Optimizing Page Titles for SEO

By Chad H. Pollitt
Internet Marketing Manager
Internet Marketing Expert
Digital Hill Multimedia, Inc.
Chad Pollitt

What is a Page Title and why should you use it for SEO?

A Page Title describes the contents of your web page in one line and is very important for SEO.  It’s likely to appear in search engines’ results and in bookmarks.  It’s also the first thing a search engine’s spider sees on your page.  Since your page title will be seen by both readers and search engines, it’s particularly important.  The most important keyword phrase for my business is “Fort Wayne Web Design.” Below is a Page Title example using “Fort Wayne Web Design.”


  • HTML Page Title of “Fort Wayne Web Design:”

HTML Fort Wayne Web Design

  • Here’s what the Page Title “Fort Wayne Web Design” would look like on Internet Explorer:

Page Title: Fort Wayne Web Design

  • Here’s what the Page Title “Fort Wayne Web Design” would look like in a Google search:

Fort Wayne Web Design Page Title

Your title is the most important part of your page as far as search engines are concerned and SEO.  Google, Yahoo and Bing also support the page title tag and place a lot of importance on keywords that appear inside it.  Here are a few tips on how to make your page title tag more appealing for both SEO and people.

Using keywords in your Page Title

Don’t just make your title the name of your company.  It’s far more important for a page title to contain targeted keywords for SEO.  Although you may include your company’s name, including keywords should be your top priority.  So, instead of “Digital Hill Multimedia, Inc.,” try “Fort Wayne Web Design – Digital Hill” for SEO

Though it’s important to include keywords, you shouldn’t just make a list of all the keywords you come up with.  Rather, try to include them to market your services.  Avoid using common words that search engines are likely to ignore, such as “home, overview, best, etc.” Additionally, geography can be very important.  Users tend to search with the name of the nearest metropolitan center in the search query.  If you only do business in Fort Wayne it should be included in your title.  For example: “Fort Wayne Web Design – Digital Hill”

Your Page Title’s Length

Although all search engines allow up to 150 characters, they will only display 80 characters or so in their results listings.  To make sure that browsers and search engines display the titles of your pages correctly, limit your title to about 80 characters.  Also, the more words in the page title the more diluted you primary keywords become.

The Importance of Keyword Proximity

Keyword Proximity refers to the distance between two related keywords in SEO.  Generally speaking, the shorter the distance between two targeted words, the better that page will rank for that primary keyword phrase in the major search engines, all other variables being equal.  As an SEO example, consider the heading or title “We sell engines that are remanufactured for all makes and models of trucks made by Ford Motor Company.” 

  • 18 Words
  • 4 Key Words – 22% keyword Density
  • 2 Key Terms – Fragmented

The SEO keyword combinations to consider here are “remanufactured engines” and “ford trucks.” Notice the distance, or proximity, between the keywords “Ford” and “trucks”, the distance between “engines” and “remanufactured”, and the distance between the two key phrases in relation to each other. These factors are very important to consider, especially the distance between Ford and engines.

SEO Page TitlesTo optimize the phrase “We sell remanufactured engines for Ford Motor Company Trucks, including all makes and models” for keyword proximity, two SEO concepts need to be addressed: keyword prominence and keyword dilution.

Keyword prominence in SEO refers to the position, sequentially, of a keyword or phrase in relation to the rest of the text in any given area.  In SEO words at the beginning of a tag, section, paragraph, heading or area are assigned a greater value than those occurring at the middle or end.  Keyword dilution in SEO refers to the effect of text in the given area that is not directly related to the key terms being targeted, or the effect that targeting multiple keywords or phrases has on each other.

Consider “Remanufactured engines for Ford Trucks.” Remanufactured engines has a greater keyword prominence than Ford Trucks.  Considering that there are 4 non-stop words (“of” is a stop word that will be ignored accept in cases of exact searches) and two key phrases, the density of each phrase is 50%.  The keywords are diluted by 1/2. In the case of “Remanufactured Ford Truck Engines,” Engines is reduced in importance, Ford gains in importance and remanufactured still has the greatest prominence.  Our end SEO title, by applying both prominence and proximity looks like this:

  • Remanufactured Ford Truck Engines – all makes and all models.  To increase keyword density for SEO, thus reducing the dilution, the “all makes and models” can be removed; this is logic filtering (removing irrelevant text to reduce dilution and increase key term density for SEO).

Variations for key term breadth:

  • Ford Truck Engines – Remanufactured
  • Engines, Ford Trucks: Remanufactured
  • Remanufactured Engines – Ford Trucks

The keyword density in this title would be 25% for each word, which is excellent, as each word is part of a targeted term for SEO.  The density of the key phrases is 50%, i.e. “remanufactured engines” and “Ford Trucks.” The three variations above could be used to improve the key term density in the body of the page without repeating the keywords in the exact same manner.  If the site theme were remanufactured engines, then the page title: “Remanufactured Engines – Ford Trucks” or any logical variation would be ideal.  If the site theme were Ford Trucks, then an ideal page title would be: “Ford Trucks – Remanufactured Engines.” If the site theme were engines, then an ideal page title would be: “Engines, Remanufactured – Ford Trucks.” Proper SEO web copywriting and technical writing addresses all of these issues as a logical step in the writing process for SEO.

Your Page Title’s Appearance

Don’t use all CAPS in your title. Search engines hate it and it’s difficult for users to read.  No one like to be yelled at and it’s a bad SEO practice.

Marketing/SEO Copywriting

Aside from containing keywords, your page title needs to interest your reader in the material on your site.  If you’re a webmaster with no previous marketing experience, you might want to get some help in this area from a copywriter or someone in marketing.  Keeping length in mind, review your keywords and try to come up with a title that entices the reader to learn more about your site.  Don’t use marketing language such as “We’re the best” or “Overview.” It will only clutter your page title with stop words without adding much relevance.  Remember, if your page title is identical to the key words typed into Google, it is automatically relevant to the user.  Use your Meta Description to entice the user with marketing language.

Golden Rule for SEO

As always follow the golden rule of organic search engine optimization (SEO):  Create pages for your users, not SEO.  This means writing a descriptive and convincing page title appealing to your audience.  You can then make your page title SEO friendly by ensuring that your keywords appear in it.

Page Titles and Human Directories

Directories that are composed by human editors rather than robots, like Yahoo and DMOZ, don’t care about your page title for SEO.  They do, however, care about the title you specify in their submission forms.  Each directory should let you know how long your title should be on its form.  Prepare a shorter, alternative title for directories that allow a maximum of 40 characters.