SEO 101: When Bad Title Tags Happen to Good Websites

Some search engine optimization techniques are difficult. Others are not. It’s easy to find otherwise well-built, engaging websites with really bad SEO. By “really bad”, I just mean completely neglected or overlooked. HTML title tags are a frequently neglected aspect of SEO that, when fixed, can have an immediate impact on search rankings. On most sites built with content management systems like WordPress, fixing a bad title tag takes 2 minutes and a little keyword research.

Smashing Ideas sitelinks in Google search resultsHere’s an example. Smashing Ideas is a cutting edge digital media agency that makes smartphone apps and other cool stuff. Their website looks great. It’s well built, easy to use. Information is easy to find. One way to check the health of a website – its ease of use and visibility in search engines – is to see if it shows up with sitelinks in Google search results. It does. Click the image at right to see what sitelinks for SmashingIdeas.com looks like. (Read more…)

On the Google search results page, the main pages each have a separate listing and a link: Careers, ePublishing, Who We Are, What We Do, etc. Nice!

But look at the HTML title tag for the What We Do page. It’s “Mobile & Devices – What We Do – Smashing Ideas”. This title tag is the default. It’s automatically generated by the CMS (the content management system – whatever platform they are using for their site – It’s not WordPress. I can’t tell what it is.).

UPDATE: Since this post was written, Smashing Ideas redesigned their website; there is no longer a “What We Do” page. However, they apparently have not read my post! Shame on them. :) Because they are still using all the default title tags supplied by their CMS. The title tag of the About page? “About | Smashing Ideas”. Ouch. I wonder what their business does? I wonder what this page is really “about”. Well, Smashing Ideas, obviously! That is great SEO as long as I’m searching for “About Smashing Ideas”. :) And so on for every page on the site.

Smashing Ideas default title tag does not use words people search forTo optimize the title tag (which, as I mentioned, takes only a few minutes and a little bit of keyword research), it’s best to use keywords that people actually search for. When was the last time you did a Google search using the words “what we do”?

A better title tag would be “Mobile Phone Marketing Strategies, Mobile Device Marketing Strategy”. Those are phrases that people actually search for, and they would bring the right kind of visitors to the Smashing Ideas website.

Smashing Ideas - What We Do page in Search Engine ResultsRemember, the title tag is not on the visible page. You can see it if you look at the top of your browser window, and you’ll see it as the “title” of a listing in a search results page as shown at left (click to enlarge the image). Of course, the only way to see the What We Do page in Google search results is to search for something like “mobile device smashing what we do”. It’s definitely not going to show up for a valuable search like “mobile phone marketing strategies” because too many of Smashing Ideas’ competitors that know how to use SEO have used those words in their page title tags.

Comments: 5

5 comments

I agree, title tag is also one factor that a website owner should look up to. It is also part of SEO to get the best rank in Google.

@Lester – Thanks! Here’s another example of a professionally designed corporate website with neglected default title tags: http://www.slalom.com/

I Agree. Its wierd that they dont think about that.

Best Regards
Emil

@optimizacijasajta – You’re right. It’s sad. :( Sad for the businesses that don’t know they can spend less than $1,000, even $500 in some cases, to get quality keyword research done for their site. And in most cases, if they are using WordPress or a similar CMS, it takes only a few hours of time to add custom title tags and meta descriptions to core pages on their site. The good news is, if these businesses are your competitors, you can improve your title tags in just a few days and your site will rise in rankings while theirs stays buried on page 8, 9 or 10 of results.

Oh, come on I can’t belive people that are still neglecting title and description tags. They are so obviously needed that it isn’t funny anymore… now it becomes just sad!

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