Thursday, September 23, 2010

Writing Compelling Title Text


You have undoubtedly seen any number of spammy-looking titles that are “optimized” in the hopes of getting better rankings. Keyword after keyword stuffed in the TITLE, separated (or not) by commas.

Realize that your page title acts like a billboard and is what people click on in a search results page. So you should differentiate your title from that of your competitors by writing “smarter” page titles.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Ho-hum title: House plans, home plans, home floor plans, home design plans, plans

Compelling title:Unique home & house plans: dream homes start with great floor plans

Notice that both contain multiple keywords but which one would you rather click on?
Come up with a set of different titles for each of your important pages and rotate among them to see what ranks better over time.

Best Practices for Creating Titles

Here are some best practices you should follow for creating titles on pages:

• Each page should have a unique title.

• Try to include your Primary Keyword Phrase in every title of every page.

• Begin the title of your home page with your Primary Keyword Phrase, followed by your best Secondary Keyword Phrases.

• Use more specific variations to your Primary Keyword Phrase on your specific product, service, or content pages.

• If you must include your company name, put

• Use the best form, plural or singular, for your keywords based on what KeywordDiscovery or WordTracker says is searched on more often.

• Don’t overdo it – don’t repeat your keywords more than two times in the title.

• Make sure the tag is the first element in the section of your page – this makes it easier to find by Google.

META "Description" Tag Text

Google doesn't factor in META tag text in ranking a page, but you should still strive to fill in this META tag on your web pages:

Google uses the first 160 characters or so (about 25 words) of your META "Description" tag to populate what is displayed under your listing on a search results page.

If no META Description tag content is found, Google uses the description from the DMOZ directory. If you don't have a DMOZ directory listing, it uses semi-random snippets from your page that contains the search term queried for. This can lead to some really awful-sounding descriptions, as rarely does anyone write anything compelling in the META Description tag.

So take your best shot and come up with your best sales pitch in 25 words or less to put in your META Description tag. Something that would actually compel someone to click on YOUR listing. Descriptions that do well include a call to action ("visit us today"), phone number ("call xxx-xxxx for more information"), geographic term if applicable ("located in Seattle"), discounts, specials, prices, anything that will draw the eye and make them click. Basic direct marketing 101 pitch.

Note: If you want your META Description text to be used, it must include the exact phrase that was queried.

About Word Stemming

Google uses word stemming. Word stemming allows all forms of the word – singular, plural, verb form as well as similar words and synonyms to be returned for a given search query. This can work both for and against a site depending on which form of a word a page is primarily optimized for. So if someone types in "house plans", not only will pages that are optimized for that phrase be returned, but so will pages that contain all variations of that phrase, for example:

house plan
house planning
house planner

Conversely, a page that optimized for “house plans” will also be returned whenever a searcher types in any variation of that phrase. Using the same example, typing in any of the phrases below would also return a page optimized for “house plans”:

house plan
house planning
house planner

Word stemming is a helpful feature for searchers, since it saves them from having to think of many variations of a word. Word stemming can help as well as hurt your ranking for a given page as not only does it increases the number of words that you can rank well for (even if you do not include a given form of the word anywhere on a page) but it can also increase the amount of sites (competition) returned for a given search query.

When you enter a search query in google, put a plus “+” sign in front of the word for which you want to disable stemming for. For example:

house +plans

Would disable stemming on “plans” and thus only return pages for “house plans” and pages that contain variations on the “plan” word.

Pay attention to stemming for your keywords – particularly to what the “root” word is and what Google considers to be a match for that word when optimizing pages over time.


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