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I was recently asked by a client's SEO partner - who works for a small but reasonably reputed company - an to add a number of title tags and description tags (in SEOPress for a WordPress to a site I have helped redesign and that I administer). I was very taken aback by their advice. I would have thought that this behavior would amount to keyword stuffing and risks creating serious SEO issues.

(My client is not a plumber and is not in Melbourne, but I've converted it to an equivalent a plumber might have used to illustrate)

Each title tag (on about 100 odd pages) ends with "| Company Name, Their City"

  Unclog sinks, St Kilda | Best Plumbers, Melbourne   (on a page)
  Fix leaks South Melbourne | Best Plumbers, Melbourne      (on a different page)

Similarly each description has 4-8 words and then "CityName's top NameOfTrade" and has identical keywords [which are related to the Trade] appended.

  Unclog sinks, Melbourne's top plumber. Commercial and residential.  Eliminate blocked drains, fix low pressure, hot water hot water issues, water leaks   (on a page)
  Bathroom installation, Melbourne's top plumber. Commercial and residential.  Eliminate blocked drains, fix low pressure, hot water hot water issues, water leaks    (on a different page)

The SEO person is advising "Best practice is to always include company name in title tags".

Questions -

  • Is adding the name in title tags an SEO best practice?
  • Do the behaviors described amount to keyword stuffing?
  • What kind of impact would this be expected to have on SEO?
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I was also curious about this, and I found from the moz blog that it depends on the factors below:

  • Brand Strength: Popular brand names in titles almost always perform better than unknown brands, even when people aren't searching for your brand specifically. Amazon's brand recognition, for example, likely gives a significant boost to including "Amazon" in every title, even when people aren't specifically searching Amazon. Less recognizable brands, however, don't always get the same boost, and can actually lead to fewer visits based on relevancy, length, and clickability (described next.)
  • Relevancy: Are your boilerplate/brand keywords relevant to what your users search for? For example, if you're site is about television repair, then boilerplate titles that say "Brad's TV Repair" are going to be much more relevant than boilerplate that simply say "Brads." (We'll explore a way to determine your boilerplate's brand strength and relevancy in the next section.)
  • Length: In general, long boilerplate has the potential to do more harm than short boilerplate/brand words. Long boilerplate can dilute the relevance of your titles. So if you include "Buy Brad's TVs, Television Repair, High Definition Servicing, Audio and Visual Equipment for Sale in Houston Texas and Surrounding Areas" - you may want to rethink your boilerplate.
  • Clickability: Sometimes, boilerplate can make your titles more clickable, even if they aren't terribly relevant. Words like "Sale", "Solved", "Free", "2020", "New", and many others can lead to an increase in click-through rates (CTR.) Sometimes you can't tell until you test, but in many cases even adding clickable elements to your boilerplate can lead to significant gains.

So, the answers to your questions will depend on above factors, and from your illustration, I think it's good as long the title is not too long. I've seen so many websites like your illustration that have a good SEO reputation.

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It is best practice to add your brand name to the end of the title tag. In fact, if you don't have your brand in your title tags Google will rewrite your page titles for you to add your brand name before showing them in the search results. Your brand should be on every page of your site both in the title and in logo. Branding your site like that is never considered keyword stuffing.

Having said that, "Best Plumbers" isn't a very good brand name. A good brand name should be unique and not something that all your competitors could use to describe themselves. That particular brand is so weak that it wouldn't hold up to any sort of trademark dispute. Plus, having the superlative makes appending the brand to the title look spammy.

Appending the city name to the title is not common practice and that could be seen as keyword stuffing. Especially in cases where the city name is already in the title.

  • Spammy: Fix leaks South Melbourne | Best Plumbers, Melbourne
  • Better: Fix leaks South Melbourne | Bob Smith Plumbing

From your examples I would also worry that the site in question is creating doorway pages with thin or duplicative content.

If you have very similar pages for

  • Unclog sinks, St Kilda
  • Unclog sinks, Melbourne
  • Unclog sinks, South Melbourne

where the pages have the same content but with the city name swapped, you will eventually get a doorway pages penalty from Google. It is very difficult to create unique and rich enough content to power such similar pages for all the locations in your service area.

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  • 1
    Do you have a source for "Google will rewrite your page titles for you to add your brand name before showing them in the search results"? I've never come across this before and I'd be very interested to determine how true it is. Aug 24 at 14:48
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    We tend to get questions about it here in the context of people being annoyed that it is happening to their site. Here is one example: SERP prefixing page title with brand Aug 24 at 14:50
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    Thank you, that led me to webmasters.stackexchange.com/a/69080/50310, which seems to conclude that it's a matter of length: Google modifies the title tag if it decides that it's too long, and the most common way that it modifies it is by replacing it with the brand name. That makes more sense to me than Google appending brand names to every title tag that doesn't have one. Aug 24 at 14:57
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    It isn't just a matter of length. Google doesn't rewrite all page titles that don't have a brand, but it depends on several factors: title length, whether or not the query includes the brand, similarity to other titles in the search results, and what Google thinks the brand actually is. Google may even replace part of the title with what it thinks is the brand. See webmasters.stackexchange.com/a/103248/14543 for an example. Aug 24 at 15:00

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