This post was originally written by Ken Shafer, past SEO Manager for Apartments.com.
A web page’s Title Tag can be an important signal, telling search engines what a page is all about. It’s one of the most powerful on-page SEO elements you have at your disposal. Also, it’s one of the first things people will see about your site when it appears on a search engine results page (SERP). If you’re unfamiliar with the Title Tag, you can see it in a couple of places.
In our website’s code it looks like this:
<title>Apartments.com | Find Apartments for Rent, Houses, Condos and Townhomes | Rental Listings </title>
The title will be on display in your browser here:
Here’s what it looks like in Google:
Because this is such a visible signal to search engines and your visitors, it’s important to use them properly. Let’s look at a few ways property management websites can optimize these tags.
Unique Title Tags
I cannot stress enough the importance of having unique Title Tags for each page of your website. Having every page titled the exact same thing effectively negates the benefits any one page could be receiving. Click around to a few of the pages on your site. Does the title tag change each time?
Web designers will often take the code for the navigation elements, along with all the code above it, and place it in a separate file that gets called in every template. That way, if they need to make a change to the navigation, they can make the change in one place and have it reflected across all pages. What ends up happening is that the same Title Tag gets used on every page since it is part of that reusable code block.
If this is happening on your site, have the designer pull the Title Tag (grab the keyword and description Meta tags too while you’re in there) out of that reusable code block and place it back into each individual web page. If your site isn’t set up this way then you can just go into each page and start making those title tags unique.
But what information should be in there?
Keyword Rich, Informational Tags
Let’s look at examples of two search types for which your property site would probably want to compete:
- Property name searches: “ABC Apartments”
- Geography-based searches: “Orlando Apartments” or “Orlando Apartments for Rent”
Based on those two examples, here’s a Title Tag construction for a fictional property website’s homepage:
<title>ABC Apartments in Fresno, CA | Fresno Apartments for Rent </title>
Let’s breakdown why this an effective Title Tag:
- Property Name is out front and easy to find for someone viewing it on a search engine result page (SERP). Also, search engines should place greater importance on phrases closer to the beginning of the tag.
- Notice that it says “ABC Apartments in Fresno, CA.” Many times there will be properties in other states or cities that have the same name as your property. Help the user to know that yours is the one they’re looking for by including the city. Also, people will often include the city as part of the property name search.
- Three geography-based keyphrases in one Title Tag — our bases are covered.
- “Apartments in Fresno” – even if your property doesn’t already have “apartments” in its name, for example “The Estates at Oak Run,” include that word “apartments” anyways so it would read “The Estates at Oak Run Apartments in Seattle, WA.”
- “Fresno Apartments”
- “Fresno Apartments for Rent”
- Limited use of commas: Nothing says “spammy keyword stuffing” like a group of words separated by commas. Try to avoid them when reasonable to do so.
- It’s relatively short: Try to keep your Title Tags no longer than 70 characters. Anything longer and it’ll get cut off in the SERP. Don’t worry if you have to go a little over. Just keep in mind that overly long Title Tags could signal keyword stuffing to a search engine.
Now that we have the home page taken care of, here’s what I would suggest for the other pages on your site. Let’s take a look at a fictional “amenities” page Title Tag:
<title>Amenities | ABC Apartments</title>
You could then repeat this format for each of your pages. These internal pages should have unique Title Tags but less emphasis needs to be placed on inserting keywords. I’m assuming that the home page is the page you’d most like to have show up in the SERPs so that’s where we’re getting the most crafty.
What you put into your Title Tags may vary according to your needs and goals. Perhaps you’re in a highly competitive city and feel you’d have a greater chance at using the neighborhood name and attempting to rank for that instead. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what phrasing permutations work best for you in your market. Just remember to keep those Title Tags unique and keyword-rich.
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