On-Page Search-Engine Optimization for Self-Storage Operators: HTML Title Tags
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 03/30/2012



 

By Stephen Sandecki

This is part one of a series designed to help educate self-storage operators on the basics of on-page search-engine optimization (SEO). To read other installments in the series, search for "Sandecki" using the search box in the upper right corner of this Web page.

To clarify, on-page optimization relates to things done directly to your Web page(s). Everything explained in this series can be done by whomever manages your website. If you run your website on a third-party platform or use third-party CMS (content-management system) software, you may be limited to how effectively you can optimize your on-page SEO. To get the most out of on-page SEO, you need to take it into consideration during the development of your website.

This series is divided into seven parts, each focusing on a different optimization technique. It might be a little rough on someone who doesn’t have much knowledge in HTML markup or the concept of Web development. If you fall into that category, you can still educate yourself with this guide, and forward it to whoever handles your Internet marketing and SEO. I'm starting this series off with title tags because it’s one of the easiest things you can manipulate when it comes to SEO.

The Technical of the Title Tag

The title tag is part of the head HTML element and is located inside the <head></head> HTML syntax. In terms of HTML, the title tag is used to define the title of your document (Web page). Below is an example of the title tag HTML syntax.

<title>This is the title of your Web page</title>

There are three core things the title tag will do, and one of them is crucial to SEO. They are:

  • Define the title visitors see in their browser
  • Be the default title used when visitors add a page to their favorites
  • Be displayed in search-engine results

It’s important to remember you can only have one title tag per Web page. If you have more than one, search-engine crawlers and Web browsers will always use the one that appears first in your HTML code. Now that you understand exactly what a title tag is, it’s time to learn how you can use it for on-page SEO.

How Search Engines Use a Title Tag

Search engines will use the title tag of a Web page when showing it in their search-engine results. This gives the title tag two important factors. First, it can help attract the attention of the actual person searching. The other is search engines use the data in title tags to help rank sites in results. Below is a simple example of how a title tag would be used in search results. The section inside the red circle is the title tag for that Wikipedia Web page.

Example of an HTML title tag.

As you can see, the title tag is one of the most prominent parts of search-engine results. It’s also what initially catches the eye of a searcher and draws him to your listing. Obviously, search engines all have their own algorithm, so how they use a title tag when it comes to ranking Web pages in search results will vary.

Optimizing Title Tags for Search Engines

This is the million-dollar question when it comes to title tags. Everyone wants to know how they can properly optimize them to help their Web pages rank better in search results. But title tags are only one of hundreds of factors used to determine search-engine rankings. You could have perfect title tags and still not rank well for the keywords in which you’re aiming. Remember, you want to not only optimize for search engines, but attract the attention and interest of humans!

First, make sure you know what your primary keywords are for your Web page. These are crucial when trying to optimize your title tag because they need to be in it. For example, we’re going to optimize a title tag for a Web page based on organic dog food. Here’s a good title tag:
"Organic Dog Food - We Offer the Best Deal on Organic Dog Food."

Since the Web page is about organic dog food, the keyword that appears first in the title tag should reflect that. Then, insert a small sales pitch that manages to include the keyword one more time. This is a great example of a title tag optimized for a specific keyword. Be careful to not just stuff keywords into your title tag, because they could appear as spam to search engines and discourage searchers from visiting your site.

Import Tips

Title tags aren’t that difficult to optimize. You have a few simple rules to follow to get the best results. The tips listed below are a great primer to use when creating or optimizing your title tags.

  • Make title tags 70 characters or less. This is the maximum shown by Google in search results.
  • Do not stuff title tags with keywords, as they can appear as spam.
  • Try to have your primary keyword or keyword phrase appear first in title tag.
  • Your primary keyword or keyword phrase should repeat twice, if appropriate.
  • Use “|” as an alternative delimiter to a dash (“ – ”).

A title tag is a simple element to optimize—as long as you don’t overthink it. The title tag is purely the title of your document in 70 characters or less and should describe the content located on that Web page. In part two of this series, we’ll talk about the title tag’s brother, the meta description.

Stephen D. Sandecki is the Internet marketing specialist for LifeStorage Centers LLC. He has more than eight years of experience in search-engine optimization, paid search and Internet marketing, and six years of experience in the self-storage industry. LifeStorage has 18 facilities throughout the Chicagoland area. For more information on Chicago Storage, visit www.lifestorage.net. You can reach Sandecki at stephen@lifestorage.net.