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Title Tag Question

December 14, 2011


Your website is fabulous. I've learned so much about SEO, and is a fabulous resource -- the best resource I could find, in fact.

This is a Title tag question: As a start-up, we have no brand recognition yet. We were wondering which of the following Title tags would potentially rank higher when searching on:

Photo Credit: Bionic Teaching<search phrase> reviews <our brand>
<search phrase> reviews
<search phrase>

For example, because our brand is unknown, would placing <our brand> in the Title tag actually work against us -- that is, dilute our rank -- because people are most likely to search on just <search phrase>?

Similarly, if our Title tag is an exact match for <search phrase>, would it be better to use fewer keywords in our Title tag to obtain that exact match? Is less more?

Somewhere on your site I think you mention that 10 to 12 keywords are good in a Title tag. We're thinking about no more than 5 or 6 keywords, perhaps as few as 3 in many cases. Our content, however, will be rich and relevant to those keywords.

It also seems that the keyword "reviews" is overused. We actually find better reviews (that is, natural, written by people) when we omit the keyword "reviews" from our search. So, although our service is all about high-quality reviews, we worry that we'll get lost in the fray of spammy and faux reviews. So we're thinking of omitting the keyword "reviews" from our Title tag as well.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this! When we get more start-up funding, we definitely could benefit from your professional services. In the meantime, it's all bootstrapping.

Thanks again,


++Jill's Response++

Hi Eric,

People have differing opinions on Title tags, but as you've already observed in my articles, I'm a firm believer in longer titles, rather than exact matches with just one keyword phrase. Title tags are given so much weight, in my opinion, that it's critical to have 2 or 3 keyword phrases contained within them, not just one.

I'm sure you'll read the opposite from other people.

The good news is that nothing is set in stone. Try it however you like and see how it goes. You can always adjust them later. (Give any change a month or two, however, before changing again.)

Regarding the word "reviews," I don't know enough about the reviews space to know if you'd want to omit that word or not. If what you're offering on your site is reviews, though, it seems as if that word should be there.

Remember, the idea is to always make sure that what the person sees in the search results matches exactly what they'll get when they click through to your site.

Hope this helps!



Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, Jill Whalenan SEO Services Company in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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Post Comment

 Robert Visser said:
Just a point of clarification on web standards, the discussion is on a Title element; “title tag” is a colloquialism. Using the the term “tag” when referencing a Title element is ambiguous and open to confusion with a title attribute. Please see the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) documents below.

HTML 4.01 Specification
W3C Recommendation 24 December 1999
The global structure of an HTML document
7.4.2 The TITLE element


7.4.3 The TITLE attribute

or if you’d prefer:

A vocabulary and associated APIs for HTML and XHTML
Editor’s Draft 30 September 2011
4.2.2 The title element
 Jill Whalen said:
Thanks Robert. Rightly or wrongly the SEO community calls it a Title tag, so that's what I call it here.
 Robert Visser said:


My point wasn't what is an accepted norm, rather that we who bare the mantel of educating the public should be consistent. I'd defer to the World Wide Web Consortium's in any question on proper use of nomenclature. Isn't accepting the W3C's guidelines why there's a governing body for web standards?

Having consistent long tail phrases is important for our industry -- to use this example, a potential difference on search engine results pages (SERPs) between a "title element", "title attribute", & "title tag" and what is actually relevant to the intended query.

A second concern is when we, as SEOs, need to speak with web developers about modifying a content management (CMS) to build additional input fields with which to post content. I'm always amazed how few CMS including many SEO specific plugin modules do not provide fields in which to enter either alt or title attributes.

 Kevin Gallagher said:
you need to get out more mate! :)
 Michael Cordova said:
Just a note, you didn't address the part of the question. Didn't the Panda update lean towards using your brand in the title?
 Jill Whalen said:
Michael, Panda definitely made it so people should be thinking more about branding. I'm not sure if that includes putting it in your Title or not, but I've always been a big proponent of doing just that. (Well not always, but for the last 10 years or so at least.)