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Proof of how important website titles are for SEO

On popular forum Hacker News, there were recent discussions on how important website titles are for search engine optimization. Today (unexpectedly) something interesting happened which proves how much influence the right webpage titles can have on your search rankings. I am talking about this recent post on Visual Website Optimizer blog announcing free 2500 visitors as holiday promotion. That blog post was titled: ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011 (Shh.. free gift inside)‘. It has been just 6 hours since publishing this post and the post is already #2 on Google for phrase ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011‘. See proof below:

Notice that there are about 17 million search results and Visual Website Optimizer blog (which has nothing to do with Christmas or New Year per se) is ranked #2. That’s not all, the blog post got hits from all sorts of related searches. Here are a few (also see highly relevant previous post on this blog: Joke of Long Tail Search Keywords):

  • merry christmas and happy new year to your boss
  • merry christmas and happy new year
  • Happy New Year Gifts
  • merry christmas and happy 2011
  • merry christmas hope you have some fun this year
  • the whole team with you Happy New Year 2011

I think you got the idea. All in all, that blog post has got 30+ searches on this post in last 6 hours for similar phrases. Who would have imagined that? My guess is that Google is factoring in high page rank of the blog and then if title matches it ranks the post highly. This is a big lesson for startups and other online businesses which still have unoptimized homepage titles such as ‘Welcome to Joe’s Pizza Site‘. Homepage usually has the highest page rank of all website pages, so it is crucial to have optimized titles (such as ‘Pizza Joint in Manhattan – Joe’s Pizza’).

PS: If you still haven’t checked our promotion, please signup for FREE 2500 visitor Visual Website Optimizer account.

14 Comments »

  1. Just curious, did you delete your browsing and search history?

    Subhash

    Comment by Subhash — December 22, 2010 @ 11:29 am

  2. This was from a fresh browser (Opera) which I rarely use and was definitely not signed in to Google.

    Comment by Paras Chopra — December 22, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  3. You should post the exact search URL for comparison. I assume it’s a google.com search.

    How about the all-important pws=0 parameter?

    Comment by Andy Baker — December 22, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  4. @Andy: here is the exact URL http://www.google.com/search?client=opera&rls=en&q=merry+christmas+and+happy+new+year+2011&sourceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 — tried it with pws=0 — same results.

    Comment by Wingify — December 22, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  5. I think it’s a little unfair to deem this just the result of the title of the blog post.

    Bear in mind the search terms are included in the URL, the page title element also matches the page H1 element, and Google Juice appears to be flowing to the page in the optimal manner. What’s more, all links to the page found in Google are using the title as the link text, and the page is being trimmed of potentially harmful query-string guff by good use of the canonical meta tag.

    Basically, this blog post page has been built with good SEO in mind (at least within the code and blog URL structure), and doesn’t have any potentially harmful legacy duplication within Google’s database.

    It’s interesting that the only page that beats it in the SERP is one with “new year” actually in the domain name…

    Comment by Tim Huegdon — December 22, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

  6. You do realise that after about 24-48 hours your blog entry will sink.

    It’s only high on page 1 because it’s fresh.

    Comment by hm2k — December 22, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

  7. @Tim: thanks for your excellent comment. Yes, I agree it is a combination of multiple elements but my guess what that title plays the biggest role of all factors. What do you think?

    Comment by Wingify — December 22, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  8. @hm2k: I doubt the blog entry will sink. (It has already been 24 hours and blog entry is still on page 1) I have seen similar effect with many other blog posts and we still get traffic from those terms.

    Comment by Wingify — December 22, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  9. Well, i guess this blog has a very high pagerank after all.

    Comment by qna — December 22, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

  10. This is absolutely due to the freshness of the post. In fact, it’s already at spot #4 in my results. It is common knowledge that Google pushes up recent posts and slowly sinks them to where they belong after some time.

    Comment by Artem Russakovskii — December 22, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  11. agreed, title tags have always been on of the hugest factors in SEO since day one. It’s a trick to balance to keywords and make sense so folks will click on it.

    Comment by James — December 22, 2010 @ 11:58 pm

  12. This could also be the Sandbox effect!

    Comment by Fimo — December 23, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  13. Interesting stuff. Since it’s only one data point, I thought I could add a little to the conversation and analyzed over 200 thousand search phrases: http://domainnamesearch.org/2010/12/title-tags-for-seo-really-do-matter/

    Comment by Chris Conley — December 23, 2010 @ 11:35 pm

  14. This is interesting. I am going to try this on one of my website and see if I will end up on first page.

    Comment by Pinoy UBT — March 16, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

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