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How To Optimise Title Tags

May 21, 2008
HTML title tags (< title >) are currently the most important on-page factor when optimising your webpages for search engine results. For the majority of search engines the title tag is the first point of call to summarise the theme of a webpage and to help rank that webpage accordingly within their listings. Obviously there are many other factors that generate the overall ranking but optimising your title tags right will generally provide results for your targeted search terms.

Target Individual Webpages Towards Search Terms

For search engine optimisation, it is vitally important that your website has individual webpages with content targeted towards keywords and search terms. Each of these webpages should have their own unique title tag that includes the search terms you are hoping to be found for within search engines.

How People Search

Think about how you would type in a search into a search engine. It is unlikely you would type in a phrase such as "How You Should Optimise Title Tags". There is more of a chance that you may type "How Should I Optimise Title Tags", but people tend to shorten the total words needed to type a phrase as much as possible and will be more likely to type "How to Optimise Title Tags". Search engines would pick up the all above variations but by targeting the most popularly typed phrase you are increasing your chances of ranking better for that search term. There are many keyword tools on the Internet that allow you to research which keywords are popular and how searches are being typed.

Variations of Prime Keywords

If your website is targeted towards a certain group of keywords and search terms, then use the webpage title tags to target variations of your main keywords. For example, the main titles on our website are targeted towards "Search Engine Optimisation" and "SEO". Notice how within our SEO blog articles we sometimes use variations such as "Search Engine Optimising for Long Tail Search Results" and the title of this post "How to Optimise Title Tags". By doing this you can catch more visitors for a variety of possible related search terms.

Put Search Terms First

The closer the keywords are to the beginning of the title tag the more relevant and more weight that webpage will carry towards that keyword. So for example if your webpage had a title of "red widgets & blue widget" and another website's webpage had a title of "blue widget & red widgets", if you did a search for "blue widget" then the other website more likely to rank above your website (if all other factors are equal) simply because the search term is nearer the beginning of the title tag. A lot of companies put their brand terms first and then the page title, which is good if you are a recognised brand as it builds confidence and provides familiarity to potential visitors and may help encourage click from search listings, but it can be a slight disadvantage if you are looking to rank higher than a competitor who puts brand terms at the end of the title tag or left them out completely.

Another good reason to put the search term nearer to the beginning of your title tag is that search engines use the title to provide the link to your webpage in their listings. There is limited space (68 characters in Google) for your title within the search engine listing so it is important to make it obvious what the webpage is about.
About the Author
Steven Balfour wrote this article for search engine optimisation company Position Gold Ltd.
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