Titles are among the most important elements of the content you produce for SEO. Not only do titles define the content, they also play an important role in getting your content ranked in search engines and whether a user will click through. More often than not, users will read just the title of your content — so a good title is often your only chance to convince them to click through. With that in mind, your titles need to be as effective as possible. Here are some tips to remember when you write your headlines.
Be Simple and Accurate: This is necessary from a usability standpoint. Your title needs to simply and accurately convey what your content is about — it needs to stand alone. If users can not immediately understand what your content is about from only reading the title, they are likely to pass it by.
Keep Keywords Near the Beginning: This is an important element for search engines, which assign more importance to the words near the beginning of a title. This is also important for users because they typically only read the first few words of a title before looking at another search result. If you can capture their attention by having their keyword near the beginning of a title, you increase your chances of getting a click through.
Use Modifiers and Numbers: You will want to use modifiers and numbers in your title for slightly different reasons. Users often modify their search queries with words like “buy,” “best,” or “reviews.” Including these terms in your titles will increase their chances of ranking higher in SERPs.
Conversely, users tend not to include numbers in their searches. However, having a number in your title conveys meaning and attracts attention to your title, which can increase click through rates. It also increases the accuracy of the title. “5 Tips to Improve your SEO” gives a more concrete image of your content than “Tips to Improve your SEO” — which could be very long and broad.
Shorter is Better: Having a short title helps you to be simple and accurate, but there is a more technical reason to have one. When displaying a title on a SERP, Google and Bing only show the first 69 characters (Yahoo! shows the first 72) before truncating the title with an ellipsis. In addition, if you want people to spread your content via Twitter, you should take into account the 140 character limit for Twitter posts. Remember these character limits and try to write your titles accordingly.
Creating good title tag text is not just important for search engine optimization. A recent study by Nielsen Research has found that users were more likely to comprehend and click on links in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) that contain the main subject of the page closer to the beginning of the title. The most successful link text didn’t contain bland, made-up or many “filler” words. Title tags that were to the point and described the page’s content were more likely to be clicked on by users.
The study focuses on the first 11 characters of the link text and the ability of users to understand the content found there. The researchers found that when the first 11 characters contained a clear description of the page content, searchers were more likely to choose it.
This study further strengthens what we teach our clients when we provide them with Meta Tag reviews. When creating your Meta title, you should use the keyword that you are targeting for the page as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible. This will give search engines, and more importantly users a better understanding of what they will find on the page. For example purposes, let’s say we have a page about a new product such as “Widgets”. A good title for this page would be best if written like this:
Widgets – New and Improved from ABC Corporation
This title contains the keyword first and then describes it later on.
According to the study, if the title was written like this:
Introducing New and Improved Widgets from ABC Corporation
It would not do as well with users. The reason behind this is that using language like “introducing” or “new and improved” is so common and bland, that users are not enticed to click on it.
If you feel the need for more descriptive language, use it after the main keyword, or reserve most of it for use in the description Meta tag.
To view the study from Nielson, please visit: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/nanocontent.html
Local search is now one of the most important aspects of search. People are turning to their laptops and mobile phones to look for a local business, service or even restaurant. Here are some tips to help you optimize your site for better placement in the Google Local Box.
Title Tag – Business Name, Location
When optimizing your website it is very important to utilize your title tags. Many times people neglect this tag, which can be detrimental to the website. Title tags can be a factor in determining relevance to the local search map. To give your site a better opportunity of being displayed in the map, utilize geographic terms and specific service types. Example: If you are a plumber in Boca Raton Florida, it would be better to use Boca Raton Florida Plumber as your title tag, as opposed to your official company name. People may not know your company name, but they do know they need a plumber in Boca Raton and that is what they will search for. This gives the search engines and the users a better idea of what you do and where you are based. Focus on your business type and the location for title tags
Text Based Contact and Address Information
Having your address located on your pages gives the page more relevance, or weight when linking to a page on your site from your local listing. Search engines see this as consistent information and can reward you by giving you a boost in the results. It is also a good idea to place a phone number on each page. Not only with this help with the local results, but it turns each page into a conversion point. A user can get the information they need to contact you from any page
Submit to Local Directories
Local.com, Yelp.com and Yellowpages.com are good places to submit your site. These local sites are highly searched; user friendly and offer mobile applications so people can look up information from their cell phones. Another benefit to listing in local search directories is that the major search engines will use data from these directories to give more weight to their own listings.
While this is not really a tip it is something you should obviously NOT do. Google has just released guidelines for how to go about promoting your local listings. It seems that many people out there have been taking advantage of these listings, and Google wants to keep it fair for everyone. For more information please read Google’s official Local guidelines.