Meta and Title Tags

This brings us to the title tag. The title tag isn't a meta tag (though it is meta-data) but I'm going to talk about it here because they have been through the same kinds of changes and are used much in the same way.

The title tag, like the meta tags, needs to go inside the HEAD tags of your HTML document. Its formed a little differently however:

<title>Ray's Photography Resource</title>

The title tag has something else in common with meta tags, they both have been abused and devalued. Much like the meta tags people once spent considerable hours perfecting their titles so they would get higher ranks in the search engines, and like meta tags this no longer matters. Instead, like the meta description tag, you need a title that appeals to people. I'd venture to say that every search engine that isn't using listings from a human edited directory is going to use what title you specify to display your title in their search listings. This makes it even more important to have a catchy title than a catchy description, because not all search engines use the description tag and some don't list descriptions at all.

Your title should contain the name of your website and a brief one sentence or so write up of what you offer. Something like "Ray's Photography Resource: The best articles, reviews, and commentary on the web." You really don't have a lot of room to work with, here so make the best of what you got. Including keywords in your title is important, just don't go overboard.

You should also put different title tags and meta description tags on every page. Search engines index more than one page of your site, and many visitors will enter via a page deep in your site. If every page has the same description and title there is very little chance for you to get traffic for people searching for more specific topics. So if you have an article called "The Best Lighting for a Beach Photo Shoot" then you should use that as the title of the page. For your description you should use a brief summary of the article. If you run a database driven site setting this up might require an extra field in your database but the results are worth it.

If you only promote the front page of your site you probably won't be successful. You need to promote every page, it can be tough and time consuming to write a custom title and description for each page, but it is something you need to do.

You may be wondering why I didn't mention putting a different meta keyword tag on every page. This is because the meta keyword tag really isn't used as much anymore and its not always necessary to do this. However it can't hurt you if you want to put the time in. What I sometimes do is have a base list of keywords I want for my whole site and another list I make up for each page. Then, because my site is dynamic, I can compile the two lists on the fly before the page is served.