Page titles are an important signal that Google will use to help index and rank your content, but it’s still common to see otherwise decent-looking websites with generic page titles or page titles stuffed with long lists of keywords.
As part of Google’s ongoing Penguin update, the boys from Mountain View are trying to clamp down on spammy tactics like jamming tags full of your favourite search terms, so it might be a good time for a quick page title health check.
An effective page title will be unique to the page and it will accurately describe the content on that page. When we do site reports for clients, we usually recommend the following structure for page titles:
Keyword | Brand
So, if you run a website selling custom staplers (www.stapleace.com.au, maybe) the page title for your Olympic-themed staplers landing page might look like this…
Custom Olympic staplers | Staple Ace
Why are generic page titles bad?
If all your page titles are the same, you’re missing a great opportunity to tell Google about your content. The same is true of beautiful high-res images with no alt tags. Page titles are a chance to say, “hey Google, check out my page all about glow-in-the-dark staplers”. Even if SEO isn’t your main focus, simple steps like this that make your content easier for Google to crawl, so that more of the right people can find it, are worth taking.
Why are too many keywords bad?
We’ve been talking a lot about Penguin in the office recently and while most of the attention has been on inbound links from weak or dodgy sites, Penguin is aimed at keyword stuffing.
Page titles still seem to be a place where website owners bust out the 2001 tactics (such as listing all the conceivable keywords they want their site to rank for). If there was ever any benefit in doing this, Penguin is supposed to be seeking it out and wiping the ranking credit.
As with all SEO, it’s important to remember that there is often a gap between best practice (what Google tells website owners to do) and what seems to get results in the real world. It’s clear though that with Penguin, keyword jamming is firmly in Google’s sights.
You may also find that fixing up your page titles brings some user benefits. A well-written page title will help people find the content they’re looking for and it will reassure your visitors that your website is high-quality and trustworthy, not one of those bad neighbourhoods Google keeps warning us about.