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SEO: Using Descriptive, Creative & Efficient Titles
Posted By: hagrin
Create Date: 27 December 2005
Last Updated: 1 July 2010
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains the ultimate goal of the webmaster, blog publisher, e-commerce seller, AdSense user and pageview junkie. By tweaking and modifying your website's layout, design and content, a domain owner can increase his listing rank when terms are searched on the major search engines (for the purpose of these articles, the major search engines are Google, Yahoo! and MSN). A major SEO tip that should be adhered to by everyone is using descriptive, yet creative and efficient titles for all your pages. This article breaks down what title we are actually talking about, tips for writing efficient titles and how to use available tools for figuring out title keywords.
Title? ... Which Title?
For many, the term "title" is so vague that they don't know exactly where to focus their SEO efforts. For the purpose of this discussion, we're talking about the phrase displayed in the browser's title bar. The title bar is located at the very top of the browser window and would look something like this (Figure 1):
Now that we have identified what title we're talking about, let's examing the image. The title bar's value is comprised of two parts - the actual title of the page and the browser's "branding" which appears at the top of every page. Search engine crawlers are only concerned with the first part - in this instance "Google News". I chose this title for my Google News archive page for a few reasons which are discussed below.
Choosing Your Words Carefully
A title really can make or break your SEO ranking and page traffic. As you can see from the Figure below (Figure 2), search engines use your title as the "headline" for your stories.
So, after seeing the importance of your title, what rules should you follow when creating your headlines? Try following these simple guidelines:
- Concise Word Choice / Eliminating Unnecessary Words - Probably the most important rule to follow. To maximize your keyword density, don't clutter your titles with unnecessary words. For instance, there was no reason for me to label my page "Hagrin's Google News" since my domain name will catch all queries using the term hagrin. If I did include the word Hagrin, I would no longer directly match user requests for the search query "Google News" and my ranking would most likely drop even further for this highly competitive term. Go through your entire site and check all your titles to see if there are any unproductive words that you could remove to improve your page's title.
- Keywords to the Front - In addition to choosing concise words, there appears to be some weight being applied to the order of the words in the title. Therefore, you want your keywords closer to the beginning of the title than the end.
- Remain Creative / Use Proper Grammar - Almost contradictory to the previous point. With so many web pages out there all competing for users, you also need to make your title stand out from the rest on the page. Therefore, make sure to use proper grammar to make your titles easy to read and just don't put random words in your title that will match a lot of user search requests. In addition, some creativity while maintaining your keyword density could help improve your page view numbers as users are drawn to your site when presented with 9 other similar looking options. However, title creativity can be detrimental to your SEO efforts so choose your approach wisely.
- Watch for Duplicates - Although not entirely proven, the general concept is sound. To differentiate all your pages and not have them grouped (and then your pages removed from initial viewable search results) should be considered a good practice which will identify all of your content as unique. Using unique titles also help with certain blogging software applications like Wordpress which will use the title as part of the path. Since Wordpress uses the title as part of the path, Wordpress also has to ammend the date to the file name - a practice that is unnecessary and again lowers density.
Following these three simple rules will definitely improve your rankings and help drive higher traffic to your site.
Everyone gets writer's block at some point in time. Therefore, tools exist that help you determine keyword saturation and search frequency. You can then use this information to best pick the title you want to use for your content. The Yahoo! Overture Keyword Selector Tool is one such tool. Just plug in a generic term for your content and have Yahoo! spit some suggestions back to you. You do not have to be an advertiser currently with Yahoo! to use this tool and seems to be free for everyone. Another tool, limited to Google AdWords customers only, is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool which is only available to AdWords users (however, all you have to do is pay the $5 signup fee and then you have access to all the AdWords tools). Using the above information is a first, major step in search engine optimization. Making sure that you have concise, efficient, creative and unique titles should be the first step in ensuring your success on the web.
- Version 1.0 - 27 December 2005 - Original Article