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Building the Perfect Page - Part II - The Basics
Developing an effective <title> element.
pageoneresults




msg:244908
 4:24 am on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Continued from...

Building the Perfect Page - Part I - The Basics [webmasterworld.com]

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Title Element

The page title element (some refer to it as the title tag which is incorrect) is one of the most important factors for ranking highly in the search engines.

Page title elements are normally 3-9 words (60-80 characters) maximum in length, no fluff, straight and to the point. This is what shows up in most search engine results as a link back to your page.

Make sure your Page Title Element (title tag) is relevant to the content on the page.

References

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How important are <title> elements? Think of it this way - it is the single most important element on the page, bar none.

The <title> element is displayed in the browser title bar. It is displayed as a link to your site from the SERPs.

I think I've viewed over a million titles over the years, if not, it sure feels like it. After you've created so many, developing effective titles becomes second nature, it becomes habit.

I'm going to use a widget manufacturer in California as an example.

Platinum Widgets - Wholesale Prices from California Widget Manufacturing

Okay, we have a total of 72 characters and that includes spaces. I've stayed within the recommended limit as specified by the W3C. Remember, there really is no legal limit, there are only suggested limits based on research and testing.

Let's strip out all the fluff (ignored words) and we are left with 65 characters (includes spaces)...

Platinum Widgets Wholesale Prices California Widget Manufacturing

I've targeted quite a few phrases with the above title. The combination of terms that can be achieved is pretty amazing if you really sit and think about it. And now that our favorite SE (Google) is stemming, writing effective titles is even more important.

Lately I've been doing some research into the effects of stemming on page titles and the results are pretty awesome. In some instances, if you get the keyword phrase lined up just right, you can perform a 3 word search query and light that title up in the SERPs (bolded). Five word title, all five words bolded.

Since I work with quite a few regional clients, targeting cities, counties and the state overall is imperative. Without the local targeting, we'd be getting a lot of invalid click throughs from prospects that my clients could not service. We've been there done that.

You want to develop your title in a way where you are targeting your primary phrase for that page. Titles should always be unique for each page, no duplication. I've seen sites where the same title was shared across many pages. Guess what? Only one of those pages really did well in the SERPs and it was usually the home page. The other pages were pretty much invisible.

Look at your titles closely.
Do they captivate? Are they scan friendly? Are they SE friendly? What can you do to improve upon what you have?

If you have a page that is doing well (top ten), then don't touch it.
Leave it be until it slips to page two. Even then, be real careful about the changes you make. Usually a slight title tweak is all that is needed to bump it back into place. You may even want to look at adding a second keyword if it already isn't there.

Go for singular and plural versions in the title.
Use separators to break the title into sections. I like using hyphens, just looks nicer to me. I also like using proper upper and lower case. Years ago I did the all lower case thing because that is what was required to write effective SE friendly titles. These days, most major SEs are not case sensitive.

Brett has some statistics over at SEW that are somewhat dated but still hold true today. They did research on a wide spectrum of industries. From that research they presented title statistics. The shorter more succinct titles outperformed the longer ones. I believe that still holds true today.

Don't stuff a bunch of keywords in your title separated by commas.
Its one of the most unprofessional practices that I've seen and it doesn't work real well for scan friendliness.

DON'T USE ALL CAPS FOR YOUR TITLES.
Very difficult to read for many (proven statistic).

Don't put the company name at the beginning of every title.
Unless of course the company name happens to be the primary keyword phrase. If that is the case, you need to craft woven titles. You weave the company name from front, to middle, to back and then back to front.

Don't repeat keywords back to back.
Make sure there is balance and separation. Get at least one word between repeats and possibly even a separator. If it doesn't read well to you, then you've not crafted it effectively. Break it apart and do it again until you have something that reads well and is enticing to both user and bot.

Remember, your <title> element is the very first thing that the visitor will see, make sure it leaves a clicking impression.

[edited by: pageoneresults at 1:15 am (utc) on May 26, 2004]

 

Mohamed_E




msg:244909
 1:28 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I was wondering when we would get Part II, it was well worth the wait. Thank you, P1R!

Remember, your <title> element is the very first thing that the visitor will see, make sure it leaves a clicking impression.

IMHO, this is the most important point by a mile. The title must be written with the human user in mind as well as the SE.

graywolf




msg:244910
 2:16 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Whats the best way to deal with apostrophes?

IE Valentine's Day vs. Valentines Day

bumpaw




msg:244911
 2:19 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks P1R! So much info in so little space. I do have a question though. Back in December a poster on your first thread concerning the Perfect Page sugested going without file extensions, and I was looking for you opinion.

dkubb Posted:

One thing I'd like to add is that, if you have the ability, you should remove the file tensions from the file names. Here's an earlier thread about this on WW: [webmasterworld.com...]
I highly recommend following the link to the W3C article referenced in this thread.

pageoneresults




msg:244912
 2:20 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Whats the best way to deal with apostrophes?

Based on search statistics, I use them sparingly. I wouldn't use them for a home page title.

It would be nice if the SEs would just ignore apostrophes, but they don't. They treat words with apostrophes differently.

Think about visitor search behavior. Few will type in the apostrophe. You can always target the words with apostrophes throughout the site in different areas.

pageoneresults




msg:244913
 2:23 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Suggested going without file extensions, and I was looking for you opinion.

I don't want to stray too far off topic here so I'll provide a brief answer...

I believe that Content Negotiation will be the next big wave in usability. Check out the W3C [w3.org]. No file extensions.

Chicken Juggler




msg:244914
 8:04 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

You say 60 to 80 chars in the title. For Google it is best to keep it down to 64. I started another thread about asking questions in the title. I know this is not rank specific but it is specific to conversions. Being number one is useless if nobody click on it. so my question is should you use questions in the title?

pageoneresults




msg:244915
 8:21 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

For Google it is best to keep it down to 64.

Can you show me where you found that statistic?

As far as using questions in titles, go for it. If the content is a Q & A type situation, then having those questions in the title will be of great benefit to your users. You may also find that your AJ (Ask Jeeves) traffic will increase if the content is of the type that users would look for at AJ.

You'll also capture those exact phrase searches. Google states that it ignores certain words in searches such as how, to, from, the, etc... But, I've seen different results returned with and without the ignored words.

Chicken Juggler




msg:244916
 8:55 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I typed in a bunch of keywords and have never seen one longer. Anybody who has a longer one has 61 chars and ...

pageoneresults




msg:244917
 9:00 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ah, you are referring to the max characters that Google displays before it truncates the title. That number varies depending on the SE. I say 60-80 as an average. Shorter titles are always better than longer titles. If you have a long title, make sure your primary phrase is towards the beginning, if not the first phrase in the title.

Chicken Juggler




msg:244918
 9:03 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Even though google truncates it do they count it for SEO?

pageoneresults




msg:244919
 9:07 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes. Unfortunately I don't think any of us know what the actual character count is before Google goes into ignore mode.

Chicken Juggler




msg:244920
 9:12 pm on Feb 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't suppose that would be a hard thing to test.

Robert Charlton




msg:244921
 10:19 am on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Beyond just title length, keyword proximity is an important factor in Google titles.

To use one of the titles above as an example...

Platinum Widgets Wholesale Prices California Widget Manufacturing

...suppose you're targeting platinum widget manufacturing.

The more competitive "platinum widget manufacturing" is, the fewer intervening words you'll want between "platinum" and "widget." If it's competitive enough, you might need an exact match in the title.

If it's less competitive, for a given page, you can spread the words out. Sometimes, just one word can make a difference. You may not rank with the title as is, but if you dropped, say, "prices," you might find that you'd beat your competition.

Keep in mind, though, that competition is a big factor here... and that the title, while probably the most important on page factor, is not the only factor. Inbound links, exact matches on the page, what other sites do, and current algo are all interrelated with what's going on in the title and how a title reacts with a search.

Navdeep




msg:244922
 11:25 am on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

what about addition of the title element.
if i have a website widgets.com offering products of 100 different categories.
so for good ranking,do I need different title and description elements for every category page(dynamic page)?

i have added different keywords for every category page.

thanks
Navdeep

Robert Charlton




msg:244923
 7:42 am on Feb 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

so for good ranking,do I need different title and description elements for every category page(dynamic page)?

Yes... as in pageone's excellent post that leads off this thread... the title and description should reflect the content of the individual page...

"Titles should always be unique for each page, no duplication."

I don't know whether I'd go so far as to say no duplication, but to give me broader optimization I do try to keep my titles unique on optimized pages. If nothing else, vary the word order. What you do in the title, of course, needs to relate to what you do on the page.

i have added different keywords for every category page.

If by this you mean "meta keywords," you should be putting much more effort into your title.

The meta keywords tag is virtually useless. Inktomi and Yahoo have said they use it, but I have pages with no keywords tag ranking in the top 10 on these engines competing against millions of other pages. If you change one word in the title, though, some of these rankings are gone.

Use your keywords as a way of narrowing your page down in your mind to the most important 10 words or so (that's all) on the individual page, and then focus your title down to, say, 70 characters or less, targeting words in that list.

Navdeep




msg:244924
 12:44 am on Feb 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

thanks robert
but do these rules apply on dynamic pages also or are for the static pages. another thing can i use description or title with same sentence preceeded by category name. for example description for categories Agriculture and Automobile for website say www.widgets.com.

1. Agriculture : agriculture - widgets.com offers export import trade for exporters/Importers, manufacturers and suppliers.

2. Automobile : automobile - widgets.com offers export import trade for exporters/Importers, manufacturers and suppliers.

will such type of description or title are effective for good ranking?

thanks
navdeep

paul




msg:244925
 12:40 pm on Feb 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

i read with interest this post but am still confused as to what search engines rteally look for?
I have on every page of my site tiles to represent the product and full rich contnent, in fact i would say everything that is required for a good quality,search engine friendly site, however some of my competitors pr1 sites i have sourced and studied have none of the above, in fact one just has a picture on the home page?, unless cloaked or hidden text?

Confused by all the rights and wrongs of getting good pr

HELP PLEASE!

Robert Charlton




msg:244926
 8:02 am on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

i read with interest this post but am still confused as to what search engines rteally look for?

paul - We don't want to take this thread off onto a general SEO primer, but to answer your question briefly, take a look at this thread:

Brett's quick rank point system
[webmasterworld.com...]

On the thread, various members assign "points" to quantify the relative importance of the kinds of things that search engines look at.

You'll note that Brett, in post #5, gives 10 points each to the title and to inbound link text. You'll see that most of the posts assign the heaviest weight, as Brett does, to title and to inbound link text. And with the new Google algo, and on Teoma, eg, it also matters who the link is from.

Also, see my comments in the thread about the effect of the domain name, which I feel has more to do with inbound link text than with weight assigned to a url.

Confused by all the rights and wrongs of getting good pr

Note that "PR" or "PageRank" is not the same as the ranking on a search. I'd do a site search or use Google to search WebmasterWorld to get some good definitions of what PageRank is. There's also a definition on Google itself... comes up number one on a Google search for "PageRank".

bostons4u




msg:244927
 10:29 pm on Feb 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

I finally got into google with one of my keywords but not the rest. The rest are more important than the other? Any advice?

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