The title tag of your site is crucial to being found by Google. In fact, it may be one of the most important functions available… and it is the most commonly messed up by business owners.  There are two parts to a title tag, and you should get comfortable in handling them both. One part is the part at the beginning that is easily visible to the customer/user when they first access your site.  It is that word or words that appear in the browser window tab.  For example, when you go to WholeFoods.com, you see “Whole Foods….” In your browser tab, or a part of it, depending upon how many tabs you have open. It is good to have a message that clearly identifies the site as the one they think they are supposed to be on, so be sure to have your company name (or website name) right at the beginning.  That’s the first part of the title tag.

The second part of the title tag is what comes AFTER the easily visible part.  Many websites use the “|” symbol to split the name into two parts. It’s the part AFTER that symbol that works phenomenally well for seonomy purposes, and doesn’t mess up your branding in the least. If you hover over the tab for Whole Foods, you will see the full title tag actually reads, “Whole Foods Market | Whole Foods Market”.  That’s their home page, so they want to make sure that Google sees that business name reflected in their page title. When Google is hunting for pages, it will first look for a relevant page title that matches the search. Doesn’t that just make sense?  It’s like the sheriff being on the lookout for a car with Georgia tags.  The letters and numbers don’t make much difference if it’s not a Georgia tag, so he’s going to look for peaches on the plate.

If you click on a link on the Whole Foods site, however, you will discover that the title tags change. Instead of “Whole Foods Market | Whole Foods Market”, you see something like “Healthy Eating | Whole Foods Market”.  My personal opinion is that for small businesses with less custom branding in their sites, it is probably better to make sure your site visitors are sure they haven’t left your site. The point is, this particular feature of a website can look absolutely consistent to your site visitors, but at the same time allow you to use your SEO key words where they matter most.

Getting back to our bike shop example, the page title for the home page should probably read, “Tom’s Bicycle Store | Bicycle for Sale”.  Of course, I am assuming that Tom will actually have a bicycle for sale on his home page… preferably several.  If not, then he should reserve that particular title tag for a page where people will land and find the bicycles he has for sale.  Remember, your home page does not have to be the first page every visitor sees.  Get over the idea that everybody will come to your site through the front door.  Every page needs to be designed so that it engages visitors and moves them through your Desired Site Process (DSP).

Get over the idea that everybody will come to your site through the front door.  Every page needs to be designed so that it engages visitors and moves them through your Desired Site Process (DSP).

Don’t cram this title tag with every key word you think you want. Keep it simple, and get into the habit of changing the title tags to match specific pages.  If you have new and used bikes, for example, don’t put “Tom’s Bicycle Store | New and Used Bicycles for Sale” as the title.  Google prefers exact phrase matches FIRST, and the title listed above will NOT give a high ranking for “New Bicycles for Sale”, because that isn’t what it says. “Used bicycles for sale” will come up, but not until it stumbles past the “New and” part.  So, break your bikes up into two categories, and show them on separate pages with one page titled “New Bicycles for Sale” and the other “Used Bicycles for Sale”.