Title and Description: What’s in a Name?

In the previous post, I let you know how choosing the right keywords can make or break your website position on the search engines. In this lesson, I’ll help you understand a few other on page optimizations that you can do using the “title” and “description” tags.

So tell me, what’s in a name?

When someone creates a page, often times (depending on what program they use to create it) there will be a “title”tag. This is a tag that is located between the two “head” tags in the source code. The title tage is what shows in the browser window up top next to the name of the browser you are using. For instance, the name listed at the top of the browser for this blog is “SEO Journal – Netscape Browser” (because I prefer to use Netscape for my internet browsing).

Often times, the program that you are using to create your site doesn’t know what to name your website because all websites are different, so you’ll end up seeing something like “Untitled Page” or the name of the address they are visiting. But optimizing your website for the search engines includes adding this tag. It’s not only visually attractive for your visitors, but it also helps you rank higher in the search engines.

So let’s begin… If you remember from our last lesson, we examined the Office Depot website for these examples. So load the code from their home page and take a look at the top lines. Almost immediately, you’ll notice two “title” tags listed their. Having that in the code seems simple enough, right. That’s correct. Their title is simple, understandable and attractive. And here’s how to pick the right title.

You want your title to be brief, and understandable. Too many websites have been removed from the search engines just because they have been too overzealous with their title (yes, I said removed. In the search engine world, we call it “being sandboxed“). It’s simple enough to just add your keywords to your title to make it all consistent, but those are the things that can have your site removed. What I’ve found to be the easiest and safest policy is to put your company name in the website followed by that the purpose of the page is.

For instance, if you were the Microsoft Corp., then your title might say “Microsoft – Download Updates” It’s brief, attractive, it helps the customer know what step they are on and what page it is in case they are working on another program, and it’s “spider-friendly” (that’s the term we use for the spiders that crawl your website for indexing).

For your home page of your website, you can do it a little different. For instance, you really can’t put on the home page of your site, ” Microsoft – Home Page”. It would look cheesey and unattractive to your customer base. Instead if you have a business slogan, you could put that. A very good example of that would be “Office Depot – Taking Care Of Business”. I quote this because this used to be one of their slogans. Or even “Staples – We’ve Got That!” This helps on the home page of your site, but I recomment that you use this only on that one page. It can become tedious if you allowed it to be on every page, and it would take up space in the browser title bar that you don’t want to look cluttered.

Another idea that Office Depot has used is to list one or two of their specialties on their title bar. For instance, at the writing of this post, their title bar says, “Office Depot – Office Supplies, Furniture…”. This is a great tactic if you are in the product business. But again, I stress, don’t fill it up with a ton of keywords. There is a very fine line here.

A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Don’t put crazy symbols in the titles such as smilies (:-), or unusual codes that are difficult to distinguish (such as characters in another language). This makes it more difficult to get you to the top of Google or other search engines because it looks more complicated. Another thing that I always suggest to stay away from are marquees. If you aren’t familiar with them, a marquees is simply scrolling text that goes from right to left across your screen. It is not only a big no-no for the searches, but is VERY unattractive to customers (at least to the customers that I deal with).

So what is your site about?

If you remember from our last lesson, I had to write out what it is that your company or organiztion does on the internet. If you still have that quote, pull it out. Now, point your browser to Google and type in office depot. When the page comes up, and office depot is the first listing, open up the code that you had for the office depot hope page. Now if you do a little looking in the first few lines of the code, you’ll notice another “meta” tage that has the word “description” close to it. Read what is in the quotation marks for the description and when you are done, go back to the Google page and read the description about Office Depot.

Find any similarities?

That’s right, they are identical. That is what happens when you add a description to your website “meta” tags. That is where they end up!

So, tell me, what do you want your customers to read when they go to the search engines and find your listing there? That is the heart of adding a description. It helps you imensely in the search engines. If you don’t have the best quote or description for the site, ask a friend, or another business owner to help you out. Follow the instructions listed in the last lesson to help you put the tags on your website and your there.

I hope that helps. A friendly reminder: Getting to the top of Google is tough. It’s even harder to stay there sometimes, but with the tutorials that I provide here, you can maximize your chance of attaining your goal. (And yes, it is possible to be indexed by Google overnight, albeit difficult. I’ll show you how soon enough).

Stay tuned, in the next post, I’ll show you how to change some of the things on your website to help you gain an edge over the competition.

Good luck!