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Website writing tips - page titles

Tips to writing webpage titles that attract search engines and customers

By Simon Hillier

If you want to write copy that attracts search engines and readers to your website or blog there's no doubt that your headlines, subheads, keywords and hyperlinks will play a very important part in making it happen. However, that brilliant piece of search engine optimised copy can go to waste unless you spend some quality time working on the most neglected member of the web copywriting family - your page title.


What is a page title?

The page title is at the very top of your screen in the blue bar above the address bar and menus. Depending on the browser you are using it will usually display the name of the website or web page that you are on, followed by “Windows Internet Explorer” or “Mozilla Firefox”. 

For example, on this page it says, "Writing web page titles that attact search engines and customers". That didn't just happen automatically. I needed to create the title for this page.


Why should we write meaningful page titles?

People often forget about page titles because they are added into the html code, rather than onto the page itself. Which usually means the job of writing title copy is left with the web designer. If the designer isn’t a search engine optimisation expert, or hasn’t been briefed to write the title copy, they are often left to their own devised and look something like:

Websitename.com – Windows Internet Explorer
or at best
The Widget Gift Store – Windows Internet Explorer

In this state page titles are little more than a band of alphabetical castaways, stranded in a deep blue sea of pixels - dull, unfulfilling and meaningless to all but those who own the website.

It’s a sad tale, but one that sinks into tragedy of ancient Greek proportions when you understand the potential of well-crafted title copy:

  • Titles are used as the heading for your site listing in search engines.
  • They influence search engine rankings. Greater relevance, higher ranking.
  • People dismiss search engine listings with titles unrelated to their search.
  • A relevant title draws search engine surfers to your site.
  • When someone adds your page as a favourite, they can easily find you later.
  • The title is stored in your visitors History.
  • Other sites often use your title as the text link copy to your page. Search engines place high importance on relevant text links. 
  • RSS generators use page titles to create headlines.

Once you understand just how hard page titles work to help attract search engines and people to your site, is it any wonder they are always complaining about living in the shadow of their flashier, prettier and cuter siblings the headline, subhead and hyperlink?

Here are some tips to help you write page titles that attract search engines and web surfers:

  • Keep your title to no more than 60 - 65 characters.
  • Make the description clear and in plain English.
  • Each page should have a unique keyword focused title.
  • Don’t use ‘clever’ or teaser titles that don’t explain what the page is about.
  • Put you keywords to the front.
  • Don’t use your keyword more than 3 times.
  • Make your title a call to action or benefit for the reader.
  • Omit unnecessary words. Instead of “Are You Looking For A Cheap Place To Buy Widgets?” write “Looking For Cheap Widgets?”

So next time you are writing copy for a webpage, by all means play with those boistrous headlines and subheads, pander to those pretty paragraphs, keywords and hyperlinks, and get your bullet points looking as cute as a button. Just don’t forget that page title looking down from the bedroom window, wondering why so few website writers appreciate its many hidden talents.

Then smirk to yourself because now you know one of the most simple and effective ways to attract search enigines and customers to your webpage AND stay one step ahead of your competition.

Simon Hillier is a copywriting specialist based in Sydney, Australia. His company, Get There Writing Services can help turn your ideas into words for  the web, print copy, e-newsletters, articles, ebooks and scripts that speak to your target audience and make you shine on Google. For more articles and further information visit his website http://www.getthere.com.au

 

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