Does your company get simple SEO tasks badly wrong?

It’s been more than 20 years since I completed my first web development related course – HTML Website Development – and many of the SEO basics we learnt on that course are as relevant today as they were back then at dawn of the Internet.

Yet time and again we find ourselves assisting clients with websites that do not have even the most basic and obvious on-site SEO optimisation in place.

So here it is in simple form . . . what is fundamentally the most important piece of SEO advice that can be given to anyone who is interested in winning at Google:

<title> </title>

What is that, you may ask?

Well, let’s say you own a plumbing business called “Bob’s Plumbing” and you have a marketing slogan that reads “We’ll clean your pipes” – because you thought that was hilarious when starting the business 20 years ago. You live in Johannesburg and you cannot reasonably service anyone outside of the city.

Nine times out of ten, this is how a website developer would represent your business in SEO search for your website.

<title>Bob’s Plumbing – We’ll clean your pipes</title>

And a description that reads something like this:

<description>Plumber and plumbing services in Johannesburg – Blocked pipes cleaned, toilets flushed and foreign objects removed.</description>

This is how Google would interpret those two pieces of code on your home page (the Yoast SEO plugin is displaying our URL in this example):

Looks reasonable enough, right?

Well, from an SEO perspective that would be totally wrong.

Here is why:

Most of the time, your target audience does not know about your business. Your website SEO should be generating you new business, not just being a reference for clients who know about you already.

People in Johannesburg looking for plumbing services will be typing some variation of the following search term into Google in order to find a plumber: “johannesburg plumbers”.

Note the plural, “plumbers”. We have found time and again in search research that people use the plural term and not the singular because they are searching for a list of “plumbers” to choose from.

And the general public could not care less for your clever slogan. Nobody will ever type that slogan into the internet in order to find a plumber. That said, old clients who have lost your contact details may well type “bobs plumbing” into Google in order to find you again.

So here is a much better example of how to craft your website’s home page SEO title and description:

<title>Bob’s Plumbing – Plumbers in Sandton & Johannesburg</title>

<description>We’ll clean your pipes – Plumber and plumbing services in Sandton and Johannesburg</description>

Google would then display this in search something like this:

It’s important to note that many SEO experts don’t feel that Google takes the site description into consideration. Or if Google does, dramatically less so when compared to the title.

Therefore the title is crafted in such a way as to appeal to the largest number of people who are searching for your services.

And the description can include the more airy fairy stuff and marketing fluff that makes business owners, but not necessarily their clients, very happy.

This does not mean that you will automatically win a front page listing with a search term that is highly competitive – but it certainly puts your best foot forward in terms of correctly appealing to a relevant search market on Google. It’s the foundation upon which you can build a larger overall SEO strategy.

As an aside, spend some time looking at different SEO titles on Google and note how many companies, irrespective of size or budget, get this simple task so badly wrong.