Have you ever put thought into the exact wording of your titles and the title tag of your articles? If you haven't then you might be missing out on a key factor that could increase your search engine rankings and click through rates on your website.
This article will go through some hints and tips to choosing the right titles for your article and how to control them in your Joomla website to get the most out of your search engine optimisation for your articles and website.
What is a Title?
The title of the page or more technical term is the "title tag" that appears in the browser bar of your website, in the search engine results page for a search and on other website when sharing the page such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter or any other website that will extract the title to display on it's own site.
What Controls the Title and How Can You Change It?
The title on a Joomla site is usually controlled by the name of the article that you are writing, the name of the category or the name of the menu item that you have written for your particular page of your website.
This is where it gets complicated with Joomla.
There are many different ways to display content on a Joomla website from, category blog views, article views, section list views, direct links from menus items and so on.
Because there are so many different ways to display your content then there are also many different ways to control the titles of your content pages depending on what they are.
Articles are the first place to look when changing the title at the article level of your website. When adding a new article to Joomla you are asked to enter in a title for that article. This is the same title that will appear in the browser bar and in the search engine results for the page so it is important to make sure these are optimised for search engines and for your website users and readers.
Categories are where you articles are organised into and can also be used as a display layer on your website showing intro snippets of articles that reside under the category. Again you can control the browser title that appears by changing the name of the category.
This is where things can get interesting. Menu items can have their own titles as well and menu items can override the title tag of your categories or article in your website if the menu item is linked directly to them. This means that the title tag can be different to the actual page title that is displayed in the content area of your website.
This is actually very powerful in that you can now optimise the title that appears in the title tag, compared to what appears on the page. You can then focus particular wording on for the title tag and have something completely different in the title that appears in the content area if the page.
This menu item page title override also applies to categories that you may create in your Joomla website.
You can simply create a category called "marketing" but have the overriding title tag as being something such as "Online marketing with Joomla" and get very specific with what you want displayed.
Extensions in Joomla usually control the titles that get outputting internally in their component code. This means you don't have as much control over the titles that are displayed in these areas of the website. Hopefully what ever component that you are using has some flexibility in how these titles are displayed. Popular extensions like SobiPro, K2, and VirtueMart all allow you to control the titles to some extent. Some may be more rigid in their design and may be a little harder to control the titles of. In these situations it is always best to contact the developer of the extensions or check their website for documentation.
Best Practises in Writing Titles
There are a few tips to take away when writing titles for your content in general to get the most our of the search engines.
Positioning of Keywords in Your Titles
The more important keywords should usually appear at the beginning of the title. In fact, you can be more concise with the keywords that you use in the title of articles to keep them as short and simple as possible.
For example, the search term "Joomla business templates".
<title>The Top 10 Best Joomla business templates in 2013</title>
can be optimised and change to
<title>Joomla business templates: Top 10 of 2013</title>
Noticed how the positioning of the keyword phrase was changed in the title.
Length of Your Titles
The length of your titles also matter. Really long titles will get cut off in the search results and the wording at the end of the titles may not ever be seen by users or seen as important by a search engine.
Google for example allows for 70 characters to be displayed as the title tag for your pages and you should take advantage of that and optimise all the content to match and fit into that limited amount of space.
Take the title of this article when I was first writing it.
<title>Tips for Optimising Your Titles to Improve Search Engine Optimisation and Click Through Rates</title>
can be shortened to
<title>Optimising Titles for Improved SEO & Click Through Rates</title>
The shortened title may not be the exact search phrase that someone might be searching for but that fact that it doesn't get cut off is the important part. The user may be searching for particular tips in regards to SEO and increasing click through rates. The longer title may not display the fact that the article talks about click through rates at and may lead to less click throughs to the page.
Relevancy of the Title to Content
The title should relate to what the content is about and shouldn't be misleading to the user. Misleading and inaccurate titles will also result in an increased bounce rate on your website.
The title should related to exactly what the content of the website page is.
If the page is about toilet training puppies then the title should be the same. It's like the titles or index of a non fiction reference book. You'll get very confused if all the titles of the chapters in the book didn't match up to what the content actually was in those chapters. you'll never find the right information and that same principle applies to search engines.
Duplicate titles are also a big issue. If you use the same titles on various pages of your site. A search engine will think that you are either spamming the titles across your site and the search engine will dilute the relevancy of the search result not being sure which page or version of the page it should point the results to.
Write Titles of Questions that People are Searching For
This is a great technique when writing articles, blog posts or any piece of content. Think about a frequently asked questions section of a website. If you get asked these questions over and over again you might as well write articles and blog posts about those articles because it is likely that people are searching those questions too.
For example, try searching for "Joomla business templates" and you'll get a few search results with that exact search phrase as the title use in the articles. Of course the search engines are going to apply relevancy to the results, and quality of the results but you will see some pages with that exact search phrase.
You may have come across many websites such as StackOverflow where lots of coding questions are asked and answers or on answers.yahoo.com where it is a similar situation but for different types of content.
Don't over do it. You should be concise with what you are trying to target on the page of your website. Stuffing too many keywords into your titles may result in search results that people aren't after and increase the bounce rate on your website.
It also violates various search engines policies and can result in your pages ranking worse and not better.
Take Away Points
As you can see there are many things to keep in mind when optimising your titles on your Joomla website.
In short it is important to keep titles short, keep them concise and on topic, don't over do the keywords and make sure the same title doesn't appear multiple times across your site.
Keep that in mind when writing and controlling the titles in your website and you should be on your way to better search engine optimised titles and better click through rates on your website.