Describe Your Page in 100 Characters or Less

Don't Ignore the Title Tags

I normally don't have the urge to add audio or video files to my Web sites. But, I do now. And if I added an audio file to this page, it would be the sound of slamming one's head against a wall.

A descriptive, relevant title is the first step to making your Web site searchable. It was true at the dawn of search engines in the early '90s. It's still true now, in the age of "Google, the search engine gold standard."

So why in the world is one of the most common titles "Welcome?" What does "Welcome" tell you about the Web site? When you do a Web search, do you ever look for the word "Welcome?"

And why are empty title tags rather common? Empty title tags are the Web equivalent of the blinking 12:00:00 on a VCR.

Part of the problem is that many Web sites use dynamically-produced pages. In some cases, there's no easy way to define unique titles for each dynamic page. So every page at the whole site will have a blank title, a title consisting only of the domain name, or the ever popular "Welcome to Our Site" title.

If you don't believe in the power of a short, relevant, descriptive Web title, I recommend you try a little test. Write a description of your site for your home page. Keep it short (100-150 characters), keep it simple, but make sure it relates to the contents of the page. Use the short description as the page title. Add the edited page to a couple of search engines; Google is always a good place to start because Google normally indexes sites within a few days.

Once your site's been reindexed, use a few words from the title to search for the site - do not use the domain name. Your site will likely show up on the first one or two pages of the search results page.

I once worked on a site where the previous Webmaster simply inserted, "Welcome to Our Site" in the title tags. As the site was in ColdFusion, unless you searched on the domain name, the site was completely unfindable in Google. We came up with an eight word title, that included the two most important ideas related to the site. Within days, our Web site popped up fourth on a Google search results page using the most important ideas.