Local SEO 101: Homepage Titles

In: Local SEO 101|Search Engine Optimization - SEO

5 Feb 2013
by Chris Silver Smith

Since the earliest days of search engine optimization (“SEO”), the page Title <title></title> text has been one of the most influential on-page elements for keyword rankings in search results. For local business websites, the Title text on the homepage is particularly influential. In fact, it may be the most important factor on the most important website page. So, read on for a few tips on making a good one!

Local SEO Title Tags

In earlier days, local marketers used to suggest that people include their business name and entire street address and phone number in their title tags. Can you say “overkill”?!? I never did this — because it didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.

First of all, the page Title is typically the link text found in the search results, so having it all crammed full of address details is unattractive, unnecessary and distracting.

Second, the more junk you have in a Title aside from core keywords, the LESS the title is considered relevant to searcher’s keyword query. You want the title to ideally match closely to the top search queries users would use to try to find your type of business — the greater the difference to an exact match with the user’s keywords, the less relevant the search algorithms will determine the page to be. And, searchers rarely search for your business name, address and phone number all at the same time — if they knew all that they wouldn’t need to search at all!

Some marketers go too far in the other direction — suggesting that site owners leave off the brandname from the title and only use the page’s main keyword phrase so that the title will be an exact match to the keyword phrase. However, Google and other search engines have become sophisticated enough that they can tell what the brandname portion of a Title is, especially when used consistently across a site, so the brand doesn’t detract or dilute the relevancy of the Title. And, neglecting to include the brandname could actually be a strong sign of low quality for a site, resulting in lower trust in your site on the part of consumers and search engines, translating into lower rankings over time, too.

For the homepage of a local business, it’s ideal to combine the main keyword or business category with the city name and the brandname/company name. Here’s a basic template:

Local HTML Title Tag Template
It’s strongly recommended to use the main keyword phrase first in the Title, since words at the left side or beginning of the Title are evaluated to be more important to the page.

Try to keep it short, too! If you have three main lines of business, it’s tempting to try to cram them all into the homepage title. Don’t do that! Create other pages on your site that are all about those secondary subjects and Google local algorithms will still evaluate the overall business/site to still be relevant for those keywords.

It should go without saying, but you really ought to perform careful keyword research to determine what your ideal main keyword phrase(s) is. People commonly assume they know this, but it’s often more subtle than they realize. (See 5 SEO Keyword Research Sources in Google for tips on great information sources for keyword data.)

There can be subtleties depending upon a businesses, name, category, locality, and primary keyword phrases, but these general rules should help most local businesses in forming a great homepage Title!

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