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.html – http://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.
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?
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.