A title tag is an HTML description that specifies the title of a web page and it’s content. The days of people looking for products or services by thumbing through a catalog in the mail, or picking up a phone book and going over the Yellow Pages are long gone. Internet search engines are the way we get our information today, and that means trying to accommodate two different needs; the complex algorithms of a search engine, and a human being using that search engine to find a product or service he or she is looking for.
One of your first methods of attack in making sure your business is in a good position in this list is through the use of effective title tags. So what is a title tag, and how do you make the most of it?
Title Tag: It’s All in the Name
The title tag serves two functions. It is the bolded title that appears on search engine results that a user can click or tap on in order to actually visit your website or a specific page on your website. It is also usually embedded in the code as the title of an individual web page itself. In other words, the title tag is both identification for your individual web pages, as well as the words that appear to a user to show them what you have to offer when they are conducting a search.
This means that your title tag is the very first impression that a user will have of your business. It is an important indicator of just how closely what you have to offer is matching up with what the potential customer wants. In some ways, your title tag can immediately determine both to the search algorithms and to the user on the computer whether you are a “good match.”
This is why it’s important to use your title tags effectively, and there are a few key strategies you can employ to ensure this.
Don’t Keyword Stuff
Programmers pay close attention to how people both use and abuse software, and the experts at search engines like Google quickly found out ways that people would game the system in order to try to fool software. One of the primary tactics in the simpler days of search engine optimization was a method called “keyword stuffing.” Attempting to use this tactic in the 21st century version of the Internet is now the FASTEST way to get ignored or ranked lower in search engine results.
Very early on, SEO techniques recognized that people used specific search words, and the simple search engines of that era decided that the more a word appeared, the more useful it must be to the person conducting the search. This quickly led some to, for example, use the phrase “laundry repair” hundreds of times on their web pages. Today’s search engines are much more sophisticated, and if you have a laundry repair service and simply scatter that phrase around liberally, search algorithms can recognize this and discard your web page as not popular/useful.
Keep It Short
Your title tag will appear in a lot of places, including links people can click or tap on in social media like Twitter. This means that your character allowance is at a premium, and you shouldn’t write very long title tags. Elaborate detail and being descriptive are not so important for title tags, so much as clearly, quickly getting to the point.
On the whole, if you can budget approximately 60 characters or less to your title tag, you can create a tag that will be preserved in its entirety when used as a link, or when it pops up in search engine results. Otherwise, if you go too long, the result may look something like “Ace Laundry Repair Can Perform Many…” and trail off, when a simple “Ace Laundry Repair Service List” will do the job.
Use Unique Titles
Make sure that both customers and the search engines recognize that every page has unique, useful content. Don’t just create a series of pages that say Ace Laundry Repair Page 1, Ace Laundry Repair Page 2, and so on. This isn’t particularly helpful for the human user conducting a search. More importantly, from the perspective of a search algorithm, this tells the software that what you have to offer isn’t particularly unique, and current algorithms “punish” what they deem duplicate content with lower rankings.
Remember, your title tag is a summary. The objective of a title tag is to succinctly describe what a web page is about to a user that is looking for something. Keep your content unique, use keywords if they are applicable, and don’t overdo anything. Don’t keyword stuff, don’t have long, descriptive tags, and give each page the unique title that it deserves to make it even easier for people and search algorithms to find what they’re looking for.
Write to your Audience
While Title tags are very important to SEO, your first priority is to attract traffic from well-targeted visitors who are looking to find your content and know it’s value. It’s critical to keep in mind the entire user experience when you’re creating your title tags, in addition to optimization and keyword usage. The title tag is a visitor’s first interaction and impression with your brand and it’s message when they find it in a search result. It should convey your core message and align with your strategic communication plan. When your potential audience is searching for a particular keyword or term they want to be able quickly determine if your content is the right content. Know your customer persona and their key triggers will help you write great title tags.