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SEO Tip – Utilizing the Title attribute

Often overlooked in SEO is the use of the Title attribute. Not to be confused with the Title tag, the title attribute can be used to add descriptive text as to any HTML element. It’s particularly useful for describing the content of linked-to pages.Google Search Results for Local Business

This is useful for SEO purposes, because The Bots (like Google and Bing) can get an idea of what the content of the linked-to page is. This is especially helpful when the anchor text is something generic like “Read More”, or “Click Here”. These types of links are often generated by a CMS like WordPress or Joomla.

An example of an anchor tag using a title attribute would be:


Golf-Draft.com

Which results in a link like so:
Golf-Draft.com

If you hover your mouse over the link above for about a second, you should see a yellow “tool tip” box pop up with the description. The description should read “A simple web application for tracking golf drafts”.

Which brings us to some very handy secondary functionality of the title attribute. It can be used as a useful UI element to provide contextual help. For example, if you have a text-input used for requesting a telephone number in a form, you can use the title attribute of the input tag to provide some insight into what format you’d like the phone number entered in. Ie. “Please format as (204)-555-1234”.

The title attribute of elements is also often used by screen readers to provide information about HTML tags. So it’s also good practice to use the title attribute on anchor tags for accessibility reasons. This would be very important if you’re website is likely to be visited by the visually impaired.

The one downside of properly using the title attribute is that it usually requires manual effort by a human to properly implement. This blog post is titled “SEO Tip – Utilizing the Title attribute”. However, if I were to want to link to it from another page, I’d want the Title attribute to be something like “Nathan explains why websites should be using the title attribute for SEO and other reasons”. This title attribute provides a little more context than simply “SEO Tip – Utilizing the Title attribute”.

If you really just don’t like the tool tips popping up, but you want the SEO benefits, there’s a work around. You can always use jQuery (or any other Javascript library) to remove the title attribute on the hover state:

$("a").removeAttr("title");

That would remove the title attribute on all anchor tags in the page. And since The Bots don’t run Javascript when indexing pages, you’ll still get all the SEO benefits of using the Title attribute, without affecting the user experience of your site.

Hopefully I’ve given some valid reasons as to why your website should be using the Title attribute when you’re building links. It should be good for you’re SEO efforts, it can provide helpful contextual information for the user, and it will make your site more accessible.

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Comments

  1. Janess November 3, 2011

    Wow I must confess you make some very trenchant ptoins.

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