Title Tag Awareness 101

By Amanda Sides | May 3, 2009
More Articles by Amanda


In Rebecca Lieb’s book The Truth About Search Engine Optimization, there is a great section on title tags and their importance. If you do not have this book, go buy it! It is a great resource for SEO beginners, and a great resource to help put complex terminology in words that are better understood.

Most search engine optimization specialists will say the most important factor in determining high rankings is the title tag. It is a basic element of every online HTML page. The title tag text displays in the clickable link within a search engine result. Adjusting the content of your title tag is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve a pages ranking, and increase click counts on that link. The title tag helps search engines along with searchers have a clearer understanding of the website’s content.

A title tag makes up the first line of text in the HTML page header. Here is what it looks like:

<head>

<title> Title Goes Here</title>

</head>

A title should be within the title tag of every page of the site, especially if it is a commercial site. More weight is placed on the words that appear at the top of the page than ones found further down, so it is recommended that the brand/company name be inserted first in every title tag. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your title tags:

  • Most experts advise to limit title tag text to 65 characters or less, including spaces. You don’t want your title to end with “….” Limiting yourself to 8-10 words should be safe. You can always double check once your page has been indexed by the search engine.
  • Don’t simply use your company name. Use popular/important keywords from that page of the site, to allow a more relevant and individualized title.
  • Stop words (a, the, in, from, is, to, etc.) do not count towards Search Engine Optimization, so try to avoid them in your title tag. The search engines are programmed to ignore them, but you will need to use them for end users when necessary.
  • Lieb points out that “actual keywords that appear in the title tag will be heavily influenced not only by the content on individual pages, but also by the keyword research.” Use keyword research to find out exactly what your target audience will be searching for. Find out whether they use the singular or plural form more often.
  • Sometimes it may even be a better practice to lose the company name within the title if the keyword phrase is already pretty long. It could yield more success to optimize on that keyword string than on your company name in the title of that page.

Remember, there isn’t a perfect title for a page of your website. Sometimes one title may yield a higher click count, while another may rank higher. Do some testing and find out what works best for that particular page. It is best to develop your title within your title tag of a page after the page has been written. The content of each page is a good indication of what your title should be. If you have too much of a problem finding a good title tag that encompasses the entire page, that may be a sign that the page needs to be rewritten or divided into several more targeted pages.

Title tags are a simple tweak that can dramatically improve your website’s performance. So what are you waiting for? Go check out your title tags!

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