Data Driven Business

10 years ago
How Abe Lincoln Would Do SEO

If Abe was a Search engine optimization specialist (or SEO) I bet he’d do it differently than most companies do today. It’s not about gaming the system, it’s about adding value and helping people make a decision. 

I first wrote about this around 2004, but it’s still relevant today. The data tells us it’s still as important as ever. By changing one simple thing across a 1000-page website, we recently tripled visits and doubled conversion rates for one of our clients across SEO traffic.

Here I’ll focus on one part of a page SEO that’s often overlooked by the techies who work on your websites.

The Title Tag

The title tag is an element in the header part of an HTML page denoted by two <title></title> tags. For instanc,e you might have <title> Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion</title>. That would mean that the title would read (as a link on search engines like Google for instance “Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion”.

I’ve seen title tags with “Company name” (and nothing else) where company name is actually as it was written, not the name of the company which is nearly as bad. I’ve seen “home page”, “welcome”, “just another wordpress website” and many other pointless uses of a title tag.

Ideally, a title should be 64 characters or less according to W3C. If they’re longer, then they may be truncated. Search engines show about 64-70 characters in their search results listing, so I would suggest that you bear this limit in mind when writing the contents of your title tags.  

Why? Well think about how titles are used. 

1) Titles are used by website resource librarians, directory editors (such as DMOZ), and other webmasters (such as strategic link partners) when they link to your website.

2) The title is displayed in search results by search engines to help you target and attract your visitors. It’s the “ad” in organic search so having “welcome” or “home page” is hardly going to tempt me to click it.

3) Nearly all the major search engines use a title tag to help rank your page. Search engines deem the title one of the most important pieces of information when determining what the content of your website is.

4) The title is displayed in the visitor browser window usually at the top of the viewable part of the browser screen or on the browser tab.

Browser screens. Search results. Editors. Why is this important?

Firstly, by carefully crafting your website title, you make it more accessible to resource librarians, editors and webmasters. If you have a nice simple title link they can add to their pages – one that’s both relevant and understandable –  then they’re far more likely to link to your website. If they link to your website using a hyperlinked title relevant to your target audience, you’re rewarded with targeted traffic simply for writing a good title tag. And more relevant traffic means much higher conversion.

Secondly, if Google crawls your website and finds that the title tags you´ve written are relevant to the page on which they are written, you’ll have a slightly better chance of achieving a good ranking on the engines. And a good ranking on the engines for your selected keywords means you´re more likely to be found by your target audience. This again means that you attract the right people to your website…people who are looking to buy your product or service. The title tag becomes your search engine listing.

Think of it this way: When you pay Google for a pay-per-click ad, you spend ages thinking about the headline of the ad. It’s what drives all the clicks. The title tag of your ordinary page is the same for organic search results.

Thirdly, the browser window is affected by the title and it´s convenient for the visitor to your page. How many times have you had five or six Internet browser tabs open? A good title tag means that a quick scan of these titles shows the reader which page is which. The first couple of words in the title — it could be argued for this reason alone — is the most important copy you will ever write for a web page you want to be read.

In summary…

You want your web page to be read by your desired audience.

That´s all. Your title tag is the first step toward achieving that goal.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you have eight hours to chop down a tree, spend 6 hours sharpening your axe.” The title tag is your web pages axe, it´s the part you should refine so that you get the most from the search engines. Of course there’s more to SEO and website conversion than simply the title tag, but this is what gets you the first click. Without it you can’t convert anyone.

By: Steve Jackson, CEO, Quru

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