Titles: Focus on the Customer

When it comes to the way you format your title tags, there really isn’t a “right way” to do it. With that being said, in order to be effective, your title must encourage clicks and follow some basic rules and style guides. These will be presented and explained in this series.

Today’s topic:

Write your titles for the user first

Titles serve two main functions: they tell search engine spiders what your site is about, and they serve as an introduction to potential visitors. If the title doesn’t look useful or compelling, those visitors will never move beyond the “potential” phase. The number one thing to keep in mind when crafting your page titles is user experience! If you get that right, search engine indexing will almost always work itself out. Even Google thinks so.

Always write for a good user experience

As Google crawls your site, it looks for words and phrases to indicate what each page is about, then indexes that page accordingly. The entire goal is to return the most relevant results possible for any given query. (Or is it?) The title, logically, is one of the most heavily weighted bits of data on any page. It’s your chance to tell the spider what you believe is important about the page. Once the page is indexed, the search engine part of the equation is pretty much done. (Of course your site is crawled regularly to keep results up to date.)

At this point the title’s job description changes. Not only does it need to convey an idea of what can be found on the site, it has to do so in a way that garners clicks from those who read it. Recall from last week that the title appears as the headline on the SERPs, and it’s the default anchor text for links shared on social networks. People who see your title in either of these places will very likely make the decision of whether or not to click based on the title. Most of the guidelines in the following posts are geared toward making your title work for people, not crawlers. It doesn’t matter how well you rank if no one ever clicks.