Improving Page Titles on your website is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to improve your on-site SEO. When looking at the websites of small businesses there are many that ignore the benefits an optimized Page Title can bring. But before we look at how to improve your Page Title, let’s take a look at the why.
When Google looks at and assesses your website, one of the first things it will see is the Page Title and META Description. A Page Title is what you see in your browser tab when on the page of a website and the main blue underlined text in a Google search result. The META Description is the snippet of text that is underneath the blue underlined text.
Before going through some examples, it’s important to understand what potential customers or website visitors are searching for, and the intent behind these searches. This understanding will allow you to match up those search keywords with the content on your website, and understand content gaps and areas of opportunity. You can also use those search terms in your Page Titles as you think about improving your onsite SEO.
How You Should Think About Page Titles and META Descriptions
I think about Page Titles and META Descriptions in two different ways. Page Titles influence the search engines and META Descriptions influence the person searching.
A Page Title should include the search terms that are relative to the content on the page. However, it should also make sense to a person who reads the search result. Just including search terms or keywords in your Page Title is known as keyword stuffing. This used to be an old SEO strategy that was effective, but since Google has emphasized focus on the user experience, your optimization efforts should be to improve that experience, which includes a Page Title that makes sense to anyone reading it.
An example of a keyword stuffed Page Title would be:
Dog Walking, Dog Training, Dog Toys, Dog Leashes, Dog Washing | DogWebsite.com
The Page Title of a Homepage is an opportunity to be a little more broad, and include the most important search terms. This is because generally speaking, the homepage of a website is the most authoritative, and will mostly contain more wide ranging content.
You should think about the Descriptions as opportunities to increase click through. A good META Description should be action-oriented and encourage the person searching to click through to your website. I like to include verbs in my descriptions to encourage an action.
Page Titles and Meta Description Examples
I’m going to use a local dog training center (where we take our 80lb Great Pyrenees mix, Arthur) to highlight some SEO examples.
On the homepage of the website, the Page Title is:
Nashville Tail Blazers
This is something I see a lot, where only the business or brand name is included in the homepage of a website. This is missing an opportunity to include the main service or purpose of the website. In looking at the site, the main service is dog training, with other supplementary services such as dog grooming, social play, and in-home services. So that being said, I would recommend they change the Page Title to:
Dog Training and Socialization Services | Nashville Tail Blazers
I like to have the pipe character as a separator between the first part of the Page Title and the latter part, which should include the brand name.
Let’s take a look at the META Description:
All services are custom to you and your dog’s needs and provide a foundation based on trust and cooperation using force-free, science-backed methods.
This is actually not too bad. It explains what the website is about, and provides context on the dog training services offered. What it doesn’t do though is provide an incentive or reason for a person to click on the result.
A more well-rounded META Description would be something like the following:
Looking for dog training services that are customized to you and your dog’s needs? Our methods are science-back and based on trust and cooperation.
This description prompts a potential customer for a reaction (a click through), and still provides the information the business wants to show.
When optimizing a Page Title and Description for internal pages you can be much more specific, but as mentioned above, the Page Title, Description, and content on the page should all be relevant to each other. This portrays a level of context and helps reinforce what the page is about.
In looking at the ‘What We Do’ page for Nashville Tail Blazers, the Page Title lacks the main search term, Dog Training, so it’s a simple fix.
The current version is:
Training – Nashville Tail Blazers
I would recommend it be updated to:
Dog Training Services | Nashville Tail Blazers
There is no META Description for this page, so when none is provided, Google will create one from the content on the page. When this happens the description is pulled from the content on the page and is often truncated (not a complete sentence).
A good Description for this page would be something like the following:
Are you interested in training for your dog that is based around positive reinforcement and science-backed methods? Schedule an in-home consultation today!
The keen eyed amongst you reading this will have noticed that I did not include any kind of localization in my updated Page Titles. This is because the business name already has the locale in it, so there’s no need to be repetitive and include it again. I also want to point out that the pipe character I used is personal preference, a dash is also commonly used as a separator.
Many content management systems out of the box use the title of the page as the Page Title. This is a default setting and is worth noting as you go through and review the Titles and Descriptions on your own website.
Using optimized Page Titles and Descriptions can definitely improve your performance in search engines and should be treated as a must-do if you haven’t already. However, this is just one element of SEO, and should be included as part of a holistic SEO strategy for true optimal performance.
Hopefully this post has helped you think about how you can update your own website and progress on the way to SEO success!