Cleaning up the Internet... One Title Tag at a Time.
Patricia Brusha ~ co-founder of A Couple of Chicks
Tuesday, 18th July 2006
A Couple of Chicks bring Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing back to basics with a review of the title tag and what it means to e-marketers.

The importance, as well as the understanding of the title tag still remains one of the most popular segments of "A Couple of Chicks" e-marketing workshops. With all the buzz about "Web 2.0", emerging trends such as RSS & Blogging and the "New Social Media", I am still amazed at how many people do not realize the significance of their website's title tags.

Between the Online Revealed Canada Conference, and a four day road trip of e-marketing workshops for Travel Alberta, the Chicks have spent the last month spreading the word about the value of title tags. It actually amazes me how many people still do not realize the impact properly written title tags have on both search engine ranking as well consumer visibility. Now don't get me wrong, Search Engine Optimization] (SEO) has become a common part of our vocabulary and it's not as if this was the first time a title tag was defined for an audience. I just find it amazing that of all of the dollars being spent in traditional and online marketing that the need for basic search engine optimization is still an afterthought to many website owners.

It seems to me that the disconnect is in the integration of unique web page titles as an intricate part your e-marketing strategy.

Let's start at the beginning and bring it back to basics.

Each page of your website has a title identifying the content on the page. The title "tag" interprets for the search engines the most relevant information on the page as search engines do not "read" text or graphics on the page. Search engines rely on an accurate page title because without reading the content they are able to measure your content against the title. This provides a search engine with the intelligence to determine if the page is worthy to be returned to a consumer during a search for a specific keyword phrase.

Writing for two audiences.

Your title is equally as important for the consumer as it is the first glimpse they will have of your website after completing a search. If you want an example of bad title tags, go to any search engine and search for anything. Look down the page and see how many titles make sense and provide you with a "headline" as to what you will find on the page when you click through.

During our e-Marketing workshops we bring up live examples from the audience on the screen and even the savviest of web marketers are shocked to see what their title tags actually look like. I am amazed at how many people relinquish control of their "free search engine real estate" to a company or individual who has no idea of the value of writing relevant titles.

Workshop participants line up session after session asking us to give our opinion on their title tags, as most are so focused on their overall e-marketing strategy; they forgot or didn't realize how important this first step is. I truly believe most people just assume their web pages have been titled correctly by their developer, programmer or agency, without realizing that they can control that message.

The art of writing tags.

Like any language, search engines have rules regarding the acceptance of title tag writing. Just as there are proper ways to write in English or French, titles have to follow certain guidelines to be effective. Search Engines only allow a limited amount of characters before they cut off part of your title. If they are stuffed with keywords, they do not make any sense to the consumer reading them. Where the majority of the titles need to be an accurate description of the content on the page, most people do not realize the freedom they have to use this space as a call to action for their target audience.

Most Common error.

I have found that many web pages have been titled by the web designer, who may know a lot about creating beautiful websites but are not educated in website optimization. Designers tend to title each page beginning with the "Company name" followed by a one word description of the page content such as, "Company Name Home", "Company Name Accommodation", "Company Name Contact Us", etc.

It is a common misconception that each page of your website needs to include your company name. The reality of this is you should be ranked well for your name as it will appear in your tags numerous times. Also, if people know who you are, they may most likely just type in your URL. The key to capturing new demand to your website is the ability to be found for keywords and phrases beyond your name.

How does website content and consumer usability fit into this puzzle?

Once you have scrutinized your title tags and cleaned them up, you have now provided both the search engines and the consumer an expectation of finding content that matches the title. Your responsibility as an e-marketer is to insure there is a consistent message and an easy path from title to transaction. Remembering that most people do not read on the web, they scan. Beginning with the title, ideahatching.com [search behavior] indicates consumers want to forage ahead to achieve their goal with minimal noise and distraction along the way.

Don't underestimate the power of a good title, as they say you only have one chance to make a first impression!

Patricia Brusha is the co-founder of "A Couple of Chicks," an Internet Marketing, e-Distribution & Revenue Measurement Company. The "Chicks" specialize in using Creative, Distribution and Technology to bring clarity to marketing on-line.

To find out more about A Couple of Chicks Marketing and the tools and services available, visit www.acoupleofchicks.com
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