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Recently, I changed the title tags for a site that I work on SEO for. See the changes made:

Previous title tag: Flat Fee Listing in MLS, Flat Fee MLS Listing For Sale By Owner.

Revised: Flat Fee MLS Listing | Sell Your Home for a Flat Fee

Shortly after this change was made, the site dropped from a #1 ranking in Google to #2 for the search phrase "flat fee MLS". The site owner insists the reason is because we removed the second "MLS" term from the title tag. While I know keyword density is important within your site content, I've not heard of it being critical within your title tags.

Any opinions out there? Could removing the 2nd occurrence of "MLS" from the title tag have made a difference in our ranking? Has anyone proved this to be the case within their own site experimentations? Please advise - I either need to prove this guy wrong, or correct my error.

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Was this your only change? Is the site that replaced yours already in the top? Did they change anything on their site? –  Thomas Owens Aug 13 '10 at 21:54
    
Initially, yes. We've made additional changes since which have not altered the slip to #2. The site that has taken over was not even on our radar, but that could have been an oversight on my part. Looking at the #1 site, the only reason I can see for their overtaking us is their homepage keyword density- repeating 'flat fee MLS' over and over and over. No other content of real value that I see. –  Kelli Davis Aug 16 '10 at 19:01
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I can't wait until seo.stackexchange opens! ;) –  Bobby Jack Aug 17 '10 at 17:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I believe your revised version to be much more beneficial.

In my experiences when doing seo for our clients, correct keyword placement in Title tags is more important now, than it ever has been.

I always follow the 3 golden rules for Title tags:

  1. Short but descriptive of, and relevant to the corresponding page's text content.
  2. Do not use the same keyword/phrase more than once. (in the Title tag)
  3. Also have the actual name of the page in the Title tag. I've seen many cases where clients have worried too much about keywords in the Title tag and completely forgotten to display the name of the page.

Good Example:

<title>Free Nuts &amp; Bolts | Promotion</title>

Poor Example:

<title>Buy free nuts & bolts from MyWebsiteName.com</title>

Hope this helps :-)

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I go by this method when creating keywords dense title tags:

[keyword 1]: [keyword 2 and Keyword 3 in a Conversational Way] | [Brand]

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I have been of the opinion recently that any change to a major site page that touches on common areas of SEO causes Google to pull the site back a bit on the rankings for a little while. Just from observation in the past few months.

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Hmm. I hadn't notices/ heard about this. Wonder what the reason behind this would be...? –  Kelli Davis Aug 16 '10 at 19:02
    
I had also observed this aweful behavior, but I haven't seen this for a couple months now. Maybe it only happens when they're updating their algorithms? –  Jason Dec 3 '10 at 8:47
    
Yes, I noticed this with my site, the new structure and keywords were natural and more relevant, but the new site took a heavy rankings hit. This hit corrected itself after 1-2 months. –  David Mar 28 '11 at 12:15

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