SEO - Title TagThere has been a recent revision to a report which first made an appearance last year, where 37 of the finest minds in the SEO arena were asked to appraise the various elements which can be used as part of a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) programme – White Hat SEO programme, of course.

Their opinions and comments were recorded and distributed in Search Engine Ranking Factors V2 which is probably the most comprehensive report of its type in terms of listing and appraising individual factors that I have seen. In any case, particularly given the people involved, it is certainly something to take a careful look at as you embark on any type of optimisation of your blog.

So what is the most important?

The element which was given the greatest value overall, and hence considered the most important individual factor in SEO terms, was Keyword Use in Title Tag.

The Title Tag is used in two principal areas:

  • when you are using a browser, it is what appears in the blue bar right at the top of your screen and tells the reader what is contained within the page;
  • Secondly, on the Search Engine Results page (SERPs), it forms the link that you click on to reach the page shown in the results.

As a result, not only is it valuable in terms of Search Engine rankings but also in terms of the click throughs that you get. Why is that? Since it appears in the main Search Engine Results page, it can act as an attention grabbing headline for the person conducting the search.

Creating a “good” Title Tag

Ideally, you should be aiming to create a Title Tag that will attract the attention of both human readers and the Search Engines – this means that it is likely to be both marketing focused as well as keyword rich. Sounds good in theory, but in practice you are likely to veer more towards one “audience” than the other.

Opinions vary, but a good rule of thumb is that you have about 8 – 10 words (circa 60 – 65 characters) that you can use effectively in the title tag, so it’s best to make use of them. As a result, you should look to try to:

  • include your keyword / keyword phrase for the page – ideally, focus primarily on these keywords and avoid too many “the” and “and” connectors

  • rather than full sentences, consider using “|” or “-” to break up the phrases (but do remember that it needs to attract your readers too!);

  • include the important terms at the start of the Title Tag, as they seem to carry more “weight” than those at the end;

  • every Title Tag should be distinct and focused – each page and each post is different and so the Title Tag it uses should reflect this.”

In blogs, the Title Tag is usually generated automatically using the title of the post and the title of the blog. This isn’t necessarily going to best suit your purposes so you may like to consider ways of modifying this – you could alter the template itself or you may find the tools below helpful.

Tools to help you

Firstly, a page which I think expands well on the themes that I have mentioned here is Best Practices for Title Tags over at Seomoz and is well worth studying.

As for tools to help with the actual implementation, if you are using WordPress, then in my opinion, the best option is the SEO Title Tag plugin by Stephan Spencer, who certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to SEO. This gives you full rein to do what you want with a fully customised Title Tag option, as well as an improved default Title Tag as well.

For those who have strayed down the Blogger route, then these two articles, Control your Title Tags in Blogger and Changing the Blogger Title Tag seem to cover two options (though I haven’t tried them personally) while Rank better in Google bay adding dynamic title tags to your Typepad blog seems to cover a possible solution for Typepad users.

Conclusion

So there you have it – the SEO elite confirm that they believe that the Title Tag is the SEO element that will do most for your Search Engine Ranking. One word of warning though (other than the fact that the Search Engine “goalposts” keep moving, so keep on your toes!) – if the content on your page doesn’t deliver, then the best Title Tag in the world will not help you. So before dedicating hours to creating great Title Tags, I’d always recommend paying just as much attention to the content it describes. :)

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