Businesses work to create blog posts, articles, and website verbiage that is both relevant and high quality, working in keywords just enough to be effective while also employing the latest link-building strategies.
But one area that might escape attention in all of this hard work is the title of the content. Often driven by a prompt on a business's content management system, the title tag appears not only at the top of the page but also in search rankings as the main descriptor of the page. Perhaps most important of all is the fact that the title has a direct impact on a site's search ranking, according to the latest reports from Moz and SearchMetrics. Here are a few tips to help you make your titles as powerful as possible.
1. Include the Keyword
You spend time thinking about the search terms you want to include in your content, but this information should be reflected in your title as well. This is especially true if your page URL will contain the title. If a potential customer types "emergency plumbers Portland Oregon" into a search engine, your article about your company's providing the best emergency plumbers in the city will probably get clicks from those doing the searching.
For best results, place the keyword as early as possible in the title. Many search engines cut off titles after they go over a certain number of characters. That limit is 50 to 60 characters in Google, so if your keyword appears later, you risk its not being seen at all. While longer titles might appear as though they'll allow you to squeeze in more words, truncated titles aren't as attractive as complete ones in search results, so keep this in mind as you're naming your pages.
2. Make Each Title Unique
It may be tempting to title every page on your site after your business, but this can be deadly to your search engine placement. Each page should have a unique title to satisfy Google's constant quest for unique content. If multiple pages have the same title, those pages may be seen as duplicate content, resulting in a penalty that keeps the page from ranking well.
Your title should also be interesting on its own. Simply populating the field with the keyword and nothing else won't be as effective as incorporating that term into a meaningful title. If multiple pages from your site do show up well in search results, users are less likely to click on them if they appear as though they are all the same page.
3. Make It Relevant
As Google's Matt Cutts pointed out, if Google doesn't like the title tag you use, it will replace it with one of its own. Your title should be interesting and search engine-friendly, but it should also be an accurate representation of the content on the page. Ideally, Cutts says, the title should not only describe the content on the page but also incorporate information about the entire site.
While it's important to squeeze your branding into your page content, that information should be the least of your concerns as you build your content. Your company's name isn't as important as the product or service you're offering, since customers are more likely to search by the name of the product or service than by the name of your company. Using tools like Google AdWords, you can determine the search terms that are most often entered for your type of product or service and adjust your strategy accordingly.
4. Make It Powerful
As great as it is to rank among the top results for your search term, it's also important to stand out in those results. As a page of results is displayed, a customer will probably scan the list to find an entry that stands out. By making your title one that will immediately connect with your target customer base, you'll probably get more clicks.
As you deploy your campaign, use analytics to determine which search terms are sending customers your way and tweak your titles accordingly. Over time, you'll have a winning campaign.
Page titles are an important part of content marketing, but it's important to also represent that content accurately. With the right strategy, a business can not only improve search rankings but also create content that connects with customers.