SEO

If you search for the phrase “childrens physio” on Google UK, you will notice the web site in the second position has a blue link that says “Welcome” and the fourth website has a link called “Untitled Document”:

google-childrens-physio

“Why is that important?”, you may ask. Well, that blue text is the Title Tag of the page that Google is linking to in the search results.

Most search engine optimisation experts agree that the Title Tag is the single most important element of on-page search engine optimisation,that is to say it is the most important indexing signal on your web pages.  Well optimised pages will have appropriate keywords in their Title Tags.   I’ve written a set of tips to help you understand Title Tags, how important they are, and how to write good Title Tags.

However, if that is true, how come two of the top four results for [childrens physio] don’t have the keywords in their Title Tags?

The answer comes down to my emphasis on the phrase “on-page factors” – as you might expect, there are “off-page factors” too, which essentially come down to your domain name and the links you have pointing to your website. This is the explanation for the [childrens physio] search results – Google uses the links to a website as the primary ranking factor, so the Title Tag comes a distant second in terms of importance.

Google is using the links to these websites as “votes” to understand whether other people think they are a useful resource and what the resource is about. Incoming links are a sign of usefulness, and the words people use in the link (called “anchor text”) helps Google to understand that the site is about.

So the sites with “Welcome” and “Untitled Document” as their Title Tags, despite breaking one of the fundamental rules of search engine optimisation, are still ranking well because of the links they have pointing to their sites.

Except, in this particular example, links are not what are causing the high rankings, either. One of the sites has a single, solitary link, whilst the other has none at all and indeed the site itself is a “coming soon” page. So what does that tell us? Links don’t matter either!?

Well, the reality of the situation is that [childrens physio] isn’t a very competitive search term. None of the sites in the top 5 results have many links at all and most of the pages in the top 10 aren’t particularly well-optimised for that phrase. So what’s happening?

The answer must be the domain names of these websites: childrensphysio.com and childrensphysio.net. They both match our search term exactly. In the absence of any particularly well-optimised (i.e. “relevant”) pages for this phrase, Google has decided that sites called “childrens physio” are some of the best matches for what we’re looking for.

Does that change my opinion on the importance of Title Tags and links to your website? Frankly, no. They are both extremely important factors in search engine optimisation and assuming that your market is a little more competitive than [childrens physio], you won’t get very far without them.

Contact me to find out about our search engine optimisation packages, which include on-page optimisation and link building.

4 responses to “How Important are Title Tags & Domain Names for Search Engine Optimisation?”

  1. Dave Smith says:

    Hi Susan

    Thanks for this. Not a direct comment to this particular article, but I just wanted to comment how helpful and relevant I find these short, concise and accurate insights into SEO for an enthusiastic amature, such as myself – so useful for our small business, and slowly building knowledge and know how in the ever changing gourmet feast that is SEO! Thanks again!

  2. Thanks Susan

    You answered my questions as above very nicely.

    There doesn’t seem to be any right way sometimes.

    I suppose you’ve made realise that you can only try your very best…

    Thanks
    Tracey

  3. This is excellent advice; during a workshop hosted by Susan Hallam, it was pointed out that my “title tags” were the company name throughout the site; which explained why the google ranking was so poor. Immediately after the workshop I took Susan’s advice to give the “title tags” more relevance to the page. Within two weeks my website ranking increased to No 1 or 2 for most of my pages on the site. Website traffic has also significantly increased. Thank you Susan this was the best advice received for 2009!!!

  4. Anthony says:

    After your words of wisdom at the Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism conference, I have become a regular reader of your site. The above gives a good clear example of a simple but often overlooked tag. I believe also that although domain name is a key if not primary factor it is only relevent for the 1 phrase. ie for the search for “childrens physio” a site using this in the domain name but with no title tag will still rank well. However if they also did “physio for babies” they would not rank so well unless it was in the title tag and probably on its own page.

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