How to Write Titles that Google Recognizes

Be aware that eight out of ten web surfers read headline copy as opposed to the two out of ten that read the rest of the article. So, your ability to write engaging titles that are relevant to your visitors equals an increased response rate. This in turn results in a better performance on Google. 

Let us put this in layman’s terms. A small business marketing campaign is all about precise words in small packages. Per word, titles are the biggest bang for your buck. If it captures a customer’s eye, your small business is much more likely to get a buy.

Getting Google to understand the relevancy of your titles is therefore critical to the success of your content on search engines. So, learn these simple tricks of the trade and get recognized and legitimized as a front runner in small business marketing.

What’s a Title – Technically Speaking

On every web page, you have a little code at the top of the document called your title tags. In a simple document, they’d look like this:

<html>

<title>Your Title Here</title>

</html>

If you had nothing else in your HTML document, here’s what would happen:

The title shows up at the top of the web browser, but also in the search results on Google. For any search result you click on, the title text of the search result is also the title text of the page you visit.

Shorter is Sweeter

Make magic with titles that are 64-70 characters max. The word choice should be basic yet powerful. Select each word carefully so that you lead surfers to click on your title. Remember that Google cuts off titles after 70 characters, so you get reduced to the dreaded "…" at the end. While Google might know the entire title, your readers won’t.

Keyword Sensitivity

Stuff your toes into a web surfer’s shoes. What keywords will initially enter his or her mind? How does he attempt to tread the flood of possible info? The keywords web surfers use to find you should be a part of your titles. A best practice to observe when writing page titles is "keyword phrase, brand." Alternatively, if you have a powerhouse brand, start with the brand and then use the keyword phrase. Using the keyword "nike shoes", notice how the folks over at Nike have organized their titles:

Keep in mind, though, that you probably do not want to stuff all of your blog titles with your brand name, since often your brand name will not be relevant to your post topics. In blogging, just try to focus each post on a single keyword phrase and make sure this keyword phrase is in the title.

Paint the Picasso

Painting a brilliant tidal of words that are right-on and relatable is part artistry and part stone cold logic. Creating a curiosity in web surfers so they choose your web page is key. Make your title informative, useful, unique while also ultra-specific and possibly even urgent. For instance, "Fantastic Free Business Apps Released in May 2012" packs a lot of information into a very short title. Anyone searching for the newest business apps will be much more likely to click on this title than one such as "Best Smart Phone Apps".

Keep it Real!

The title should be a microcasm of the entire page. Make sure the title is relevant! While you want to include a keyword phrase, never force a bunch of keywords into the title hoping to draw visitors. If they see your site isn’t offering what they are looking for, they will leave immediately. This results in a "bounce", which is the technical term for someone visiting your site and leaving within a few seconds.

Your title should never include more than a single keyword phrase. A keyword certainly helps Google better see your site. However, Google can also tell when your site does not provide the content that visitors need. Therefore, a relevant title is just as important as a keyword-specific title.

The Relevancy Data

The "bounce rate" of your site is important to Google, and you can be sure that Google is watching how well visitors sent to your site are reacting to your content. If visitors keep bouncing, Google will demote your site. In fact, if Google detects that you leave a site, they offer a "Block All…" option so you quit seeing results from that site. If you think Google doesn’t track the amount of "Block All…" clicks a site gets, you’re in for a big surprise.

The point in all of this is to take advantage of the power that titles give you to both capture readers and Google search results. Titles should be:

  • Technically correct
  • Under 70 characters
  • Keyword based
  • Attention grabbing
  • Page relevant – nothing more, nothing less

Keep to these guidelines and your titles are guaranteed to work hard for your website!

Tara Hornor

Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that provides business cards, catalogs, posters, brochures, promotional postcards, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.

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