In short – page titles are crucial.

On October 12th 2011 I began an SEO experiment.

This experiment would involve 6 websites, be targeted at a uncontested phrase in the aim of verifying personal speculation about Google ranking factors. I would then publish these findings widely to ensure small businesses, freelances, blog authors, blog commentators and many more good people have some useful and more importantly, valid, SEO advice so those lazy-link-farm-owning-good-for-nothing-spam-junkies can be smacked back into the nineties and stay there.

So for all you good folk, let’s get started with why page titles matter

3 purpose built blogspots were launched on October 12th, each had titles relating to their URL and didn’t mention the target phrase. These sites all posted ~300 words and received two inbound links with varying anchor text.

On October 13th another blog – this time on Tumblr – was created, this time the title did include the key phrase.

By October 17th the Tumblr site had been sitting pretty in 4th spot while the blogspots hadn’t yet made it into the top 50. In reaction to this I updated the site and post titles of the three blogspots.

Bingo! By October 20th positions 1, 2 and 3 were attained by the blogspots.

You may feel like saying “er, duh, of course page title matters” and that’s fair, many of us know it matters, but the danger is that the post title gets less attention than the body. The post title isn’t SERP (Search Engine Result Page) considered – for example, I wonder how many bloggers, check Google’s estimate traffic tool before choosing their title and publishing…?

I can see clearly now the rain has gone…

Now, a futher 6 days on, the top 10 has been monopolised by my pages:

1. apinkturtle.blogspot.com
2. ayellowturtle.blogspot.com
3. anavyturtle.blogspot.com
4. www.yellowturtle.co.uk/2011/10/yellowturtle-giant-indigo-turtle.html
5. at-dpitt.blogspot.com/2011/10/giant-indigo-turtle-part-3.html
6. at-dpitt.blogspot.com/2011/10/indigo-turtle-my-seo-experiment.html
7. at-dpitt.blogspot.com/2011/10/giant-indigo-turtles-seo-experiment.html
9. at-dpitt.tumblr.com/

The current ranking continues to suggest that the page title is the first and most critical factor to get right in your race for SERP position – without it, you’re nowhere!

Once the page is indexed for the phrase, the spectrum of factors gradually come in to play.

Google has told us there are over 200 ranking factors currently emloyed but in this experiment most can be ignored for now (such as page speed).

I will be posting my derivations on the ranking factors and weighting using this experiment’s data, with an infographic in the next few days – check back soon!