There are hundreds of factors that determine a website’s ranking. Individual pages must stand on their own two feet and overcome the scrutiny of the search engines. I contend that one of the single biggest factors continues to be a webpage’s title. The simple title tag appears to have a huge impact on where that webpage will be found.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with title tags, they look like this.
<title>Some Webpage Title</title>
These are the items that drive the clickable portion on a search engine result page. See below. The title is displayed in blue.
As you can see, this is the search engine result for KansasCitySEO.com. We are obviously targeting the term “Kansas City SEO”. You can see the keyword in the title. Not only is it included in the title, but it is prominently displayed. Said another way, the proximity of the keyword to the beginning of the actual title string is as good as it can possibly be. See below.
Not everyone agrees that the keyword should be displayed this prominently in the title. My stance is that if it works, then use it. There are times when your target may need to move down the title in favor of a more readable or clickable implementation. Just make sure the primary keyword target can be found somewhere in the title.
This section could probably be a post on its own, but I want to take a minute to touch on brand utilization. Brands are certainly keywords, but brands carry their own baggage to the party. They can be good for a website to be associated with, or they can be something a website would be wise to keep in the closet. In most cases people looking for your brand will find you without problem. The keyword targets should be selected in such a way that you get your brand out in front of searchers who do not know whom they seek. So even though you may have an awesome brand, it is likely best to push it to the back of your title text. Go with something like: “Product 1, Product 2, and Service 1 by Acme Inc.”. A tag like this accomplishes both a non-branded and a branded focus. It allows the brand to support the products and services instead of letting the brand overwhelm and overshadow these non-branded targets.
What happens if you have a situation like ours where we have built our brand around a term that may be considered non-branded? This allows for the best of both worlds. Our brand, Kansas City SEO, is also the primary keyword target for our website. When Kansas City SEO is mentioned in the title it refers to our company, the service we offer, and the city where we focus our service offering. Not bad, huh? This is why domaining is so interesting and why so many businesses are springing up around generic keyword domains. That is a post for another day though.
What are your thoughts on title tags? Are they here to stay? Are they the most important factor or just a factor? What is your preference for title tag layout?