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Old 03-08-2006   #1
bigjohnjohn
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Does Title Tag Need To Come First?

Hi

I have recently taken charge of a company website after 7 years away from SEM.

I have asked the external bloke who hosts/looks after our website to make some changes to the html, specifically the meta tags. Specifically, this is what is there now:

-------------------------------
<html><!-- InstanceBegin template="/Templates/master.dwt" codeOutsideHTMLIsLocked="false" -->
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
<meta name="description" content="blah blah blah">
<meta name="keywords" content="keyword, keyword, keyword">
<!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="doctitle" -->
<title>Company name</title>

-------------------------------

When I asked why I couldnt have my title tag at the top, underneath the <head>, this is what I was told:

"The position of the keywords and description meta tags have no effect on
search result ranking. Google etc are very clever. In fact there is a school
of thought that meta tags have very little to do with search engine ranking.
The quality of the copy and reciprocal links are considered more important.

The specification of the doctype and meta http-equiv all go towards making
the page w3c compliant
<http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fweb address%2F>

If you really want me to change it I will, but it could break w3c compliance
and won't help your search engine rankings in my opinion."

Now, my question is: Is this opinion correct? I looked at the meta tags for searchenginewatch.com and it was much more straightforward, and what I expected to see: title. description and keyword meta tags immediately after the <head>

Can anyone shed any light on this? Do I need the two sections that I have highlighted in bold?

Any advice or assistance is greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-08-2006   #2
dannysullivan
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Last I looked, and it was a very long time ago, the position of the title tag made no difference. Top of the header, bottom, middle, put it wherever you like. The search engines don't care -- it's valid anywhere. If we're putting the title tag first at SEW, I assure you it's more to do with coincidence than intent. I don't give it a second thought.
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Old 03-08-2006   #3
St0n3y
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Danny's right, it won't make a difference. But I admit to giving it more than a seconds thought, but only because I'm a neat freak and simply like to see the title first, description second, keyword third. Old habits die hard.

I've never had a html validity issue with that but I'm surprised to learn that there is a "correct" order.
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Old 03-08-2006   #4
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Just like Danny said, doesn't matter if the title tag is first second or last thing to appear before closing </head> tag, search engines will recognize it.
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Old 03-09-2006   #5
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Hi, thanks for the replies everyone.

I am surprised Danny that you said the position of the title tag doesn't matter. Things must have changed a lot since I last looked into SEM.

I always thought that it was good practice to have your title, description and keyword tags, as high up in the the html page as possible.

I know that most search engines don't give the same importance to meta tags as they used to.

Looks like I have a lot of brushing up to do!
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Old 03-09-2006   #6
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Things have changed a lot since... February!
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Old 03-09-2006   #7
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Quote:
Things must have changed a lot since I last looked into SEM.
They may not have changed. You just might have been looking at different advice elsewhere.

Like I said, long ago I remember first getting these types of questions. Heck, someone even made a tool for FrontPage to help people "fix" the title tag "problem." I even remember Microsoft telling people to use this third party tool to help with search engines, despite the fact they hadn't really researched to see if it was an issue.

If I recall, I looked at a number of pages to see if the title tag position seemed to have an impact, plus I think I talked to various search engines. I came away convinced it was a non-issue. And that's where I've been since.

I just did a search on viagra, and the top site has the title tag after other ones. Proof it doesn't matter? Maybe. I can do other searches and get top pages that do rank well with the title tag top. But what about the anchor text? What about the text on the page? How "normal" is the copy. There are so many factors that this overall is another reason why I long ago discouraged people from using what I called "perfect page" analysis tools, those that try to create "food" for search engines or get you to tailor your content to some magical formula. There's so much variation that it's hard to know that any one factor is that crucial -- and for newbies, they especially get confused. I'd rather have them gut level work on content with soul, as RustyBrick likes to call it.

But that's me It may be you saw advice elsewhere. Ultimately, everyone makes their own choices with SEO.
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Old 03-09-2006   #8
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I appreciate the feedback.

I guess this is as good a place to start my re-education.

I'll be lurking and no doubt posting again soon.

Thanks
JJ

Last edited by bigjohnjohn : 03-09-2006 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 03-09-2006   #9
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Quote:
Do I need the two sections that I have highlighted in bold?
The second one bolded, the "editable" tag, is specific to Dreamweaver, so it's necessary with DW templates when they're set up. Those indicate which parts of the template can or can't be edited specifically for each individual page.

You certainly can specify the sequence of the tags in the <head> section when making each page's tags custom - it depends on how the template is set up. Whether or not it makes a difference (which it doesn't), there's a big BUT in how it's been set up and is currently running through all the pages on the site the same way.

You shouldn't have the same description & keywords metas (or title) be the same across the site, each page should have tags specific to that individual page. And if those tags are editable, then you yourself can change the sequence however you choose.

Quote:
<meta name="description" content="blah blah blah">
<meta name="keywords" content="keyword, keyword, keyword">
<!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="doctitle" -->
Check on what this placement of the "begin editable" is doing. Make sure the tags are editable on all pages. With the placement of that "editable" tag, it looks like they aren't, but double check for yourself and if the developer says it doesn't matter, that isn't correct.

Last edited by Marcia : 03-09-2006 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 03-09-2006   #10
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Good catch, Marcia!

Marcia is right: the meta tags need to be within the <!-- #BeginEditable "doctitle" --> and <!-- #EndEditable --> tags -- otherwise, they won't be able to be edited on each page, which means they'll be the same on all pages.

I don't know how large the site in question may be but, although DW templates can be a great use of functionality, some things just have to be gotten right. Like the ability to have different text in metas on the pages.
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Old 03-09-2006   #11
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To be clearer, here's how I would do it (noting that it also needs a doctype):


<html><!-- InstanceBegin template="/Templates/master.dwt" codeOutsideHTMLIsLocked="false" -->
<head>
<!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="doctitle" -->
<title>Company name</title>
<meta name="description" content="blah blah blah">
<meta name="keywords" content="keyword, keyword, keyword">
<!-- #EndEditable -->
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
(And the rest of the <head> area stuff that remains the same on all pages here)
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Old 03-13-2006   #12
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Thanks to everyone (again). I will take this up with the chap who looks after the website and post back here what he says.

Cheers
JJ
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Old 03-13-2006   #13
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I will take this up with the chap who looks after the website and post back here what he says.
Thanks bigjohn, please do keep us posted on the outcome!
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Old 03-28-2006   #14
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<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
That line tells the browser what character set to use. If you go (in IE) to View >> Encoding you'll see which character set the page has told your browser to use based on that line of code.
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Old 04-25-2006   #15
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Thumbs up Clueless and Blind..

Cheers Guys ! I had no idea that this was the case with Title etc...

I have a lot to learn and hopefully this is the place to do it :-)

Thanks again!

Sparks

Last edited by Marcia : 04-25-2006 at 09:28 AM. Reason: No sig URLs, please. Thanks!
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Old 04-25-2006   #16
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Sorry for delay in reposting - my web chap just said that it was possible to have separate meta tags on every page and that the html he is using is in line with current industry standards.
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Old 04-26-2006   #17
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There is actually a W3C recommendation that meta elements should appear as high in the head of the document as possible.

I would have thought that there are *potential* advantages for putting the 'Content-Type' meta right at the top, particularly if you have extended characters in your titles or other metatags.

So if you're going by the letter of the W3C's recommendations, it looks like they've got things spot on. However, I've always put things in the same order as DianeV regardless! Might be time for a change though ...
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