SEO Title Tag Strategy: Which Came First… The Chicken or the Egg?

When it comes to your SEO title tag strategy, you are presented with quite a quandary.

Do you write title tags for search engines (to get found) or for people (to get the click)? That’s almost like saying, “Which came first… the chicken or the egg?”

image of a chicken coming out of an egg to illustrate question of whether you write title tags for search engines or peopleAs you may (or may not) already know… title tags are what appear in the search results in Google as “headlines”. These are the large blue words that are underlined at the top of each search result.

Many SEO experts agree that one of the more important ranking factors when it comes to SEO and a well-written title tag in many markets can be the difference between a page 1 ranking and a page 2 ranking.

At the same time… if your title tag is bland or boring, you may not get the click from the searcher/potential customer.

Let’s give an example: Say you are trying to optimize a page for the term “green widgets”. First, you would want to go to Google Keyword External Tool (or any other tool you may like using) and find out how people are searching for green widgets.

Let’s pretend that your research concludes that the top two ways that folks are searching for green widgets is as follows: “green widgets” and “widgets that are green” (and in that order).

Now some SEO people will tell you that you must have a compelling headling and they would suggest something like this: “The World’s #1 Resource for Green Widgets”.

Well, that’s probably nice and compelling, but I think I can solve the age-old question for everyone. The chicken DID come first because everyone knows that chickens lay eggs. Eggs don’t lay chickens. You don’t get the egg unless you had the chicken first! (Gee, my first grade teacher would be proud.)

Translated in SEO terms: If you don’t get FOUND in the search engines, how can you get the click? It does not matter how compelling your title tag is… if you people don’t find your site to begin with, you cannot and you WILL NOT get the click.

And since title tags play such an important role in SEO, you must write them for the search engines. In the case above, the correct title tag should be something like: “Green Widgets | Widgets That Are Green”.

Notice, we lead with the keyword phrase that gets the most searches and we follow that with the one that gets the second most searches. Now, there are several other ways to do this, and perhaps, we will cover this in a later article.

So how do you get the click with “boring” title tags? Use the description (meta description) section to do your persuading. Carefully worded meta descriptions (which show up on the 2-3 rows below the title tag in the search results) can help you get the click.

Now, once your page has some strong inbound linkage with the proper text in the anchor text of the link, then you have some “wiggle room” and can go back and make slight changes to the title tag that will make it a little more compelling, but that strategy is for another day.

SEO strategy learned? Write your title tags to help you get found and write your meta descriptions to help you get the click.

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