TITLE Element - Building the Perfect Page - The Basics - Part II

Building the Perfect Page is a series of topics discussing the basics of web page development. This page discusses the importance of the TITLE Element.

Continued from...

TITLE Element

The page <title> element (some refer to it as the title tag which is incorrect) is one of the most important factors for ranking highly in the search engines.

Page <title> elements are normally 3-9 words (40-70 characters) in length, no fluff, straight and to the point. This is what shows up in most search engine results pages (SERPs) as a link back to your page.

Make sure your <title> element (title tag) is relevant to the content on the page. The <title> element should accurately describe the overall content of each page while enticing the user with copy that grabs their attention.

TITLE Truncation ...

Page titles in the SERPs will normally truncate at around 70 characters depending on the word composition at the point of truncation. Yahoo! recommends 67 characters as a limit.

More important, search engines use titles to index web sites, and often display them in search engine results. To make your page most appealing to search engines, we recommend that you limit your page title to 67 characters and do not include images in the page title area.

TITLE Element Example

<title>TITLE Element: Building the Perfect Page - The Basics - Part II</title>

How important are <title> elements? Think of it this way - it is the single most important element on the page, bar none.

The <title> element is displayed in the browser title bar. It is displayed as a link to your site from the SERPs.

I think I've viewed over a million titles over the years, if not, it sure feels like it. After you've created so many, developing effective titles becomes second nature, it becomes habit. I'm going to use a widget manufacturer in California as an example.

<title>Platinum Widgets - Wholesale Prices - California Widget Manufacturing</title>

Okay, we have a total of 69 characters and that includes spaces. I've stayed within the recommended limit as specified by the W3C. Remember, there really is no legal limit, there are only suggested limits based on research and testing.

Your primary focus is to pay close attention to which words may be getting truncated at the end of the <title> and whether or not that truncation can create a less than clickable link in the SERPs. For example, make sure an important word is not being truncated if it is something you want the visitor to see.

Let's strip out all the fluff (ignored words and/or separators e.g. hyphens) and we are left with 65 characters (includes spaces)...

<title>Platinum Widgets Wholesale Prices California Widget Manufacturing</title>

I've targeted quite a few phrases with the above title. The combination of terms that can be achieved is pretty amazing if you really sit and think about it. And now that our favorite SE (Google) is stemming, writing effective titles is even more important.

Lately I've been doing some research into the effects of stemming on page titles and the results are pretty awesome. In some instances, if you get the keyword phrase lined up just right, you can perform a 3 word search query and light that title up in the SERPs (bolded). Five word title, all five words bolded.

Since I work with quite a few regional clients, targeting cities, counties and the state overall is imperative. Without the local targeting, we'd be getting a lot of invalid click-thrus from prospects that my clients could not service. We've been there done that.

You want to develop your title in a way where you are targeting your primary phrase for that page. Titles should always be unique for each page, no duplication. I've seen sites where the same title was shared across many pages. Guess what? Only one of those pages really did well in the SERPs and it was usually the home page. The other pages were pretty much invisible.

TITLE Element Summary...

Remember, your <title> element is the very first thing that the visitor will see, make sure it leaves a clicking impression.

More Information on the TITLE Element

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