Do You Have A Clear Title?

Education & Training with Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors

Did you know that the search engines place a great deal of weight in the title of your web pages? After the URL of a site, the first information a search spider records is the title of the site. The keywords within your title will likely be chosen as the title of your listing on the search engines and the title also plays a huge role in the relevance of your site. The topic denoted within your title will be compared to the content within the body of the web page. If the topic and content match, you will have a much better chance of obtaining higher targeted placements. So lets take a look at this important web page element.

Did you know your title tag is being displayed for all to see? Where can you see it?


Poor use of Title Tag

Example 1. Title Tag (circled in red above)

It's right there at the very top of every visitor's browser window, up above the Back, Forward, Refresh, Stop & Home buttons and where you type in a web address to go visit. In the screen shot above, the title is "Page 1". What the heck does "Page 1" tell any search engine about this web site? Nothing at all!

Take a moment right now to see what the title is at the very top of your browser window for this Blog post. Now that you know where to look, do you see it?

Now let's look below at a web page that utilizes the title tag properly when the page is displayed.

Proper use of Title Tag

Example 2. Title Tag (circled in red above)

So where is this title, "Fairfax County Real Estate - Suburban Virginia - Real Estate in Northern Virginia and Fairfax County", actually coming from? Right there in the HTML code in the "head" section. Below is a screen shot of the source code of the home page of

Title tag in the html code

Example 3. Title Tag (circled in red above)

This title tag is targeted, concise, and tells the search spider exactly what it needs to know to properly index this web site. We'll see the results shortly.

Unfortunately, it is far too common to be dealing with template web sites that don't allow for page specific title tags. These lower quality templates end up using the same title tags on every page within the website; this is the kiss of death for search engine rankings. If you are serious about obtaining top rankings, you need to either pressure your template provider to allow title customization OR switch to an alternative, more search engine friendly template design. You are just wasting your marketing money with these.

Let's see how having a clear title tag is used in the search engine listing.

Google listing display

Example 4. Title Tag displayed in Google listing

The title tag is actually the very first thing displayed in any listing in the search engine results. Compare what is in the HTML source code in Example 3 with the Google display to see where the search engine is getting this.

Creating Clear Titles

Titles should be written using the strongest keyword targets as the foundation. For example, ActiveRain's primary keyword target phrase is "Real Estate Network". A glance at their home page shows that phrase is used right in the site title. Some titles are written using two or three basic two-keyword phrases. A key to writing a good title is to remember that human readers will see the title as the reference link on the search engine results page. But don't overload your title with keyword phrases. Concentrate on the strongest keywords that best describe the topic of the document content.

  1. It should contain less than 80 characters.
  2. Uses important keywords and phrases unique to each individual page.
  3. Uniquely describes what the page or site is about.
  4. Make it be consistent with page Description and web page Body.
  5. The first few keywords of your Title tag are given the heaviest weight by the search engine, so it is important not to dedicate these first few words to your Company Name if your name is not what customers are searching for the most.
  6. Move your Company Name to the end of your Title tag.

The result of using the title tag properly (along with other good SEO techniques) is that Jeanne Littlejohn's site today ranks #2 in Google out of 1,490,000 possible results! This site is also #7 in Yahoo! and #2 in MSN/Live. Oh, by the way, her site is also using a reciprocal Link Directory to help achieve these rankings too (for those who have dismissed link exchanging as being useless). ;-)

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about this discussion. 

Comments (24)

Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi Greg!

You certainly make a good point. But since most real estate agents are amatuers when it comes to designing a web site or customizing a "canned" template, no one has really explained to them what the Title tag is all about and how to effectively use it. "Let's see... Title tag. Hmmm. Does Mr., MS., or Mrs. go in there? No, that is too easy. So I will just put my name in there." Ha! So maybe my post and some others here will give them a helping hand in learning how to do it properly to get results! Thanks for commenting.

Mar 20, 2007 08:56 AM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi Aziz!

I'm glad I could help expand your knowledge in this post. I'm a visual person, so I find that by using graphics, I can explain these concepts more easily then just describing it all in text. Didn't someone once say, "A picture is worth a thousand..." :-)



Mar 20, 2007 09:01 AM
Agent Web Design
Specialists Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
Well said. Don't use your title for name branding. Use it for SEO!
Mar 20, 2007 11:30 AM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi Darren,

I admit that when I first started designing web sites years ago, I use to make the same mistake. But when I found out about the power of the proper use of the Title tag, I could see fantastic results for my clients almost immediately. Thanks for commenting. 

Mar 20, 2007 10:15 PM
James and Joseph Bridges
Keller Williams Realty - Global Trust Team - Long Beach, CA
Very helpful.  Also, it's not just for results, as you do want consumers to click on the result.  You can consider a call to action in your title tag like "Free MLS Search"
Mar 21, 2007 05:58 PM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi James!

Good point to remember as well. Just be sure to put your targeted keyword phrase at the very beginning and then the call to action next. Something like "Fairfax County Real Estate - Suburban Virginia - Free MLS Search for real estate in Northern Virginia and Fairfax County". In this case, this site wants to be found for Fairfax County Real Estate, not Free MLS Search.

Thanks for your comment. 

Mar 22, 2007 12:14 AM
Maureen Maureen
Orangeburg, NY
Win - I never noticed the titles on webpages before.  My site is a template,  Everyone has the same titles and they are generic.  I am planning on designing my own website someday soon.  (Now that I have this cool mac to build it on).  Be forewarned I may be asking tons of questions in the upcoming months.  ;)
Apr 03, 2007 02:20 AM
Christopher & Bernadette Hurley
Go Hurley Group - Sugar Land, TX

Win-Great Post.  What are some of the link directories you recomend? 

I see you are using a Mac from you post.  Do you use the customization of each page name within iweb or another program? 

We are moving to a mac due to the ease of quick inhouse changes and customization it provides.  Any other advice for using the mac as your primary web development tool?


Thanks again


Apr 03, 2007 11:48 PM
Tamara Inzunza
Realty One Group Capital - Alexandria, VA
Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living
Back to basics!  This is something that I often overlook when adding new pages.  Thanks for the reminder.
May 28, 2007 01:14 PM
Robin Willis
eXp Realty - Tucson, AZ
CDPE, SRES, Associate Broker
Great advice.  I did not know this title information.  I'm going to have to put the pressure on the template site creators that I am working with to get some changes made.
May 29, 2007 07:05 AM
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ
Great post. As always lots of good info.......bookmarked and rated! Thanks!
May 29, 2007 01:18 PM
FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:.
Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc - Arlington, VA
I'm impressed. I was always told that link farms suck and reciprocal links are near worthless.  
Jun 06, 2007 04:25 AM
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

Excellent advice. I try to remember to title each and every page that I upload onto my site.

Jun 06, 2007 02:01 PM
Brad Carroll
Dakno Marketing - Knightdale, NC
Real Estate Web Designer
Good advice. I always get a kick out of going to someone's page and their page title is "Untitled Document"
Jun 06, 2007 06:44 PM
Carol A. Keeser
Lexington, NC

I use to work as a Technical Consutant but my expertise was not in Web - I designing my web site now and your blog helped a great deal.    Thanks.

Jun 07, 2007 04:55 AM
FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:.
Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc - Arlington, VA

Hey Win,

I gave you props and linked to this blog over at my blog about Link Farming

Love to get your feedback.


Jun 15, 2007 04:45 PM
Kevin Raymund Lao Jacinto
Coldwell Banker Pioneer Real Estate - Moreno Valley, CA
Thanks for the post ! great info. 
Jun 15, 2007 05:47 PM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Brad - I couldn't agree more! The minute I see "Untitled Document" or "Welcome" in the Title tag at the top of the browser window, I just have to laugh and think, "Oh, that will get the site found. NOT!"

Robin - Unfortunately, not all real estate template providers even allow access to having the ability to customize the Title tag or other meta tags. Since the object for most real estate agents is to get prospects from their web site, and not merely be a "vanity" site, this is one more reason to either pick your template provider carefully OR go custom and leave the work to a Pro!

For the Hurleys - Actually, I hand code all of my sites using BBEdit by Bare Bones as my editor. You gotta love a piece of software who's slogan is, "BBEdit - It doesn't suck!" :-) And yes, each html page of a site usually gets a different search phrase in each Title tag.

Jun 15, 2007 11:39 PM
Thomas E. Elder
Mortgage Broker Compliance Consultants - Forest Hill, MD
Founder, Mortgage Broker Compliance Consultants

Thanks Win,

Great advice.  and so often overlooked.  Luck for the rest of us :) lol.  Have a great week.

Jul 10, 2008 03:24 AM
Dave Sullivan
Real Estate One - Birmingham, MI
Michigan Realtor with an investor viewpoint

Excellent information I will forward it if that is ok? thank you!!!

Nov 25, 2012 12:04 AM