Back To Basics: Optimizing Your Title Tag

June 17, 2009
By Jim Gianoglio

This post is a look back at the basics for those who may just be joining us (sorry analytics ninjas – you’ll have to wait for the next advanced, brain-swelling post on GA from John or Jonathan).

I am always surprised when I see a website that has the same title tag for every single page. Unfortunately, it’s more common than you may think. It seems to affect small businesses more frequently, but no website is immune.

What do I mean by the title tag, you ask? Simply put, it’s a title for the page that describes that page’s content. The title tag goes in the head section of the page’s HTML, and looks something like this:

<head>
<title>Increase Your Site’s Conversion Rate with Web Conversion Consulting</title>
</head>

OK, I see your eyes glazing over – that means you want real world examples, right? People see your title tag everyday in two main places – their web browser and in the search engine results:

Title tag appears in the top of your web browser...
Title tag in search engine results

So what’s the big deal with the title tag? Of all of the things you can change on your website, changing the title tag will have the most impact on how high you rank for the keywords you’re targeting. It’s also what searchers look at when deciding which result to click on.

For sites that suffer from this affliction of title tag duplication, this is the easiest, quickest way to increase traffic to your site. We have a client (I won’t shame them in public) that had this problem, and after changing their titles on each page they saw a 60% increase in traffic from people searching for products and services related to their industry. Previously, the only traffic from search engines came when someone searched for their company name. That would be like Nike only showing up if someone searches for “Nike” and then after changing their title tags they suddenly start showing up for the search term “shoes.”

Content by Title report

Believe it or not, there’s even a Google Analytics tie-in here. The title tag shows up in your GA in the “Content by Title” report.

If all of your titles are the same, you’ll not have much use for this report, because it will just show you all of the pageviews for your site lumped together under the same page title. But when your pages each have different titles, you can see the pageviews segmented by each page (by title, of course). You can basically get the same data by looking at the “Top Content” report, but that shows you the pages’ URLs instead of page titles, which isn’t nearly as pretty.