Title Tags are a crucial aspect of search engine optimization. With Google’s SERP layout changes the average number of characters displayed in search engine results’ titles has dropped to 58. However, SEOs would be fools to believe that it’s enough to stuff those 58 characters with keywords.
Search Engines Based on Keyword Usage
Keyword optimization and keyword research aren’t dead. Both thorough research and smart optimization still have great impact on your website’s visibility. The thing that has changed is Google’s capability to analyse and rate keyword patterns and semantic structures on a website. That is exactly why keyword research has become a more complex aspect of SEO. Search is still highly keyword-based which lies in the nature of search engines’ functionality. Nowadays, search engines are capable of taking your location, your search history and individual likes or dislikes into account. However, in order to fully understand and process a search query they still rely on users typing in a specific string of keywords. Recent search engine updates, such as the Hummingbird update, have helped Google to better understand users’ intentions but they still rely on keyword usage. In my opinion, keywords play the central role in search:
Search engines have become incredibly smart handling search queries and delivering quality results. However, search is still based on keywords and there is no practical alternative to that at the moment. Search engines rely on users expressing their query through keywords.
Trying to cluster search queries, online marketers tend to differentiate between three major types of search queries, navigational-, informational- and transactional queries.
Titles Meeting Users’ Search Query Expectations
In the past, online marketers tried to optimize their title tags by making sure they contain keywords with great search volumes. Yes, search engines did consider title tags as crucial but that’s only one side of the coin. Optimizing content and title attributes for search engines, it is important to understand that Google takes the entire website into account in order to firstly understand a website’s content and secondly also to create a title displayed on a user’s SERP. Matt Cutts has now confirmed that Google tries to deliver a title that matches the search query as best as possible. Creating that title, Google evaluates and uses content from a variety of sources, a website’s title tag, headlines or body text. Furthermore, the search engine might even use external sources, such as incoming links or the Open Directory Project.
In most search queries, title tags will be considered first by Google. However, there might be a few cases that a website offers great content for a user but its’ title tag just does not fit to the user’s search query. In order to deliver a title more relevant to a search query, Google will now use alternative strings of keywords and create a new title. For SEOs it is crucial to understand that their title tags will not automatically be used every time the website is displayed in users’ search results.
Offering a Semantic Keyword Buffet
Knowing that Google will take additional sources into consideration in order to create the most relevant titles, concepts, such as semantic cloud or associated semantics, are becoming more relevant to search engine marketers. While SEO used to focus on an ever so important primary keyword in the past, we are now facing search engines that try to understand the broader semantic spectrum and various facets of your primary keyword. Understanding that search engine result titles can contain keyword strings from headlines, the body text and even incoming links, content producers must make sure to cover the broader semantic spectrum of a topic and place relevant keywords throughout the entire text. Discussing future approaches to content creation, komdat’s Senior SEO Specialist Stefan Wölfel comes to the conclusion:
The concept of keyword density can no longer be applied in the traditional way. Analysing websites, we must examine the semantic density making sure to offer a broad range of keywords that are relevant to the user’s search query.