Choosing a page title scheme for higher CTR in search results

by alex 25. March 2013 19:55

When I do a Google search for "site:http://www.eisenhartsoftware.com", I see the following results:

Please note that I kept this as an image because webcrawlers can't read them - I don't want this blog to trend above my product sales site.

The current titles are ineffective and stupid

The titles of the pages in the search results are not click-inspiring. My target audience will be searching for "build management", "component control" and so on. Pages with titles like "Features - Eisenhart Software" are not going to be clicked on when competing against titles like "Wrestle your software components".

The titles are also not good for SEO efforts. "Features - Eisenhart Software" will be perhaps relevant for anyone searching for that exact phrase, "features" or "Eisenhart Software". No one will search for that exact phrase; I don't want to trend high for generic searches like "features". But, I do want to be the first result for Eisenhart Software.

Page titles for increased CTR in search results

In the page template file (this is the master page for you ASP.NET MVC people out there) I changed the title formatting to be:

<title>@Constants.ProductName - @ViewBag.Title | .NET Component Management Simplified</title>

ViewBag.Title is the title of the particular page the visitor is currently on - this might be "Features", "Sign in", "Pricing" and so on. Constants.ProductName is a constant string that contains the product name. I created this constant because I couldn't decide on a product name until day 50 or so and this constant made it easy to try out new names. (Note to self: next time, choose a brand name much faster.)

The product name was moved to the front of the title. "BuildKeeper.NET" is a more interesting way to start a title than "Features".

"Eisenhart Software" was removed. This string occurs often enough in the content to make it trend well (and it's fairly unique to this site). It is also unlikely that visitors interested in purchasing the product will find the site by searching for the business name.

I added ".NET Component Management Simplified" to the template because I need to rank high for these keywords. I ordered the keywords by the decisions a visitor might make. 

  • "Will this work for .NET? Yes."
  • "What does it do? Oh, component management."
  • "And look, it's simple to use."

The maximum title length Google will display in results

The longest title in the search results is "Build Keeper.NET - Simplified Dependency Management - Eisenhart Software", which is 72 characters long; it was truncated to the lowest significant whole word, to a final length of 51 characters. The 2nd longest was "Eisenhart Software Dev Blog | By Coders For Coders - Ginger" which is 59 characters; it was not truncated. This suggests that there's a title-length threshold somewhere between 60 and 71 characters, and that passing this threshold will cause Google to trim the page title and add an ellipsis.

This new title template is 58 characters long before accounting for page-specific titles. Most of my page-titles are less than 10 characters long. If the full title is truncated by Google, I will probably only lose "Simplified" on average; I'm okay with that.

Conclusions

I feel like this template change is a solid enough idea that I'm going to push it to production right now.

Ultimately, I'm making this change because "BuildKeeper.NET - Features | .NET Component Management Simplified" is more interesting and informative than "Features - Eisenhart Software" and that should increase my click through rate. However, if I want to really great a potential-visitor's attention, I should probably deviate from this templated pattern, or reduce the template to 20-30 characters and put more interesting unique content at the start. I will probably experiment with this in the future with various landing pages.

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