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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Most Common Web Site Mistake

Yesterday's Webinar with PRWeb and Vocus was a ton of fun. Based on the sheer volume of questions, I think it was received well. One question in particular kept coming up over and over again, I think prompted by one of my comments. I said, "The most common mistake I see when evaluating a web site is that the title tags for each page are things like, "Home" "About Us" "Contact Us" and similar.

This is a problem because search engines give the title tag more emphasis than many other on-page elements in determining what the page is about. So, how is the engine supposed to determine what the page is about when it is titled simply, "About Us"? Well, about who? Or What?

A properly constructed title tag should be relevant to the content on the page - specifically relevant (at the risk of sounding redundant). Here's what I mean...

If you are a landscaping service in Fairfax, VA, what would tell a search engine more about your home page - the title "Home" or the title "Landscaping Service in Fairfax, VA - Frank's Landscaping"? Which do you think is more descriptive?

Follow this line of reasoning for each page of your web site. But take it to the next step: don't just use a key phrase in your title you think makes sense - pick a key phrase that yo specifically want to target. To pick a key phrase, pick one that has higher traffic (number of searches per month) and lower competition (the number of pages containing the same phrase). To do this, use any one of many keyword tools out there like the Google keyword tool, Keyworddiscovery.com or the like.

Keyword research is a large topic to be covered by itself, here I just want to impress upon you that every page of your site should have a unique title that is specifically representative of the content on the page...like this:

Instead of About Us, use: "About Architecture Services in Arlington, VA - Frank's Architecture"
Instead of Contact Us, use: "Contact Frank's Landscaping Service in Fairfax, VA"
Instead of Services, use: "Information on Search Marketing Services - Search First, Gainesville, VA"

Lastly, the title tag should be kept relatively short - aim for around 60 characters with spaces, or fewer.

Really lastly, if your pages are ranking for your target keywords even though you don't have textbook optimized titles, you may not want to change them. My rule of thumb is this: If you are ranked in position 30 or above for your target key phrase, don't change your title! This may be counter productive. If you are worse than 30th position for your target keyphrase, changining your title won't hurt anything, since nobody sees your page anyway. :)

Hope this helps!

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