Keyword use in document title
In search engine optimisation it is well known that Google considers text used in the document title a good indication of what the web page is about.
The document title of a webpage is contained within <title> html tag which itself must be included in the <head> part of the html page.
If the title tag is malformed, search engines like Google may not read the page properly and not rank your page accordingly.
History of the <title> tag
The <title> tag in HTML is available in every version of HTML and is seen equally by all web browsers which support the html standard. It normally appears above the page in the browsers application bar.
It can also used by Google as a title for your webpage in its listings.
Therefore it is important not only to have your keywords to appear in the title tag, but presented in such a way so people are encouraged to click on the listing.
Position of the keyword or phrase is also an important consideration as well as the order of words.
In general Google will rank a page higher for a keyword or phrase if it appears as an exact match and as close to the front of the tag as possible.
As the title tag has always been a target for spammers, you also need to be aware of title tags that do not read well or look false by the use of Key phrase Spamming.
In short Keyword Spamming is a technique where you add over and over the same Keyword or phrase to get a better Google listing. Google is aware of this issue and if you are found to key phrase spam, you may find your website removed from Google altogether.
Google proof your search engine optimisation for the <title> tag
While it is true that no one outside of Google knows the mechanism for determining rank in its search engine listing, we do know Google likes the top ten pages for a given phrase for a reason, and it is this fact we can use to formulate our strategy.
The reason for looking at the top ten as a whole is that it allows us to remove the ‘freak’ results of any one website.
Optimising the <title> tag for the phrase cheap car insurance on 3rd December 2012 on Google UK
We could look at any phrase but it makes sense to look at a popular term. It’s also important to note that the internet is a fluid place and analysis on one day and with one search engine can be different on another day on another engine.
Looking at the top ten results, only one didn’t use ‘ cheap car insurance ‘ right at the beginning of the title tag, and for that website the search term was prefixed by the word Compare.
At this point you may decide to revisit your search term in case there is a better one, but in this case there is enough evidence to suggest this one site is the exception rather than the rule.
Looking at the technical break down we can see that ‘ cheap car insurance ‘ appeared once in each sites title tag, and constituted up to 50% of the total words used in the title tag.
In this instance, when optimising your key phrase, you may then decide to bulk out the title tag with at least another three words as so to bring your density down to 50% or below.
We should also look at the keywords within the key phrase and ‘ cheap ‘ has been used no more than once with a maximum density of 17% , ‘ car ‘ no more than twice with a maximum density of 25% , ‘ insurance ‘ no more than three times with a density of no more than 25% and finally all three keywords have been used no more than 5 times with a density of a maximum of 21%.
This would bring an interesting issue after all we want to have the keywords in the title tag as much as possible but we would not want to go above what the top 10 are doing.
In the above example cheap can be used once, car twice and insurance three times, but in total they can only appear a maximum of 5 times. This means you will need to make a judgement about which part of the key phrase is most important to you.
This also illustrates nicely why it’s almost always impossible without great effort to optimise for more than one key phrase.
Now when Google changes the algorithm we can rerun the analysis and be happy that our technique will still work.