Search Engine Friendly Titles

I get asked about what type of title one should use for SEO on pages a lot. Some people argue that you should brand your company in the titles. Others say you should focus on your keywords.

They are both wrong. And both right. Let me explain.

Given that:

1) For search engine purposes, keywords first in the title are the way to go
2) For branding, company first is the way to go
3) For repeat visitors who did not bookmark you, your company name IS a keyword
4) Bookmarks should make sense, and come from titles
5) The overarching reason for a home page to show up is usually links and anchor text (not your title)
6) The overarching reason for inner pages to show up is usually content (including your title)

I usually do this for clients:

1) HOME PAGE: use the company name first, followed by the most generic keywords in the home page title. It's bookmarked most often and is the page people want when they search for your company.

ie: Widgets 'R Us - Your widget source.

2) MAIN PAGES: use the page contents (ie keywords) first and add the company name at the end for most inner pages

ie Widget FAQ by Widgets 'R Us

3) SHOPPING / INFORMATION PAGES: for sales/shopping pages, I'll often leave off the company name completely, since a search for a "blue acme mark VII" is not usually by someone who cares about the company at this point.

ie widget 259 - blue

Basically, I follow what consumers look for in a typical search: first, they ask educate themselves using already trusted resources (ie home page branding), then they research information and develop preferences (information combined with branding), then they look to purchase a specific item (match the title to the search).

Research shows that keyword type titles convert better, because they attract searchers at the end of the shopping cycle. This is the best approach for PPC campaigns - you don't want to pay for the window shoppers.

But I disagree with the premise that this is the only time you want to attract visitors for an organic campaign. Building up your branding and trust can have a very big difference in the eventual purchase, especially if it's an expensive one, or one that involves service and personal communication of some sort.

In short, I agree that keyword specific titles work, but only for the shopping pages. Branding matters on the pages where education and research (ie all that content you've been adding) are the primary goals.

So, brand your research and education pages, and focus on connecting a specific search to a specific page for sales and conversion pages.

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