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Brendan - The importance of the Title Tag

Let's begin by understanding what 'Title Tags' are.

In a simple way a website is just like a regular book, the website as a whole is the actual book, each menu item from the website is a chapter of that book, and each item from that menu is just like an individual page from the book. And, just as book pages usually have page numbers, so must your website, however unlike a book we don't give them a number, we give them a name, or to be more precise a 'Title'. Just like a book where every page has a unique identifying number, your website also needs to have each page uniquely identified.

To achieve this we use a small piece of HTML code that is inserted in the web page that tells the browser, or Google what that page is all about.

If you were to look at the 'Title' of the page in it's HTML format it would look something like this :

<title>Title tags, a review of their importance by UJoomla</title>

The 'Title Tag' needs to be inserted in the HTML of the web page somewhere between the <head></head> tags of the page. It's usually closer to the the opening <head> tag often before any of the other meta data contained in the <head> of the web page.

Below is an example of what the 'Title Tag' might look like in your web page's HTML.

<title>Title tags, a review of their importance by UJoomla</title>
<meta name="description" content="A DESCRIPTION OF THE WEBSITE" />
<meta name="keywords" content="THIS IS NO LONGER VALID" />
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252" />
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/style/style.css" />
Website content goes here

So, let's think about how Joomla deals with this. One of the benefits of using a CMS over a regular HTML website is that a lot of these kind of tasks are automated for us by the CMS, which is great. However, because Joomla is not a super duper, all knowing, all encompassing entity with super human powers and foresight, it makes assumptions based on what it has already been told by you, the author.

As default Joomla takes the data for the 'Title Tag' from one of two places, either the article title or the menu name. Now, these are fine in some situations, but not all. This is because we need to think about the 'Title Tag' not only from the website user's perspective, but also from a SEO point of view for Google. Yes, you've got it, the 'Title Tag' is another opportunity for SEO that is not to be wasted if we want to rank highly in search engine results.

Although Joomla writes the 'Title Tag' automatically we are able to override it very easily, here is how we go about it.

In general there are just two different situations to consider:

1. A single article linked to directly from a menu item. In this case the best place to add your custom 'Title Tag' is directly from the menu itself. Click on the menu item from the menu's menu, them choose the 'Page Display' tab and enter your custom 'Title Tag' in the box labelled 'Browser Page Title'. Click on 'Save and Close'. Reload your web page in a browser and check the title bar of the browser, your new title should now be displayed.

joomla menu custom title

2. An article from a menu item collection, such as a category view. In this example we need to change the 'Title Tag' from the article itself because the menu item associated with it only opens an 'index' of available titles rather than the actual article. This was made possible in Joomla with the launch of 3.7. UPDATE NOW! We can of course, add a custom 'Title Tag' to the menu as before, for the listing as well. In this case we need to open the article concerned and in the 'Options' tab, scroll down to the bottom and add our custom 'Title Tag' to the box labelled 'Browser Page Title'. Then click on 'Save & Close'

Joomla article custom title

Note: If you are still using an old version of Joomla you will need to use an extension such as SH404SEF to help you change your article titles. You can still change the titles in the menu however.

If you don't add a custom 'Title Tag' Joomla will either use the menu title or the article title as default. This can be detrimental to your websites SEO.

Okay, we have looked at the what and the how, so lets finish up with the WHY.

A well written and carefully considered 'Title Tag' does several things.

  1. It informs your visitor about what he can expect from your web page.
  2. It is a chance for you to improve your websites ranking on search engines.
  3. And, in those rankings it informs the searcher of what he will see if he clicks on your link, this is mega important. A well written 'Title Tag' will get you visitors, plain and simple.

This is what Google has to say about it:

  1. The optimal length of the title should be between 50 – 60 characters, but no more than 70.
  2. Specify a unique title for every page of your website.
  3. Make your title descriptive of the page content, make it concise and relevant.
  4. Avoid keyword stuffing (repeatedly using similar words like "Foobar, foo bar, foobars, foo bars") will not help you, although using your main keyword is beneficial.
  5. Avoid using generic titles - each page should have an unique title, ideally dynamically updated in relation to the content being displayed.
  6. Brand your titles, but do it concisely and in relation to the content being served, put your information in order of importance within the title:
  7. Title tags(important), a review of their importance(less important phrase) by Ujoomla(put your brand at the end)
  8. Use 'robots.txt' carefully, don't disallow search engines from visiting your website. Google uses the Title of your web page when it displays results in searches. If you do not allow search engine 'bots' to crawl your website pages, no one will find you!

A final thought, even though you have written a great title for your web page, Google might change it in search results. This is due in part to the relevancy of your content and title. If you have just used a standard 'fixed' 'Title Tag' for multiple pages, or maybe your menu items are just to damn simple (Home, Blog, Contact etc.) Google will trawl the content of the page and possibly insert some other text from your page in it's search results as a replacement, this may not be good for you.

Read 712 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 October 2017 23:25


Hi, I have been a Joomla fan and website developer since 2005. UJoomla is an attempt to give back to those who are in the same place I was in 2005. Green around the ears and eager to learn!
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