Did you know that there’s one thing that you could do quickly and easily to improve your SEO?
It’s not going to make your site jump to the first page of Google, unfortunately (nothing but good content and links back to your site will do that).
However, it is an SEO best practice.
It’s also one mistake that I see business owners make time and again on their sites.
Here it is:
Put a relevant keyword at the beginning of your page title.
Let’s take a look at exactly what the page title is and why having a good keyword in there helps your SEO.
Why the Page Title is Important for SEO
Take a look at your website and look at the title of the page. You’ll find it at the top of your browser, and it will most likely have your business name. What do you see? If you see only your business name and nothing else, you’re missing an opportunity.
The search engines use algorithms to decide what websites to show in their search results. While the algorithm itself is a closely guarded secret, we do know that the keywords used in the page title are an important factor. In effect, the page title is prime real estate when it comes to the search engines!
This makes complete sense if you think about it for a moment. When a search engine is trying to figure out what a page is about, it looks to the words in the title of that page for clues. The assumption is that the title of the page will reflect what the page is about. By using keywords in your page titles, you will be sending an important signal to the search engines, which will in turn help them to know when to show your page in search results.
For a live example of this, take a look at how one of the pros use the keyword in the page titles of his website. The image below is from Backlinko, one of the leading SEO sites. Note that the website name does not appear at the beginning of the website title.
In general, the keyword that you are targeting should show up at the beginning of the page title with the business name listed afterwards. The standard website title format for SEO is “Keyword phrase | Business name.”
One thing to note is that you shouldn’t “stuff” a long list of keywords into the page title.
Not only is this not helpful for the user, but it’s also frowned upon by the search engines (especially Google, which is increasingly cracking down on sites that stuff keywords without providing good content).
How Can I Optimize My Page Titles?
Fortunately, fixing this is quite easy:
- Think beyond your business name. You already rank for it. For example, if you’re a non-profit consultant and your business name is “Acme Consulting,” you’ll already show up in search results when people search for “Acme Consulting.”
- Think about what keywords someone would type into a search engine to find your business if they didn’t know your business name. For example, they might search for “non-profit consultant Oakland” or “non-profit consultant fundraising.” To do this effectively, you’ll need to put yourself in the mind of your ideal client and think about what he or she is looking for.
- Go through your website and review each page. Identify the purpose for each page.
- Think of keywords that might be used to reflect what the page is about. For example, if you’re a non-profit consultant, you might want to have “non-profit consulting” as part of your page title. If you have Google Analytics set up on your site (which you absolutely should have!), you can use that to look for potential keywords. When identifying keywords, select words and phrases in the content of your website that someone is most likely to use when searching for you.
- Identify the keywords that you want to use for each page.
- Enter those into your website. If you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Yoast will work. If you’re not sure how to do it, ask your web developer.
- The page title is very important. It should be relevant, 70 characters or less and different on every page within the website. Titles longer than 70 characters don’t fit completely into the results page. Shorter titles look better. Avoid using titles like “HOME,” “ABOUT” or in the case of lazy web designers, “TITLE GOES HERE.” Those are lost opportunities. The title should be relevant to the content. Remember that search engines list pages, not websites, so use a different title for each page within your website.
To identify the best possible keywords to use will actually take a bit of work as there are many considerations such as how much competition there is for a specific search term.
However, if you at least make sure that you have a relevant keyword phrase in your page title, you will be ahead of your competitors! A page title that says “Non-profit Consulting in Oakland | Acme Consulting” will be much more likely to rank for the term “non-profit consulting oakland” than one that just says “Acme Consulting.”