|Does Google penalize for use of superlatives in title tags?|
Adwords made it clear long ago that the use of superlatives such as "best" were not allowed in their ads. But I've never read anything about use of superlatives in title tags influencing organic rank in SERPs.
Over the last two or three years, I've used words like "best" in the title tag of certain pages, since some people apparently include that word in their searches ("best widget company," etc).
Within the last year, I've noticed pages like that dropped at least slightly in the SERPs. Since then, the majority of first-page results including words like "best" tend to be directories or blog posts ("The 15 best widget sites") as opposed to actual business websites.
Is there any evidence that Google will penalize a business website in its organic results if superlatives are included in the title tag? Or are the drop in rankings that I've noticed simply a coincidence, a result of Penguin playing favorites with directories and non-commercial "authority" sites?
I have not seen documented evidence of this. I could imagine how superlatives might indirectly impact rankings.
Have you tried removing the superlatives from some of your pages?
"Is there any evidence that Google will penalize a business website in its organic results if superlatives are included in the title tag?'
I just have the same observations that you have; it tends t be blogs that use superlatives in their titles and they seem to rank well (otherwise I wouldn't have noticed them).
That doesn't PROVE that there is no demotion due to the use of superlatives in the title.
I think the best title is the one that is most helpful and descriptive for the end user - not necessarily for google.
|Have you tried removing the superlatives from some of your pages? |
I may test the waters with this, and see if there's any significant change in ranking. Unless penalties do exist and wouldn't be lifted even if a change was made.
|I think the best title is the one that is most helpful and descriptive for the end user - not necessarily for google. |
This kind of takes a page from an old school of thought towards web design, which is to develop a site as though Google didn't exist (particularly with respect to copy and keyword density).
The catch is that with at least one blog I manage, I'd noticeably get the most traffic for posts with titles that were tailored more towards Google. As opposed to something more straight forward that would appeal to a user glancing at search results. But I may try to cut down on usage of certain keywords simply being used for the sake of throwing popular keywords into the mix.
There could be a few different things at play here.
First, ask yourself what the most useful result is:
- one page that says it is 'the best' whatever
- another page that says it has tracked down 'the N best' whatever.
To my way of thinking, the second is a better result because it's more diverse. A lot of Google's other actions of late go against diversity, but perhaps there's a part of the algorithm that seeks to reward these posts because they are more likely to represent a research / editorial slant rather than self-promotion.
As posts like that are popular they get well linked, and the sites they belong to get well linked in general.
And perhaps also...
As Google is less concerned about 'modifier' words in phrases these days, it doesn't see a search for "the ten best" as very different from "the best" and so, as you say, less relevant pages from more popular sites outrank more relevant pages from less popular sites.
[edited by: FranticFish at 9:17 pm (utc) on Apr 18, 2014]
Exemption if the superlative is part of your business name?
|I think the best title is the one that is most helpful and descriptive for the end user |
"Ten Best Widgets for 2014" vs. "We Review Ten Widgets"
Does the superlative help to increase click through rates and does the page contain enough information to have lower bounce rates than the current serp #1 listing.
I'm not very likely to click on "best widget company" because that is a matter of opinion. However, "The 15 best widget sites" would be more likely to get me to look at the information.
I have many pages which steal clicks from the 1st serp on the page just because they have a month in the title.
If the click through and other signals search engines can see are good then over the long term the pros outweigh the cons. These signals are not very clean from the eyes of the search engines, any upward change happens over time as the search engine begins to have trust in the page.
The cons being that superlatives, pronouns, articles (the, a, an, with), numbers, or dates ... are basically words which can be related to any topic or relate to no specific topic. In short they are almost like stop words, (www, com), which are ignored, delegated to supplemental, or are otherwise not usable by the search algos most of the time.
So the trade is 4 letters which are not really a keyword or related to the topic vs a word that is related to the topic. Its worth it if it helps clicks. I'm not an over user of superlatives so I would not be aware if there is an upper limit of some kind. Rather I'm an over updater who updates pages whenever information justifies it.