What is SEO? Why is it important? How can title tags help?

Definition: “SEO (n) - The practice of actively attempting to optimize a webpage to improve its search engine visibility”. In essence, Search Engine Optimization is about linking what people are looking for and what your page has to offer.

In the ‘caveman’ days of internet SEO, certain tricks and underhanded means were available to get your page ranking higher in search engines. Nowadays the focus has moved (and continues to move) toward what the searcher wants to see and the most effective ways they can find it, which is why we need our websites to behave accordingly! Just about every bit of text throughout your site is searchable, from headings and titles to links and informative text. So if you can have the right words written in the right way placed where the user will see what they’re looking for, you’re already doing well.

Now I’m sure you’re keen to get started on optimising, so let’s get stuck into some “Key” terms, starting with Key Tags and Title Tags. We’ll look into how to identify them and how you can update yours...

Key <Tags>

Websites are coded in HTML. It is a rather simple coding language at heart. If you can understand some HTML, web optimization can be a friendlier place. Essentially a tag is a command inside triangle brackets < >. If you don’t know HTML the below is still important to grasp, and can be passed onto your IT!


The <Title> Tag – “Title tags are one of the simplest things to optimize for search results”

Title tags are the title of your web page. They appear in two locations: in the tab or top of the browser (depending on the browser) and as the link in search engine results.
They are the official title of your webpage. Every webpage on your website should have a different unique title, as no two pages are the same (at least no two pages should be the same…)

 Figure 1: Title tags appear at the top of the tab
 Figure 2: Title tags also appear as the link in search engine results i.e. Google

Title tags are easy to spot in the source of the web page if you would like to go further. All browsers support a way to view the source of the webpage (If using Google Chrome it will sync bookmarks across all the devices used). Press Ctrl + U to open source in Google Chrome, or right click and select View Page Source in Firefox then press Ctrl + F to open up a find box, and then type Title and push enter. It is easy. Below is what should show up.

Figure 3: Source View highlighting the title tag

The importance of these tags goes deeper than just the two places they are viewed. Whilst keeping in mind what people are clicking on in Google is important, there is a greater importance here. Title tags heavily influence search results and are very easy to optimize for search results. Google looks at page titles for relevance to the search term. If a title is rather generic and doesn’t contain a whole lot of keywords relevant to its business it will not rank as highly in search as it could, especially for what is presented at the front. 70 characters is currently the limit for what Google will show in its search results. Best practice would be to keep the title to 70 characters or less as beyond that Google will either truncate it or take no notice of it. Another good title for the above example is “Psych Press – Delivering Quality Tailored Psychometric Tests Online” or similar. This way when your audience is using Google they read this and think “yes, that is what I want”. Google will also read it and as it has more keywords it will match the search queries better and potentially rank higher.
Changing title tags alone is not going to rank you number one on Google, especially if the title is not relevant to the content on the page. As title tags are simple to edit they are a fantastic starting point in order to improve your online performance.

“To Do” For My Business

        Title tags reflect your website’s services, products or goals
        All pages have a unique title
        All title tags are unique
        All title tags are under 70 characters long

For those in Small Business
When thinking about the terms most relevant to your business, try to keep any technical language or jargon under control that may be casual to you and your staff but not frequent language to your target audience. If your service primarily solves issues or problems, it’s a great idea to brainstorm what people would search for at a basic level in these instances and include these terms.

In our previous article we dealt with how to plan and deliver on your website goals.  This week we’re looking into some of the biggest early decisions to make for your business’ website…
Some of your early decisions will include what to actually call your website URL, and how you can get ownership of that website through a hosting service that will benefit your business the most. This article provides some guidelines, starter terms and reviews some common rumours to help you get a handle on making an informed decision and avoid rushing the details, whether you are starting out or are considering making changes to your business website.
Here are some recommendations for anyone in this position including those who are considering changing their hosting service… 
  • Be sure to consider as many options as possible, become familiar with package limitations and what different web hosting services promote as their key service benefits. Don’t forget to also view any hidden costs (renewal, data-transfer, phone calls or similar)
  • You don’t need to limit yourself by geography, but keep time zones in mind when tech support is available
  • Go beyond the service’s website for reviews and information on big “no-no” factors such as server down time and support responsiveness, http://whirlpool.net.au/ can be very helpful for this
  • Avoid just going with the cheapest option, saving a few dollars a month isn’t worth the pain of half-day server failures or finding out too late that your data hasn’t been backed up
  • Decide for yourself what you need and don’t need, anticipate site updates and changes that are a part of your online business goals

If customers will not pay for your service directly through the website or if your domain won’t include an endless amount of pages you won’t need the most expensive option to achieve the marketing impact you need.  Also be aware that most services will offer a basic setup but then try to attach extra packages and take over certain activities such as design, SEO listings, cloud packages and more. If you’ve read this far, chances are you want more control over your site and realise that not putting all your eggs in one basket will pay off in the future.

Starter Terms
-          Hosting: When a hosting service makes your web-ready material available to others on the internet. This normally includes a package of options you can make available through a server such as email, databases, sites with Z amount of memory, domain names and files.
-          Server:  Similar to a high speed computer, when you’re searching the web a server containing the relevant information will send it to your computer through a high speed net connection.
-          Domain: A uniquely named and owned part of the web which can connect to similar pages bearing the same basic domain name. i.e. www.domainnamehere.com
-          IP Address: All individual servers have an IP address eg. ‘351.88.102.25’ when a user is searching for your domain they will be directed to your IP address which contains the files on your website.

Common Rumours
  • That holding onto a domain for several years will give you ‘search authority’ for search engines such as Google. The simple truth is that while time is a small factor, if you’re not investing into a site, it will grow cobwebs like anything else.
  • That your site name has to include certain words. Calling your site ‘QualityPhysiotherapyMelbourne.com’ for example may actually do more harm than good.  Aside from being too long, to the viewer names like this may represent a directory or information source and may not differentiate you from other service providers.
  • That ending a domain name in “.com” will always get you more business. Using “.com.au” is widely accepted for Australian businesses and may have more flexibility and availability for your name.

“To Do” For My Business
        I have listed and understood what my site needs to function effectively, and have an idea of where I think it could grow in the future.
        My preferred domain name is short, understandable, memorable and representative of my business.
        I’ve looked into several providers and what people have said about them.
        The chosen service provides ongoing support and security. They will also advise me of expiration times and renewal charges well in advance.
        I will maintain and monitor the email address I have selected to be advised of expiration dates (otherwise the domain name will be lost due to your failure to renew).

Web Hosting Options in Practice
If you anticipate needing an e-commerce sales or appointment function available directly from your website, make sure your host service can allow for automation of that process online as much as possible. Be sure to review the level of tech support available and what kind of package upgrades may be necessary. For example, if you can save mountains of time by allowing users to book an appointment or buy a product through your website just be sure to take into account how easy it will be for staff to be able to manage this process and use the system correctly when the time comes.