Title Tags and the secret story of the hairy golf ball

It’s easy to to answer the question, “Do you know how I can get to the top of Google?”

I get this a lot lately, it’s what happens when you go to business networking meetings and announce you are an SEO. I tell them a simple way to increase their rankings is to optimise their title tags. And I just know their title tags are going to be crap because of the type of question asked.

You know what I love? I love being the only guy in the room that knows something that everyone in that room can profit from. It’s a ego thing and I know it’s a pretty daft thing to get juiced up on, but I get a real buzz from it.

“Remove the name of your domain from the title tags within your website.” I tell them. Simple, but an instant change in optimisation of their website. Not to be confused with an instant jump in the rankings, like growing a prize marrow, it will take time.

Make sure the keyword you want to rank for is at beginning of the title tag. For example, on your hairy golf ball sales page your title tag should read, “Hairy Golf Balls for sale”, rather than “Buy Hairy Golf Balls”. It’s a small change, but if we are talking about thousands of pages it’s a big improvement in your keyword footprint.

Repetition of a keyword can improve things. I have been watching the results page for “linkbait” for a while now and notice Jim Boykin has knocked Matt Cutts off the number one position. Yes there are other factors at work here and yes I think ranking No.1 for linkbait was Boykins’ intention. Whereas Cutts couldn’t care less (repeat this sentence ten times fast to improve your Google Mojo).

Here are the title tags from the SERP for “linkbait” as I see them right now.

It’s interesting as you look down the page and notice examples contrary to the rule.

1. Linkbait, Linkbait, Linkbait – Jim Boykin?s Internet Marketing Blog
2. Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO ? SEO Advice: linkbait and…
3. SEOmoz | Talking about LinkBait
4. SEOmoz | Services
5. Search Engine Land: Link Building: Linkbait Archives
6. Linkbaiting: Vote Yes or No This Week Only | Copyblogger
7. The History of Link Bait | Copyblogger
8. Yahoo! Publisher Network ? Blog Archive ? Leveraging Linkbait
9. Should You Use Linkbait?
10. Link bait – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I’m at 19 btw, which would annoy me no end, but I’m up against some heavy action. Actually, to be honest, it does annoy me no end, I need to do something about that.

One of the things you can do if you have a WordPress blog is hack your Title Tag. Brian Turner put me on to this at Hack your Title Tag.

Note the title tags on this blog no longer have “Cornwall SEO” contained within, no more muddying the waters. The title tag now reflects the text of the heading of the post giving no ambiguity as to what the page is about.

So what about the secret hairy golf ball?

A hairy golf ball is a metaphor I use for describing badly optimised title tags. It may look pretty, but it aint gonna get you a hole in one. Much better to cut away anything that will slow you down.

Your balls need to be smooth and hairless.

12 thoughts on “Title Tags and the secret story of the hairy golf ball”

  1. Hey Lyndoman,

    In a nutshell, 19th is pretty good considering how new your blog is and who the competition is…

    As for the advice on balls, good stuff, but isn’t this blog about SEO?

  2. Alex, I love a good metaphor.

    There are enough seo blogs around already so I like to give a different twist. Hopefully get people thinking in different ways. That’s the plan anyway.

  3. I’d not previously considered that the state of my balls would have a direct influence on my search rankings but, since you’ve mentioned it, I have noticed an improvement ever since I had a back, sack and crack earlier this month.

    And there was me thinking it was down to tweaking my titles…

  4. Great post. It’s funny how important the title tag really is and how much traffic it can bring in just by tweaking a few things.

  5. Well, title tag optimisation might be part of SEO, but isn’t natural title tag better anyway?

    For example, I prefer title tags containing words which can be found within the content, title tags which are descriptive, but not misleading.

    Always bear in mind that your title tag will be probably shown as a link in SERPs. So if you repeat 1 or 2 words just for SEO purposes, some people won’t visit your site in my opinion…

    For example, title tag “rifle” isn’t very descriptive even if it moves the importance to 1 word only. “AK-47 Rifle” is more descriptive. But “Buy AK-47 | AK-47 Rifle | Visit our gun shop with AK-47 in stock” is misleading for sure.

  6. Well you’re at 14 and 15 from my IP, you’re gettin there 🙂

    Some good points there. The title tag is definitely important, and when you’re talking about people that don’t know the first thing about SEO, their title tags are sure to be untargeted so a title tweak would do them alot of good.

    But, it’s always interesting to see how some pages with completely irrelevant title tags get the 1 spot. I guess it’s a testament to good off-page optimisation.

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