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It's well known that pages' <title> do impact Google positioning, beside this, they are also definitely important to catch user eye when he is looking at Google search results.

Let's say I have a typical site of 5/6 pages for a bed and breakfast, let me list few pages and their possible titles

  1. HOME - title = "B&B town name, completely new, cheap price for the weekend."
  2. THE HISTORY OF THIS B&B - title = "B&B town name – The History"
  3. BOOK NOW - title = " B&B town name – Book online"
  4. WHERE WE ARE - title = "B&B name, 234 Walnut ave. town name – CA" ...

As you can see I would typically repeat the key-phrase “B&B town name...” in all pages, thus to make sure any of the pages (wherever they'll be shown in Google results) would at least immediately describe the site content and possibly catch a potential customer's eye.

How would you else/better fill the titles?

Do you think is someway bad to repeat the key-phrase “B&B town name...” in all pages?

I'm doing a specific example because reading answers for a specific example might be more easy to me to understand, but obviously the concept could be applied to any websites of almost the same size, so feel free to add your more general considerations and suggestions.

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3 Answers

For such a small website there is no harm in repeating the the phrase in all of the page titles as long as it isn't the actual page title for all of the pages. But having a portion of the title being identical accross the pages won't hurt the site's SEO efforts at all and is a very common thing to do. I wouln't give it any special consideration or concern at all.

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From a user experience viewpoint, I'd recommend making the beginning of the title as descriptive of the particular page as possible. That's because the beginning of the title (and the favicon) are what the user will see when they bookmark one of your pages or open it in a browser tab.

When a user does that, presumably it's because they'll want to find the bookmark or tab again later — and it's in your interest to make it as easy for them as possible.

Of course, what exactly is the "most descriptive part" of the title may not always be so obvious. For a very small site like you describe, starting with the name of the site/business may well be a good idea: on a site like that, all the pages usually belong in a single "document set", such that a user interested in one of them is likely to be interested in all of them, and thus the name of the site is likely to be more relevant than the names of the individual pages. (I would, however, suggest keeping the site name prefix as short as possible, and putting the specific page title immediately after it, to maximize the chance that both will be visible to the user.)

On larger sites with many essentially independent pages, it's generally much more user-friendly to put the page-specific part of the title first, since that's what users will be more interested in. Users will also be more likely to recognize larger sites from the favicon alone, making the site name in the title redundant for them.

Of course, the best titles for users may not always be the best for SEO. But I'd say that the right way to go about things is to first design your website to be as user-friendly as possible, and only then start thinking about how to optimize it for search engines without degrading the user experience. Or, to phrase this in SEO jargon: optimize for conversion before rankings.

Ps. Here's what Google has to say about choosing titles for your pages.

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+1 great answer, it's a trade-off. –  Guandalino Feb 9 '12 at 19:44
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I recently investigated on this for the same reasons as yours.

W3C answer:

Authors should use titles that identify their documents even when they are used out of context, for example in a user's history or bookmarks, or in search results.

Google answer:

Avoid repeated or boilerplate titles. [...] Long titles that vary by only a single piece of information ("boilerplate" titles) are also bad; [...]

Please, note that this latter case doesn't apply to your titles, IMO.

In your case I'd suggest to specify both the "B&B ..." and the page specific part. This way you provide a context useful to identify an hypothetical standalone version of the document and at the same time you offer specific information tailored to what the page is about. The best you can do.

Considering the SEO priority of your question, I invite you to check the results of my assumptions for real, using the tools that Google provides to us. In particular, if under Diagnostic > HTML Suggestions > Title tag, you read "Duplicate title tags", it means that you could do something better to help your site's user experience and performance, and you should.

Don't forget to share your results with us.

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