list of stop words that you may want to avoid in your title tag – stop words.

Our final example comes from UK hosting company, 34SP.com.

This company’s title was recently changed and now reads – ”Website Hosting, Cheap Web Hosting, Hosting, UK Hosting”. Why the change? The company was using a title tag that focused on the company name and not the page content of that particular page. This is a common title tag oversight. It is likely that your company will rank well in search engines for its own name without any real additional title tag focus. The title tag should be used to further inform search engines about the exact page content and not just the company name. That doesn’t mean you can’t consciously select to have your company name be an important search phrase, you should just make an informed choice.

One last note on title tags – create a title tag that is unique and describes that page content for every single page of your website. This is a good practice that will benefit your search rankings in the long run. Also be sure to check back on your title tags from time to time, as content of pages may change or your focus for search may change as well.

If you are a more advanced webmaster, you can use Google’s Webmaster Central to determine if you have duplicate title tags and other valuable title tag information. here is a link to the Official Google Blog for Webmaster Central that talks about how to use the tool to examine title tags: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/12/new-content-analysis-and-sitemap.html.

Good luck getting your title tags in shape. The work will pay off so be sure to put some thought into those tags.

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