Back to Basics: Optimizing Your Title Tag

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June 17, 2009

This post is a look back at the basics for those who may just be joining us (sorry analytics ninjas – you’ll have to wait for the next advanced, brain-swelling post on GA from John or Jonathan).

I am always surprised when I see a website that has the same title tag for every single page. Unfortunately, it’s more common than you may think. It seems to affect small businesses more frequently, but no website is immune.

What do I mean by the title tag, you ask? Simply put, it’s a title for the page that describes that page’s content. The title tag goes in the head section of the page’s HTML, and looks something like this:

<title>Increase Your Site’s Conversion Rate with Web Conversion Consulting</title>

OK, I see your eyes glazing over – that means you want real world examples, right? People see your title tag everyday in two main places – their web browser and in the search engine results:

Title tag appears in the top of your web browser...Title tag in search engine results

So what’s the big deal with the title tag? Of all of the things you can change on your website, changing the title tag will have the most impact on how high you rank for the keywords you’re targeting. It’s also what searchers look at when deciding which result to click on.

For sites that suffer from this affliction of title tag duplication, this is the easiest, quickest way to increase traffic to your site. We have a client (I won’t shame them in public) that had this problem, and after changing their titles on each page they saw a 60% increase in traffic from people searching for products and services related to their industry. Previously, the only traffic from search engines came when someone searched for their company name. That would be like Nike only showing up if someone searches for “Nike” and then after changing their title tags they suddenly start showing up for the search term “shoes.”

Content by Title reportBelieve it or not, there’s even a Google Analytics tie-in here. The title tag shows up in your GA in the “Content by Title” report.

If all of your titles are the same, you’ll not have much use for this report, because it will just show you all of the pageviews for your site lumped together under the same page title. But when your pages each have different titles, you can see the pageviews segmented by each page (by title, of course). You can basically get the same data by looking at the “Top Content” report, but that shows you the pages’ URLs instead of page titles, which isn’t nearly as pretty.

Jim Gianoglio is a Senior Analytics Consultant. He works with implementation, analysis and training of Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Before focusing on analytics, he led the SEO campaigns of Fortune 500 companies in the insurance, retail and CPG industries. Things you didn’t know about Jim: he’s biked from Pittsburgh to Washington DC in 41 hours, roasts coffee beans and has done voiceovers for TV commercials.

  • Edward

    Yes it is very much important to optimize your title tag and it is the only this that can guarantee great success to your site if it comes in the top 10 rankings with the title tag. Normally people are unaware of the fact of optimization of title tag and how it is done. The explanation given in this post is simply great and is worthy of going through it.

  • Gregory Norman

    Hey this article based on very good subject because same naming of web site it is really big problem to many web marketers as like me. i was also suffering from this problem.

  • Corné

    I agree that it is very much important optimize your title tag. I do miss the point that it is better to make your title no longer than 65 characters. The major search engines only shows 65 or 70 characters in the results. When you have your USP after the 65/70 characters, it might not be good for the CTR.

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