If your site has a lot of pages and especially if its an ecommerce web site one of the really quick and legit gains you can make in the SERPS is by addressing the duplicate page titles you may have on your site.
Why are duplicate page titles bad?
Page titles still remain ‘the’ most important on-page element in helping to rank for specific phrases so having a whole bunch of page titles that are duplicate, and worse – not even representative of the page content/product is a really wasted opportunity. Unique and descriptive page titles should be one of your SEO priorities. Ensuring all your page titles are unique and represent the page content is a major step to maximising the number of pages on your site that can rank well for a wide variety of terms.
What’s more the search engines want to use your page title as the title of your search result listing so ensuring it is relevant and enticing to the searcher is key for a high clickthrough rate. Here’s an example of a good page title. 🙂
To learn how to write great page titles, see my post; 10 tips to on how to write powerful page titles.
Why does a site have duplicate page titles?
Often CMS’, especially ecommerce ones are to blame for this as the default option is sometimes to use the home page title for product pages unless manually changed. Not manually changing titles is the primary reason for duplicate titles, often because of ignorance rather than laziness! Some systems will generate dynamic page titles based on the product name, page h1 or post title and that is awesome when you have a site with hundreds or thousands of pages where its not a pleasant job to manually adjust each page title. If your CMS system doesn’t have that functionality speak to your web developer and ask if he can create it or be prepared to spend some time and effort writing unique titles for every page/product you add to your site.
How can you find the duplicate titles?
To help you find duplicate page titles Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a great tool for this (and many other things). You simply enter the root domain i.e. http://www.example.com into the url to spider field and let it crawl your site. When done toggle the Title tab and discover all those pages using the same page title. The list is also exportable. Google Webmaster Tools (below) has a very intuitive way of finding them. In your Webmaster tools profile click on search appearance > HTML Improvements. You will see the total count of pages with duplicate titles. Click on ‘Duplicate title tags’ and it will show you those pages and the titles. If you are a Moz member you can also find them within your Moz Analytics.