1. The page title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) seeks to increase targeted website visitors and business through natural search. SEO comprises on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. On-page optimization involves the page content visible to visitors and the underlying code. Off-page optimization relates to links from other websites.
The page title appears at the top of the webpage when using a web browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer and also on the top line of webpage entries on search engine results pages (SERPs). The tag is placed in the header section of the webpage coding as in the following example
In 2009, SEOMoz invited 72 of the leading SEO experts from around the world to give their opinion on the most important ranking factors in the search engine positioning algorithms. They were of the opinion that the title tag is the fourth most important factor and it is the only on-page factor in the top five; the other four are off-page factors.
2. Use all, or at least most, of the 65 characters allowed by the search engines.
Search engines include up to about 65 characters in the page title in their index. If you were to use 80 characters, the last 15 characters will have no SEO benefit and they will not be shown in your entry on the SERPs. Web professionals tend to use most of the allocated 65 characters. On review of the top 10 SERPs for the keywords ‘website designer’ and ‘search engine optimization’ on Google.com, 173 of the 200 titles used more than 50 characters.
The title tag is the most precious real-estate on your webpage – particularly the page title of the HomePage – and every character should be used with the greatest care.
3. Avoid the temptation to include your name or brand name in the page title.
Although probably in the minority, I do not believe that there is any merit in including names in the page title. It is often argued that people who know of the company would expect to be able to find it at the top of a Google search and this is fair comment. However, placement of the name in the header graphic alt tag, H1 tag and in the body text will bring you to the top anyway. Furthermore, a major objective in SEO is to attract as many new visitors as possible to a website. Potential new visitors will not be searching using your domain name.
Your domain name should also be placed at or near the beginning of the META-description tag. For most search engines, this tag does not directly influence positioning. However, search engines such as Google, tend to place your entry in their results pages with the page title on the top line and two or three lines of ‘snippet’ relating to the search request: The META-description is usually the source for the snippet. This means that even without your name in the page title, your entry on the SERPs will include your name and it will be emboldened if it is the searched keyword. You will therefore still be at the top of the SERP and will have conserved precious characters in the page title that you can use to attract new visitors.
Your HomePage, when competing for a keyword, receives a boost to its effective PageRank – the HomePage PageRank is the top factor in the Google positioning algorithm. If your brand name is not well known, it is unlikely that other websites will include it in their HomePage, which means there will be little competition. Your website alone will receive the boost allocated by Google to HomePages competing for a keyword – the G-Factor-2. Provided you have included your brand name or domain name in places other than the page title on your HomePage, your website should still be at the top of SERPs for a search specifically looking for you.
If you have any doubt, try putting it to the test. Ensure your name is in the other places as above. Leave your name out of the page title for a time and see if your website still comes at the top for a search for it. This should be done preferably with a rank checking program such as RankTracker or on a computer that is not your own to avoid the search engine ‘personal search’ bias: The search engines pick up your preferences and you will see a slightly different results page to others.
One exception to the rule relating to inclusion of a domain or company name in the page title is when it contains your main keywords. The words should be separated so that they can be correctly indexed by the search engines – website design rather than websitedesign.
The second exception is if you have a particularly common name such as John Smith. In these circumstances, it would be appropriate to include it in the page title to improve your chances of being found by those looking for you.
4. Include your best niche keywords in your Page Title
Your page title is the SEO gold dust of your website. You need to find your best niche keywords. A niche keyword will have an acceptable number of searchers and your webpage should have a good chance of top SERP positioning.
If your niche keywords are not included in the page title, you are unlikely to achieve top page positioning. You can check the importance of the page title by doing a search for any desirable keyword of your choice and looking at the top line (the page title) of all the top SERP entries.
There is no major benefit to be gained by including a keyword more than once in your page title. You will use up precious characters that could be used to better effect by including other keywords.
5. Use keywords rather than a sentence.
Successful web professionals prefer to use keywords that are not in sentence format in their page title. On review of the page title for the top 100 webpages for the keywords ‘website designer’ and ‘search engine optimization’ on Google.com, I found that only 18 of the 200 webpages made any attempt to include a sentence in the page title.
Do not waste precious characters on unnecessary words in the page title. Only use keywords that people are likely to use in their searches. Do not use ‘the’ ‘and’ ‘of’ or ‘leading’ as they are not usually included in a search.