If any website can quite happily chug along by implementing an efficient off line strategy, utilising the likes of ppc and social media, is there any real need for SEO?
The answer to that is yes, of course. Even the very best offline strategies will never be capable of bringing all the targeted traffic you’d like to your website: without optimisation, your website will never be able to reach its full potential. But seo is such a broad, generic term that it’s often difficult to get your head around exactly what it is, let alone where to start. Well, I would suggest if you want to make just one small change that would add the greatest impact to your website, then you need look no further than building a good, dynamic title tag: they are unquestionably one of the most important determinants in search engine ranking.
So what is a title tag, and why is it so important? Well, it’s a basic HTML code snippet that appears in the blue bar at the top of your web page browser. It’s important because the words in the title tag are what appear in the clickable link on the search engine results pages (SERPs). There no limit to how long a title tag can be, but it’s worth noting that search engines only take note of the first 63 characters, so it’s best to use the words wisely and sparingly.
When any browser uses the internet to search for products or services, they type in specific words that will hopefully produce the results they’re looking for. Therefore, any title tag needs to have carefully chosen wording. You don’t necessarily need to have chosen ‘keywords’ in your title tag, but if often helps. Imagine you’re a browser searching the web for a specific product, wouldn’t you expect the ‘key’ word you’re looking for to be an essential part of the title tag? Well, yes you would but, even if you do include keywords in your title tag, that won’t guarantee that users will click on your link – it needs to speak to the user and generate interest.
How do you make your title tag stand out from the crowd if you’re all using the same keywords and search references?
That may sound tricky, but all that’s required is a little careful thought before you commit your title tag to the ether. Once again if you put yourself in the shoes of your browser, what would you look for, and what would attract your attention? If they type in a query like ‘how to be attractive’ the search query might throw up a couple of results: ‘how to look good and feel great’ and ‘how to look attractive when you really don’t feel like it.’ Which one do you think will get the greater number of clicks? That isn’t simply because it contains one of the keywords the searcher typed: it’s also because the second result title tag is more appealing and compelling.
So, assuming you’re happy with the wording of your title tag, is there anything you can do to ensure that they’re implemented effectively? Firstly, it’s worth remembering that each page on your website is unique, therefore each title tag for these pages should also be unique and distinguishable. The title tag should adequately describe the content of each page, so it’s well worth the trouble of going through your copy and customising each page title tag. Using the same tag for every page looks sloppy and will probably result in fewer clicks for your website.
By and large there are perfectly good reasons for including your business name in your title tag, but it isn’t by any means compulsory.
Sometimes business names are best omitted. If your company is a household name, then it’s probably wise to include it at the start of the title tag: however, if you’re trying to build a brand, then I would suggest you think carefully before including the name. Using your business name at the start of the tag is really best left to the big boys. If you put your business name at the end of the tag, the chances are it will be outside the 63 character limit and will be lost to the search engines anyway. If you’re trying to sell a product, then the 63 characters need to work as hard as possible to get your message across: there really isn’t any room for a business name, let alone a need.
Keywords, as we’ve seen, are important, but they’re not the be-all and end-all. Trying to stuff as many keywords into your title tag is counter-productive and uses some of the valuable characters that should be devoted to a full description of whatever product or service it is you’re offering. Title tags full of keywords may rank highly, assuming they get past the restrictions of the search engines that look unfavourably on this practise, but would such tags really tempt users to click on them? Title tags need to offer a sufficient description of the content to ensure they are likely to get targeted clicks.