Improve Your TITLE Tags

By now just about everyone knows that you should use META tags to improve your ranking in the big search engines. Not as many people know that your TITLE tag also has a big impact on your ranking. Some simple changes to your page titles can make a dramatic difference in how many people visit your web site.

Each search engine uses different rules when determining how relevant your web page is to a particular search query. As a result, it's difficult to develop universal rules for improving your search engine ranking. However, improving your page title is one technique that applies to just about all the engines.

If someone handed you a sheet of paper and asked you to quickly summarize its content, the first thing you'd probably do is look at the page title. That's exactly what the search engines do too. The appearance of keywords within the page title is one of the biggest factors determining your score in Infoseek, AltaVista, and HotBot.

In spite of this, it's surprising how many web sites have simple, unimaginative titles like "Bob's Home Page." In fact, it's not unusual to see entire web sites that use the same title on every page in the site!

Try changing your page titles to include some of your site's keywords. Instead of this title:

<TITLE>Smith Lodge Home Page</TITLE>

Try this one:

<TITLE>Smith Lodge: hiking fishing 

    horseback riding</TITLE>

This boosts the chance that your page will appear in any query for hiking, fishing, or horseback riding.

Be generous with your use of keywords. Most engines will allow you to enter titles of up to 70 characters. The downside of this is that very long page titles will be abbreviated under the "Back" or "Go" menus of your browser. As a result the title above might appear as "Smith Lod...riding." While this can be inconvenient for your site's visitors, the traffic boost you'll get is worth it.

Also, remember that you can use different keywords on different pages. This will increase your chance of matching different searches.

Note that some search engine tutorials say that the order of words within your title is also important, with words at the start of the title being given the greatest weight. So a title like this:

<TITLE>hiking fishing horseback 

   riding at Smith Lodge</TITLE>

would receive a better score for queries about hiking. While this may be true, it can make your page title hard to read. Remember that your page title will be listed in the search results. So, while it may boost your score, a title that lists nothing but a stream of keywords may be confusing and therefore less likely to be visited. We recommend identifying your site by name somewhere in your title.

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