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Blog Exercises: Check Your Site Title Tag

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Do you know what the title of your site is? Not the name of your site or the title of your post, but the HTML <title> tag for your site buried in the source code.

In HTML, every website is required to have the <title> tag in the <head> of the source code HTML structure. It is the area that tells a search engine the name of your site, and if appropriate, the title of the web page you are viewing.

In “Blog Exercises: Know Your Pageviews,” your blog exercise was to check out all the pageviews on your site, the various ways your site generates a specific web page. Your site’s underlying code includes generating web page “titles” for each of these pageviews as well. Do you know what they are? Have you checked your titles lately?

Most modern WordPress Themes are set up to show the name of the site followed by the title of the Page or post such as: What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content | Lorelle on WordPress or About « Lorelle on WordPress for my About Page on this site.

Do you know what your title says about your site to search engines and to potential visitors?

To find out, view one of your web pages on your site. In your browser, choose View Source and scan the HTML. I know that most of it won’t be readable unless you know a little HTML, but look at the very top for the <title> HTML tag. What does it say?

Here are some results I’ve found recently. The first part of each item in the list is what the title says. The second is what it should say. I’ve disguised the names of a few sites to protect the guilty.

What Appears in the Title Tag What the Title Tag Should Say
Home | Corporate and Continuing Education Clark College Corporate and Continuing Education
Is J.J. Abrams Directing Star Wars Episode VII? Is J.J. Abrams Directing Star Wars Episode VII? – Mashable Entertainment News
Home Sally Hansen – Dreams of a Bigger and Better World
My Blog Dancing News Entertainment Blog
The Adventure of a Lifetime – Sky Jumping Blog
http://somethingsomething.com/about.htmlhttp://somethingsomething.com/about.html About – SomethingSomething

Does that make sense. For example, Mashable, one of the most popular sites on the web for current events, entertainment, and tech news, does not feature the name of their site on their web pages. You would think that the use of their name in the title of their web pages would be important when it comes to search engine keywords and name recognition.

You would imagine the same for Clark College. Wouldn’t having “Clark College” in the title of their Corporate and Continuing Education department’s site be important for branding and name recognition?

What about Sky Jumping Blog and SomethingSomething (yes, both made up)? Their site title and post title say nothing, leaving me to guess that their site either has nothing in the title HTML tag or one doesn’t exist, which is bad as it required for web page validation and web standards.

The title HTML tag is used by search engines in search results as the “name” of your site and the title of the web page article. It is used by feed readers as the name of your site. It is used in many ways and having it lacking the name of your site or useless words like “home” is like telling the search engines you don’t want your site listed.

What does your say? And does it speak well of you and your site?

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is to check your <title tag in the source code of your site.

Check the front page and various pageviews to see how it changes. Check the category pageview, single post pageview, Page pageview, etc.

If it doesn’t speak well of you, fix it.

To view it, visit a web page on your site and view the source code (View > Page Source or Source on most web browsers). Search for “title.” It should be within the first few lines of code for your site, so you won’t look far.

There has been much debate over two elements of the title tag. The first is the usage of the separator between the post title or page name and the site title. In general, the hyphen or Pipe (|) is preferred but the » is popular.

The second debate is over whether the site title should come before the article title or after. In general, the consensus is article title first, site title second, but it is up to you. If you write keyword-rich post titles, consider putting the post title first.

To fix it in your WordPress Theme, contact the Theme author if you are code-shy. If you are willing to do it yourself, see Function Reference/wp title in the WordPress Codex and How to Modify Your WordPress <title> Tag for Search Engine Optimization by bavotasan.com.

If you are on a site not of your own design, contact the Theme author to get this fix and updated, or use a Child Theme to protect your WordPress Theme when it updates.

What did you find when you checked your title? Did you need to fix it? Which order and separator do you prefer?

If you blog about this, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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10 Comments

  1. Papizilla
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Ranting Papizilla and commented:
    Interesting, check it out people, this could be why new people have trouble finding you….

    • John
      Posted March 14, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      So how can I tell if people are having trouble finding me? Are you having trouble finding me? I changed themes again.

    • Papizilla
      Posted March 14, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      No problems finding you John, I thought this was an interesting post about the inner workings of our blogs. Now if I understood what any of it meant, I might be able to check it out. Maybe I should take that remedial computer class……

    • Posted March 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      I think if people will simply “bookmark” their favorite blogs, they will have no problem returning to the again and again. In Firefox there is an add on called “Roomy Bookmark” that iconizes everything and in Chrome there is Easy Bookmarks which holds limitless bookmarks in both regular and starred form. This might help if someone is not all that tech savvy.

    • Posted March 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Bookmarks have nothing to do with being found. I’d love to know more about your expectations about what “found” means to you.

    • Posted March 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Before I can answer that, what do you mean? Being found on the web means many things.

    • John
      Posted March 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Being found on the web is synonymous with being found in the position of a fly before the seductive advances of a spider on a warm spring morning in the corner of a barn constructed of rotting and most fragrant timbers – – for one thing. There are many others I am sure.

    • John
      Posted March 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Being found on the web does in deed mean many things and goes even further into the realm of cabbages and kings.

    • Posted March 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      LOL! Great description.

      Being “found” on the web for our purposes here on this site means people who want the information you have to offer can easily find you through a web search. It also means information can be found on your site once a visitor arrives. Two important yet distinct topics.

      In general, being found through search engines means you must write words in your content people will use to search for your content. Sounds simple, but it is not. There are many games people can play, but organic, sincere, and original content written with nouns (not pronouns) will naturally turn up in search engines.

      Many people tell me that their site is number one in search engine rankings. My next question is for what. If it is for the phrase “peanut butter horses bees italy carrot juice” then congrats. Not sure how often someone might combine those terms, but if you are number one, let’s all cheer.

      Remember, you don’t just want to be found. Being found is easy actually. One client bragged to me about her company website traffic saying she got 2,000 hits a month. I asked her how many of these people came back for seconds. After checking her stats, the answer was three. Then I asked how much income was generated from her site from those 2,000 visitors monthly. Answer: $300 a month. She worked long hours on her site to have it accompany her brick and mortar business, but clearly there is something out of balance.

      You do not want to just be found. You want a community. You want fans. You want people to keep coming back and wanting more.

      As for your original question, Themes and design elements do not directly influence traffic. Yes, if your WordPress Theme or site’s HTML does not feature a properly formed site title tag, you run the risk of losing visitors because valuable information is not offered or poorly presented. It doesn’t stop someone from “seeing” or “finding” your site. Content does the heavy lifting in that area.

      Good luck with your site, and it’s clear you got the creative writing gene!

  2. John Smyth
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Informative post on title tags, thanks for sharing.


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