Design Tip: The Importance Of The Title Tag

Every now and then, I run across a basic web design booboo on the website of an organization that I have positioned in my brain as “getting it.” That happened today. With Poynter.

I’ve challenged myself to post more links to Delicious rather than keep umpteen-million browser tabs open. As part of that challenge, I’m doing housekeeping this morning.



In this example, you can see that the title of the article does not auto-populate the title section in Delicious.

I wanted to save this Poynter E-Media Tidbits article about journalism education to Delicious. E-Media Tidbits appears to be running on a blogging CMS. Software like WordPress and Moveable Type automagically turns the article title into the page title.

The page title lives inside the “head” of the HTML document. Information in the head is read by machines, not humans, except for the title tag. Imagine my surprise when I tried to bookmark the page in Delicious only to find that Poynter’s programmers don’t give each post its own, unique title.

In addition to making it difficult to share on Delicious (you have to remember the title or backtrack, copy, backtrack, paste), this programming oversight also handicaps these articles in search. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rules are clear: the title tag is of paramount importance in determining an article’s page rank.

The lesson: when you’re in charge of new website development or website redesign, make sure each-and-every page has its own unique title. Step two involves how to make those titles SEO-friendly, which is beyond the scope of this little case study!

Update: Additional example
Here’s an example from The New Republic. It goes to the other extreme: article title without context:


By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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