Not everyone can be a search engine optimization master. SEO takes a long time to understand, and to top it off the best practices often change. Google and other search engines are always improving their algorithms to better serve the searcher, and web developers and business owners like you and I have to keep improving our sites to stay on top of search results for our chosen keywords.
We get quite a few questions every month about how to write page titles which conform to SEO standards and help a page rank for certain keywords. In light of that, let’s take a look at a few tips we’ve gathered and be sure to contact us with any questions of your own!
1. Understand Yourself and Your Searcher
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu
I think Sun Tzu, ancient Chinese military strategist, said it best. If you don’t know yourself and your enemy, it’s a lost cause, but if you truly understand, you’re well on your way to victory.
Now, I’m not saying searchers are the enemies of businesses and digital marketers, but it is important to really know the intent of the searcher when they are coming to your website, and to really know what benefits your service or product offers and not just the features.
Take for example the following page title examples:
When someone types ‘Pizza’ into a search engine, they’re probably not looking for a specific place, otherwise they would have just types the name of the business in. So general keywords like this are your opportunity to shine and grab a customer by the collar!
Two Boots Pizza really didn’t get the memo on this, as the page title simply states the name of the business and nothing further. But Happy’s Pizza at least tries to grab attention with “The Best Pizza In Town” immediately following the business name. While not necessarily the most well crafted tagline around, if the customer were given only these two page titles to choose from when ordering pizza, it’s no contest.
2. Make It Mechanically Sound
When I say you should make your title mechanically sound, I mean exactly that. When someone builds a boat, they need to make sure it floats before they spend time decorating it. The same goes for your page title.
Google and other search engines only show a certain amount of the title text in any given search result, whether on a computer, tablet or mobile. Generally, we suggest keeping a title length in between 40-65 characters (including spaces), as this gives wiggle room for when certain characters are a few pixels wider than others. Once you know how many characters you really have to work with, then you can start crafting your title.
3. Know Your Keywords
Next SEO tip: know your keywords. A digital marketing company like us can really help you out and make sure you’re using the best keywords for ranking your business, but if you don’t have access to someone like us or choose not to work with a digital marketing firm for some reason, a good way to start is to log into your Google Analytics account (I hope you have one, if not, you just need a Gmail address). From there, there are keyword tools which can help you determine what keywords might be best for your specific business. If you need help with this section, I do recommend you contact a digital marketing firm like ours for expert assistance.
4. When Appropriate, Make It Local
When it comes to page titles, certain pages have different functions than others. For instance, Happy’s Pizza may want to make a page to market specifically to their customers in Brooklyn, NY. My suggestion would be a page title like this:
Happy’s Pizza | Brooklyn Pizza Parlor | Original New York-Style Pizza
If Happy’s Pizza opened a location in Memphis, TN, they might want something more like this:
Happy’s Pizza | Memphis, TN Pizza | Authentic New York-Style Pizza
Each of these pages references the local city, and hits on what the searcher may be looking for. In Brooklyn, it may be a return to the original pizza of the area, while Memphis searchers may be looking for something different than they can find locally – an authentic, New York slice.
Finally, the most important SEO tip I can give is to execute. Do it. Make that page, because if it doesn’t get made, there is no way it can rank. This goes for your content, your ads, anything.
Make a decision and let it ride for a while and see how it goes. If after a month or two the title doesn’t seem to fit anymore or you’re having a hard time ranking or getting people to click on it, it may be time to change it up a bit.
The most important thing is to do it, and have fun. And let us know if you need any additional SEO help or tips, we’re always just a phone call or email away.