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I've been dumb but it's been fun
Changing the structure of <title> tags
Karma




msg:754101
 3:44 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hey all,

I posted recently after making <title> changes to my year old website. Just to re-cap, I had around 600 uniques a day with my original <title> in the following structure:

*My Site name* – *My Keyword* information.

After a year and with increasing traffic, I (rightly or wrongly) changed the <title> to:

*My Keyword* information.

Within a few days, the number of uniques had dropped to around 70 a day, and my Adsense earnings were down accordingly.

The reason I changed the <title> was simply to have my keyword at the start, rather than 12 characters in. I thought this would give me some long-term SEO benefits and I still plan to keep the title as it is.

As this is my first website, the reduction in visitors doesn’t bother me a great deal as I want to use this site to experiment with and I’d prefer to make mistakes and have a little fun with my first site.

However, I still want the site to be successful and so I’d really appreciate your thoughts on making this kind of change.

Do you think…

…the <title> changes have send me back to square one?
…I will see long term benefits?
…the number of uniques will return to previous levels if I changed my title back today?
…you would have done the same thing? If no, why not?

Thanks all :)

 

Iguana




msg:754102
 4:09 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

I played around with changing titles last year. I didn't notice it causing changes in traffic though.

As far as Adsense goes, my earnings shot up. I noticed that if I changed the page title, then I got 'default' ads for my topic. These Ads were much better and higher paying than the specific page ads I had been getting before.

Karma




msg:754103
 4:12 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sorry, I forgot to mention that I made the title changes around the same time as the last Google update. I'm still pretty sure that the main reduction in visitors is down to the title changes across my site.

Rosalind




msg:754104
 10:24 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sorry, I forgot to mention that I made the title changes around the same time as the last Google update. I'm still pretty sure that the main reduction in visitors is down to the title changes across my site.

There's no way you can isolate one factor, with all the changes that have been going on. Big Daddy has been chaos. Even if it didn't directly appear to affect your site, it most likely had an impact on your competitors and your inbound linking sites. So even if you haven't suffered from de-indexing, your PR may have slipped and your pages may no longer have the same standing as they had before.

Karma




msg:754105
 11:26 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Damn I hate Google sometimes!

Anyway, i'd still really like to know what people think about making these kind of structure changes to the title tag across their sites.

Is it a big no-no?

ronburk




msg:754106
 11:44 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd still really like to know what people think about making these kind of structure changes to the title tag across their sites.

I suspect that if cleaning up title tags drastically dings your free Google traffic, then you've probably built a highly unstable SEO base. In that case, any breeze that comes along could knock you down: changing title tags, next week's tweak to the Google algorithm, etc.

Consider shifting your focus from traffic fluctuations to measures of overall stability. For example, if your Google stability number [webmasterworld.com] is small, yer probably cruisin' for a bruisin'. Just a matter of how soon it's going to catch up with you.

Karma




msg:754107
 8:14 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Any ideas how I would go about doing this? In my (limited) opinion, I think my site is pretty well optimised going by what I've read here over the past couple of years.

I think my main problem, is that my main 2 competitors use the same title structure that I have now.

*keyword* information

So maybe, going back to the old structure is a good idea?

rj87uk




msg:754108
 9:03 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I feel the best way to go about these things is to test it all yourself. Get the answers you need and use it on bigger websites so you can egt better at SEO & learn from the past.

BillyS




msg:754109
 5:02 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Interesting thread, I've got the structure:

"My Keyword - Sitename"

But I've been thinking of changing it to:

"My Keyword"

The main reason is that the Sitename portion may be deemed as either spamming the title or diluting the message. It's a simple switch for me, and I've often used WebmasterWorld as the removing that removing it is better.

LJCoolB




msg:754110
 5:55 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I work for a large corporate site and last year before Bourbon we played around with our title tags in a similar fashion.

Our SEO issue as we saw it then, was that our title tags contained the company name, followed by a brand name that may not truly describe the product. So we did some keyword research on how our potential users were describing our products (in forums and with keyword research tools) and changed some of the title tags of our main product pages to use descriptive keywords instead of all marketing words.

For example.

Before the experiment:
<title>Company name : Product name </title>
After the experiment
<title>Keywords keywords Product name :Company name </title>

We also made updates to the other top 200 words in the page to include these descriptive words as well. I always stress to anyone at my site who wants to make these type changes that you need to make sure all your text is about the keywords and the keywords are about the product.

So what happened was for some pages our clickthrus from Google went way up. For some there was no noticeable change. And for others there was a slight drop in clickthrus from Google. What we figured from the pages with increased views was that we choose more searchable keywords that were not so competitive -- so we had a better chance of ranking well. And for the other pages, we needed to do more research.

Then Bourbon rolled out and we realized we had some serious problems with how Google was handling our redirects and we spent the rest of the entire year fixing the problems and trying to recover from Bourbon.

The overall lesson I learned was that there are many factors leading to good rankings in Google and you have to keep your eyes on all of them at all times. Title tags are part of that.

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