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Saturday, July 07, 2007

SEO 101: Should I Use My Business Name in the Title Tag?

The html title tag of a web page's html header is the single most important "on page" element when it comes to search engine optimization. That being said, is the best use of this valuable real estate served by including your business name in the title? Chances are the answer is a resounding "no!"

The title tag is an html tag which occurs in the header of a web page's code. The first thing I look at when I get a call from a prospective client is their title tag. More often than not, this tag is being used improperly, to the extreme detriment of the client.

Recently SEOMOZ.org released its rankings of the ten most important factors in search engine rankings. The title tag came in at number 1, and this is no surprise to any SEO that has been around for awhile. Google especially pays a lot of attention to title tag content, and uses title tag information heavily to ascertain the relevant keyphrases for which to rank a site. The opinion of search engine experts is unanimous on this one - keyphrase use in the title tag is the number one "on page" factor affecting search engine rankings. This is not disputed, theorized or subject to professional debate. It is a fact.

Given this fact, we must look at how to best use the title tag to optimize our site for search engines. Many sites place the business name in the title tag (or even worse yet leave it blank or with default content such as "untitled document" or "home page"). Any of these variations can be disastrous!

Let's use an example of a company that manufactures widgets. The primary keyphrase for that company would be "widgets", this being the phrase for which the company would like to rank highly for in the search engines. Now let's assume the company name is "ACME Manufacturing Company, Ltd.". Notice that the word "widgets", which is the desired keyphrase, is not extant in the company name.

So the company goes out and builds a wonderful web site to promote their widgets. However, throughout the site the title tag contains the following content: "ACME Manufacturing Company, Ltd." What is the effect of this?

First off, the effect of this is that the site will likely rank highly for the search query "ACME Manufacturing Company, Ltd.". The problem is that nobody is searching for the company name, they are searching for widgets. So all of ACME's competition shows up in the search engines for a widget query, but poor ACME is nowhere to be found. How do we help ACME rank highly for the search query "widgets"? We must optimize the title tag for the search engines by replacing the current title tag content with the desired search query: "widgets".

Generally speaking, the company name should never appear in the title tag unless you actually expect to derive most of your traffic from searches involving your company name. As this is a rare situation, avoid the temptation to put your company name in the title tag - save it for elsewhere on your page. Put your desired search keyphrases in the title tag, and leave it at that.

Following this methodology throughout your site by optimizing title tag content for each page according to the desired search query for that page will be a major step in the right direction for high search engine rankings.

About the Author: Matt Foster is the President of ArteWorks SEO, a top 5 search engine optimization company in the world. For more information on search engine optimization, please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.


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