In my last post in this series (TAGS'n'STUFF), I talked about three of the most import parts of a web page: the title, description, and page link. By going to Google's home page and typing in site:www.[your site name].com (or whatever), you can see what Google has in it's database relating to your site.
One of the interesting things to do is check each page on your site against Google's index. So, if you have a page on your site called www.[your site name].com/realestate.html, and the purpose of that page is to show off your real estate stuff, then what you see in Google should relate.
To get the exact address of a page on your site, simply visit your home page and navigate to the page in question. Then copy the entire link in the address bar as your search term (putting site: in front of it).
You may be surprised at what you see.
There are many "template" type sites that allow you to build your own web pages. Many of these allow you to put your own titles and "meta tags" in them. They don't always tell you what these should be, or even what they are. We'll go into "meta tags" in the near future, but the "description" of the page, limited to 150 characters, is one of these. These are so important to search engine placement and yet they're so often overlooked.
Allow me to illustrate
I have a (pretend) page on my site called "widgets". On this page, I'm advertising my widget products. My website is in Google because when I typed in site:www.jdemarketing.com it told me so. But I'm curious to see how my widgets page is doing. So I'm going to type in site:www.jdemarketing.com/widgets.html, which is the address of my widgets page.
As you can see (above) in the "title" area, all Google has is "Welcome" and in the description it says "put your description here". The link is correct, because I can see the link points to my widget page.
What's happened here is that although Google has found and indexed this particular page on my site, the fact that I don't have any meaningful title or description makes it about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. Now, there might be some content on the page that helps people find it, but without a good title and description, my odds on being found have been greatly reduced. After all, who is going to search on "welcome" to find "widgets"?
My "phoenix small business marketing products" page, on the other hand (site:www.jdemarketing.com/marketingproducts.aspx) shows up nicely (see below). In the "title" area I have "phoenix small business marketing products and services". In the "description" tag I have "phoenix arizona small business marketing products and services | marketing materials | marketing training | marketing plans". The link points to the right page.
Now, in theory, when I type "phoenix small business marketing products" into Google, my page should appear. In this case it does, near the top.
Having relevant search terms in your title and description doesn't guarantee you a page 1 listing on Google overnight, or on any other search engine for that matter, but it certainly helps you get listed and stay listed. Another thing to point out is how relevant my particular search term is. Yes, it's five words long, but there is little doubt about what someone wants when they enter "phoenix small business marketing products".
So, to conclude
Relevant words in the title and description help search engines understand what your page is about. It also helps web surfers find what they're looking for. While, in my case, I could have used "small business marketing products", I'm trying to keep my terms as narrow as I can because I'll have more chance of getting the people I want. While I'd love a marketing client in New York, they're more likely to look for " new york small business marketing products"...
Relevance is also important when it comes to moving up the ranks. If I were to use "Phoenix Accounting Services" as my description and title, but my page content were about marketing, I'm going to upset people who found my site and thought they were finding a CPA. It doesn't help your marketing cause to be dishonest.
Finally, use something that makes sense to people and machines. Don't "stuff" the title and description with single words.
So, check your titles and descriptions. If they look right, put those search terms into Google, Yahoo and Bing (MSN) and see where you rank. If you've just changed them, expect a couple of weeks to go by before any changes are noted; sometimes longer.Check to ensure that the page content reflects what's in the titles and descriptions.
Next we'll look at other tools and techniques to help you get the most out of your own SEO.