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How to increase your ROI with powerful title tags

November 18, 2003

Some of you probably know that the majority of search engines today place a considerable importance on the HTML title tag, making it one of the most important tag on all the pages of your website. It is safe to assume that you also probably know that title tags appear in the search results for most of the major search engines such as Google and AltaVista and even large search directories such as Yahoo, making the title tag even more important.

So, in order to properly answer the question, "How do we write title tags?" in this article, I will attempt to address this question by showing examples of how it is effectively being done. Knowing how to write powerful, descriptive title tags will make a big improvement in the quality and quantity of traffic that the search engines will refer to your website, plus it will also help your users get a better idea of what your site offers.

To better illustrate the point I want to make, let's take a look at some sample search results from Google, Yahoo and AltaVista or just about any major search engine that comes to your mind. In a search for "affordable computer training" in one of the major engines, here are some of the titles from the top ten results:

No. 1: NOW Save Over £3,000 on MCSE, MCDBA, MCSA, MOS/XP


No. 3: Untitled

The question I will ask you is this: do any of those titles appeal to you? Are you tempted to click on any of these three top results? Also, notice that the first example has a lot of technical abbreviations that, to the uninformed, might be totally irrelevant and would probably not inspire much confidence in visiting that website.

The second example is simply a listing of capitalized keywords, which isn't as easy to read, plus it fails to tell you much either.

The third example is even worse because it isn't even using any title tag at all, which is why Google has listed it as "untitled." Untitled means just that- there is NO title, period!

Instead, let's assume that the next three titles on the page were:

No. 4: Does your computer training program offer all what you need?

No. 5: Put an end to high computer training courses

No. 6: We guarantee fast results within 60 days or your money back

Would you skip over the first three listed titles to visit one of the titles above instead? The important point I want to make here is, if your title tag is more effective than sites that are actually above you in the ranking, you could easily get that traffic anyway, simply because your title tag is much more descriptive and more relevant than the sites above you. As you can see here, being number One is not always what it may seem at first glance.

Being number One is great if you can get it, but your title needs to be descriptive and enticing at the same time in order to get clicked on.

Practical tips in writing powerful title tags
We will look at some practical tips for creating powerful title tags, and then some very common mistakes site designers do that will cause your site to be disregarded in the search results.

A- Always make use of the power of questions when creating new title tags or when modifying old ones. Realize that, when you ask a question, you are effectively forcing the user to stop and mentally answer that question, which largely increases your chances at a visit to YOUR site.

B- Always try to use enticing words in your title tags, words that will effectively lure the user into visiting your site instead of your competitors. Examples of powerful words to use are: incredible, announcing , breakthrough, how-to & revealing.

C- Always "process" title tags as if they are real-life advertisements for your website. You should always write them short, easy to read and they have to "get to the point" fast.

D- Always try to use your most important keyword or key phrase at the very beginning of your title tag, but the trick here is to use the phrase in a way that will pull in the targeted traffic you need.

E- Try to write your title tag in a way that makes your user believe that your website will truly solve a specific problem or help them in a specific way.

F- Always create a feeling of urgency in your title tags if at all possible. In a way, it is a call to action: you want them to click on the link so they will get to your website.

G- It is absolutely imperative that you use a different title tag on each and every individual page of your site. This is where many people make a big mistake by using the same title tag over and over again on all their pages and then wonder how come their site won't rank well in the search engines! Also, you should always make sure that the title tag is the very first tag on your page, meaning you should always place it above all the rest of your meta tags and description tags.

H- Always begin your title tag with a capital letter and then follow with all lower-case letters. The simple reason is that it's much easier to read than titles with every word capitalized, not to mention that it also looks better to most people.

Five most common errors made when writing title tags
1) Some people write dull and un-descriptive title tags. Instead, try to spend a few extra minutes creating an effective "sales pitch" for your website.

2) A lot of people use just a series of keywords in their title tags. First, it makes it harder to read and some will tell you that it's unprofessional. There are even some search engines that might cringe a bit if they happen to see that, so I recommend that you stay on the safe side.

3) If at all possible, try not to use complicated words or phrases that are "too technical" in your title tags, unless your company manufactures or sells very complex tools or machinery and your average user doing a search query expects this sort of technical description.

4) Never use your keyword or key phrase more than once in your title tag. Besides, some search engines could penalize you for doing this at some point in time, so again, better be safe than sorry.

5) Never use deceptive tactics when creating titles in an effort to get to the top of the rankings. For example, never add "AAA" or "!!!" or "$$$" at the very beginning of your title tag, in an attempt to get higher in the ranking or alphabetical order. From experience, I can promise you that such techniques do NOT work and might even put you in trouble at some point in time. Contrary to what many believe, it won't help you at all with the search engines and there are even certain editors at some of the major directories that will not tolerate these techniques in the first place.

And, oh yes: Don't use your company name in your title tag unless you use your important keyword or key phrase as well.

If you always create your title tags in such a descriptive way that they will truly serve as a powerful online marketing campaign for your site, you should always get good and targeted traffic to your site.

You should always remember this very important point: a well-written and effective title tag can effectively compensate for a lower search engine ranking. Invest a bit more of your time on your title tags and it should eventually reward you in a substantial increase in traffic to your site, an increase in quality, as well as a corresponding increase in your ROI.

Article written by Serge Thibodeau,
President & CEO,
Rank for $ales
Copyright (c) Serge Thibodeau 2003

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