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My nephew tells me that the title tag is important. How do I write an effective title tag?

My nephew tells me that the title tag is important for my search engine placement.  Are there any rules or formulas for writing a good title tag?

Your nephew is a smart kid.  The title tag, the area of each web page that contains the text which is displayed at the very top of your web browser, is indeed one of the most important pieces of real estate on a Web page.

The title tag is important for several reasons.  First, the words that appear in the title tag may have a significant impact on your search engine rankings.  Second, many search engines will display your title tag verbatim on their results page.

The implication of these two points is clear — your title tag should contain one or two of your most important keyword phrases and it must entice searches to click your link on a search results page.

If you have never seen a title tag, it looks like this:

<TITLE>Your keyword-rich, compelling title here</TITLE>

While there is no formula, there are some good general rules one should follow when constructing a title tag.

  • Do your keyword research first.
    Determine the subject of the page and select one or two keywords or phrases with the highest traffic potential that relate directly to that page.
  • Use your keyword near the beginning of the title.
    There is evidence that search engines give more weight to words that appear near the beginning of the title.
  • Keep it short.
    Most search engines only display the first 65 to 80 characters (including spaces) of a title on their search results pages (although they may consider more characters when determining your rankings).
  • Use your name or business name sparingly.
    Unless your name or business name are the focus of the pages content, you may want to leave these words out of your title altogether.  Here’s the exception though — if you or your business are so well known and respected in your area that your name alone would compel someone to click your link on a search results page, include it near the end of every title tag.
  • Give each page it’s own title.
    Every page of your site is different, so every page should have a unique title.

Let’s do a quick example.  For the sake of the example let’s say you are a plastic surgeon in Denver working on the title for your liposuction page.  Your keyword research revealed that the most popular related keywords were “denver liposuction” and “liposuction denver.” Your name is Dr. John Smith and your center is called The Aesthetic Surgery Center.

The nurse’s son who built your website created this title for you:

Plastic Surgeon Dr. John Smith at The Aesthetic Surgery Center in Denver, Colorado, performs Liposuction

You are not getting the search engine positioning you want, so you decide to work on your title.  After a bit of editing, you arrive at:

Looking for Liposuction in Denver?  Learn about Liposuction and see photos by Denver plastic surgeon Dr. John Smith

The revised title is 115 characters with spaces, and gets Liposuction and Denver twice in the first 90 characters.  By 65 characters we have made it clear that the page contains information about liposuction for Denver area residents and enticed them with the mention of photos. This will help your search engine positioning and get potential patients to visit your site.


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