How to Write a Title Tag for Your Web Pages
Donald Nelson, copyright 2005
When it comes to search engine
optimization, the single most important sentence that you will
write for your website is the title tag of your main page. If
you write it properly then you will have taken a big step
towards getting your site well placed in search engine queries
for your important keywords.
Before I give you a step-by-step guide to writing title tags,
let’s define what they actually are and see why they are
important. When you look at a web page in your browser, the
writing in the blue strip above browser’s commands (file,
edit, view, etc.) is the title tag. On your actual html
document the title tag is in the head portion between the
notation <title> and </title> .
The title tag is important because it “tells” the search
engine what the page is about, and in the case of your main
page, what your website is all about. I remember back in my
school days that we used to take standardized examinations in
which we had to read a story and then answer the question:
“What would be the best title for this essay?” Choosing a
title tag is something like answering this kind of question.
You’ve got to pick out the gist of your enterprise and
highlight it in a sentence. So, take a look at your web page
and get ready to begin, following these steps:
1. Make sure your three or four most important keywords or
keyword phrases appear in the title tag.
The most important words should appear near the beginning of
the sentence, and they can be repeated within the sentence for
added emphasis. For example if I am offering low-cost web
design, then my title tag might look like this:<title> Web
Design: Affordable, Low Cost Web Design from the Acme Web
Design Company </title>
2. Leave your branding and sales pitch for another part of the
Although it is a natural tendency to want to put your company
name at the beginning of the title tag, you should remember
that unless you are very famous like Coca Cola, people are not
searching for you. So, put your most important keywords at the
front of the title tag, and establish your brand name with
your logo and other elements of the web page. If your company
name includes your keywords, like our hypothetical Acme Web
Design Company, then put it in the title tag, but not
necessarily at the beginning
Similarly, the title tag is no place for your sales pitch, so
keep out flowery or extraneous adjectives, unless they are
actual terms used in searches for your product or service.
3. Place your geographical or niche-defining term in your
If you are trying for a top ten or top twenty position for a
term such as “web design,” then you are really in for a
difficult struggle. However, suppose the Acme Web Design
Company is located in Columbus, Ohio. Then instead of
attempting the almost impossible task of getting the top
rankings for the term “web design,” it would be far better to
get a high ranking in the geographical niche using a title tag
such “Web Design, Columbus, Ohio: Low Cost Web Design in
Columbus, Ohio by The Acme Web Design Company”
4. The title tag can be longer than you think.
Some guidelines say that the title tag should be no longer
than 70 characters. It is true that only the first 70
characters will show in the top bar of the browser, but search
engine robots will read the rest of the tag and the search
engines will not penalize you for going over the 70 character
mark. Take a look at highly ranked sites in heavily
competitive categories and you will see examples of long title
tags. Write the tag according to your need to get your
important words and phrases included in a sentence that best
describes what your product or service is about.
5. Vary the title tags on the inner pages of your website.
Even with a long title tag, it is not possible to highlight
all the possible terms which someone might use to find your
website. This is not a problem if you make use of the other
pages of your website. Instead of simply having a title tag
that says “services” our web design firm could highlight “low
cost, web design services…” on that page. The “contact” page
could be used to emphasize the geographical location once
again, and so on. Many websites make the mistake of repeating
the same title tag on each of the inner pages of the site.
Avoid this and use each of your page’s titles to target
important keywords and keyword phrases.
So, take a look at your website’s title tags, and see if you
can improve them. The effort that you make will be well
Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has
been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the
director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com),
a firm providing low cost search engine optimization,
submission and web promotion services.