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High Rankings Advisor: All About Title Tags - Issue No. 096

April 28, 2004

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Clarifications

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   All About Title Tags

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   SmartSearch Marketing Workshops
---->   SEO Copywriting Kit

*Guest Article:
---->   Boost Your Search Engine Rankings with Email Newsletters

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Can SEO Software Hurt You?

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Beware of Marketers Bearing Browser Keyword Programs

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Metamorphosis

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  We had a successful seminar in Chicago last week.  A
big "hello" to all who attended!

Before we get down to business, there are a few clarifications from
the last couple of newsletters that I need to make:

The first, from issue 094, is in regards to getting a great Google
description </issue094.htm#seo>.  Since
that article went out, a few exceptions to the rule have been brought
to my attention.  It appears that *most* of the time Google will
display the descriptions as I suggested in my article, but
occasionally there are some pages where Google doesn't cooperate!  If
you're interested, we have been discussing it a bit in the forum here:

The second is in regards to last week's newsletter (which I still
haven't put online but will eventually be here:
</issue095.htm>) about checking which sites
are linking to you in Google.  Since the backwards link command
( only shows you a small sampling, I have been
using instead.  My article gave the
impression that this command will find *all* links pointing to your
site; however, it actually only shows sites that mention your URL or
link to your site using the URL as anchor text.

I wish there was a better command for finding all your links at
Google, but if there is, I haven't heard of it yet!  Your best bet is
to use both of those commands with Google, but also check out the
other search engines.  For instance, at HotBot you can see most of
your links by typing in ""  That one seems
to do a pretty good job.  My guess is that even though you're using
HotBot, Google will still know about most (if not all) of those links.
They just don't feel like showing them to you for some reason!

Okay, enough eating crow for one day! ;-)  On to the good stuff. -

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

I wrote the following article over 4 years ago and hadn't updated it
since Oct. 2001, so I figured it was well overdue for rewriting.  As
much as I shout that things in SEO don't change very much on a
day-to-day basis, I have to admit that *years* actually do make a
difference!  I'm not exactly sure if it's the SEO techniques that
change or just my feelings and ways of using them that change.  Hard
to know for sure.

At any rate, here's my "All About Title Tags" article, brought up to
date for the year 2004!

++All About Title Tags++

The title tag is one of the most important factors in achieving high
search engine rankings.  A title tag is essentially an HTML code
snippet that creates the words that appear in the top bar of your Web

The HTML code for a title tag looks like this:

<TITLE>XYZ Company Home Page</TITLE>

The title tag belongs in the <HEAD> section of your source code, and
is generally followed by your Meta description and Meta keywords tags.
The order of these tags is not critical, so don't worry if your HTML
editor places them in a different position.

Some Web site design tools and content management systems (CMS)
automatically generate the title tag from information you provide. You
may have noticed Web pages that are labeled "Page 1," "Page 2," or
"Home Page" in the browser title bar. You'll often see titles like
these being used by beginning Web site designers who simply don't know
how to use their software or their title tag for maximum benefit.

Search Engines and Title Tags

All search engines use title tags to gather information about your Web
site. The words in the title tag are what appear in the clickable link
on the search engine results page (SERP). What you put in this tag is
a key factor in which search queries you will rank highly with in the
major search engines.  Title tags are definitely one of the "big
three" as far as the algorithmic weight given to them; they are
equally as important as your visible text copy and the links pointing
to your pages.

Do Company Names Belong in the Title Tag?

For years I was adamantly against "wasting" precious title tag space
on company names. However, now that I work with many well-known
brands, I've altered my thinking on this. I've found that it's fine to
place your company name in the title, and *gasp*, even to place it at
the beginning of the tag!  In fact, if your company is already a
well-known brand, I'd say that it's essential. Even if you're not a
well-known brand yet, chances are you'd like to eventually be one. The
title tag gives you a great opportunity to further this cause.

This doesn't mean that you should put *just* your company name in the
title tag.  Even the most well-known brands will benefit from a good
descriptive phrase or two added to this tag, as it will serve to
enhance your brand as well as your search engine rankings. The people
who already know your company and seek it out by name will be able to
find you in the engines, and so will those who never heard of you, but
who seek the products or services you sell.

For example, if your company is "Johnson and Smith Inc." and you are a
tax accounting firm in Texas, you shouldn't place only the words
"Johnson and Smith Inc." in your title tag, but instead use something
like "Johnson and Smith Inc. Tax Accountants in Texas."

Title Tags Should Contain Specific Keyword Phrases

As a Texas tax accountant, you would want your company's site to
appear in the search engine results for searches on phrases such as
"Texas tax accountants" and "CPAs in Texas." You would need to be even
more specific if you prefer to work for people only in the Dallas
area. In that case, use keywords such as "Dallas tax accountants" in
your site's title tags. This is a key point: If you're only seeking
customers or clients in a specific geographical region, your keywords
need to reflect that. People looking for a tax accountant in Dallas
may begin their search by simply entering "tax accountant" in the
search engine. However, once they see that their search is returning
accountants from all over the world, they'll narrow the search by
adding "Dallas" to their search terms. When they do, you want your
site to be right there on the first page of new results.

In our Dallas accountants example, you might create a title tag as

<TITLE>Johnson and Smith Inc. Tax Accountants in Dallas</TITLE>

or you might try something like this:

<TITLE>Johnson and Smith Inc. Dallas CPAs</TITLE>

However, there's more than enough space in the title tag to include
both of these important keyword phrases. (In fact, search engines will
display 60 to 115 characters of your title tag.) Here's an example of
an approach I like even better:

<TITLE>Johnson and Smith Inc. - Dallas Tax Accountants - CPAs in
Dallas, TX</TITLE>

Today's search engines are not case-sensitive; therefore I generally
use initial caps in this tag because it looks the cleanest. I used to
often use ALL CAPS in parts of my title tag because when the engines
were case sensitive, it would give me a different variation of my
phrase.  However, ALL CAPS looks somewhat spammy in the SERPs, so I
generally avoid this practice these days.

As for placing the word "Dallas" twice in the title tag, I have found
this approach to be both permissible and effective. Just make sure
that you don't put the same words right next to each other. For
example, a tag that reads "Accountants in Dallas -- Dallas CPAs" may
trigger a red flag with the search engines, possibly making that word
ignored entirely. (Search engines see hyphens and commas as spaces,
which is why they would count that example as the same word next to
itself.) In order to play it safe, it's probably a good idea to not
use any given word more than two times in the title.

Use Your Visible Text Copy as Your Guide

I personally would not be able to create a title tag for any page
until the copy on the page has been written and optimized. I need to
see how the copywriter integrated the keyword phrases into the visible
text copy to know where to begin. If you've done a good job with your
writing (or better yet, hired a professional SEO copywriter), you
should find all the information you need right there on your page.
Simply choose the most relevant keyword phrases that the copy was
based on, and write a compelling title tag accordingly. If you're
having trouble with this, and can't seem to get a handle on what the
most important phrases are for any given page, you probably need to
rewrite the copy.

The optimal approach when writing copy for a Web site is to think of
the main phrases that best reflect your business, and then compose the
text around them. When you write your title tag, you simply revisit
these same phrases, and compose your keyword-rich title accordingly.
I recommend that you *don't* take an exact sentence pulled from your
copy and use it as your title tag.  It's my preference to have a
unique sentence or compelling string of words in this tag.

So what if a keyword phrase you want to use doesn't actually appear
within your visible copy? Does this mean you shouldn't use this phrase
in the title tag?

Well, yes and no. Since the title tag is given a lot of weight in the
engines, even if you're not willing to change the text on your page,
you may be able to rank highly simply by placing your phrase in this
tag. Just note that for any phrase that is even slightly competitive,
having it in the title tag and not the copy will generally limit its
overall effectiveness.  You'd want to be sure to gain lots of
keyword-rich links to your site in these cases, which can also work in
conjunction with your title.

You'd be better off still if you'd rewrite the text on your page so
that it utilizes the phrases that are important to you. This doesn't
mean to just stick keywords at the top or bottom of the page. It
doesn't mean to hide them in the background. Nor does it mean to put
them in a tiny font so that no one will notice them. If certain
keyword phrases are important enough that you want your site to be
found under them in the search engines, they are certainly important
enough to be elegantly incorporated into the body text of your page.

Once you've incorporated your phrases into the text of your site,
you'll find that creating brilliant title tags that help with branding
as well as with getting found in the search engines is truly a

_________SmartSearch Marketing Workshops______________adv.

Optimization (+) Advertising:  A Winning Combo!

Attend this 1-day workshop presented by SmartSearch Marketing.
Learn to successfully integrate optimization and search advertising.
Everything you need to run an *affordable* pay-per-click campaign.

Coming to a city near you.  Find out more:

~~~Guest Article~~~

Andrea Harris wrote today's guest article about SEO and email
newsletters.  Andrea is a communications consultant and owner of
Minerva Solutions <>.  She does a little bit
of everything, but specializes in SEO copywriting and helping clients
launch and manage email newsletters.

A few weeks ago Andrea and email newsletter guru Michael Katz and I
got together for lunch and some great conversation about email
newsletters and SEO (among other things).  Andrea tells me that this
article was inspired by our chat.

So let's have a warm advisor welcome for Andrea! - Jill

++Boost Your Search Engine Rankings with Email Newsletters++

SEO: search engine optimization. It can make the difference between a
website that's rarely visited, and one that bustles with traffic.
Email newsletters are an excellent and easy way to boost SEO.

Of course, email newsletters offer many obvious benefits to firms that
want to nurture relationships with their clients. They are an
inexpensive, effective way to keep in touch with your customer base
while promoting your company, your products and services, and your

Every time you send out a newsletter, you encourage people to visit
your website. But that's not the only way it can increase your website
traffic. If you choose to archive past issues on your site, you'll
find that they can also attract targeted search engine traffic. Each
issue you post helps your SEO results. With SEO, email newsletters do
double duty - continually benefiting your web marketing efforts long
after distribution.

Think about it. Each issue focuses on something that has to do with
your business, right? So it's probably full of relevant key phrases
that people use in search engines. A newsletter article allows you to
write about a specific topic in great detail - perhaps more detail
than you would include on a regular page on your website.

Also, articles give you an opportunity to link to specific pages deep
in your website, using whatever anchor text you want. ("Anchor text"
refers to the text of the actual link. For instance, if you want
people to find your web page about email newsletters, the link "email
newsletters" is much better for SEO than "click here.")

Articles let you optimize for different spellings or abbreviations of
business terms that you might not be using frequently on your regular
pages. The regular web pages for my client's Athena IT Solutions
website are optimized for phrases such as "business intelligence
assessment." But one of the firm's email newsletter articles ranks
well for a phrase that uses the abbreviation for business
intelligence, BI. In April 2004, searches for "BI architecture" bring
up one of their articles in the #1 spot in Yahoo and on the second
page of Google.

If your website isn't very large to begin with, adding your archived
newsletters will help bulk it up with high-quality content. Before you
know it, you may find that you're attracting visitors in ways you
never expected. For example, Eye of the Storm Equine Rescue published
an email newsletter detailing their innovative treatment for a horse
disease. Their web stats show that the article page is now one of the
most frequent "entry" pages to their site. Grateful horse owners who
found the article when searching for treatments have even sent
tax-deductible donations to the rescue center.

You can leave it to chance, like the equine rescue center, or you can
take a proactive approach and actually optimize your articles for SEO.
In addition to using SEO copywriting practices in the article itself,
there are things you can do to enhance your article page's SEO. Just
make sure that whatever you do for SEO is also good for your readers.

Use your key phrase in the title tag.
Include links to several past issues.
Link to regular pages within your site, where appropriate.
Link to specific articles from your regular web pages, where
Make a link to your home page part of every article's boilerplate
List all issues on a Back Issues web page.
Link to issues on your site map.

Optimized and posted on your website, email newsletter articles help
turn a lazy website into a hard-working web-marketing machine.

Andrea Harris
Minerva Solutions, Inc.


MarketingSherpa's SEO Copywriting Kit with Jill Whalen

Includes Jill's "Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines"
handbook, the audio CDs and transcript of Jill's recent teleseminar
with Anne Holland, PLUS a bonus copy of Karon Thackston's new "How
To Increase Keyword Saturation Without Destroying the Flow of Your
Copy" ebook.  The teleseminar CD and transcript portion includes
Jill's verbal review of a ton of sites belonging to the seminar

A *steal* at only $99!  </seowritingkit>

~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~

++Can SEO Software Hurt You?++


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Beware of Marketers Bearing Browser Keyword Programs++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

A few weeks ago I was answering some SEO questions for a reader
(around midnight or so like most nights) and she was so thankful, she
sent my family a "butterfly kit" from her store:
<>.  It came
with these cups that contained a bunch of little tiny live
caterpillars.  We read the instructions completely, and set the jars
out of the way.  I had pretty much forgotten about them until after my
trip to Chicago, when I noticed them out of the corner of my eye.  I
took a look to see how they were doing and they had grown so big!
They are now up at the top of the cups like they're supposed to be,
and starting to form their chrysalides (cocoons).  We were going to
send them in to my son's Montessori school when vacation was over, but
my daughter wants to see their metamorphosis too.  It's almost time to
switch them over to their butterfly pavilion, for their final stage.
Should be interesting to watch...I'll keep you posted!

Catch you next week! - Jill

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