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Page Titles and Descriptions – Back to SEO Basics

This is the first of several articles looking at some SEO basics. Basics that unfortunately, I see sites getting wrong time after time whilst continuing to plough money into other less rewarding SEO avenues. The intention of these articles is to revisit the building blocks of your SEO and take advantage of all the easy wins before you hunker down for the bigger battles of your campaign.

Page Titles & Descriptions

Page titles huh? May as well start at the top folks and page titles still represent your biggest, easiest shot at more targeted traffic so this article takes a look at page titles and there relevance in search marketing and makes sure you are getting the basics spot on. We will follow this overview with another article looking at common problems and then a final article looking at best practices for the page titles on your site.

What is a Page Title

The page title is a required, HTML element used to, well, give the page a title. The page title is displayed in three common places being the top of your browser window (or tab), the search engine results and in the head section of the website code as follows:

<title>Hello, I am a title</title>

This title is found in the <head> section of your HTML document but in most cases, if you are using a CMS it will be the name you give your page or post in concert with any other rules you have specified for the structuring of your page titles.

What is a Description

The description, or meta description is a snippet of text used to offer up a concise description of your page. The page description is often used by Google and other search engines when displaying a page listing for your site so should be finely crafted to help promote your page.

It’s 2012, so you should know that meta tags definately DONT help SEO, in the quest for higher rankings at least, but it can be helpful in the quest to win clicks amongst a sea of competing results so they deserve your attention.

Page titles and descriptions in action

Here is a result plucked from the google result pages showing three main elements: the page title, the physical page name and the meta description:

google results showing a well crafted html title tag and meta description

In this example the search query was ‘html title tag’ and we can see this well represented in the page title (blue one), the physical page name (green bit) and the description below. We can see that the page title, name and description all work together to help convince the user that this page is relevant result for their search query and one worth visiting. Additionally, the users search words are all in bold type throughout the listing which further helps this result to stand out amidst the sea of competing pages.

Summing it up

That gives you an overview of what role the page title and meta description play. We will follow this up later today with another article looking at common problems with page titles and then a final article looking at some best practices for your page titles.

As ever, if you have any questions or I can help leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter.

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Marcus Miller

I am an SEO Consultant based in Birmingham UK and with clients all over the world. I have been working in and around search for 15 years and currently focus on SEO Consulting, Website Consulting, Local SEO and Technical SEO Audits.

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