Feb 05, 2009
Website page titles - how to pick one and what they are for
When I first started down this whole website building road, I thought page titles were kind of silly. Titles are the words that show up on the top bar of your browser when you’re on a web page. For example, if you look at the top of this window, you probably see something like “A technology strategist talks about…” and so on. Did you even notice that before? Well, sometimes it’s the things you don’t see that make the biggest difference.
What are page titles for?
Page titles aren’t for you, that’s for sure. When was the last time you tried to figure out what a website was about by looking at it’s title? Probably never, I never have.
Page titles aren’t for people, they’re for search engines. The the page title is what says “hey, this whole page is about quality graffiti mural art” so search engines have an introduction to the page. They also work together with the content on the page to rank you with the other pages that talk about the same thing. If you’re trying to show up on the first page for graffiti then your page title (and the rest of your content structure elements) better be talking about the right thing.
Why are page titles important?
The title of your page (the text that shows at the very top on the window of your browser) is consistently shown to be one of the most important parts of search engine relevancy. Think about it: you title files, documents, books, and emails with information relevant to its content, right? Web pages need the same attention. Your page title is what appears as the link in a search result.
For example, search “keyword” in Google, notice the link of the first result (Wikipedia), click on it, and look at the top of your browser window. See?
How do I use them?
Page titles need to be the right length and include your keywords (as they pertain to what is on the page). There is no magic bullet with titles, they just need to be relevant and honest, like the rest of your site. Describe in 20 words or less what that particular web page is all about and what people will find there, use the keywords you picked out, and you’re doing great.
What does Google have to say?
Accurately describe the page’s content – Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content.
- choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page
- using default or vague titles like “Untitled” or “New Page 1”
Create unique title tags for each page – Each of your pages should ideally have a unique title tag, which helps Google know how the page is distinct from the others on your site.
- using a single title tag across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages
Use brief, but descriptive titles – Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long, Google will show only a portion of it in the search result.
- using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users
- stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags
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