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Title anti-overoptimization? Keyword phrase alone is not ideal?



11:57 pm on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I do not have any detailed statistics as I am not really a full-time SEO specialist, but I do have a feeling that, the content we have been adding to some of the websites I've been watching over, is somewhat enjoying a lower success lately.

I used to think that, if I target the phrase "blue widgets", it would be better to leave the title as simple as "blue widgets". But now I check the results and I see a lot of websites doing good with phrases like "a discussion about blue widgets" or "blue widgets reviews and testemonials". This, kind of lead to me to the thought that Google might be considering a really really simple "blue widgets" title overoptimized or unnatural (this, I may agree to a point).

As I said, I don't have any solid data to discuss over and it's more like a feeling. Anyone else thinking the same or this is already old news and I missed it all?


9:06 am on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I agree with you. It also feels to me that a title that is only the exact keyword phrase no longer ranks as well as it used to. Other factors, such as a strong backlink anchor text might help the situation in some cases, but I rarely use a title with just the keyword phrase alone these days - from exactly the same feeling you have.

In the past, you needed to almost shout at Google to get the relevance through to their ranking algo. Now, natural subtlety has a new power and the literal text-match kind of SEO has indeed lost a lot of power.


10:38 am on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I haven't seen this happening on my sites. Anyway, I'm reluctant to change a title that's been on a page for years, especially when the SERPs are still good.

Perhaps the problem mostly arises if you repeat the exact same term in the page's main header and also as the anchor text in most of the backlinks to the page.


1:03 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

i would say - never touch a working system ;)

..but in launching new pages I have been seeing the same as tedster and dombili.

i have been thinking what, if any, influence the sheer amount of blog posts with a long and catchy title has had. general keyword density for titles has been lowered just through those.

any thoughts?


11:39 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well, if I understood one thing about Google, they are trying to reflect the "real life" over the internet (which does not make sense at all - we would have not invented internetz if everything was OK).

Sooooo, I'd look at the average title length in the traditional / printed media (6-10 words when I think of my textbooks in the university, I guess) and try to keep the titles at that size. I'm quite sure there are a few smart-Ph.d guys in Google proposing such approaches all the time to achieve "natural" results.


5:26 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've seen it go both ways.

Some new pages on my site do really well using the exact keyword phrase that I want to rank for.

Then I have other pages that do better if I use titles similar to those that my competitors on page one are using.


6:06 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Google started out with a focus: keywords. Then, a few years on when others were doing the same thing, expanded that focus to keyword and short tail, rising back to the top again. Then a few years later to keyword phrase and long tail etc etc etc. We can see a change over the last 10 years.

I'm not sure how many ways they can continue to parse it... at some point it will break (and I think we are getting there now).

Reality is there's only so many ways one can describe "blue widget", or what one can do with, or to, that widget. Commercial sites are hit worse, my opinion, than information sites. At some point "it" is what "it" is and doing more than that makes one look comical. And that might result in a listing hit. Sad thing is we're not looking at the forest anymore, google has made it imperative that we are looking at not only the trees, but one tree in particular, and that is the third branch up, facing east, with moss on the north side of that branch.


6:14 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I keep the title as some thing that will make the user think that my site is more relevant than the two or three that are above or below it in the SERPS. So a site on care and maintenance of blue widgets would get
"Blue Widgets - care and maintenance" rather than just "Blue Widgets" which would not distinguish it from the rest of that page of results.


7:53 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Does the title "Blue Widgets" have any edge in ranking over "Blue widgets - Smart and beautiful"? May be, google had ranked the former better in the past, but no longer.

I also don't think that google will rank a page lower for Title over optimization like "Blue Widgets". Atleast, it doesn't do so, now.

I am also still seeing a lot of commercial sites rank on top, even if they spam their titles with keywords.

However, it is still good to add those few additional words, which may or may not be relevant :)