The page <TITLE> is by far the most powerful aspect.
Robots consider the <TITLE> of a page to be the most telling description of
the content of a page.
Note: this does not mean the first major
heading on the page itself, it means the caption which appears on the title
bar of your browser. The <TITLE> of this page is "META Tags And Other
Tactics For Search Engines"
It will look at
this first, and if it finds a keyword here your page will be displayed above
other pages which only have the keyword in the main body of text.
Therefore, choose your <TITLE> keywords carefully. Use a few of the most
powerful ones and don't make your <TITLE>
as long as your arm just to fit all your keywords in (unless your site
consists of only one page).
If you have plenty of powerful keywords and a good number of sub-pages,
remember that each of those sub-pages has <TITLE> and META fields lying idle.
Keep each sub-page <TITLE> short, with a different keyword or two in each.
That way, whatever search string the user inputs, there will be one of
your pages near the top of the list.
Changing your <TITLE>s regularly used to be a sneaky way
to have your pages scattered all over a deep engine's results list. When
the robot visited, it thought the new title represented a new page and gave
it a new listing. This is becoming less effective now, as the robots become
more sophisticated. Worth a try though, if you're bored.
Very important: your <TITLE> is what will appear as the clickable
link on the results list. Remember that it's a human who's doing the
clicking, so a listing at position #1 that consists of a long string of keywords
might not generate as much traffic as a clear descriptive caption halfway down the
The Alphabetical Issue
The deep search engines have never placed any significance on the alphabetical
ranking of a page <TITLE>.
Once upon a time, it was important to have a high alphabetical listing for the sake of
Yahoo! but in early 1997 they switched the output from alphabetical to relevancy,
just like the deep engines. From that point on, the importance of having a low alphabetical
title went straight out of the window. Bad news for people who had given their companies
silly names like "!!@! Marketing".
Some standard engines still sort alphabetically, but these aren't worth worrying about. The
only real advantage you'll get with a low alphabetical title these days is if you've placed
your site in a Yahoo! category which has hundreds of listings, for example Web design services,
and even then it would only affect people who are browsing the Yahoo! categories rather than
using the search facility.