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Crafting the Perfect Page Titles

Posted on 1.31.2013

When prospective visitors encounter a website listing at popular search engines they often react to the title and the description (not necessarily always the placement - although it’s hard to deny that it certainly plays a significant role).

There are myriad factors involved for search engines in selecting exactly what to show to users (Google has stated that they may or may not show the title provided on the page, but Bing does and more often than not), but search engine optimization professionals do have the ability to at least suggest the title element they prefer within the HTML code of their site.

Let’s learn how to craft these important elements with some best practices.

Brand Focused: One of the most serious mistakes that website owners and search engine optimization professionals tend to make is that they fail to include brand-specific search terms (yes, they satisfy those navigational search queries - http://wsm.co/5COG-keywords - very well) in either their titles or descriptions. There are numerous ways to make titles more “brand-focused” - just include either the domain name, the business name or product name, and separate the brand related keyword from the rest of the keyword rich and compelling title through the use of a dash, a colon, a hack (/) or my personal favorite - a separation line (|).

Interesting or Different: Making listings actually stand out on the search engines is no easy task (unless of course you’re fortunate enough for the listing to feature some supplementary information such as an author tag or some rich snippet) but there are several relatively easy ways to develop titles that capture the attention of users. The first step should be to explore the results pages for competitors that are optimizing for the exact same keyword. What you’ll likely find is quite a bit of similarity. Finding ways to be unique really isn’t that complicated. For example, since Google and Bing highlight the search terms they find, try to do something different such as including the keywords at the front of the title element or using capital letters if no other listing does it that way.

Action (and Results)Oriented: While not always easy to do, when titles elements are crafted in a way that elicits a response, you can all but guarantee more clicks on a listing. To do that it is necessary to use what are referred to as action words such as learn, discover, explore, find, download, examine, etc. Essentially, use more verbs. Search results pages are opportunities for users to satisfy their wants, needs and desires. As someone responsible for search engine optimization, it’s imperative that language is included within title elements which gives users the sense that they will satisfy those wants, fulfill those needs, and realize their desires.

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