Search Engine Optimization – The Keyword Hierarchy, Part 1 – Page Title

Early wisdom on keyword optimization was simple – make sure you had good keywords in your meta tags. While that still holds true, it is but one link in a long chain, or one level in the keyword hierarchy as I like to call it.

For every keyword you are optimizing your website, or individual page for, there are multiple levels at which that keyword needs to appear. While no one has completely figured out Google’s shell game yet, we know Google needs to see your keywords throughout the hierarchy that appears on each web page. You can think of the hierarchy from the top down, starting from the top of the page.

At the top of your browser screen, you will see the page title. Depending on your browser, it is likely a blue bar at the top with white text. The page title’s purpose is to summarize the content on the page with a descriptive title. Since this is what shows in someones favorites list if they were to bookmark the page, it should clearly define the page in one short sentence. Of equal, or more importance, the page title should contain your primary keywords that are on the page. These are the keywords that are most relevant to the content on your site and important words or phrases that a potential customer would use to find your website. If a page title cannot convey both relevancy to the page content and contain a searchable phrase a customer would use to find you on the search engines, then you don’t have a good page title. Sadly, this is commonly the case as a site owner will give their pages titles such as “Welcome to our website” or “Welcome to ABC Company, serving you since 1979”.

Important point – “Welcome” is not a keyword, not relevant to any content on your website (unless you sell welcome mats) and is not descriptive to a site visitor. Strike this word from your website keywords and description, including it’s use in the page title description – it is draining value from your real keywords. Do the same with other fluff words that don’t describe anything meaningful about your company.

Since page titles are at the top of our hierarchy, I like to think of a webpage’s title as its mission statement. If you were to share your company’s mission statement, I guarantee it does not say “Our goal is to welcome customers to our store” or “Our mission is be in business for a long period of time”.  Think about what the mission of that particular page is, and then summarize it into one short sentence – that is your page title.

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