Website page titles – to brand or not to brand?

Life would be easy to work on the Next website it comes to making a decision about whether to include the brand name in the page title. It’s a four letter word. Short. Sweet. No concerns about length of title, how it will appear in a Google search.

A search for ‘mens jeans’ shows the page title Mens Jeans | Mens Skinny Jeans | Designer Jeans | Next.

Getting their key phrases in, plus brand name and coming in at 54 characters. Ticking all the boxes.

The lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng brand name

Now, come if you will into my world….

I work for Central Bedfordshire Council.

When we built our website a few year’s ago we took the decision to place the brand name at the end of each page title so that when a customer searches for this they clearly see we deal with it.

This was especially useful when the Unitary switch took place and we became a new authority. We replaced the former Mid Beds and South Beds District Council. So it got the public used to our new identity.

But the brand name on its own is 28 characters long. 24 characters more than Next.

Our top viewed page on the website is our jobs page and this has the page title: Jobs | Vacancies | Central Bedfordshire Council. That comes in at 47 characters so appears as I’d expect on a Google search.

But, a quick check yesterday shows that a lot of our pages exceed the recommended 50-60 character limit (as recommended by MOZ).

Drop the brand name

So it leaves me wondering, do we drop the brand name from the search? After all, when people are searching for Council Service + Central Beds or Central Bedfordshire, Google will be smart enough to pick up the relationship via the URL i.e. http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

The only way to test it is to jump in and remove the brand name from the page title and see how it goes. Which does leave me slightly nervous! So, what I thinking is that we build the new site with the option to show page title + brand name on key high ranking pages of the site. After all, 85% of our website traffic goes to our top 200 pages.

The top pages tend to be a lot more easy to name as they are what the majority of the customers look for regularly e.g.

Bins | Central Bedfordshire Council
Council Tax | Central Bedfordshire Council

I’m also planning on losing the ‘pipe’ in the titles and replacing with hyphens i.e. Bins – Central Bedfordshire Council. I’ve done a bit of research and cannot see clear reason to do one or the other to be honest!

So the question from the title of this blog is to brand or not to brand? What’s your take on it?

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