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February 5, 2012

9 Common Title Tag Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

title-tag-02

A website’s title tags are very important for several reasons:

1) The title tag shows up in search results as the blue link, and a good one helps the site get more clicks and visitors from
search results.

2) Title tags are a crucial SEO element that can help the website show up higher when people search for the words in it.

3) Title tags show up when web pages are shared on social media sites like Facebook. This is important because social media mentions are now a ranking factor in Google search results.

So if you have the time to optimize one thing on your website, title tags are it.

Here are some of the top mistakes and missed opportunities I’ve seen in title tags. Avoid these and you’ll be ahead of the game. You’ll rank higher in search results and entice more people to click on your site.

9 Signs of a Bad Title Tag:

1. “Home” or “Home Page” in Title Tag

It may be logical or helpful to the website owner, but including “Home” or “Home Page” does not help visitors or search engines. All we really care about is what the page is about, and what it offers us. Why take up space with this non-information? You surely don’t want to rank for the terms “home” or “home page.”

2. Domain Name in Title Tag

Including the domain name (like example.com) in the title tag is redundant and takes up prime SEO real estate.

If a searcher cares what site they’ll be taken to, they can look at the green URL that’s visible in the search result before they click. And web pages are automatically going to rank very high (at the top unless something is wrong with your SEO) when people search for your domain name, whether it’s in the title tag or not.

Put another way – Is it more important to tell people your website address, or to tell them about what you offer and show search engines a keyword?

3. Too Long

Search engines display only the first 70 characters (about) of a web page’s title tag. The rest gets chopped off and replaced with ellipses.

4. Too Short

Short and sweet can be nice, but you might as well use all the space available to tell people and search engines about the web page. Making your title tags close to – but not exceeding – 70 characters is a good way to get the most out of your title tags and optimize your chances of showing up for different keyword searches.

5. No Keywords

The purpose of your title tag is to tell people and search engines what your web page is about. If it doesn’t include keywords, you’re doing it wrong.

6. Just the Business Name

I know it’s tempting to make your title tags be just your business name, especially on your home page. But your business name is 70+ characters long or contains several of your important keywords already, you should really include more so that you’ll be found – and clicked on – by people who aren’t familiar with your business yet.

For example, if you were searching for a local business that sold widgets, how likely would you be to click on a search result that just said a generic business name like “Jones & Jones, Inc.”? You probably wouldn’t waste your time clicking on a search result that doesn’t make it clear the company is in your city and, or that it sells what you’re looking for. Because the title tag doesn’t make it clear what Jones & Jones sells, or where they’re located, search engines are less likely to rank that result high in search results.

7. First Few Words Aren’t Important or Eye-Catching

Research shows that people scan search results quickly. Searchers pay the most attention to the first few words in search results, and the first few results on the page. This heat map shows you where people tend to click in a page of Google search results.

Make the first few words of your title tags count by including the keywords you think will be most relevant to searchers. Or write something that will catch people’s attention. Put your best foot forward, and cut the meaningless fluff.

For example, I searched for “cat toilet training” and found this search result. It did catch my attention and make me read the whole search entry to see if it was really what I was looking for. But many people would just skip it, and focus on the search results that mention their search terms right up front.

8. Doesn’t Include Geographic Location – if Location is Important

If you have a physical retail location, or if you want to target customers in a specific region, you should make it clear to searchers and search engines where you’re located. Include your neighborhood, city, state, or county – whatever makes most sense for your business – in your title tag and in other website content.

9. Too Many Keywords (spammy looking)

If your title tag is just a long string of keywords, it might rank well for those keywords, but the real, live people searching for those words will probably be less likely to click that result.

Here are two examples of keyword-filled title tags in a search result:

Example 1

Example 2


This article, originally published on AboutUs.org was contributed by Kristina Weis of AboutUs.org.

Kristina is a community manager for AboutUs.org who talks with a lot of website owners who are trying to promote their business online. Have a question? Kristina Weis, @KristinaWeis.

20 Responses to “9 Common Title Tag Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    avatar Former Marine says:

    Good article Kristina; many new people creating blogs / websites aren’t aware of these common mistakes and should take your suggestions to heart.

    avatar Andy says:

    Great info Kristina! Good, really useful and clearly written articles like this really help Website owners (like ourselves at ‘Write2Profit’) get to grips with what we really should be doing to get more visitors to our sites. Far better than some of those long-winded, jargon-filled instruction-type articles that just confuse the issues of SEO and site set-up, etc. If you ever do another article like this, but with a step-by-step approach to deciding on keywords, please let us know. Meantime, keep up the good work!
    Andy.

    Excellent article, thank you. Putting your customer’s interest before your ego is hard for many people. Looking at your site, or your site’s advertising, through your customer’s eye’s is always the way to go. Selling your product or service is much more important than stroking your ego. Just IMO.
    Thomas Anthony
    http://www.search–4.com
    http://www.acleaningbid.com

    Thanks for the lovely comments about the post I wrote on AboutUs.org :-)

    avatar Kuldip says:

    Eye opening article, I am going right now to my photoshop for changing too long and crappy title tags for many pages. Many of my site’s pages got very long (over 100 characters) and I didn’t know that the optimum is about 70 character.Thanks for this informative article.

    avatar Adrian says:

    Spot on information Kristina. It’s vital that the information you provided is implemented to assist SEO. Been found on the Internet is often overlooked and even a Client that may have only purchased a website but no SEO services can adhere to this.

    Thanks
    Adrian
    http://www.oneresult.co.uk/online-marketing/search-engine-optimisation

    avatar PPC campaign says:

    Nice sharing, put the customer preference first is the key to success in any kind of business. Tittle of the page should be attractive and compelling enough to involve the visitors in it.

    avatar Rob says:

    I would suggest the title be the same as the the title or even h1 tag on the webpage. Also it should reflect directly the contents of the page.
    Its amazing how many website pages have different content to the title !

    Make sure that the title of the subject telling the whole story to draw individuals. It should be informative enough to attract the users.

    avatar Ronald Jorgens says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. Obviously something I’ve forgot to think about. I thought putting the domain name in the title tag was the right way to do it. Man was I wrong.

    avatar dRSam says:

    thanks for this info.. it really helped me =)

    Hi.

    Thanks for your page. Very helpful. I was wondering, what do you mean by title “tag?”

    On the page I’m using for my homepage (news site), I have “SEO Title,” “Meta Description,” and “Meta Keywords.” (I also have “focus keyword”).

    The snippet displays SEO title, then underneith address, then underneith meta description.

    I also have in “Settings” for my WordPress, “Title” and “Tagline.”

    What do I put where? Thank you, DBD

    avatar day donaldson says:

    No content in this post. I just wanted to subscribe to entry, so I could be emailed updates.

    avatar Data Plans says:

    Thanks for this tip.
    It covered almost everything that needed to be talked about relating to title tag optimization.
    .
    .
    Thumbs up

    avatar Rob Stoubos says:

    Good article Kristina, all the points you mention are relevant and key factors to optimising page titles for SEO.

    I would also add that studies showed that optimum title length is about 55-60 characters. This length is generally found in titles that rank higher for target terms and also stops Google inserting anything into the Title you have defined such as your domain name. So make sure that your title length is ideally between 55-60 for Google!

    Cheers,

    Rob

    Thanks for this super cool post I really liked it a lot!

    This is the best thing which I have read and its very much nice and great thing also.

    avatar College tag says:

    Too short title means how long ?

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