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Page Titles and Descriptions – Common Problems

We are going back to the basics and covering off some SEO easy wins and areas where you really should be getting it right so following on from our previous article on the importance of page titles and descriptions for SEO here is a set of common problems worth checking your page titles for.

Setting the scene

I have been working on a project the last few weeks that has had some, and I hesitate to use the word here, SEO done on the site. Problem is, the client has not really been keeping tabs on what has been going on and the work done was really not up to scratch. This is fairly common, so whilst you may need to put your SEO out to a consultant, lets take a look at some common problems and make sure you know enough to at least make sure you are getting what you pay for or possibly, give you the chops to have a shot at it yourself!

1. No Title

A daft, well, not quite so daft one to start with as many pages may not have a page title at all and you may have a blank or something like ‘Untitled’. Clearly, this is not cool and it is certainly not helping your site rank or get clicked on.

2. Duplicate Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

Another common one is duplicate page titles. Whether this is just the site name or you have a lot of similar pages with the same title, again, it’s not a great strategy for reasons we will discuss next. Duplicate meta descriptions are not such a big problem, but you are missing a quick and easy way to win a click from competing results and likely sending a low quality signal to your potential visitors (if not the engines) that you can’t be bothered to summarise your content.

3. Keyword Competition

Often, when you want to rank for a given keyword, lets say ‘green widgets’ for the purpose of this example, it may seem like a good idea to feature that keyword across your site which must make it more likely that one of your pages would rank for this term, right? No, not right. No, no, no, no, no. In fact, if every page has the same keyword, then what you actually do is dilute the chances of any one page ranking for this keyword between all the competing pages and the keyword is effectively cannibalised amongst all host pages.

4. Keyword Stuffing

So, you want to rank for ‘green widgets’, ‘red widgets’ & ‘blue widgets’ then it makes sense to ram them all into your page title, right? Wrong again, sorry, these are individual terms and should therefore have their own pages and creating title tags with multiple keywords stuffed in does little to adhere search engines or more importantly people to want to click on your page result.

5. Length

Both the page title and description have an ideal length and should your title be longer than 70 characters or your description longer than 155 then they will not display as intended in the search results and will lose some of their punch. Additionally, keywords at the beginning of your titles carry more weight so don’t think that some monstrous 200 character page title with 18 of your best keywords will bring traffic tumbling your way.

Summing it up

Not to say that is the only problem and if you have page titles like this then you still have  something to worry about.

Green Widgets | Buy Green Widgets | Cheap Green Widgets | Sex | Viagra | Cheap, Cheap Cheap - CrapSite.co.uk

In part 3 of this series we will be looking at some best practices for page titles and descriptions to make sure you are getting your moneys worth from this SEO stalwart.

As ever, if you have any questions or want to shoot the breeze drop a comment below or hit me up on Twitter.

Till next time folks! 

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