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Changing Page Titles from lower case to Initial Caps.
Positives or negative effect of changing the title case?
bouncybunny




msg:3330464
 6:11 am on May 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

A large content site I manage has developed somewhat haphazardly over the years and there are a number of inconsistencies. One of these is that most of the page titles are in sentence case like this

<title>This is the title</title>

But some are in initial caps like this

<title>This Is The Title</title>

I would like to standardise this and thought that changing them all to Initial Caps would be the most advantageous as they would stand out more on the page in the SERPS. Or would they? I have two questions here.

1. Is there any evidence that people are more likely to click on one form of the title over the other? Or is it just a cultural thing? For example, I know that European newspapers tend to leave headings in sentence case whereas US papers use inital caps.

2. Should I be wary, from a search engine point of view, of going through an entire site and changing the case of the title tags? A lot of these pages rank very highly and I wouldn't want to 'fix' what isn't broken.

Any thoughts anyone?

 

darylput




msg:3331385
 12:41 am on May 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

As far as whether or not capitalizing the title will or will not affect visitor frequency is a matter of testing. I personally don't see why that it would and if it does it would be minimal.

But, from personal experience, I can tell you that changing the title of your page, no matter how slight, will have an adverse affect on your page rank. Any change to the title of a page will be misconstrued by search engines. The robots of the most popular search engines will not recognize the title and thus view it as a new web page. Any page rank applied to the page will be lost.

bouncybunny




msg:3331503
 8:37 am on May 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

The robots of the most popular search engines will not recognize the title and thus view it as a new web page. Any page rank applied to the page will be lost.

Thanks for the reply.

But are you sure about that? I've never heard that before. Surely if the URL stays the same, then it is recognised as the same page.

Umbertide




msg:3335737
 10:45 am on May 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

hi we had a shocking experience with something similar

we noticed some of our pages were /widgets while others were /Grommets so we standardised them to loc.

Seems google sees /widgets and /Widgets as two separate pages so you need to redirect one the other.

I guess that the same could easily apply with titles, although we do change ours sometimes.

Check backlinks on both version and keep the one with the most. If you cant do that then expect a few months of anguish and turmoil as your pages are dropped from the index.. :-(

be careful!

[edited by: Umbertide at 10:46 am (utc) on May 10, 2007]

caveman




msg:3336095
 5:19 pm on May 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

darylput, welcome to WebmasterWorld!

from personal experience, I can tell you that changing the title of your page, no matter how slight, will have an adverse affect on your page rank

I can't possibly know all of what was going on there, or about other changes that might have been occuring (it's easy in SEO to mistakenly attribute a problem to the wrong issue when so many factors are constrantly in play), but I can tell you that we change pages titles whenever it is warranted. More often than not the results are positive, not negative (presmably because we know what we're doing and change them for specific reasons to improve communication of what the page is all about, or to enhance click-through's, etc.).

There is some evidence that large scale and/or sitewide changes to page titles and META tags can cause temporary dislocation in the SERP's. It seems that some SE's, including G, might look upon that kind of sitewide change as a spam signal, or an attempt to manipuate the search ranking of the pages. Whether the site is then flagged for review or simply must go through some probationary period I'm not sure about. What I can also say is that sites with enough authority are not affected negatively by the act of changing things like this, at all.

Also -- people -- page titles and URI's are entirely different, and are treated very differently. To my knowledge, though I'm going to go double check, the SE's do not treat upper or lower case text in titles or on page any differently.

There are some issues with caps versus lower case that are related to hosting environments, and so for that reason, we ALWAYS use only lower case in our URI's. That way there is never a question of inconsistency, or creating dup content because of case issues.

bouncybunny




msg:3344385
 3:42 am on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just to confirm, I am talking about the page TITLES, not the url filenames.

In partucular, I would be interested to know of any research indicating better clickthrough rates from the SERPS with Initial caps;

Changing Page Titles From Lower Case To Initial Caps.

...over scentence case;

Changing page titles from lower case to initial caps.

Mike paget dfw




msg:3344396
 4:00 am on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I read it didn't matter...CAPS or lowercase..can someone with knowledge let me know..and does it really lose your old position? thnx

Mike paget dfw




msg:3344399
 4:20 am on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is this really true from above: The robots of the most popular search engines will not recognize the title and thus view it as a new web page. Any page rank applied to the page will be lost.

canadafred




msg:3344772
 5:44 pm on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

The search engines recognize a new page by it have a different URL. It has nothing to do with web page Titles.

this-page.htm is this-page.htm and that-page.html is that-page.html

this-page.htm is not the same as that-page.html

If I cahange the Title on this-page.htm it is still this-page.htm and will never become that-page.html

About the question of creating a negative effect from changing the case of some letters in the Title tag. Sure, that usually makes a big difference, but not necessarily negatively.

Use the Title to your advantage. Learn how to craft them well as they are extremely important to the search engines still today.

Mike paget dfw




msg:3344809
 7:04 pm on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Use the Title to your advantage. Learn how to craft them well as they are extremely important to the search engines still today.---ok...you have any tips? and how are they extremely important if it doesn't affect the crawl? thnx

canadafred




msg:3344852
 8:44 pm on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

you have any tips? and how are they extremely important if it doesn't affect the crawl?

Tips on how to write an effective Title?
How about : Be creative but not spammy.

Affect a crawl?
?
Title --> Crawl
seems unrelated

The Title of a web page seems unrelated to the depth of or the frequency of a crawl; in my head anyway. I suppose that in situations where the same Title is repeated endlessly throughout the web site could become tiresome to search engine; seeing the same seemingly replicated or machine generated stuff over and over again. Even so, I doubt that would have much of an affect on a crawl. Either the search engine crawls the site and at a predictable frequency or it doesn't.

The Title is an extremely important web element to the search engine because it is to supposed to be an accurate indicator as to the nature of the content within the web page. When all things line up straight, then the web page stands out better in a crowd.

Mike paget dfw




msg:3344917
 11:33 pm on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

ok..understood..thnx

trooper27




msg:3345181
 7:50 am on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

The search engines recognize a new page by it have a different URL. It has nothing to do with web page Titles.

this-page.htm is this-page.htm and that-page.html is that-page.html

this-page.htm is not the same as that-page.html

If I change the Title on this-page.htm it is still this-page.htm and will never become that-page.html

About the question of creating a negative effect from changing the case of some letters in the Title tag. Sure, that usually makes a big difference, but not necessarily negatively.

Use the Title to your advantage. Learn how to craft them well as they are extremely important to the search engines still today.

I'm fully supportive of the opinion above. Changing to CAPS won't affect your SERPs negatively in any way, however, the question is - do you really need such change? Does your audience prefer titles to be written in this manner? In America it does matter - in Europe not that much. Just think about it and take the decision yourself.

bouncybunny




msg:3346157
 8:17 am on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Indeed.

But I'm still wondering if any usability studies have been done that reference this. It's the kind of thing that Jacob Neilsen might have commented on.

Would it help my users? I supose it would if it meant that the title was more obvious in the SERPS and they clicked on it before clicking on the two spammy sites either side of it. ;)

trooper27




msg:3346251
 10:59 am on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hm, I am not sure if Nielsen has conducted a study exactly on the usability difference in lower case/caps. As far as I've read, there are studies showing reeding speed slows down significantly when a text (or a title in our case) is written all in CAPS. You can search for more info on this topic in Google - Schriver, Karen - Dynamics in Document Design.

caveman




msg:3346585
 4:17 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I supose it would if it meant that the title was more obvious in the SERPS

Every page title we do is relative, for that reason. Of course, we don't look at every SERP for every kw related to our sites. But you can bet we get the basic approach that leading sites in the category take. :)

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