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The Importance of Title Tags

SEO GazelleOur ThoughtsThe Importance of Title Tags
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There is an overlap between usability and Search Engine Optimization as to what techniques can be applied in order to optimize the title of a web page. Thus, I have compiled the following list of guidelines which, if adhered to, will make your web pages both useful and SEO-friendly

Place your keywords at the beginning:

Search engines assign more importance to the first word in the title tag than to the second one and so forth. From a usability perspective, since users understand just the first 11 characters of links, then it is important to make the most out of these characters by placing the most important content there.

Use key-phrases instead of keywords: 

Title-Tag-Optimization

If your page title contains a phrase instead of a keyword, then it is more likely that you will attain a higher ranking in search engines for specific user searches. Thus, for example if you have a company that makes toys, then you will rank better if your web page title contains more specific key-phrases rather than just “toys”.

Use modifiers:

In SEO, modifiers are words like “best”, “offers”, “buy”, “cheap” and “reviews”. Users tend to include modifiers in when searching and subsequently when scanning the web pages on a SERP.

Use numbers:

This is purely a usability tip. Users do not typically search for the “50 best button designs for inspiration” but they would rather click on it in a SERP rather than a title that reads “best button design inspiration”. I would dare to add more – they would even prefer to click on it rather than one that reads “best button design inspiration – 50 excellent examples”. Numbers convey meaning to users as to what they should expect to find on a web page and they also serve to attract their attention especially if they are at the beginning of the title.

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The 2nd and 3rd web sites listed in the above SERP are more likely to be clicked on by a user searching for inspiration. This is due to the use of numbers and the cleverly worded title.

Separate your keywords with hyphens (-) or pipes (|):

Both hyphens and pipes will make it easier for your user to scan the content of your title tag. From an SEO perspective, hyphens have the added advantage that they will enable you to rank for different keywords while listing them only once. For example, if you are a web designer, then the key-phrase “web-design” will associate you with search queries for “web design” and “web-design”. From a usability perspective, this is very useful since you are not restricting the user to type in a specific phrase to reach related content.

Include Acronyms:

Unlike synonyms, there is still some disagreement as on whether search engines interpret the meaning of acronyms. Even if they do, it would be difficult if not impossible for both search engines and users to deduce page content from an acronym alone. This is because acronyms can be interpreted differently like for example “AAA” can be interpreted as American Automobile Association, Access All Areas, Anti Aircraft Artillery and another 190 ways . Still, users may search for the acronym directly (as in the case of SEO). So, if your page content is about something that can be converted to an acronym, it is best to include both the acronym and the full keywords. Acronyms are the only text that should be written in capital case in the title tag. For normal text, use title case or proper case as these are easier to scan and look more professional.

Each page on your site should have a unique page title:

Placing specific keywords in the title tag for each page based on the content of the page will make your individual pages easier to categorize for search engines. Moreover it easier for the user to decide which page to click on in the SERP when presented with a number of pages from your site.

Best title naming convention for the homepage:

The first word in the homepage title should be the name of the web site. It should then be followed by the tagline which is a short description of what the web site is about. Never start the title of the homepage with generic words such as “The” or “Welcome” as they would make it more difficult for a user to locate your site. Moreover, if users opt to bookmark it, your site will be indexed under “T”or “W” respectively whereas the user will try and find it using the first character of your company’s name.

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A whopping 822 million web sites contain the words”Welcome to the website of” in their homepage title tag. For the majority of them, these words are the first words. Imagine how difficult it will be for users to locate them in a SERP or among their bookmarks

Best title naming convention for other pages:

Start the title with the keywords or most prominent information-carrying words that describe what the page contains. These should be followed by the company name at the end of the title. The reason why the company name is placed at the end of the title is that if a user accesses an inner page via it’s home page, then he/she already knows which site they are on. If they access it via a web search, then they are more interested in the specific content of that page. They would still be able to identify who owns the site via the site ID (such as the logo).

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