But what is the balance between search engine optimizing (and targeting the search engines) and preserving your user experience for your actual users who are People, not Machines?
+Terri Voltz in the Social Media Professionals community got us into a animated discussion regarding Title tag best practices within a web page or web site.
Quick background: The title tag is the text that top text that describes an online document, and perhaps the single most important page element. It is the "title" that you see at the top of your web browser when you are visiting the web page, it is the text that is often shown to you in your bookmarks when you bookmark the page, it is the title shown in search results when you Google something, and it is the descriptive title when someone shares your content (such as via Facebook or Google+).
It is also the most important piece of information from a search engine perspective, as it is supposed to give the search engine a good indicator of what content is on that page. (for a quick primer read this SEOMoz article).
When we create the page titles for our projects, we like to follow the following format:
Company name | tagline (on homepage)
Company name | page title (on interior static pages)
Page title | company name (on blog posts)
We like this setup for a number of reasons:
- You've invested in your brand, so your homepage should put that brand first. Adding your tag line after your brand is a good way to get your main key words/phrases into your page title for your homepage.
- Interior static pages typically have short or to-the-point page titles, so keeping this format keeps it tidy.
- Your blog posts will have interesting titles, full of key words and phrases that should allow them to stand by themselves (they'll likely get shared out of the greater context of your site), hence the page titles should lead with those post titles.
SEO is a concern, but obviously not the primary concern. We don't believe in keyword stuffing or other techniques that might get someone higher up in the search results (at least temporarily). But we also find it interesting seeing what others might do...
|A sample search result page for "SEO company Montreal"|
Just as an example we ran a search in DuckDuckGo for "SEO company Montreal" and low and behold, almost all of the results were the same! It's not until Result #6 that you see a realistic company brand even mentioned in the titles (Wakonda Marketing followed by BlueHat Marketing), almost all of the other results are essentially nameless businesses with generic keyword-driven domains and keyword-driven titles and keyword-driven meta descriptions.
To us, this is a failure (or an opportunity for companies that want to be perceived as different!).
Now of course there is the statistical argument regarding SERP (search engine results page) position and the percentages of click-throughs earned.
|Information by Chitika|
Yes, there is a huge drop off in terms of share of traffic from position 1 down through position 10, with that top spot earning ~30% of the clicks. And don't get us wrong, getting to the #1 search result is a great accomplishment and a great achievement to strive for.
So what do you think? How do you structure your page titles? Where do you see the balance between SEO and user experience?
For more of our thoughts on SEO please visitor our article "Develop a User-Centric Content Strategy Instead of SEO"