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Looking for a quick fix that will improve your rankings? Take a look at your title tags. A title tag is the line of text that is normally displayed at the top of the browser window. Title tags are arguably the most important SEO tags for any site.

For most search engines, the maximum length of a title tag to be displayed is between 60-70 characters. If your title tag is over 70 characters, your title will be cut off around 70 characters on the search results page. (Note: more recent evidence, and changes in how the SERPs are displayed, have created an environment in which 55 to 60 characters are more accurate estimates.)

Search engine spiders use these title tags as the main source for determining the page topic. Spiders or crawlers examine the title and then translate the topic of the page. This is one reason why it is always best to use your keywords in the page title, and to place them as close to the beginning of the title as possible. Remember, the text included in the title tag is also the text that will appear in the SERPs (search engine results pages) as the linked title on which users will click to access your page. In fact, just fixing the title tags of your pages can often generate quick and significant improvements in your rankings.

For example, let’s say you have an educational site that provides information and guidelines on teacher certification requirements. You’ve decided that the most important keywords for your site are “teaching certification” and “teaching requirements.” In this case, a page title along the lines of “Teaching Requirements for Teacher Certification” is highly relevant to the topic of the site. Spiders will crawl your site, and because the title is the first factor it sees, the spider will “read” it and then examine the rest of the page finding the keywords used in other places on the page to determine how relevant the title is to the rest of the content. If the content, H tags, and title tag all relate—you’re in business! This is why it’s so important to target the most critical keywords in the title tag.

Follow this same process for all of your pages, and remember to create unique titles that are relevant to each page and do not keyword stuff. This greatly improves the effectiveness of those tags and will increase the search engine rankings for your keywords. Although your home page might show up for 20 or 30 different keyword combinations, only your top two or three keyword phrases should be included in the tittle.

Remember, though, that it’s not all about impressing the search engines. Your main goal should be to get someone to click on your listing. This means that you may have to get a little more creative. If all you’re doing is placing keywords, you’re doing something wrong. If, on the other hand, you’re crafting titles that encourage customers to check out your site, now you’re getting closer to true optimization.