Properly optimizing the title tag (or more appropriately, the HTML title element) of a web page can yield big benefits from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective. The following document explains why titles are so important and provides useful tips on how to optimize a title tag.
Title tags are important for SEO
The title tag is the most influential on-page ranking factor used by the ranking algorithms of most search engines to rank URLs for a particular keyword phrase. For this reason it is very important for search engine optimization.
The title is typically shown as the first line of your URL’s listing in the organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Since the title tag is the first thing about your page seen by users in the SERPs, it is an awesome opportunity for your web page to make a positive first impression.
Having a good title tag that accurately represents the topic of your web page can affect your URL’s click-thru-rate (CTR) in the SERPs. The title should be optimized in such a way that it conveys the main topic of your web page and lets the user know what to expect if they click on your link in the organic results.
Keyword analysis – the core of title tag optimization
The first and most important step in optimizing title tags is to perform keyword analysis. This will help you determine the keyword phrase(s) that will be targeted by your web page. Ideally this should be done before a single line of content is written.
Performing keyword analysis can be done free of charge on the web. All that is needed these days is a web browser. There are many free keyword analysis tools on the web to assist you with this task. Probably the most notable of these free keyword analysis tools is Google’s external Adwords keyword tool.
Keyword analysis can assist you in coming up with a topic for your new web page if you do not already have one in mind. Once you have decided on a topic, keyword analysis will help you determine for which related keyword phrases people most often search as well as how competitive those keyword phrases are.
The goal is to find a single keyword phrase (possibly two or three phrases if they are very similar) that sums up your topic, has a moderate amount of monthly search query volume, and yet is not highly competitive.
How to optimize title tags
Keyword analysis makes optimizing title tags a cinch! Your keyword analysis should yield a single keyword phrase (perhaps two or three phrases) that your new page will target. There are a few additional tips that you should consider before deciding on your web page’s title tag.
The search engines consider words that appear near the beginning of title tags more important than words appearing near the end of the title. This is synonymous to the way they consider content near the top of the page more important than content found near the bottom of the page.
Search engines also consider keyword density within a specific HTML tag important if that tag is considered a ranking factor by their algorithm. Since title tags are ranking factors for almost all search engines, you should always attempt to maximize the density of the most important keywords or keyword phrases within the title tag.
Although it is tempting to do so, it is highly recommended that you not include your site name in the title tag unless the page being optimized is an about us page or contact us page . It only serves to dilute the keyword density of the targeted keyword phrase(s) within the title tag making it harder for your page to rank well.
If you are targeting a single keyword phrase then optimizing your title is easy. Simply enter the targeted keyword phrase for your title tag’s value. However, if you are targeting multiple keyword phrases with a single web page then you should prioritize your keyword phrases.
Once you have prioritized the targeted keyword phrases, list them in order of importance in the title tag from most important to least important. The resulting title values should be “Primary Keyword Phrase – Secondary Keyword Phrase” or “Primary Keyword Phrase – Secondary Keyword Phrase – Tertiary Keyword Phrase” depending on whether your page is targeting two or three phrases, respectively.
After the title is optimized
As you can see, optimizing your title tag is very simple if you first do a good job of selecting your targeted keyword phrase(s) by analyzing the search frequency and competitiveness of commonly used phrases related to your topic. Once your keyword analysis has been completed and you have decided on the title tag for your page, all other on-page optimizations should reinforce the keyword phrase(s) from the title.
J Hodson operates Canonical SEO, a Charlotte, NC based SEO consulting and training company servicing clients throughout the US.
Visit our blog if you would also like to learn how to perform free keyword analysis.