The title of a page is probably the most important factor in getting high search engine rankings. Web page title appears between <title> and </title> tags.
Effective Web Page Title Tags–Rank High in Search Engines
The WWW Consortium describes the title element as a required HTML element in an HTML document.
The title of a page appears in the clickable link on the search engine results page and appears on top of your browser when viewing a page. A page’s title is used by the search engines as the most important piece of information available to determine the ranking of your page in search results. In other words, search engines rank pages with relevant titles higher than web pages without relevant titles. The basic idea is that you are helping search engines understand your web page through the page title.
Darren Rowse from ProBlogger.net was moaning about poor rankings in Google although the site has thousands of inbound links and high page rank. Even for a term like “Blog Tips” that he writes about repeatedly, the site was ranking around 60th on Google.
One of his friends asked him a simple question: ‘What is in the title of your blog?’
The title of the front page was “ProBlogger: Helping Bloggers Earn Money”. It was a good descriptive title but it was not including key terms that he wanted hits on. Then he changed the title of the front page to “Problogger Blog Tips: Helping Bloggers Earn Money.”
After a few days later, his search ranking on the term “Blog Tips” went from 60th something to 10th for Google and from 40th to 1st on MSN.
Darren Rowse incorporates his blog’s name and main keywords in his front page. On individual pages, he uses title of his post with his blog’s name.
Titles not only help your web page to rank well, but also they attract people. Search users usually ignore a web page with unrelated page title. One of the best ways to attract repeat visits is to have someone bookmark your web page. Almost every web browser assigns the page title as the label for the bookmarked web page. If your page title is not descriptive or missing, most people will not remember why they bookmarked your site. Moreover, usually browsers use page titles to label pages in the browser’s history. Lastly, most people link to web pages using the page title for anchor text on which search engines place high importance so when someone links to a web page with the same anchor text as the page title, ranking for words found in the page title will get boosted.
Tips on Forming Effective Page Titles
- When forming a page’s title, make sure that the page’s search term is contained in page’s title, and place it to the beginning of the page title. If the target search term for a specific page is “Pagerank”, the effective page title may be: “PageRank - Google's PageRank and how to make the most of it.”
- If you want to include your company name or your website name, place it at the end of the Title tag. The name of your company or your website doesn’t make much difference to a user. They are more interested in knowing the content of your page. The title of a page is a valuable thing and adding the name of your company or web site might reduce the relevancy of your web page.
- All titles should be typed in Title Case. Details can be found at Writer's Block - Writing Tips - Capitalization in Titles.
- Try to avoid stop words in the title tag. Stop words (a, an, and, but, he, her, his, I, in, it, of, on, or, she, the, etc.) are common words and characters ignored by some search engines to enhance the speed and relevancy of search results.
- Every page must have a unique title. Putting the same title on every page of your website is not a good practice.
- Home page titles should clearly indicate what is available on the page, and for the purpose of web credibility they should indicate what organization is represented on the page. In other words, you definitely need to include the name of your organisation in the title tag of your home page.
- Do not use “Untitled” or “Homepage” as your page title. Avoid using only your company name as your title.
The WWW Consortium states that: “The title should ideally be less than 64 characters in length. That is, many applications will display document titles in window titles, menus, etc where there is only limited room." A 64 character limit is a good starting place, but oversimplifies things a bit.”
Google displays up to 66 characters of a title tag, cropping to complete words. On the other hand, Yahoo displays exactly up to 120 characters and titles are simply be cropped, whether the display title ends in a complete word or not. Therefore, the best strategy for building a long page title is to make sure that the title works for both Google and Yahoo.
Title tags are powerful tools and must be used to their fullest advantage. The Title tag helps the search engines decide the theme/content of the web page being crawled for indexing. When a search for keywords is conducted, the Title tag is given heavy consideration by all search engine algorithms. Also remember, each page in your website is unique and needs a different Title tag. Place the most important keyword phrase for that specific page in the Title tag, and the page will get a certain boost in the search engines.