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Issue #117: Title Branding

                    SearchReturn Discussion List
             "Understanding Internet Search Technology"
Moderator:                                          Published by:
Disa Johnson                                       SearchReturn
February 15, 2007                         SearchReturn Issue #117
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                   .....IN THIS DIGEST.....


// -- ESSENTIAL TIPS -- //


==> Title Branding

Essentials:  Now to a subject that has several SEOs confusing
principles.  We are going to examine how to choose whether to
include the company name or website in the title and where to put
it if you choose to include it.  The reason there is a conflict
has to do with the job SEOs are asked to do.  Namely to achieve
new search engine rankings for their clients.

For the task of boosting rankings, SEOs will write titles for
their clients and include keywords.  This is the fundamental job
but try to avoid confusing brand issues with rankings.  A ranking
alone will not take advantage of a branding effect unless the
brand is there.  Brand marketing is slightly more complex that
requires more attention than simply thinking that the ranking
supports it without the company name or website as part of it.

At the same time, your job is to consider carefully whether the
brand marketing should supersede rankings achievable through well
written titles containing the best keywords.  There is a way to
do this after you speak with your client and come to a judgment
about how important branding is going to be as you write titles.

First, think of your sense for how big the brand is and where it
falls on a spectrum from virtually unknown to fortune-sized
brand.  Once you can picture the importance in your mind, confer
with your client to make a determination together whether it
should be included.  Unknown brands ought to be careful to not
try to impress their brand with the title unless there are
specific reasons for doing so, such as a new Web service where a
goal is to become popular and recognizable like YouTube or Digg.

If the brand recognition currently falls on the side of being
generally unknown with little real equity, it might be determined
to simply leave the business name or website entirely out of the
title.  Title space and character count is too precious to
include it automatically when it won't noticeably increase
clicks.  If, on the other hand, you are working with a big brand,
it becomes vital to include the brand and drive more clicks.  The
listing will also increase brand equity for these clients.

Try not to allow a client with a small or unknown brand to
convince you they want to "brand" their company, especially when
they are after a local market.  Joe's Westide Shell is only a
brand people in Bend Oregon know about.  It's just not always
important to include a brand, and especially one that doesn't

If you have determined you are working with a client that
requires the brand in the title, you must determine whether the
character count supports it.  If your business name is
International Business Machines, you may want to rethink the
equation.  If you are lucky enough to be able to turn that into
IBM, then you are golden.  How much space does the brand require?
If it requires too much space, you have to think your way around
it for titles.  Or if it isn't a big enough brand and has a large
character count, really consider dropping it.

Finally, you should just about never ever put the brand at the
end of a title.  If you choose to put the brand in, your thinking
should be that it will drive more clicks.  The only way it can
accomplish that task is if it appears prominently at the front in
the Golden Triangle.  Appearing at the end only harms your
overall character count reducing the importance of the terms
which are your keywords.  The only exception to this is when the
brand itself consists of keywords, and even then consider placing
it in the front.

This is where many SEOs go awry.  They often tell their clients
to put their company name or website at the end of titles.  If
you are making this decision you may want to double think that
and make certain you are giving the absolute correct advice.
Suggesting company name or website at the end is nearly always
wrong and something is likely wrong with your calculations
during the process of determining whether the brand should go in
or not.

If you are thinking brand at the end, either the brand isn't
actually as big a brand that otherwise requires appearance in the
title, or the character count is large enough you are concerned
it will get in the way of rankings.  You have tough work with a
brand that consumes a large character count and it's well worth
the effort to figure out a solution if it deserves to be there.

Remember the listing can attract additional clicks with major
brand equity for those companies with it, and that search engines
give special treatment to the first word or words of titles
knowing webmasters typically put the company name or website in
front.  Altavista used to treat the first word of the title
automatically assuming it was the brand or website name.

In short, use a big brand for sure, always put the brand in
front and don't include a brand at all if it won't increase
clicks or is otherwise not important.  Rethink your decision and
go through the process again if you plan to advise your client to
have the brand appear at the end of a title, (the most important
HTML element in natural SEO).

Stay Tuned.

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