search engine optimization — basics

SEO Page Titles

The page title tells both the reader and the search engine what the page is about. The page title appears in the search engine result and should correctly inform the reader about the content. Good SEO requires that every page have a unique page title that accurately labels the page content. Never have a page go up with an page title "Untitled." 

The page's title is the name by which the site will be bookmarked, the name that appears in the user's browser's menu bar, and most importantly, the name that will appear in SERP pages (to see how NOT to do it, Google for the string "Untitled Document" sometime). 

The page title is contained in the web page <title> tag that is contained within the <head> tag. You do not need to be an HTML warrior to take care of the basics. A quick read of KDMC's HTML 101 tutorial will introduce you to the everything you need to understand how to find and change the HTML code you need for SEO purposes.

The page title should be a few words or a short phrase and should contain the key words that reflect the page's primary content. Place the most important key words near the front of the title. The W3C specification for the Title element is "less than 64 characters." Google actually uses the first 66 characters. Yahoo uses 120 characters. A good SEO strategy is to have your "primary" page title fit within the 66 characters and continue with an extended title that is less than 120 characters in length. Spaces and punctuation are included in the character count.

One important and frequently overlooked point is that the page title is what shows up in the SERP and is the first introduction the user has, not just to your content, but to your entire organization. The page title is also what appears if a user bookmarks your page. Good SEO requires that your home page <title> actually includes the name of your organization.

create unique page titles

In the example above taken from Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide you can see that working with the Title Tag is not complicated. The only code necessary is the opening <title> and closing </title> tags.

Good page titles provide a strong enticement to end users. Consider this search…

Search Example

…and the result…

search example result

The page title is the page element that connects the search result to your site. By including clear information about the focus of the site, a user knows what to expect at the site. The matching search terms are in bold to further connect the search result to your content. This connection is complete when the user clicks the link and arrives at your site. 

page title

The informative page title appears at the top of the of the browser tab or window. 

For news articles use the hed  for the <title> tag. Shorten the hed if necessary.