Better Title Tags For Better Conversion


April 29, 2006

Although the search algorithms are closely held secrets, despite search engine patents, it is no secret that the title tag of each page is an important part of the search engine algorithm. The major search engines all use title tags on their search engine response pages (SERPs) But conversion starts on the SERP, and we don’t often think enough about how humans look at our title tags.

Sure, we can get high up in GYM (Google, Yahoo and MSN) with keyword rich title tags, keyword rich pages and a variety of other strategies. But will anyone click on our sites? (The converse argument is, if we aren’t there, we know no one will click on them. Fortunatley, this is not an SEO blog…) The problem is harder still when you consider the constraints placed by the search engines, particularly Google. Although Google will index over a thousand characters and spaces in your title tag, they only show 63 or 64. You can write a long title tag but the search engines will truncate them and then you don’t get your message across in exactly the way you like. So you may not want to waste precious words with calls to action, like “Try” or “You’ll find,” even though they may help your conversion.

At the very least, though, write to the reader and not just to the search engines. And remember that your title tag gets picked up in many places besides just the search engines. I can think of four right now:

  • It’s the name that most browsers give a bookmark that visitors set, unless the visitor changes it
  • It’s the description that gives a page on your site, if someone bookmarks your site there.
  • It’s the description that users see in their browser’s back button
  • It’s the name that users see when they minimize their browser (and your site is there.)

These are all conversion opportunities, and some, like minimized tabs and bookmarks, depend on the first two or three words.

Robbin Steif