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The importance of Title Tags in Search Engine Optimization

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A few days ago I was moaning to a mate about the fact that despite thousands of inbound links and a page rank of 6 – ProBlogger.net is still yet to rank highly for many of it’s relevant search terms in Google – as a result I rarely get any traffic from Google on this blog. Even for a term like ‘Blog Tips’ (something I write about a lot) I only ranked around 60th on Google.

My friend asked a simple question that made me realize how blind a blogger can be when they stare at their own blog all day and lose objectivity. He asked:

‘What is in the title tags of your blog?’

As soon as he asked the question I knew how stupid I’d been. This is a question I often ask other bloggers but had not asked myself!

The title tags of my front page had been ‘ProBlogger: Helping Bloggers Earn Money’. A good descriptive term – but not including some of the key terms that I was wanting to get hits on – particularly ‘Blog Tips’.

NB: your ‘title tags‘ are what appears between <title> and </title> in your blog’s templates. This title comes up at the top of your browser when viewing a page and comes up in search engine results as the title of your post.

After banging myself on the head a few times for my stupidity I decided to do an experiment – I changed my title tags on my home page to ‘ProBlogger Blog Tips: Helping Bloggers Earn Money’. Just a tweak really – the inclusion of two words. I set this up and waited to see what would happen.

The graph above (provided by digital point’s keyword tracker) tells the story better than I can with words. My search ranking for Google on the term ‘Blog Tips’ went from 65th to 10th in two or three days. On MSN I went from 40th to 1st. (the red line is another of my blogs which has always ranked highly on Google for ‘Blog tips’).

Now the term ‘blog tips’ isn’t the most lucrative term in the world and doesn’t bring in hoards of readers – but it is better than what I was doing with Google and it illustrates a point – your title tags are very powerful when it comes to optimizing your blog in Google (and other search engines).

I recommend that on your home page you have a title that incorporates your blog’s name and your main keywords. On individual pages I always recommend that you make your title the title of your post – which should of course include keywords for that post. I also include my blog name on individual pages on ProBlogger as I think it could intrigue people on Search engines to come and have a look. On some of my other blogs I just use the post title without the blog title.

So on my post ‘Does Blog Design Matter?‘ my title is ‘Does Blog Design Matter?: ProBlogger Blog Tips’

I’ve still got a long way to go with Google – my individual pages are not getting very high rankings at all – I suspect that they may have sandboxed me – but making sure your title tags are optimized is another step towards getting ranked and something I’d encourage all bloggers to consider.

Update: Another side benefit of changing your title tags to include your keywords is that you’ll find other people link to your blog using your title tags in the link. Yesterday I noticed two other blogs did this – rather than linking to me as ‘ProBlogger’ they linked as ‘Problogger Blog Tips’. This is good news because search engines look at the words that people link to you with in order to work out what your page is about and how highly to rank you for those terms. This should all help my ranking for those words.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Smart Money says:

    Here’s tip for you from webceo [don't think there is a mac version], I scanned your page and here was their number 1 optimization tip for you.

    “1. Your Title tag is not the first tag in the area of your page! It must be placed before all other tags, otherwise search engines may oversee it and this will significantly damage your rankings.”

  2. Brian says:

    I think you can definitely overdo it though, at some point you’re pointing SEO over your users. I think some sites make themselves look pretty bad by dumping too many things in there. Check out the title tag from a site my friend maintains part-time (exact company name removed for a litle anonymity):

    The Site – Adventures in Service thesite.net, the site, thesite.com, thesite.org, thesite, global awareness, sustainability, ecotourism, volunteer work abroad, international , vacation, cultural immersion, non-religious, overseas tax-deductible volunteer, alternative travel, volunteering, community development, teach english, care for children, cross-cultural, service, in asia, south america, peru, costa rica, thailand, tha caribbean vietnam, workcamps, service programs, solutions, program opportunity program, opportunity, organization, work, national organization non profit india overseas, retired senior student asia india, expedition, adventure, international, global,citizens, exchange, learn, help, cultural, culture, central volunteers, summer, gap year, voluntary workcamp directory, backpacking, responsible community, eco-travel, environmental, tourism, educational, experiential, intercultural, social, aids, historic preservation, habitat humanity, habitatforhumanity, college credit

  3. Darren Rowse says:

    you’re right Brian – that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen for a long time. Perhaps its worth mentioning that Google penalises ‘tag stuffing’ or putting too much into your tags, whether they be title tags or image tags.

  4. John Evans says:

    I’m not an expert, but I think putting a short list of main categories in your title box actually help visitors see what the blog is all about. MSM do this : you know a sports paper by its masthead, for instance.

    Another good tip is to put a category tag at the foot of each post, with a link into Technorati’s system. This will get your piece listed in the conveyor belt of posted articles (with a link back, and an assessment of your other links) in a matter of minutes. Since doing this, I’ve had more Technorati searches, especially in the archives, than from all the other engines put together. I do this manually by pasting this code at the foot of each post :

    synTAGma : Blogosphere

    Obviously, “synTAGma” is a play on the blog title, and you change the tag, in this case “Blogosphere”, to whatever your tag is. For your title keywords and tags, you can check their popularity by going to http://inventory.overture.com and using the “suggestion tool”. Just plug in your words and you’ll get back the number of times the term has been searched on in the past month. Indispensable, if you’re serious.

    Having said all that, I’m still struggling on a PageRank of 3, but the blog only dates back to March, so I’m hopeful this will bear fruit soon.

  5. John Evans says:

    Sorry, the code didn’t come through. Let me try again :

    synTAGma : Blogosphere

  6. John Evans says:

    Back to the drawing board. Here it is again :

    synTAGma : a href=”http://technorati.com/tag/Blogosphere”rel=”tag”>Blogosphere

  7. John Evans says:

    Apologies for messing up your comments, Darren. A further point, don’t forget to enclose the code within (less than, and greater than). Now I’ll leave you in peace :-)

  8. Fred says:

    I scrapped my head on my table too Darren ;)

    I’ll try to arrange the situation soon.

    Thank for the tips and resources references. It’s always useful to remember such little things ;)

    Salutations,

    Fred

  9. Rich Brooks says:

    Darren,

    Another great post!

    One other issue to keep in mind–which you may know but some of your readers may not–is whether “blog tips” is the most effective keyphrase for you.

    Because we know our own business better than anyone, that “closeness” can lead us down the wrong path when deciding on a keyword or keyphrase to optimize our site for. We may be using industry jargon that a “layperson” would not, if they were looking for our services.

    Doing a keyword analysis through WordTracker.com or similar service will often let you know whether people are searching for “advice on raising kids” or “European boarding schools.” Knowing what our customers and prospects are searching for will help optimize our sites correctly.

    Just like in pool, if you knock the eight ball in the wrong pocket you lose. If you optimize your site for a phrase few people are searching for you lose as well.

    Rich Brooks
    flyte new media

  10. Robb says:

    This may be a novice or newbie question, but, what wordpress function or plug-in are you using to get the name of you blog to show up in all your posts tittles?

    Thanks for all the tips; they have helped me immensely in my blogging efforts.

  11. Darren Rowse says:

    Rob its not a plugin – its a template tag – This is what I have as my title tag

    <title><?php wp_title(); ?>: <?php bloginfo(‘name’); ?> </title>

    template tags can be found at http://codex.wordpress.org/Template_Tags

  12. This is rich relevant content, Darren. I wish other business and marketing blogs would pay attention to what you’re doing. You make most, and I do mean most, of them look pathetic, stupid, self-obsessed, and frivolous.

    Your blog is Superb, and a great example for all of us.

    You ROCK!!!

  13. nico says:

    Title tags are very important. As a tip: if you have a blog system that allows you to ad titles to a post or use different titles on every page you should do that. One of the core ideas of SEO is to optimize every page and of course not for the same keywords.

  14. Karl says:

    This is something I have wondered about, but not known how to change in my template. Anyone know how to change it on a Blogger Template?

  15. Norman says:

    The TITLE tag is the first tag that SE spiders crawls while they visit your site.
    Plugging-in targeted keywords into the TITLE tags is the smartest thing to do. According to me, avoid using words or phrases in your title tag which is or are not your targeted keywords.

    Ideally a great TITLE tag should contain your Targeted keywords, placed in a smart way to go along with the content of your page, should be short (within 75 chars) and should avoid unnecessary words like, from, by, company name etc.)

    Let me know what you guys think about it.

  16. How much has this helped with your site? Have you seen improvement with the search engines? Thanks for the great information.

  17. Hello there,

    its really a very nice information on Title tags for webmaster link me…

    Thanks alots….

  18. Alvin says:

    After reading this post, I have realise that the words bettween will affect the ranking in search engine !!
    For other bloggers, TITLE TAGS are very important !!
    This post helped me alot. It is always great to read your tips…

    Thank you very much.

  19. Great insight once again. I wonder if I’m doing it right? Can anyone help out a litlle bit? Thank you

    http://www.macgomez.com

  20. reading this i just had the same ah ha moment you did… something so simple as title tags and i’ve had an off topic one for the last year because i thought it sounded cool.

  21. SEO India says:

    Really in SEO title tags are very important. Thanks for giving such a nice information.

Trackbacks

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