SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the name given to how websites can improve search engine rankings. In search results, Google™ displays links to websites and pages it considers relevant and authoritative. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked) on the search results page, the more visitors a website will receive from the search engine's users. A friend of mine told me recently that she was very happy with her website but she was not getting any traffic to her site. I therefore Google’d the relevant search criteria her customers would be using and found that her website was not appearing on the first page of Google results – this is a typical SEO problem; incorrect or no relevant SEO on the website, compromising the website’s ranking!
Use the terms customers are using
The title tag is the single most important piece of SEO real estate on your site. A title tag can be as long as you want, but you only have about 63 characters before the search engine cuts it off. So use it wisely.
Since the title appears as the clickable link in the results pages, it has to be able to meet a couple of different demands.
Customers type specific words into a keyword query and they expect the search engine to provide results that match their original query. The search engine looks at over 200 different signals to determine the relevance of any page against the keyword entered. Basically, it looks for where the keywords have matched content within the website.
The title tag on your website is therefore very important. You don't necessarily need the customers keyword in the title tag for it to come up in the search results, but it helps a great deal.
But what about the customer? What do they see? Let say a customer types "how to be beautiful" into the search engine and two results are displayed. One reads "How to Look Good and Feel Great" and another reads "How to Be Beautiful 5 steps (with video)”. Which of these two is more likely to be clicked by the customer?
It's entirely likely both pages address the same concerns, but only one uses the searched keyword - beautiful. More than likely, the second result will get far more clicks than the first, even if it is in a lower position in the results. Therefore, it’s essential to use keywords in your tags that your customers will be using (and looking for) to get good results.
The next thing your title tag needs to be is compelling. We looked at how to make it more likely to be clicked simply by putting keywords in it, but that in itself is only part of the issue. Going back to our example above, if we put the first ‘non-keyword’ result ("How to Look Good and Feel Great") up against a third keyword rich headline of "Sexy and Beautiful, Today's Hottest Stars" which do you think will gain more clicks? My guess is the first one that doesn't use keywords because it is far more compelling and speaks more toward the searcher's intent. So in this situation the "Sexy and Beautiful, Today's Hottest Stars" headline is likely to rank higher, but will receive fewer clicks because it is not compelling.
The trick is to make sure that the title tag is both keyword rich and compelling. This will help move your site to the top of the rankings, but also ensure that visitors are more likely to click on to your site.
Implementing your title tags properly is crucial to ensuring they are effective. There are a number of easy mistakes that you can make if you don't take the time to do it right. It's easy to want to blast through your title tags, especially if you have a lot of pages. But because your title tags are so important, you want to take care in developing them properly. Here are a few common issues:
Same on Every Page: Each page in your site is unique, or at least it should be. This means your title tags should be unique on each page as well. On a lot of sites you'll see the same title tag across all the pages "Welcome to My Site”, or something like that. That hardly describes the page at all. And show "Welcome to My Site” in the search results, and you're not likely to get any clicks. Go through the site and customise each title, ensuring it uniquely and accurately describes the content of the page.
Leading with Business Name: There are good reasons to have your business name present in your title tag, but that should not be the default. If you use your business name, be sure to think through the reasoning and make sure it's sound. The limitations of the title tag make using your business name something you only do with great care and consideration. I'll discuss this more in a bit.
List of Keywords: Wanting to get your keywords in the title tag makes it tempting to just try to throw as many in there as you possible can. "Beauty, Makeup, Makeovers, Diet, Healthy Skin" Sure that gets all your keywords in there but does nothing to make someone want to click on the result. This means that (gasp!) you have to use keywords sparingly, so you can also make the title something worth clicking on.
Lack of Description: Aside from getting your primary keywords in the title, and making it compelling, you also have to make sure the title tag provides enough of a description of the content to ensure it gets a targeted click. No sense having someone click into the site only to find the information on the page isn't what they expected. Make sure that the title describes the content in a compelling and keyword friendly way.
Business branded titles
So let's address using your business name in your title tags. As I said earlier, sometimes it’s wise but that shouldn't be the default position.
In general, you can place your business name either at the front or the rear of the title tag. My rule of thumb is that you don't want to put your business name at the front of your title tag unless you have a highly recognisable brand name that the visitor will know and will likely be a click-generator from the search results. If that's not the case then you simply don't want to give up that limited space in the tag (see Note below).
Branding at the rear of the title tag is a far better solution for most businesses. This helps moderately known or even unknown companies build brand name recognition. The downside of branding your title tags this way, is you are still using up valuable space that might otherwise be used making a keyword rich and compelling headline.
Note: that if the title goes too long, your business name will be cut off in the search results – you only have approx. 63 characters of space available in a title tag.
Most of the time you don't need your business name in your title tags at all, however there is one time when I would suggest leaving it off almost 90% of the time. This is on product pages. It's so crucial to get important product data into the title tag that there often simply isn't enough room for your business name. Again, I might make an exception for well-known business names, but default to showing product information first and foremost.
Having your business ranked highly in Google results, is more common sense than you think. Although the exact algorithms used by Goggle are not divulged, the tips above will help you get that Page 1 ranking over your competitors.
Interestingly, as of May 2015, mobile search on phones and tablets has finally surpassed desktop search. Google™ is developing and pushing mobile search as the future in all of its products, and responsive website design is now a key component of Goggle ranking. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that your website is ‘mobile-friendly’.
Professional web development companies have teams of designers that will build a ‘mobile-friendly’ website and ensure you get the best SEO (Google ranking) possible, and they can also host your website and provide 24/7 support within Australia, as well as give you a Content Management System to manage your own changes down the track.
If you are tempted to develop a website yourself, remember to get your SEO perfect for best results – and build a ‘mobile-friendly’ website for responsive design.
How can I Help?
When it comes to websites, I can offer you a rebate on the cost of having your own website designed, developed and hosted by a national company based right here in Melbourne. They develop websites from as little as $495, and offer a no obligation, no deposit service where they come to you and discuss your requirements. They will also host your website and provide you with an easy-to-use ‘Content Management System’ for you to make whatever changes you want later on, as well as free 24/7 support by phone and email.
I have negotiated rebates of 20% off their prices and all you need to do is contact me for further details and information. For further information, contact me below: David Haigh
(t) +61 (0)3 9885 7688
(m) +61 (0)412 550 020
I have recently retired after 30 years consulting for corporate clients such as NAB, AXA, IOOF and AustralianSuper. My experience covers website design, social media and business strategies. I am now focussed on providing consulting services to small business.
My services are provided on a voluntary basis, free of charge, and with no obligation.