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  SEO Question: The HTML Title

The HTML title tag is of particular interest to those of us looking to improve our landing page's search engine rankings. This is the text that is usually found on the top of the browser window or browser tab that identifies, or labels the web page in your web browser. As you might expect, it is particularly important to properly utilize your selected keywords in the page's title tag of your web page; not doing so will lower your page's search engine rankings as the search engines generally look to this page attribute to help it (and you, the searcher) understand what your web page is about.

In most web browsers you can go to the View menu, then select View Source. You'll see your web page's raw HTML code and toward the top of the page you can see the <title> tag.

Screen shot from View: Page Source, showing the page's title tag

the html title tag: optimize and improve your SEO

<title>SEO Questions Answered: The HTML Title</title>

The above code is the actual HTML code that you'll use to build your web page's title tag (don't forget to place it inside of the <head> tags). As mentioned above the title tag is read by search engines to provide a brief headline for the web page. The correct usage and inclusion of your selected keywords will help elevate your page ranking in the search results of the major search engines.



How many words should I use in my html title tag?
Answer: It depends.
Some "SEO Experts" will tell you that you should have (some random number) of words appear in your title tag. Here's the truth: The number of words that should appear in your title tags is not at all random; it's a very specific number and it's based on the keyword(s) you're pursuing, your competition, the activity of search for those keyword(s) and a few other things as well. So how do you know how many words you should use in building your title tag? Do SEO With Data and find out.

How many times should my keyword(s) appear in my html title tag?
Answer: Again, it depends.
By researching the data surrounding your keywords, your competition, the number of searches for those keywords and a few other pieces of data you'll get an exact amount of times your keyword(s) should be present in your title tag.

Should my html title tag only include my targeted keywords?
Answer: ...maybe.
Once again, we do the research needed to determine the exact amount of times your keyword(s) should be included in your title tag.

There's a lot of frustration surrounding SEO rules, standards and best practices. Many will make claims that are seemingly viable but ultimately unsupported; perhaps a change to a different HTML page element helped to boost a page's rank on the search engines but ultimately was the result of a combination of other factors. The fact of the matter may not always be simple but it is usually direct - follow the numbers of the SEO data for your selected keywords, your competition and the activity of searches for your keywords. There's too much data available to not use in your favor and gain a superior position in the search engine results pages for your landing pages! 

SEO With Data

Every day we research our clients' keywords and provide:

  • The number of times the keyword(s) were previously searched for
  • The number of web sites currently competing for those same keyword(s)
  • The exact amount of words that should be used inside of the title tag
  • The precise number of instances that your keyword(s) should be included inside of your title tag

Some folks have actually contacted us with comments like, "... isn't this a little excessive? You're telling me I need to capture this data about my keywords EVERY DAY?"

Our response: "Absolutely."

Every day the Google-bots are scouring the internet looking at web sites and specifically, they're reading landing pages just like yours. But they're constantly collecting data about your competition and how popular each of your competitor's landing pages' have become. So it's natural when your competitor's landing pages achieve their high ranking that the Google-bots carefully look at exactly how their web pages are constructed and how often they used the keywords in their page's title tags. It's a slippery slope; Google doesn't necessarily dictate the terms or rules about how you should build your web pages to rank highest among your competition, but they do report on just how your competition did it, showing you why your competition's landing page is currently ranking higher than yours.

Why Every Day?

Over time (remember, internet time is measured in milliseconds) your competition's page ranking may increase or decrease. Let's say your keywords represent a timely, trendy topic - perhaps this is a newsworthy event or  popular water-cooler conversation.  This may lure many other web sites to build out landing pages for the same keywords your landing page contains and now suddenly your competition has increased. This is one of the typical scenarios that lead many a Search Engine Optimizer to waking up one morning to discover that their landing page which had ranked at number 3 the day before is now ranked in the 40's or 50's, or even worse. Lesson learned; just because your landing page has been optimized and ranked by the search engines at or near the top of all other web pages doesn't mean it will remain there. Hence, the need for daily checking and research.

Your competition is only one part of the SEO equation. On the other side of the math lies the number of times users are searching for your keywords. It simply doesn't make sense to rank highly for unpopular keywords - you need to pursue popular keywords with as little competition as possible. You should know exactly how many words and how many keywords need to be present in your title tags, and you should track this data daily if you want to rank at the top of the search engine results pages.

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