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Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion


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Search engine optimization (or SEO) is clearly important in this day and age. An entire industry has arisen around the quest to get to the top of the search engines, with black and white hat SEO witches battling it out to stay in the top five positions.

It sounds like a scene out of dungeons and dragons doesn´t it? However it´s a serious business when hundreds of thousands of visitors are lost because rankings disappear, which equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

In a previous article I discussed how to select keywords to help you to start planning a targeted campaign. When you get to the end of this ar
ticle I hope you should have a fair understanding of the importance of the HTML Title tag with regard to search engines and far more importantly with regards the humans, the people, the guys and gals that you want to get to your website so that they can buy your goods and services.

Firstly, what is the title tag?

The title tag is an element in the header part of an HTML page denoted by two <title></title> tags. For instance you might have <title> Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion</title>. That would mean that the title would read (as a link on search engines like Google for instance ´Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion´. Setting yourself some simple guidelines to help you write your tags is a good idea.

Guidelines are good but not set in stone

There are no hard and fast rules for writing titles but there are some guidelines you might want to follow. W3C (http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/TITLE.html) say on their website that ideally a title should be 64 characters or less and that titles may be truncated if it´s longer than that. Google show 66 characters in their search results listing, Yahoo allow listings up to 120 long. What I would suggest is that you bear these sensible limits in mind when writing the contents of your title tags.

If you need a long title make the first 66 characters Google friendly and use the rest up for Yahoo. In order to learn how to effectively use these 66 characters you should know how titles are used online.

Online uses of titles

1) Titles are used by website resource librarians, directory editors (such as DMOZ), and other webmasters (such as strategic link partners) when they link to your website.

2) The title is displayed in web search results by the vast majority of search engines to help you target and attract your visitors.

3) Nearly all the major search engines use a title tag in order to rank your page. Search engines deem the title one of the most important pieces of information when determining what the content of your website is.

4) The title is displayed in the visitors browser window usually at the top of the viewable part of the browser screen.

Browser screens, search results, editors, why is this important?

Firstly, by carefully crafting your website title you make it more accessible to resource librarians, editors and webmasters. If you have a nice simple title link which they can add to their pages both relevant and understandable they are far more likely to link to your website. If they link to your website using a hyperlinked title relevant to your target audience, you get targeted traffic from simply writing a good title tag. More relevant traffic means much higher conversion.

Secondly if Google or Yahoo crawl your website and find that the title tags you´ve written are relevant to the page on which they are written it means there is a much greater chance of a good ranking on the engines. A good ranking on the engines for your selected keywords means that you´re more likely to be found by your target audience. This again means that you attract the people that you want to your website, the people who are looking to buy your product or service. The title tag becomes your search engine listing. Think of it this way, in a similar way to the classified ad you write for a newspaper, the title tag listing is your online advert, so make it as attractive and relevant as possible to attract the right visitor.

Thirdly, the browser window is affected by the title and it´s convenient for the visitor to your page. How many times have you had five or six Internet browser windows open? A good title tag means that a quick scan of these titles shows the reader which page is which. The first couple of words in the title it could be argued for this reason alone are the most important text you will ever write for a web page you want to be read.

In summary

You want your web page to be read by your desired audience.

That´s all. Your title tag is the first step toward achieving that goal. Abraham Lincoln once said, ´If you have eight hours to chop down a tree, spend 6 hours sharpening your axe.´ The title tag is your web pages axe, it´s the part you should refine so that you get the most from the search engines. Of course there is more to SEO and website conversion than simply the title tag. In the next article we´ll discuss the next important point to sharpen, the headline, or rather the <h1> tags that should be used in conjunction with titles to be even more search and conversion friendly.
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Steve JacksonAuthor: Steve Jackson, Editor - Conversion Chronicles

Steve Jackson is the Editor of the Conversion Chronicles, a website conversion rate marketing newsletter dedicated to improving website conversion rates. In 2003 he co-founded Aboavista the first web analytics consultancy in Finland and now a wholly owned subsidiary of Satama Interactive. Satama Analytics unit is a web conversion and web analytics consultancy based in Finland with offices across northern europe. You can get a free copy of his e-book sent to you upon subscription to the Conversion Chronicles web site.