||What Is a
The title tag has been
and probably will always be one of the most important factors in
achieving high search engine rankings.
In fact, fixing just the title tags of your pages can often generate quick
and appreciable differences to your rankings. And because the words in the
title tag are what appear in the clickable link on the search engine results
page (SERP), changing them may result in more click through.
Search Engines and Title Tags?
Title tags are definitely one of the "big three" as far as the algorithmic
weight given to them by search engines; they are equally as important as
your visible text copy and the links pointing to your pages perhaps even
more so. Yet, even though this has been common knowledge among SEO
professionals for at least 10 years, it is often overlooked by webmasters
and others attempting to optimize their websites for targeted search engine
Do Company Names Belong in the Title Tag?
The answer is a resounding YES! I've found that it's fine to place your
company name in the title, and (gasp!) even to place it at the beginning of
the tag! In fact, if your company is already a well-known brand, I'd say
it's essential. Even if you're not a well-known brand yet, chances are you'd
like to be, right? The title tag gives you a great opportunity to further
This doesn't mean that you should put *just* your company name in the title
tag. Even the best-known brands will benefit from a few good descriptive
phrases added, because they will enhance your brand as well as your search
engine traffic. The people who already know your company and seek it out by
name will be able to find you in the engines, and so will those who have
never heard of you but seek the products or services you sell.
Title Tags Should Contain Specific Keyword Phrases
For example, if your company is "Johnson and Smith Inc.," a tax accounting
firm in Texas, you would want your company's site to appear in the search
engine results for searches on phrases such as "Texas tax accountants" and
"CPAs in Texas." (Be sure to do your keyword research to find the best
phrases!) If you prefer to work with people only in the Dallas area, you'd
need to be even more specific by adding geographical modifiers to your title
tags, such as "Dallas tax accountants."
Using our Dallas accountant example, you might create a title tag like this
Johnson and Smith Tax Accountants in Dallas
or you might try:
Johnson and Smith - Dallas CPAs
However, there's more than enough space in the title tag to include both of
these important keyword phrases. I find that using 10 to 12 words in my
title tags works great.
One way to include two key phrases would be like this:
Johnson and Smith - Dallas Tax Accountants - CPAs in Dallas, TX
I've always liked the method of separating phrases with a hyphen; however,
in today's competitive marketplace, how your listing appears in the SERPs is
a crucial aspect of your SEO campaign. After all, if you have high search
engine rankings but your targeted buyers aren't clicking through, it won't
do you much good.
The idea is to write compelling titles as opposed to simply factual ones,
when you can. But it also depends on the page, the type of business, the
targeted keyword phrases, and many other factors. There's nothing wrong with
the title tag in my above example. If you were looking for a tax accountant
in Dallas and saw that listing at Google, you'd probably click it. (Note:
Don't worry if some of your visible title tag info gets cut off when the
search engines display your page's info; they are still indexing all the
words contained within it.)
Still, you could make it a readable sentence like this:
Johnson and Smith are Tax Accountants and CPAs in Dallas, TX
I'm not as thrilled with that one. I had to remove the exact phrase "Dallas
Tax Accountants" because it wouldn't read as well if it said:
Johnson and Smith are Dallas Tax Accountants and CPAs in Dallas, TX
It sounds redundant that way, as if it were written only for the search
In the end, its really a personal preference.
Don't make yourself crazy trying to create the perfect title tag, because
there's just no such thing. Most likely, either of my examples would work
fine. The best thing to do is to test different ones and see which bring the
most traffic to your website. You might very well find that the second
version doesn't rank as well, but gets clicked on more, effectively making
up the difference.
Use Your Visible Text Copy as Your Guide
I prefer to create my title tags *after* the copy on the page has been
written and optimized. I need to see how the copywriter integrated the
keyword phrases into the content to know where to begin. If you've done a
good job with your writing (or better yet, hired a professional SEO
copywriter), you should find all the information you need right there on
your page. Simply choose the most relevant keyword phrases that the copy was
based on, and write a compelling title tag accordingly. If you can't seem to
get a handle on the most important phrases for any given page, you probably
need to rewrite the page content.
I recommend that you *don't* use an exact sentence pulled from your copy as
your title tag. And don't use the exact wording that's in your top headline.
It's much better to have a unique sentence or a compelling string of words
in your title tag.
You'll want to watch out for certain website content management systems
(CMS) and blog software that automatically generate the title tag from
information you provided elsewhere. Some, in fact, default to the same exact
title tag on every page, which is the best way to kill your search engine
leads! The good news is that most of today's CMS's and blog software have
workarounds so that you can customize your title tags fairly easily. If
yours doesn't, or your developer claims they can't do this, then you'll want
to find a new developer or CMS as soon as possible!
Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Consulting Agency.