If you’ve read tips on meta titles before you’re aware of a couple key factors:

  • Meta titles should always include keywords
  • Keywords are strongest at the beginning of the title
  • You’re limited to roughly 60 characters

Keeping those things in mind, a challenge everyone encounters writing meta titles is whether to focus the text entirely on keywords or to include personal branding info, such as the business name.

To answer that, let’s start with the main page.

Meta Titles for Your Home Page

The home page requires different thinking than your other pages, since it has to represent everything your site is about. Where a particular service page can get specific, the home page should focus on whatever you’ve determined to be your core keyword(s).

For instance, you might be a plumber who has decided that emergency plumbing is the service you want to be known for most. Your subpages might discuss all the other plumbing services you offer, but in this case your main page needs to include that both in the meta data and content.

But there’s a difference between:

Emergency plumbing services in Greensboro | Residential Plumbing


Bob’s Plumbing Co. | Greensboro Emergency Plumbing Services

The first option emphasizes emergency plumbing both to search engines (since it’s at the beginning) and to people since their eyes will be scrolling down the left side of search results. The second option obviously favors name recognition at the cost of less space for service keywords.

When To Favor Your Brand

If you do a lot of networking or are otherwise fairly well known in your community — especially if you’ve done some advertising to establish your brand — opt for the second approach. Your name has legitimacy and influence, and it in itself might be a reason someone searching for your services could pick you. And if there’s something unique to your brand that no one else offers, definitely mention it in at least your meta description.

The less frequent but still valid benefit of this is that if anyone does remember your name and searches for that directly, it’s far easier to rank. It’s embarrassing when a website doesn’t even rank for its own name.

Even though including your branding takes up valuable meta title space and probably means you won’t get as many keywords in, it’s usually a valuable trade off. If you’re a local business, always make sure you can still get your city name in there alongside your core keyword (mentioned above).

When To Forgo Brand For Keywords

If your primary web audience are folks making snap decisions, you may want to opt for this approach. These folks may not know the names of anyone in the industry, so there’s little to gain from including your brand.

When you’re marketing to this type of crowd, the sole reason anyone will click you in the search results is that your meta title and description grab attention and assure them you have the solution. Most of your competition will likely be doing the same, so you have to be direct and offer something specific.

To follow our plumber example above, in this scenario you might use something like:

Emergency Plumbing Services | Low Price Guarantee | Greensboro, NC

You’ve led with the core keyword, you’ve offered a reason to pick you rather than anyone else, and you’ve locked in your geographic area. Depending on how long certain keywords are and how cleverly you can phrase the title in general, you might be able to sneak a secondary keyword in there and still hit the other two areas.

Meta Titles on Subpages

This is where you can get specific. While your home page represents your business as a whole, your subpages should be about specific things you offer. Your subpages should be doing one of two things:

  • Building keyword breadth that wasn’t a focus on your homepage by using specific service keywords instead of general industry ones, or variations of your core keyword.
  • Reinforcing your core keyword(s) with content that expands on something you mentioned on the homepage or elsewhere. (Such as creating a page all about your emergency plumbing services in addition to its inclusion on your homepage).

If you opt to include your business name here, throw it in at the end. Each subpage should have one and only one major topic, so everything about the meta data (and content) should serve that end.

There’s more where that came from! Want some hands-on help with your web marketing?

Check out my SEO coaching page for details.