What is your website all about? Not only do your web visitors ask but Google is asking the same question. To answer it, the first place the search engine looks is your Title Tag. A title tag is part of the meta data and one of the very first lines of code used to create your website. In most cases, it is also the first line of code a developer writes yet it is also often the most changed. The title declares what the document is about to the search engines.
The search engine examines the keywords used and compares them to the other keywords seen throughout the page. For example, let’s take this title tag:
<title>Buffalo NY Web Design & Social Media Marketing | Alpine Design<title>
We see a few keywords such as Buffalo NY, web design, social media, marketing and Alpine Design. The search engine will scan the rest of the web page and expect to find matching words, headlines and phrases for those terms. If it finds them, it will make the terms all the more relevant. This should improve your overall search engine position for the targeted terms.
Search Engine Placement and Click Through Rate
The title tag isn’t just used by the search engines to determine the relevant keywords for a page, it is also used with the meta description to display your website in the search results. You will see it in blue in every Google search.
It serves as the main call to action to search engine users and is usually the first thing they see. Google strives to deliver its users the best possible search results. That is why pages that reflect their title (or title that reflects their page) will typically rank higher. When a user clicks on a title that contains the keyword they searched for, Google wants to make sure the page it takes them to is highly relevant to that keyword.
A poorly written title will not only cost you search engine position but it will also cost you clicks which in turn cost you further search engine placement. Yes, you heard that right, if people don’t click your link you may lose search engine placement. When a search is performed, the links shown are called impressions. Google tracks all of the impressions a website has and the number of times the link is actually clicked. They take that data and devise a ratio called a click trough rate (CTR). The CTR is compared with other websites and those that perform better are generally rewarded with better search engine placement.
Think that is complicated? Google goes a step further with another metric called bounce rate. Bounce rate is another topic all together but it is relevant in this discussion. The bounce rate is calculation of the number of visitors that arrive on your web page, and abruptly leave. This can be for many reasons such as broken site, obnoxious music playing and many others but the reason we are concerned with is irrelevance to a the title.
Say you were searching for kitty cat pictures and a site came up with a title that said “cat pictures”. You click on the site and the first thing you see is pictures of Caterpillar “Cat” construction equipment. You would immediately leave this page, in other words: bounce. A good title must display enough information to give a good concept of the web page.
Writing a Good Title Tag
Writing a good title tag isn’t too difficult if you follow the right steps. It is very important you are using Google Analytics and tracking your rankings. A good title tag is continually improved until it gets the desired results so keep working at it to make it better.
Please Note: Changing a title tag on a live site can have undesired consequences so proceed with caution.
Step 1 – Keyword Research
Take some time to brainstorm what keywords you want to rank for. Make a list of 10-20 and analyze them further to see which ones are actually searched for, easy to rank for and what your competitors are successfully using. Choose a few of the best ones to include in your title.
Step 2 – Make sure they are relevant
Analyze your page to ensure the keywords used are relevant to the page body text, headlines and other content. There are a lot of great tools online that can help you with this like the Keyword Density tool from SEO Centro. If your content is not relevant, adjust it to your title or your title to it.
Step 3 – Craft Your Title
Use your keywords and brand to create your title. Make sure it is easy to read and is written like a sentence and try to keep it under 55 characters. For example:
New and Used Auto Parts in Los Angeles CA | The Part Co.
New Auto Parts Used Auto Parts Los Angeles Part Co.
Where you place the keywords within your title make a difference. Keywords closer to the beginning of the title have more relevance. They should also reflect the relevance on the page compared to other keywords. If you wanted to place more emphasis on Los Angeles in the above title, you might write:
Los Angeles CA New and Used Auto Parts | The Part Co.
Step 4 – Monitor Results
Perhaps the most important step is to track the results. It is the only way to really see what is working. There are many free and paid tools to help you with this. It is important you give your changes a few weeks to take effect to see position movement and you can make adjustments to see how they perform.
If you have any questions about creating a title, please feel free to email us and we would be happy to help.