Let's think about the common elements you should put on every page in order to help your visitors work out what they doing. It's actually not that hard, but it's amazing how often sites neglect some of these simple things, and as a result make it harder for visitors to understand what the site is about, and what they can do on it. The first and most important thing you must do is work out what your site is actually about and explain that in a concise way on the screen. If you can't write a short sentence that says what the purpose of your site is, then there is no way you are going to be able to get your visitors to understand what you do.
As an example let's say you are a florist and you have a site that lets people order flowers for delivery, as well as advertising your physical shop. You have flowers for all occasions from weddings to prom corsages, to funerals. So what's your site about? Well, it is about getting flowers to people in a certain geographic area for the events in their life. This suggests a short sentence like "Ventura Area Flowers delivered for all of life's special events." I am sure that you can do better than this for your own site. Remember, this sentence is going to appear on every page of your site, so as well as being descriptive; it is useful if it also includes the terms that people are likely to search on.
You we can make some educated guesses about what terms to include, but typically for small businesses the product and geographic area are the most important things to mention, because these are what people search for most often. For special interest sites, it's normally the topic. This description becomes your site's tagline; most often the tagline appears directly under the site logo or name. Make sure it appears on the page's text, not as a graphic, because search engines can't read the text from within an image and that would waste all of your hard work.
This is a good time to point out that your site's logo, name, and tagline, should all be hyperlinked to the homepage, so that if someone clicks on them, they are taken directly to your Main page. This action has become a standard way of doing things. Although not all users know about it, enough of them do to make this worthwhile, because lots of visitors, if they have reached your site through a search engine, would want to get to what they consider to be the top of the site, to find out more about you. Another place to put in some descriptive text is in the Page Title. This is the information that shows up in the browser to identify the web page, it either appears in the Title Bar or in the Tab directory above the page.
Obviously this text gets truncated quite a bit, especially if people have several tabs open. For that reason you want to lead with the most important information and probably limit the Title to 64 characters or less. The Title should be unique for every page, so the best way to create it is probably to do the inverse of what you do if you're creating breadcrumbs. In other words just start with a very brief discussion of the page, then maybe the topic area, if that's relevant to you, then the name of the site. For our Florist example, this might be Bridal Bouquets Weddings Hansel Petal Flowers, because we know that when this is displayed, the most variable piece of the content, the Bridal Bouquets will show up in the tab.
The rest might be hidden from the user, but it's still really useful information for search engines. You don't need the little words like "and" or "of". And instead of punctuation, use the pipe character-that long vertical line-to separate the concepts that you place in the Title text. We covered Navigational elements like Site Menus and Breadcrumbs in Chapter 3, but it's worth emphasizing again here that the those navigation controls also have their opportunity to give visitors a great insight into the contents of your site, so they need to be given a great deal of thought as well.
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