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Title tag optimization guidelines

revised February 2007

Many site owners tend to place "Welcome to www.fdfdf544545fdda.com" type statements as their TITLE tag text.

This is not a good practice, especially if your site name is not relevant to your subject area. Many search engines use the wording in a title tag as an important part of relevancy and therefore ranking.

For example, my home page title back in 2000 was originally "Taming the Beast Online". It didn't describe my site at all. All my most important keywords should have been in there. 

I made some changes, and at that time, suddenly shot from obscurity to No.3 on a major search engine on a competitive term during the next database refresh. It seriously made that much difference.

The TITLE tag should be kept between 60 - 90 characters in length. I've read many conflicting reports on TITLE length, but a good practical guide is Google. In search results, Google currently displays only approximately 65 characters of the title - some engines display more. Keeping this in mind, have the most important keywords at the beginning of your title.

Here's an example:

<TITLE>Web marketing resources - free articles, tools, news and reviews</TITLE>

NOTE - always remember to close your tags e.g. </TAG> 

The TITLE tag can be found by viewing the html source of your page...it is always located before the <body> tag, between the <head> and </head> tags e.g.

<TITLE>This is a title tag</TITLE>
<p> page content</p>

In FrontPage, editing TITLE tags is simple. Right mouse button click on a clear area of a page while in "Normal" mode and select "Page properties'. Simply complete the field that states "Title". Click OK and you're done.

When you carry out a search via one of the major search engines, it is not uncommon for the results to show a good deal of garbled titles, or perhaps just the URL. This is because the site owner does not have the title tag correctly implemented, or in some cases, none at all... There has been something else in the content that has attracted the search engine spiders attention; failing that, the page URL is used. Why these pages rank highly is anyone's guess, but it's probably in part due to the quality of the rest of the site, or the number of other sites that link to it - which is another major component in achieving high search engine rankings.

Need to learn about  search engine ranking and optimization strategies or want to monitor the SEO health of your web sites (and those of your competitors)? One of the most comprehensive set of online search engine optimization tools around -  SEOMOZ.

Remember to use different, but relevant title tag text on each page of your site - this is *very* important. Only use keywords that appear on the page and avoid repeating the same word more than twice. If you feel the need to repeat a word, put one instance near the beginning and one towards the end.

It isn't wise to try and fool the search engines by consciously implementing irrelevant titles or repeating words more than twice (aka keyword stuffing) as in most cases it will soon be detected and your page ranking will drop, or worse still, the page or even your entire site may be removed from the index.

A good title tag will only be of benefit it the content of the page is also solid, you've linked to it correctly and relevant outside sources have also linked to your site; especially if they have linked to that particular page. As with any aspect of search engine optimization, take a holistic approach.

Related articles:

New! - try our meta tag generator

Meta Tags and Zen 

The importance of link/anchor text 

Other search engine optimization tutorials 

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
Web Marketing, Internet Development & Ecommerce Resources

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