Inngenious B&B Web Site Promotion

B&B Web Design Mistakes: #4 Bad Page Titles

Bad titles for your web pages are a doubly bad mistake. They effect how well you rank in search engines and effect how many people actually choose to click on your site when it appears in the search. Page titles influence the technology of the search and the mind of the searcher. It's quite likely you don't even notice the page title on your web pages, but you've seen hundreds of page titles if you've done any web searching.

First, let me clear up what a page title is and where you see it. The page title is not actually on the page, it's above it. It shows up at the very top of the browser window. Here are some examples of where the page title is located:

page title in Internet Explorer

Page title in Firefox

B&B Web Site Titles from the Search Engine Point of View

The page title (actually called the "meta title") currently carries a lot of weight with the major search engines. It is usually the most powerful text on the page from a search engine's point of view. This should be very carefully considered when a site is being created. Unfortunately, many designers give it little or no thought. Here are some common mistakes and examples of awful titles:

Bad Web Page Titles

Bad B&B website title Using your web address as a page title is kind of silly. It is not important to rank highly in a search engine for a search of your own address. If a person knows your web address, they won't need to search for it.
wasted B&B website title Usually it is easy to show up in a search for your Bed and Breakfast's name without even needing to optimize your page for the name. This is a waste of a title. There is nothing in this name that would help you show up better for common Bed and Breakfast web site searches.
B & B Web design flaw When the actual filename shows up as a title, it is a sign that the page's designer forgot to even give it a title. This will only help you show up higher in a search engine if the person is searching for word "page06.htm". It's of no marketing help at all. This is a common rookie mistake.
Inn web site design mistake The likelihood that someone is just going to search for the word "reservations" is unlikely. Even if they did, and you showed up at the number one position, is it likely they were looking for B&B reservations in your area...probably not.

Bed and Breakfast web site title
This title was obviously created by someone that knows a little about search engine optimization, but not enough. This is known as "keyword stuffing" where you try to stuff as many keywords into the title as possible. Too many words in the title dilutes the value of any one of the words. It also makes it an ugly "spam" link when it does show up in a search engine and is not likely to attract a click from a person (more on this later).

B&B Website Titles from the Potential Guest's Point of View

A web page title not only shows up at the top of the browser, it's also displayed by the search engines as the results of a search. It is one of the main things potential guests evaluate as they look at the list of search engine results and decide which ones to click on and take a closer look. Here is an example of how page titles appear in a search (the titles appear in blue):

Bed and Breakfast search titles

Your title has to contain the kind of information a potential guest is looking for as they scan the results of the search and decide which ones to click on. This is what makes the decision about how to title each page rather complicated. It has to appeal to both a search engine and a potential guest. It takes a bit of time and thought, but it is one of the most important considerations for your website and its future traffic.

Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. Each title should contain the major terms or phrases that you want the page to show up for in a search. (see next lesson)
  2. A title should not contain more than 8 or 9 words.
  3. Each page should have a different title, targeting different keyword phrases.
  4. Each title should be meaningful enough to attract the eye and interest of a potential guest.
  5. Avoid the use of words that will not be searched for (the, and, or... ) as much as possible while still keeping the title meaningful. However, "Bed Breakfast" should not be used in place of "Bed and Breakfast."

Examine the titles used on your Bed and Breakfast's web site and see if they conform to these recommendations or not. If the titles of your pages look more like the bad examples that appear higher up on this page, then it begs the question, "why does our website have such bad page titles if they are so vital?" The answer has some pretty familiar possibilities:

  • If you hired a neighbor or cousin or friend, they just didn't know any better.
  • If you hired a professional, they were more concerned about the appearance of your site as opposed to whether it will appear in search engines or be attractive to searchers .
  • If you hired a company that should know better, because you hired them to design and promote your site, they either have too many inexperienced designers to keep track of (cheap labor), or they are trying to keep you in a dependent relationship. They want you to keep paying them to promote your site. (I'm afraid you are going to hear this one a lot, because it is pretty common.)

Advice for B&B web design

  1. If you are having a new site built, spend some real time dedicated to choosing good effective page titles for each and every page of your web site. The next lesson in this series will help you with that.
  2. If you have an existing site that uses bad page titles, contact your designer immediately and get them changed to something more effective. The technical side of changing page titles is relatively easy and should not take a lot of time or money, but writing good page titles does take time and is well worth it. My suggestion would be to spend time constructing what the titles should say, before contacting your designer. If your designer doesn't seem to understand what all the fuss is about, consider finding another designer or someone who actually understands Search Engine Optimization.
  3. If you are looking for a new designer or web site promotion specialist, examine the sites in their portfolio. Does each page have an effective page title? If the answer is "no," keep looking for another person to promote or design your site. This is one thing you definitely shouldn't have to teach a professional.

B&B Design Mistakes - Pictures of TextB&B Web Design Mistakes: #3 Dropdown Menus B&B Design Mistakes - Pulldown MenusB&B Web Design Mistakes: #5 Optimizing just the Home page