The TITLE element (not Title Tag as many call it, but will be using the phrase “title tag” in this SEO article for SEO reasons) of your web page (found within the HEAD) is very important, probably the most important part of a page (especially for placement in Google and Yahoo) and should ideally be SEO optimized for a small number of keywords or key phrases (preferably just the one main phrase for that page).

The exact number of keywords, keyword density** and keyword proximity is dependent on a number of SEO factors including the difficulty of the keyword phrases, the PageRank (PR) of the page, if you have control of the backlinks and anchor text to that page (so you can change the anchor text of the links) and the age of sites backlinks (older backlinks means it’s easier for that site to rank well).

** There is no SEO evidence adding a keyword two or more times to a title element will increase the SEO benefit for that keyword. For this reason it is advisable to only add a keyword once unless it makes sense from a user or keyword proximity perspective: for example for keyword proximity reasons a title like “SEO Tutorial – SEO Title Optimization” is better than “SEO Tutorial – Title Optimization” IF your main SERP is “SEO Title Optimization”.

As a general rule of thumb when it comes to the title tags less is better than more as it concentrates the SEO benefit of the title over less keywords.

Example – This web page SEO Services is optimized primarily for the phrase SEO Services and a few related SEO terms including SEO Quote, SEO Expert, SEO Consultant and various phrases including the keyword SEO.

We could have stuffed the TITLE element with all of these keyword phrases i.e. -

<TITLE>SEO Services – Consultant SEO Expert Services</TITLE>

Or even a list of phrases like this as the title tag-

<TITLE>SEO Services – Consultant SEO, SEO Expert, SEO Consultant</TITLE>

Instead we Optimized the Title as-

<TITLE>SEO Services</TITLE>

We decided to use the short title element because this concentrates SEO benefit from the title element to that single two word phrase. Since Search Engines like Google rate the contents of the title tag as important you ideally want THE most important phrase for that page on its own.

There are exceptions to this loose rule, if you have a very small web site and lots of keyword phrases you wish to target, you have little choice, but to double or even triple up your titles keywords.

Also if you have high PR pages (i.e. PR6) and are having no problems keeping the main phrase for those pages, you could experiment by adding further highly relevant search phrases to the title tag. Take care not to over do it, what you do today may not show full effect for several months. For example if you added an extra phrase and 4 weeks later your main SERPs had not dropped, so you add another phrase, you might not see the negative effects of the first change for a couple more months. You may find 3 or 4 months after the first change loosing the pages main previously stable SERP!

When making changes to a successful page err on the side of caution, SEO is a very long term process and requires a lot of patience. If you are taking a risk (like adding more phrases to a title element) give the page at least 2 months and preferably 3 before deciding if it was successful or not. If a recent change results in a major drop in SERPs seriously consider reverting to the original page, but be aware what you see today might be the result of what you did 3 months ago or could be a coincidence, the search engine may of changed it’s algorithm (check the forums for reports of big changes) or some links to your site have been removed or changed.

Visitor Needs vs. Search Engine Optimization

As with all aspects of web site design don’t forget your visitors needs, some keyword phrases aren’t descriptive enough to use alone as a title tag, what you put in the title element is the text searches will see when they see a listing for your page in a Search Engines Results Pages (SERPs). If it doesn’t appeal to your potential visitors they will not click through to your sites listing! This is precisely why the title tag of this page is SEO Tutorial – Title Optimization and not just Title Optimization. The former (SEO Tutorial – Title Optimization) tells a potential visitor this page is part of an SEO Tutorial, the latter (Title Optimization) does not.

Quick SEO Tip – note above how rather than writing “The former tells a potential visitor this page is part of a Tutorial, the latter does not.” we added the important keywords “SEO Tutorial – Title Optimization”, “SEO” and “Title Optimization”. Being long winded is a prerequisite to good SEO copywriting!

In conclusion what you put between the <TITLE> and </TITLE> element is very important so try to get it right.

Also see Title Tag Optimization and WordPress Title Element/Tag Optimization for more details.

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David Law : AKA SEO Dave, Search Engine Optimization Expert, Internet Marketer, Stallion Responsive WordPress SEO Theme Developer and nice guy :-) SEO Gold : Lincolnshire, England, UK

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