Weekly SEO news: 16 September 2008
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're explaining how your web page titles can help you to get higher rankings when someone searches for a local service.

In the news: Google reveals details about duplicate content penalties and other webmaster issues, Google's new Quality Score is about to go live, mobile search becomes more important and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. How your web page titles can help you with local search

If you're selling products and services that are related to a special area, it is crucial that your website gets found by the right people. One of the easiest ways to get found by people that live in your area is to optimize your web page titles.

What is the web page title?

The title of a web page is the text that is written between the <title> and the </title> tags in the HTML code of a web page. The web page title is displayed in the web browser window when someone visits your website and it is usually used as the linked text when your website appear in the search results.

Why is it important to use optimized web page titles?

The web page title is one of the main factors that Google, Yahoo and other search engines use to rank web pages. A good web page title greatly improves the chances of getting high search engine rankings.

In addition, the web page title is used as the bold linked text on search result pages. That means that it should be clear, concise and appealing so that web surfers click on it.

How to change your web page title so that it gets better local rankings

If you optimize your web page titles correctly, they will both increase your search engine rankings and they will attract people from the right local area to your website.

You'll benefit from targeted traffic and you'll get more sales than before. Here are some things that you can do to improve your web page titles:

  • Include the name of your business, important keywords and your city in the title of your homepage:

       Smith & Sons - The shoe shop for inexpensive footwear in London

  • Depending on your business size, change the order of these items. Well known businesses should list their company name first. If your business is new then it's usually better to list the keyword first:

       The shoe shop for inexpensive footwear: Smith & Sons in London

    People are probably looking for a solution to their problem (inexpensive shoes) instead of your company name. Instead of your city, you can also use the name of the greater area if your service is available in that area.

  • Use a different title tag for every page. This is important. The title should reflect the content that can be found on the page. For branding purposes, the titles should contain your company name and a popular keyword for which you want to be found on search engines:

       Smith & Sons: About our London shoe shop
       Smith & Sons: Buy inexpensive sneakers in London
       Smith & Sons: The best prices for boots in London

  • Use short web page titles. Short titles are much easier to read for web surfers. Do not try to stuff keywords in your web page title. It is much more better if your website is highly relevant to one keyword than somewhat relevant to many keywords.

    If you want to optimize your website for different keywords, optimize different pages for different keywords.

  • Do not use special characters in your titles. Avoid symbols and other special characters. They might not be displayed properly on all computers and your website might look strange in the search results.

If you change your web page titles as explained above, your website will get better rankings on search engines and it will be found by people who live in the right area.

Unfortunately, the web page title is not the only element that influences the position of your website in the search results of Google and other search engines. If you want to make sure that your site appears in the top 10 results, you should optimize all factors that are needed to get top rankings.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Duplicate contentDemystifying the "duplicate content penalty"

"Let's put this to bed once and for all, folks: There's no such thing as a 'duplicate content penalty.' At least, not in the way most people mean when they say that.

There are some penalties that are related to the idea of having the same content as another site—for example, if you're scraping content from other sites and republishing it, or if you republish content without adding any additional value."

Google answers five webmaster related questions

"We hoped to discover which issues webmasters wanted to learn more about, and then respond with some better documentation on those topics. It looks like it was a success."

Google Quality Score improvements to go live in coming days

"Quality Score is now more accurate - because it is calculated at the time of each search query. Keywords are no longer marked 'inactive for search' - all keywords are active because they are evaluated for every relevant query. 'First page bid estimates' replace 'minimum bids' in your account - providing a more actionable and useful metric to advertisers."

Mobile Search grew 68 percent in the U.S.

"In June 2008, 20.8 million U.S. mobile subscribers and 4.5 million European mobile phone subscribers accessed search during the month, an increase of 68 and 38 percent from June 2007, respectively. The U.K. had the highest penetration of mobile subscribers using search at 9.5 percent, followed closely by the U.S. at 9.2 percent."

Stuck in Google's doghouse Doghouse

"In the three months since the Google-Yahoo deal was announced, there is very little doubt that the Justice Department is seriously examining whether to block it. [...] It would give the two companies a staggering 90 percent of the search advertising market, a market share figure so high that even the notoriously lax Bush antitrust department can't look the other way."

Search engine newslets

  • Debunking Google's log anonymization propaganda.
  • Google fundamentally changes the way they handle 302 redirects.
  • Google Chrome Q&A.
  • Google wants your Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL contacts.
  • WAN communiqué on the proposed Google-Yahoo deal.
  • Google: Monopoly or marketplace?
  • Search engine Cuil is valued at absurdly high level of $200M, despite flop.
  • BOTW in talks to purchase DMOZ directory from AOL.
  • Google introduces mobile search with My Location.
  • Yahoo revamps sites to add third-party content.

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3. Success stories

"I just want to say a big THANK YOU!"

"I've owned IBP for more than a year, and my sites are doing well. However, I never realized how much I'd learned through using IBP until I recently created a new site.

I began publishing the site on August 10, but it was far from finished (still isn't). On August 25th, just 2 weeks after publishing just an outline of the site and beginning the build, it was at #10 on Google for my primary keyword phrase. Another more specific phrase was ranked at position 4. Many other keywords were surprisingly high as well.

I just checked again (Sept 12 - about a month after the initial upload), and my primary phrase jumped to #4 (of 703,000), while three others are at #3 (of 451k), #3 (of 65k) and #7 (of 20k). Amazing!"
Terry Potter, www.medicalpvc.com

"What a great programme IBP is."

"What a great programme IBP is. Since 2005 I have been on page 1 of Google.ca. As an ex construction worker I had no idea in 2005 and your programme showed me the way, I owe it all to you."
Roger Dodd, www.tubetools.ca

Share your success story with us

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better.

The IBP manual is now available as a book

SEO bookThe IBP manual is now available as a paperback book. In addition to information about how to work with IBP, it explains everything you need to know to get your website to the top of the search engines.

You can download the manual for free by clicking the "PDF" link in the "Help" panel in IBP's main window or you can buy a hard copy of the book here.

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4. Previous articles

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