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Writing Better Title Tags

Friday, July 3rd, 2009
Posted in Marketing by Joel Gross

Title tags are frequently overlooked by web designers and other people who are unfamiliar with search engine optimization.  A title tag is the text that appears at the top left of the blue bar on your browser and it is easy to ignore.  If you do a search on Google using the query “site:yoursite.com”, you will quickly see how important title tags are.  The blue link at the top of each search result is pulled directly from your title tag.  You can see how it appears for my site below:

google-joelx

The links at the top of each search listing are my title tags, so for the top result I used a title tag of “Biggest Funny DeMotivational Posters Collection”.  You will notice that each and every one of my title tags is unique- this is important because a title tag is a strong indicator to Google of what keywords the site is relevant for.

Your title tag functions as an “advertisement” in the Google search results for you to try to get people to click on your link and visit your website.  As such, it is extremely important to think like your visitor.  If you had just put in your keyword query on Google, what title tag would you be most likely to click on?  In my case, for the first result I am targeting the keywords “demotivational poster”, “funny demotivational poster”, and “funny poster”.  I wanted people who searched for those keywords to know that my site offered them what they wanted (and a lot of it), so I wrote that I had the Biggest Collection of demotivational posters.  After ranking in the 2nd spot right after the originators of demotivational posters, Despair.com, for a long time I lost interest and stopped optimizing for “demotivational posters”.  However, I am still in the 6th spot on Google and receive fairly heavy traffic to that page.

The most important factors to remember when you write your title tags are:

  • Keep your title tag under 70 characters
  • Each page should have a unique title tag
  • The first couple of words in your title tag gets more weighting at this point with Google
  • Use your keywords in your title tag, but also make it interesting for people to click on.  You can test different title tags using Google Website Optimizer.

If you have any further questions on how to optimize your title tags, please feel free to ask in the comments!