Your TITLE Tags
I recently read an article where the author said, “By now just about
everyone knows that you should use META tags to improve your ranking in
the big search engines.” Well, in San Antonio, I would have to say
that’s not what I see. I test about 10-20 sites a week performing
an Internet marketing checkup on prospective clients’ Websites and I find
that over 70% of the sites do not even come close to properly using Meta
The Title tag has a huge impact on your search engine ranking.
Common sense changes to your page titles will make a significant difference
in how many surfers can find your Website.
It’s not possible to have hard and firm guidelines for improving your
search engine ranking since each one has different rules on how they determine
how relevant your Web page is on a particular search query, but common
sense should tell you the title of your Web page is important.
Yet, I see Website after Website with the home page title being “Home”
and then the interior page titles being page one, page two, and so on.
The other common mistake is to name the pages after the company, like “Jim’s
Gifts Home Page”. The chance that someone looking for gifts would
type in “Jim’s Gifts Home Page” is zero and none.
So instead of saying
<TITLE>Jim’s Gifts Home Page</TITLE>
<TITLE>Jim’s Gifts: silver dinnerware, tableware, cocktail shakers,
home décor, bar accessories</TITLE>
Now, the chance that your relevant keywords will appear in a search
engine query has been greatly enhanced.
You can use up to 100 characters (not words) in the TITLE tag area;
however, many search engines will only display about 70 characters.
This means that the title that appears in the browser will be abbreviated.
While this might be inconvenient for the site’s visitor, the “extra” characters
for the search engines are worth it.
Going one step further, most of the search engine tutorials say that
the order within your site is also important, with words at the beginning
of the title being given the greatest weight. So I would have written
the title like this:
<TITLE>silver dinnerware, tableware, cocktail shakers, home
décor, bar accessories at Jim’s Gifts</TITLE>
This would give a better score to the reverent search query keywords
and if Jim’s Gift is “cut off” and not displayed on the browser that is
probably OK as the surfer probably wasn’t specifically looking for “Jim’s
Gifts” in the first place.
One last note, the title will be listed in the search results and if
it is just a listing of your keywords it may be confusing and less inviting
to someone using the title to determine if they are going to visit the
site. So with the above being “designed” mainly for search engines,
I would then write the Description tag more for the surfer to pull them
into the site.
Search engines latest attempt to deliver high quality results to searchers
is the use of theme-based spiders. Recently Google, Inktomi, AltaVista,
Lycos, and Fast have added this to their “ranking” algorithms.
A theme-based spider will look at individual pages but then will combine
the results and analyze the site based on its primary focus. If you
have already been optimizing your site using a focused title tag, description
tag, keyword tags, and targeted keyword content on the site, your site
probably already is theme-based.
Up until now, we have thought of spiders being page-based and have designed
sites with many different themes. For example, a site that contains
several pages devoted to pest control, lawn service, and pool service.
A page-based spider could give all three topics a high search results ranking
if the individual pages were optimized properly.
Not so with the theme-based spider. When it sees the many different
keywords and content from the different topics, the spider will have a
difficult time determining what the site really represents. The keyword
phrase that might get the number one results rank could be “pest pool service”.
Can you guess how much traffic, if any, this keyword phase will generate?
Just like a page-based spider, a theme-based spider crawls through your
site indexing the following information:
Top-level domain name and subdirectory names
HTML tags (header tags, alt. tags, hyperlinks, etc.)
Content on the page
Inbound and outbound links
This is the same as the page-based spider, but the theme-based spider
goes one step further. When the spider finishes crawling through
the site, it then determines the site’s theme by evaluating the pages as
a whole, not individually.
If you can’t accurately describe your site in one sentence and then
optimize the whole site to reflect that focus, then you may have a problem.
Your site’s traffic will suffer if the spider assigns a focus that doesn’t
match your intended focus.
As we said above, if your site has tightly focused content and keywords then there is no need to panic and rework your Website. But if you are having trouble getting to the top in some engines, the lack of a focused theme may well be the problem.
In fact, the absence of a focused Website will hurt you with either a page or theme based spider. Theme-based spiders will magnify the problem.
In conclusion, as theme-based spiders grow in importance, you may find
it’s necessary to break up your current Website into single theme sites
with different domains and linking between them instead of trying to combine
many varied topics into a single site.