Obsessing over small things is something I’m good at. I can obsess over the smallest little detail forever… although not always a good thing, it proves useful sometimes. I have improved over the years at getting over things that don’t matter in the long run, but still find myself drawn into micro analyzing everything! Which brings me to my point.
My run-in with Title tags
Sometimes I take it for granted. A great CMS system like WordPress must have it all figured out, well, of course they’ve figured out their own way, but is that the way I want my site to be indexed? Using bbPress and WordPress my title tags were showing up as “Steedan Crowe | Blog | post title”. This might seem fine, but Google only shows a limited number of characters for titles in search results and most of my post titles were being trimmed so short it was hard to understand what they were about.
The importance of title tags
Search engines like Google and Bing rely on the information in your title tag to decide if your content is relevant. The information in an H1 tag is given more importance than the body of your content. Likewise, an H1 tag is also given more importance than an H2 tag.
These semantics are referred to as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. Bots, Spiders, or crawlers parse your content looking for consistency and variety. In essence, here are some questions Bots will ask when scanning your site; Is the title relative to the content of the page? Do the H1 and H2 tags emphasize information contained in the body? How many times are search terms contained in the site? How much traffic does this site already get? What is the quality of that traffic? Is this relevant to what was searched for?
What to put in your title tag
CMS systems like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla will all have slightly different ways of semantically marking up your content, but should all follow similar conventions. Most CMS programs will create the title tag based on your post title. The best advice I could give is this: Write your title after you’ve written your content. It’s important to create a unique title and not copy a sentence from the body of your content.
Other HTML tags are equally important H1, H2 etc.
All of these tags are important to search engines. Read your local newspaper for ideas of how to highlight important content. Photo tag lines, Block quotes, Sub headings, all play a part in helping Google decide the importance of your content.
Making the changes shown above to my title tags has immediately brought me up 4 spots for some of my search terms. “lion breaks git” is now #1 in Google. This of course could be contributed to many other factors, but I’m doubtful because of the quick change.