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How To Use Images Successfully On Social Media Sites


Images for Social Media News
Images are one of the most popular forms of social media news content for a variety of reasons. This form of media is easily consumed, transfers information quickly, usually requires less reading and can project a great deal of information (many times more so than text). People are busy and not willing to give away their time unless they know something is worth it. Images require a very low time investment, making them a medium that will never die.
Almost any business can make this social media medium work in its favor, and the results from a successful social media campaign that utilizes images can be fairly impressive.
General Tips
Use image sets
For targeted content, try using groups of images rather than a solo image. A group of images should help to provide visitors with more comprehensive content, which many times can garner more social votes (example).
Tastefully mark original images
If your content is original, feel free to place your URL in the bottom right of the image. Images are the easiest form of content to steal, so marking these images can help to get your brand some visibility for your content. Warning: Excessive watermarking and labeling will be detrimental to your campaign’s success! Use in moderation.
Use large images
The largest images possible should be used for social media news. Small and low-res images can get a great deal of negative comments and cost you votes. Don’t know what size image to use? Always default to the largest possible (800px wide max).
Use same size images
If you have multiple images, or an image set, use the same size for each image. This gives your article a more professional feel and gives the submissions a much more uniform look. Never use a jumble of different image sizes; your story will look much more amateur.
Use image categories
Always submit images to the proper category/type. Images on Digg should be submitted as an image. Reddit should be placed into the PICS category.
Use a host for images
Amazon’s S3 and Flickr Pro are some options that will help keep your server from kicking the bucket.  Large images or image sets can really be a burden for a server that is getting hit with the Digg-effect.
Funny Images
Funny images are easily the most popular images found on social media news sites and traditionally are the best topics for garnering votes. Social media users don’t appreciate funny content being mixed with news/informational content, so these images should always be submitted into the humor/funny category, regardless of the content of the picture. (Example: a funny picture of a world leader should be placed into ‘Humor’ rather than ‘World News.’)
If you’re creating the image from scratch, a few things should be taken into consideration.  “Internet speak” should be used for captions, and if drawing or Photoshopping an image, the quality of drawings should either be tremendously high (example), or extremely low (example) – anything in between will seem awkward.
Nine examples of ‘Funny Images’ to use in social media:
  1. Perfectly timed photo -  Photos that look like something is happening that really isn’t – (example)
  2. Cartoon – Humorous cartoons, web cartoons often lack detailed drawings – (example)
  3. Sequencing – Taking a series of pictures and inserting a twist somewhere – (example)
  4. Captioned Photos – Adding ‘internet dialog’ to a cute/funny photo – (example)
  5. Screenshots – Something you see on your computer that makes you laugh will probably do the same for others – (example)
  6. Fake Screenshots – Made up web pages/programs – (example)
  7. Photoshop – Creating something absurd or funny – (example)
  8. Real Life Happenings – Anything that makes you LOL will probably do the same on the web – (example)
  9. Mashups – A take-off on a current internet meme – (example)
Photography Images
Social Media users love good photography. The key is that the photography has to be excellent; low-quality photography doesn’t usually fare well. By creating image sets photography can generally do much better.
Three types  of ‘Photography Images’ for use in social media:
  1. Nature – Capturing nature’s beauty on film – (example)
  2. HDR – High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography; can make breathtaking pictures – (example)
  3. Space – Images that are out of this world, literally – (example)
Design Images
Design has been a staple in social media news sites, and there are sites dedicated solely to this subject.  Design related images should be extremely high resolution, and the content should be truly extraordinary. Image sets also work well in the design space.
Four examples of ‘Design Images’ typically used in social media:
  1. Digital Art – Something that has been digitized or original digital creations – (example)
  2. Graffiti – Tasteful, extremely creative or funny tagging – (example)
  3. Web Design – Extremely good (or bad) websites – (example)
  4. Fonts – Using fonts to illustrate a current event or happening – (example)
Informative Images
These images should get social votes because they provide value. The key for these images is to be easy to consume and to be comprehensive. The images should not only be helpful, but should also be designed well. Great design can make an ordinary informative image turn into an essential resource.
A guide to ActionScript should be able to be printed without cropping, and a keyboard guide to Photoshop should fit on your keyboard.
Six formats of ‘Informative Images’ that work in social media:
  1. Charts/Graphs – Anything that visually shows interesting statistics – (example)
  2. Flow Charts – Helpful (or funny) charts that explain the process of something visually – (example)
  3. How-To’s – A sequence of events showing how something works – (example)
  4. Maps – A geographic look at a something specific – (example)
  5. Screen Shots – A visual screen-by-screen guide on how to accomplish something – (example)
  6. Guides – A helpful list that incorporates all aspects of a specific task – (example)
Unbelievable  Images
This is the hardest category to create/find images for. The goal of any image in this genre is to astound, and to do this, these images need to be (or look) 100% true. A photoshopped image in this category should have a goal of being passed off as something that looks perfectly believable. Aggregating these forms of images is exponentially easier than creating new original content.
Three types of ‘Unbelievable Images’ that score in social media:
  1. Action Shots – Photography that captures the essence of an event – (example)
  2. Photoshopped Images – Unbelievable images altered so well that they could pass as being real – (example)
  3. Caught on Film – Crazy acts found on the web showing actions caught in real life – (example)
News Images
These types of images are either news, or backup/confirm news. These images are not easy to create, but can bring a great deal of buzz and links if done well. A good format for using these images to drive traffic would be to create collections of content (i.e., images from Plane in Hudson).
Four uses for ‘News Images’ in social media:
  1. Exclusives – Images that are exclusive to your site – (example)
  2. Breaking News – Images that confirm and reveal a current event – (example)
  3. Follow-Up to a Major News Story – Pictures that support or confirm current news – (example)
  4. Historical – Photos from an earlier time period that are unique and interesting – (example)
Overall, images are one of the most powerful types of content for social media news sites. Their ability to be quickly consumed and to tell a story better than words makes them ideal for social consumption.

tag appears within the <HEAD> section of a web page. Other content may also appear in the header area, including <a href="http://searchengineland.com/googles-tips-on-how-to-write-a-good-meta-description-12309" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">meta description tags</a>, the <a href="http://searchengineland.com/google-supports-cross-domain-canonical-tag-32044" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">canonical tag</a>, special tags for Facebook and much more. In my example above, I’ve eliminated much of what’s in the head area so that we can focus on the title tag.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">How Is An HTML Title Tag Used?</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Every page can have an HTML title tag, but how that tag is used can vary. Most browsers will show the title in the reverse bar at the top of the browser window. Below, I’ve showed how that “Some SEO Advice For Bill Gates” article that I mentioned appears in Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59411" title="Title Tags & Browsers" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/title-top-of-browser-500x121.png" alt="" width="500" height="121" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Chrome is also shown in the illustration above. Rather than use the title in the reverse bar, Chrome uses it at the top of the “tab” for each page it displays. The others also do this in addition to using the title at the top of the browser window overall.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Title Tags Versus Headlines</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">The HTML title tag is often used by many blogging systems and other content management software as the main headline for a web page. Again, here’s that page I used as an example:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59412" title="Title As Headline" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/title-in-browser-500x347.png" alt="" width="500" height="347" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">You can see how the HTML title tag is also being used as the main headline on the page.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">This is common, but it is not required. For example, here’s a recent New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/business/28borker.html" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">article</a> that<a href="http://searchengineland.com/googles-gold-standard-results-take-hit-new-york-times-57081" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">attracted much attention</a> about a merchant who believed that being mean to customers was helping him rank better on Google:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59410" title="New York Times" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/decor-500x484.png" alt="" width="500" height="484" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Notice how the title tag, which is used at the top of the browser window, is different from the main text on the page.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Title Tags For Bookmarking</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">When you bookmark or make a page a favorite in your browser, the title of the page will be suggested as name of the bookmark (generally, you can edit the page name before saving). Here are the two articles I’ve mentioned above, as bookmarked in Firefox:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-59409" title="Firefox Bookmarks" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/bookmarks.png" alt="" width="287" height="49" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">The title tag will often be suggested as the text used to record a page with social sharing sites, such as Delicious:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59408" title="delicious bookmarks" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/delicious-bookmark-500x91.png" alt="" width="500" height="91" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Here’s another example at Digg:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59407" title="digg bookmark" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/digg-bookmark-500x82.png" alt="" width="500" height="82" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Title Tags As Displayed By Search Engines</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Search engines make use of title tags in two ways: for display purposes and for ranking purposes. In John Gruber’s article today, <a href="http://daringfireball.net/2010/12/title_junk" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">Title Junk</a>, he gets upset about title tags that produce a bad display or readability situation. He’s correct, on some fronts. He also suggests that title tags play no role in ranking. He’s dead wrong, in that regard.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Let’s talk about display first. Below is a search on Google for <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=seo+advice" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">seo advice</a>:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59406" title="seo advice" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/seo-advice-500x788.png" alt="" width="500" height="788" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">You can see my article listed. The headline of the listing matches the page’s HTML title tag. In most cases, the listing will do this. Not always.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">When Google Ignores Your Title Tag</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">In some relatively rare cases, Google will make use of the <a href="http://www.dmoz.org/" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">Open Directory’s</a> headline for a page. Similarly, if a page lacks a title tag, Google may create a listing title by looking at common text used to link to that page. Additionally, Google sometimes decides to craft a listing’s title by combining text from a title tag, text from links, text from the page, the domain name or other methods that it decides is best.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">As a site owner, I hate this. I want Google to use whatever page title I give it. Google argues back that it has to be creative, especially in cases where people have failed to provide titles. I’ve argued in the past that as a solution, Google should provide site owners with some type of “yes, I’m really really sure” meta tag to declare that they absolutely want their pages titles to be used. I’ve not won that argument. But, at least, Google will obey the <a href="http://searchengineland.com/meta-robots-tag-101-blocking-spiders-cached-pages-more-10665" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">NOODP meta tag</a> and not use Open Directory titles, if you object to that.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Good Titles Versus Too Many Keywords</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">One of the things Gruber is upset with are titles that seem “sloppy” or filled with “junk.” Perhaps the best example of overload is MSNBC, which has this title tag:</p><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Breaking News, Weather, Business, Health, Entertainment, Sports, Politics, Travel, Science, Technology, Local, US & World News – msnbc.com</blockquote><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Gruber writes:</p><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Who are these title-junk keywords aimed at? Google? Do you they really think that putting “breaking news” in their home page title makes it more likely that Google will rank them higher when people search for that term? It’s like they’re taking advice out of an SEO book from 1995.</blockquote><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">I’ve actually been doing SEO since 1995 and writing advice about it since 1996. I can tell you that my advice from back then wasn’t to shove in a billion keywords like this. From April 1996:</p><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Focus on the two or three keywords that you think are most crucial to your site, then ensure those words are both in your title and mentioned early on your web page.</blockquote><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">So I agree. I think MSBC is overdoing it. It has 12 different news topics that the home page’s title tag is targeted. Really, it should focus on only two or three topics. But I’ll get back to this more when I talk about ranking issues.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">How long is too long? Google and Bing don’t really care. If you have a long title, they’ll simply truncate the excess, like they do in this case for a search on <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=breaking+news" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">breaking news</a>, which brings up MSNBC:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59405" title="MSNBC Truncated" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/msnbc-500x74.png" alt="" width="500" height="74" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Some, like Gruber, may feel having a title cut short like this is ugly. Some searchers might not care. I’ve never seen studies that say one way or the other. Personally, I’d prefer titles that fit. But ultimately, I’m not writing my own titles to precisely fit within the space that Google and Bing will display (about 70 characters at both places).</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Site Name In The Title Or Not?</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Gruber also offers suggestions on what he views as the only sensible formula for creating page titles. These are to show:</p><ul style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 15px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 5px; line-height: 1.5em; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); "><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">Name Of Site –Headline</li><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">Headline — Name Of Site</li></ul><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">I’ll provide an simpler formula:</p><ul style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 15px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 5px; line-height: 1.5em; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); "><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">Show what you think is important to your potential reader</li></ul><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Do you think that your readers need to know the name of your site on each and every page? I don’t. Not for my site. That’s why we don’t put Search Engine Land into the title of all of our articles.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">For example, here’s a search on Google for pages from Search Engine Land about SEO. Most of these are articles, features and columns that we’ve written. None of those types of pages carry our site name in the title tag:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59422" title="SEO On SEL" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/seo-from-sel-500x288.png" alt="" width="500" height="288" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Search Engine Land has what I believe to be a good brand in the search marketing space. I suppose putting our name in the title of each article might further resonate with those who do a search at Google and know our brand. However, I also know that people will also look at the entire listing, and the name of our site is included in our URL.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">More important, I expect many people who search for the content we provide do NOT know our brand. They’re new to search marketing, and I think a short, focused title will be more likely to attract them to visit. So, in our case, we leave off our site name.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">That’s not in every case. For example, we have a number of guides about popular search topics. In those cases, we deliberately want our brand to be known, so we include that in the page title:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59421" title="SEL Guide" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/sel-guids-500x208.png" alt="" width="500" height="208" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Over at the New York Times, that publication clearly feels having its brand in the title is important, which is why you see it in its titles, tucked at the end:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59420" title="New York Times Titles" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/nytimes-500x420.png" alt="" width="500" height="420" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">In the last listing, “NYTimes.com” is in the title. It just doesn’t show, because it’s at the end, and the title gets cut off.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Ultimately, You Decide What’s Best About Titles</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">What exactly you put into your title ultimately depends on what you decide is best — not what I personally think is best, not what John Gruber personally thinks is best. No one will know your site and your visitors better than you (assuming you’re a diligent publisher). Advice can be good, but advice from afar can also lack specific insight.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Going back to Gruber’s advice, the idea of some type of template that you use for most of your pages does make sense. Do you want your site to be listed in the title or not? Make a deliberate decision about that. List it first or last? There have been debates on what’s best in this regard (or even if it’s required) that go back for years. There’s no definitive answer.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">I will suggest that when it comes to home pages, they’re special. If you’re a known brand, in a space where there may be brand confusion, especially consider adding the word “official” to your title tag. Yes, others could pretend to be official as well. But they usually don’t, and you’ll usually come first.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">While adding “official” doesn’t make sense for every page, it does make sense that every home page should be focused around one to three key terms that you hope the entire web site will be found for. Your most important terms. They go in your title. They do help with ranking. Leaving them out is like handing out a blank business card.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Yes, Virginia, Title Tags Do Help With Rankings</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">I’ve been writing about SEO for nearly 15 years now. I’ve moderated around 50 “Ask The Search Engine” sessions at conferences with reps from the major search engines. Consistently, from SEOs and search reps alike, title tags are consistently said to and found to have a ranking impact, when this question comes up.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">For example, keyword in title tags were found to be the fourth most important SEO factor in<a href="http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">SEOmoz’s ranking factors survey in 2009</a>. Google <a href="http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2006/10/target-visitors-or-search-engines.html" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">has written</a> about the importance of titles on its <a href="http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">Webmaster Central Blog</a>. Google also offers an SEO Starter Guide. I’ll get back to more advice from it in a moment — as well as a link to it — but the guide says:</p><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">A title tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is.</blockquote><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">The tag tells users about the topic from a display perspective. It tells search engines from a relevancy ranking perspective. A descriptive title helps the search engine know what the page is about, which in turn can help the page rank for the key terms in the title.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">The title tag is not the only thing Google uses. It quite famously has <a href="http://searchengineland.com/schmidt-listing-googles-200-ranking-factors-would-reveal-business-secrets-51065" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">over 200 signals that it contemplates</a>. Bing similarly has a <a href="http://searchengineland.com/bing-10000-ranking-signals-google-55473" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">complicated recipe or “algorithm”</a> that it uses to analyze which pages should rank tops. Yes, pages will rank well even if the key terms are not in their titles. But having key terms within a page title can help, and it is recommended as a good SEO practice.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Getting Focused</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Going back to MSNBC, a good SEO practice would mean breaking its title tag down to the most important topics, maybe:</p><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Breaking News, Politics, Sports & More From MSNBC.com</blockquote><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">If MSNBC wants to be found for other topics like “weather” or “business,” it has other pages within the site that can do the heavy lifting for those topics.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Then again, while Gruber might not like how MSNBC’s long title looks and makes an assumption that having “breaking news” in the title doesn’t help MSNBC rank, the site IS showing up for that term:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59436" title="Breaking News" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/breakingnews-500x890.png" alt="" width="500" height="890" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">In fact, EVERY page in the top results for <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=breaking+news" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">breaking news</a> makes use of those words in their page titles.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Of course, you could argue that it’s natural that the most relevant sites for breaking news would use those words in their page titles. If they suddenly dropped those words, maybe they’d retain their ranking. Maybe. Or maybe not. But when Google — and Bing — and scores of SEOs tell you that title tags matter, why on earth wouldn’t you create a short, descriptive title for your home page that encompasses what it’s about?</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">If Books Get Good Titles…</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">So when Gruber writes:</p><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Surely, the name of the site should be the first thing (and in many cases, the only thing) in the title of the home page.</blockquote><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">I have to disagree. It’s like saying that the title of a book should only be the author’s name. A web site is like a book. It deserves a good title, just like a good book does.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">By the way, while I’d agree that MSNBC might want to trim its title to be more specific — which could then include having its brand showing — consider this search for <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=msnbc" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">MSNBC</a> itself:</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-59434" title="MSNBC" src="http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2010/12/msnbc2-500x208.png" alt="" width="500" height="208" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; border-top-color: black; border-right-color: black; border-bottom-color: black; border-left-color: black; "></p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Notice the title is “msnbc.com” — but this is the exact same home page that has that long title before. What’s up? This is one of those cases where Google is trying to do the right thing. I searched for MSNBC. Google has changed the title that it shows for the page, probably using patterns of how people link to it, to present a title that Google believes is most relevant.</p><h2 style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); ">Some Closing Advice</h2><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">Goodness knows there are plenty of people who dismiss everything about SEO as junk. SEO is not junk, and people who continue to have that type of knee-jerk reaction <a href="http://searchengineland.com/seo-is-here-to-stay-it-will-never-die-50192" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">are simply ignorant of how search engines work</a>.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">If someone cannot distinguish between spam and SEO, if they cannot distinguish between good SEO practices and going overboard, if they write off all of SEO off as nonsense, my advice is to safely ignore anything they have to say. They are effectively web bigots, and you should treat their advice as you would the rantings of any bigot.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">I don’t get the impression that Gruber is such a bigot. I think he understands there are good SEO practices and is justifiably upset at some excesses. As I said, I agree with much of that.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">However, writing off the importance of title tags period is bad advice. That takes me back to that<a href="http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; color: rgb(12, 114, 182); line-height: 20px; text-decoration: underline; font-size: 15px; ">SEO starter guide from Google</a> (PDF format & the image at the top of this article comes from it). It’s from Google! Unless you buy into a conspiracy that Google is deliberately trying to mislead publishers about the importance of title tags, I think it’s good advice to follow. Here’s what the guide has to say about title tags:</p><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><strong style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">Accurately describe the page’s content</strong></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content.</blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><em style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">Avoid:</em></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><ul style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 15px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 5px; line-height: 1.5em; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); "><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page</li><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">using default or vague titles like “Untitled” or “New Page 1″</li></ul></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><strong style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">Create unique title tags for each page</strong></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Each of your pages should ideally have a unique title tag, which helps Google know how the page is distinct from the others on your site. using a single title tag across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages</blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><em style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">Avoid:</em></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><ul style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 15px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 5px; line-height: 1.5em; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); "><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">using a single title tag across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages</li></ul></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><strong style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">Use brief, but descriptive titles</strong></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; ">Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long, Google will show only a portion of it in the search result.</blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><em style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">Avoid:</em></blockquote><blockquote style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 20px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 20px; "><ul style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 15px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 5px; line-height: 1.5em; font-size: 12px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); "><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users</li><li style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 2px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 2px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(81, 81, 81); line-height: 1.5em; ">stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags</li></ul></blockquote><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">It’s basically what Gruber wants — short titles that are relevant to the page. No disagreement there. But if you want to “trust the Googlebot to figure it out,” as Gruber writes, then you should also trust that Googlebot does indeed want some help in doing that figuring. That means being descriptive, even on your home page.</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; ">(Source <a href="http://searchengineland.com/">http://searchengineland.com</a>)</p><p style="padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><br></p><p></p></DIV>