Why Website Title Tags Are So Important
Ever notice that in the upper left corner of the main bar of the Internet Explorer (IE) browser (most statistics report 84% of Internet users or higher are using IE) there is some text on every website you visit? You can also usually see the first portion of this text when you minimize the browser window. This text is displayed from the website's title tag - and it's vitally important to any commercial website.
The title tag is easy to see in the browser, but it originates in the underlying code used to design the website. If you 'right click' on a website with your mouse you will see a display box with several menu items listed - if you click on 'View Source' - you will see a text display of the underlying code for that website. Here are the first few lines of underlying html code from one of our sites: http://www.webmaster911.com/.
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<title>Webmaster, Web Hosting, Domain Name, Internet Marketing Resources - Webmaster911.com</title>
As you can see, the title tag is proceeded by the
<title> tag and ends with the
</title> tag - the text that appears between these two tags is what will appear in the browser in the main display bar at the top.
"Okay - I get it!", you might say. "So I can put any message I want in there to sell the goods and services of my site". That's true, but the title tag is important for a much broader reaching reason: search engines treat your title tag as an indicator of your site's main purpose, and therefore which categories and search terms to place it under.
If you want to be found under a specific search term in search engines, you must include that term in your title tag. Let me sat that again so that you don't miss the importance of this:
If you want to be found under a specific search term in search engines, you must include that term in your title tag.
So how do you determine which search terms are best to include in your title tag? I would suggest using a great tool from Yahoo! Search Marketing which will help you find popular search terms that can help you generate more traffic to your site.
They call it their 'Keyword Selector Tool' and it can be found here: http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/.
To use the tool, simply type in a keyword that you think is important to your site. The tool will display various search terms related to your original query, and list them in order of popularity. The popularity is based on the number of searches conducted in the previous month. For example, let's say that you sell mobile phones on your website. If you type in the search term 'mobile phone' it generates the following list (shortened for limited space):
Searches done in June 2005
Count Search Term
3225909 cell phone
98607 cell phone plan
28751 nokia cellular phone
10921 samsung cellular phone
8879 att cellular phone
8809 ericsson cellular phone
7593 cheap cellular phone
7210 lg cellular phone
6382 cellular phone wallpaper
5616 verizon cellular phone
5517 cellular phone ringtone
4841 cellular phone number lookup
4526 cellular phone company
4124 cellular phone directory
4064 free cellular phone wallpaper
3710 cell phone headset
3621 us cellular phone
3523 cellular phone numbers
3509 sprint cellular phone
3299 free cellular phone ringtone
3293 cellular phone deal
As you can see, 'mobile phone' is not highly searched according to the tool. It would be much better to be found under the search term 'cell phone'. Playing with the tool and starting from the general (for instance plug in the simple search term 'phone') will give you a sense of which terms are best for you title tag.
Another important tip - be sure to place your most important keywords at the beginning of the title tag. For most companies, this WON'T be your company name - save that for the end of the title.
Brent Conver, Manager of Professional Services at Affinity Internet, Inc. - a pioneer in web hosting search engine optimization services at their ValueWeb brand (http://www.valueweb.com/search_engine_optimization.htm) had this to say regarding a website's title tag, "The title tag is crucial to any optimization effort, as it is the first item on the website that is seen by the search engines. It is important that your targeted keyword phase be in your title tag as close to the front of the tag as possible.
An effective title tag has greater implications to your website than just 'SEO', it has real marketing value as well. This is a simple method to set the tone of your website messaging. The title easily and quickly confirms what the user can expect from your website."
A final word of caution - don't put everything under the sun into your title tag - thinking that you will benefit from having a vast number of terms listed.
Position Technologies, Inc. (http://www.positiontech.com/) was founded in 1995 and pioneered the first pay-for-inclusion program with Yahoo/Inktomi, which has grown to become the model for the Search Industry. Mr. Detlev Johnson, Vice President of Consulting with Position Technologies states,"The importance of writing titles cannot be understated. Keyword stuffing is a mistake. Branding and clicks are too mportant. Search engines credit terms found in titles that display to users. The optimal length for a title is shorter than 50 to 60 characters. Longer titles are cut off in search results, in browser windowpanes, and make poor bookmarks."
So remember that while there are many important activities that will result in great search engine placement, you must absolutely address your title tag. Give it some thought, and use the techniques and suggestions mentioned above, and you should have a great title tag for your site that helps you get more website traffic.