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Opt out of Open Directory titles

Over a year ago, both Google and MSN began experimenting with the titles that they showed on search results screen, often using the title of your site from the Open Directory rather than the title tag coded on your site’s home page. That upset many search marketers stuck with lame (and hard-to-change) titles that hurt their organic search results. Now, MSN and Google have offered a way to opt out of Open Directory titles.


MSN Search introduced this opt-out technique back in May, but, like many things in search marketing, it only becomes big news when Google does it. (That’s what happens when MSN Search handles 12% of all searches, while Google does over 40%.) And, happily, Google has decided to adopt the exact same technique pioneered by MSN Search, so you can do things just once and opt out in both search engines.
All you need to do is to add a tag to the <HEAD> section of the HTML on your page called NOODP (which stands for “NO Open Directory Project”). To suppress the Open Directory title in both MSN and Google, you code the tag as <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOODP”> but if you want to control just one of the search engines, you change the name from ROBOTS to say so (<META NAME=”googlebot” CONTENT=”NOODP”> or <META NAME=”msnbot” CONTENT=”NOODP”>).
Once you’ve added the tag, the next time the MSN Search and Google spiders come to look at your page, they will update your page listing so that your page’s title is shown instead of the Open Directory title. So, take back control and optimize your pages!
A good title can dramatically change search rankings, especially for keywords that are not very competitive. What’s more, a good title also gets your page clicked because it is the most important part of your listing on the search results page. By ensuring that your title is under your control rather than Open Directory’s, you give your self the best chance of getting traffic to your site.
UPDATE: Barry Schwartz is reporting that, at least for Google, this tag also lets you opt out of using Open Directory descriptions, which is even better. Once you’ve opted out, you can optimize the snippet that Google shows under your title on the results page to further improve the clickthrough rate on your listing.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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