First off, apologies to William Shakespeare for repurposing his classic “…that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”
There has been a lot said, written and recorded about the importance of the page title from an SEO perspective. To understand the basics, check out the short video below (it’s a good overview of what the page title tag is and does – including some simple pointers on what to do and not do). The video is by Gareth Davies who I do not know and have never met.
With all that has been said, written and recorded about the page title, one would think that most websites do a decent job of setting an effective page title. If the 6,000 websites processed by the Website Grader tool is any indication, one would be wrong to think that. Many businesses do not have a page title on the home page of their website, and often when they do, they make some common mistakes. As a result, I thought I’d share some quick tips on what to do when thinking about the page title.
Note: These tips are not intended for coming up with titles for blog articles. Those titles have a different purpose. I’m talking here primarily about the title for the home page of your business website.
Quick Tips On Effective Home Page Titles
- Have A Title: This one is obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t specify a title at all. For those that are hand-crafting the HTML, remember that the <title> tag goes in the <head> area of the page. For an example of the right way to do it, look at any major website (or this one) and you’ll see how it looks in the code. I cannot think of any reason why you wouldn’t want a title on every single page, but you especially want to provide one for the home page of your site.
- Don’t Make It Just Your Company Name: Many of the business websites I see simply set the title of the page to their company name. This is not the optimal use of this key element of your web page. The title is one of the most important pieces of information that the search engines parse when indexing your site and is a key factor in your search engine rankings. Unless you care about ranking for your company name more than everything else, I wouldn’t use your company name as the title. Instead of using the title to specify the name of the company, you are much better off using it to describe what you do. Enter key words and phrases for which you want to rank highly on the search engines. For example, this site uses “Internet Marketing Blog : Small Business Hub” as the primary title of the home page.
- Early Words Matter More: Even if you do put your company name in the title, it is better to lead with the key phrases you want to rank for. This is what we do on SmallBusinessHub.com as well (where we have Small Business Hub in the page title, but after the words “Internet Marketing” which are key phrases that are important to us.
- Fight Battles You Have A Chance Of Winning: When competing for search rankings (and thereby using the key phrases in your title), make sure you pick key phrases that are not only relevant for your business, but also not so competitive that you don’t have any chance of ranking well for them. For example, unless you are really confident (for the right reasons), don’t compete on phrases like “luxury travel” (even if that is particularly relevant for your business). Instead, go for something narrower. At HubSpot , we are building a software tool for our clients that helps locate good key phrases to optimize for. A good key phrase is determined by a combination of relevancy to the business, level of search volume (i.e. how many people actually search for the given phrase) and the degree of competition for the phrase. We’ll likely make the tool available for free in a couple of weeks (like we do with Website Grader). Stay tuned to this blog so you know when we release it.
- Don’t Make It Too Long: I see many websites trying to cram a lot of words into their title (in fact, I’m more guilty than most). Though you can supposedly have titles up to 60 characters in length, the title of your home page should probably not be near that long.
- No Special Characters: Do not use special characters in your title. Limit yourself to words, numbers and simple punctuation (hyphen, colon, etc.)
That’s it. The topic of key phrase selection is rich with opportunity for debate and discussion (and which key words and phrases you choose should drive the crafting of your title). But, that’s a topic for some future articles.