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My advice would be to give it a go and report back ;)
I hear what Andy is saying but I think I was thinking about what you said in your post. If you are in the top 200 and don't have the long-tail keyword in the title tag and heading tag I have heard that it is something that could help you in the rankings.
I think these two tags are something that Google likes to look at.
Will the whole title tag be indexed and crawled by google? Also, if you go over 71 characters will it hurt in the SERP? The keyword density of the title tag is good even though there are over 71 characters in the tag.
The title and the H1 should be good descriptions of the page - summing up the entire topic that the page covers. Some people report success from cramming in exact phrases, others report ranking losses. If you want to do the experiment for your site, your decision should be based on knowing that there is a risk - and that risk includes hurting the page's ranking for your shorter, main keywords.
There are no simple answers for how to improve a given page's ranking. It's really an art, and like any art, you get better by learning the basics, then practicing and noticing how your efforts turn out.
There is some evidence that Google still looks for relevance signals at the parts of the title tag that get truncated. I've even seen the beginning of the title get truncated when the query terms were toward the end. This is a factor that seems to change over time, and I cannot give you a 100% certain answer. It is certain that long title tags in general are not a good idea, and are often part of a spammer profile.
I read that Google in its SERP only shows the first 71 characters of the title tag.
Here's where I suggest you do real world observation and not depend on what others say. You can observe the Google search results for yourself - you do not need to take anyone's word for this kind of thing.
[edited by: tedster at 6:23 am (utc) on Oct. 1, 2008]
Titles are very important for Google ranking on anything including long-tails. I also tend to believe multiple folder names that match long-tail searches get respect from Google.
<New Red Widgets - Example.com>
Google's rationale for this IMO is based on the idea: What is the probability that three successive folders match a long-tail and the topic is not about the long-tail?
(You need text, too, of course, not just a blank page is relevant directories/folders.)
I did a search on Google for some of the long-tail keywords and saw sites that had more than 71 charaters in the title tag ranking high.
I am going to try to look into it more and see what factors other than the title tag might be helping.
My Homepage will often pick up the long tail keyword enquiries anyway, so I now realize it's not worthwhite to continue with this practice.
Without looking at yours or your clients website, first guess is lack of proper backlinks, no on-page optimisation or lack of age.
[edited by: tedster at 12:56 am (utc) on Oct. 3, 2008]
I think you are saying that you should not add long-tail keyword phrases to the title tag after the main keyword because this will affect the main keywords from ranking high in the Google SERP when that is searched for? For example, if your title tag is Keyword 1 Keyword 2 it is not worth it to make it Keyword 1 Keyword 2 ¦ Keyword 3 Keyword 1 Keyword 2. Just leave it as Keyword 1 Keyword 2. This way the a search for the main keyword will rank higher in a search for it?
I would appreciate if you could please answer the questions that I included above.
I am not sure that I understand what you are saying. Are you saying that you don't have to target long-tail keywords on your website?
Do you think it would be ok to add the long-tail keyword to the title tag and heading tag of the inner page without affecting where the site appears when a search for just the keyword is done on Google and making the inner page appear higher in the rankings when the long-tail keyword is searched for? The keyword is already in the title and heading tag of the inner page so adding the long-tail keyword would make the keyword show twice and the long-tail keyword once.
E.G. site about small widgets. inner page ranking for red small widgets. Would making title tag of inner page small widgets ¦ red small widgets from just small widgets help inner page in a search for the long-tail keyword and maybe perhaps even help the site when just the keyword is searched for in Google?
It is the individual url that ranks, and not "the site" - so you are not likely to hurt the ranking of other pages on your site by changing the title of this page.
I think you really understand what I am saying.
It might be good to try to add the long-tail phrase to the title tag and heading tag for the inner page. It'll help the page rank higher for the long-tail keyword. That is the page that is ranking for it. By doing this, it will also include the keyword phrase again in both tags.
Also, thanks for what you wrote about the ranking of the other pages. That is something I was also thinking about.
if your title tag is Keyword 1 Keyword 2 it is not worth it to make it Keyword 1 Keyword 2 ¦ Keyword 3 Keyword 1 Keyword 2. Just leave it as Keyword 1 Keyword 2. This way the a search for the main keyword will rank higher in a search for it?
When I add a new page it is important for me to rank well for Keyword 1 Keyword 2. If I leave it at just those two keywords in the title tag, then most of the time I will rank very well. However, for a new page having title tag with Keyword 1, Keyword 2, Keyword 3, Keyword 4, Keyword 5, it is proving to be much more difficult to rank well for Keyword 1 Keyword 2.
However, you're talking about an existing page!
For long-time established pages with good strong backlinks and not much competition, I can usually get away with adding additional keywords in the title tag in order to target those long tail queries.
I guess it is very important to look at competitor pages and what they have in their title tags when making changes because Google weighs in on the title attribute very heavily.
If your page is already ranking very well for Keyword 1 and has steady competition, it might be safer to first see what affect changing the heading tag has.
I personally don't believe in repetition of keywords in the title tag, as you have in your example. It looks unnuatural and it may turn out to be cause for an keyword stuffing/over-optimization penalty.
[edited by: ChicagoFan67 at 11:03 pm (utc) on Oct. 3, 2008]
I understand what you are saying about repeating keywords in the title tag but what about if they are sort of two different phrases? Some of the words will be in both phrases of the title tag but it won't be like the example I provided. It won't be like small widgets ¦ red small widgets. It will be a little more different. Would that be good?
And you mention if the site is ranking well for keyword 1. The main keyword is actually 2 words. So it is Keyword 1 Keyword 2. And the long-tail would have three words, it would be placed before Keyword 1. Think of the example I gave about the widgets I gave in this response but more different. Does this help to analyze?
It's impossible to predict the outcome, not knowing what kind of competition your page faces and you don't mention how old it is. If you have a lot of competition you may take quite a dive for "keyword 1 keyword 2", particularly if they are placed after.
With the repitition, it's an issue of keyword density. Just try not to tip the scales. small widgets ¦ red small widgets just feels spammy. I've seen sites with similar title structure held back in the serps or else they yo-yo in and out a lot.
One of my (non seo'd)competitor sites had this coding on many of it's gallery pages:
title tag: The keyword1 keyword2
H1 tag: keyword1 keyword2 widgets
keyword 1 + keyword 2 make up a title for an item
The pages were autogenerated with nothing else separating the two tags, and only thumbnails on the rest of the page.
That site had good useful content with many back-links but was only listed in the serps for pages where the title in the title tag differed to the title in the H1 tag.
It appeared that Google didn't like the repetition.