Best SEO Practices for Title Tags

Title tags are the most essential on-page SEO elements.

Optimizing title tags is a #1 step in ensuring its organic search visibility.

What is a title tag?

A title tag is an HTML element that describes what the page is about.

A title tag is the technical term for text that describes a document on the web. 

Title tags commonly appear at the top of browser windows, browser tabs and search engine results pages.

The title tag is used as a description of your page’s content. In books you’ll often see in the header or footer of the page, a page number and chapter title. Why do publishers do this? They do this so that you, the reader, have a visual cue of where you are in the book.

Title tags work similarly, yet differently. Unlike a novel with sprawling chapters, think of your website as a book of one page short stories, each with its own descriptive story title. 

While visitors to your website may use these as visual and navigational cues, search engines use titles for the purpose of indexing and categorizing the web. 

Thus, making a page title or title tag the single most important element of the pages on your website.

Why is the title tag so important for SEO?

There are two main reasons why title tags are so important for SEO:

  • Google uses title tags to understand what the page is about
  • More often than not, title tags show up in search results, so they impact clickability:

A page title tag is the strongest relevancy signal for Google, and it also determines if your search listing is going to be clicked.

Title tag SEO best practices

There are a few guidelines that you should be aware of when creating or editing title tags. 

These best practices will help ensure that search engines index and show your website’s pages for the right keywords.

Be to the point

Like a book chapter title, your HTML title tags should briefly and accurately describe what the reader will see.

The same is true of your website title tags.

Keep your titles focused and concise to make it very clear what your page is about.

Make those first 70 characters matter

Make sure your main keyword is included in the first 70 characters, including spaces. 

In search engine results pages both Google and Bing tend to cut off titles with more than 70 characters.

It doesn’t mean that Google doesn’t read or use the rest of your title, so go ahead and put your secondary keywords closer to an end. Chances are, that part will help you diversify your rankings.

Keep it relevant

I can’t stress enough the importance of creating titles for your pages that are relevant or very closely match the content of your page. 

If you say your page is about dancing cats in the title, the content on your page should be about dancing cats.

Ready, aim, fire

Before writing your page titles, it’s important to know your keyword targets. There are words and phrases that people commonly use when searching for a product or service in your industry. 

If you run a bike shop, those words might be: bikes, hybrid bikes, road bikes, cruising bikes, helmets, cycling shoes, bike racks, etc. It’s important to place keywords and phrases related to your industry/business near the beginning of your title if possible.

The name game

When writing your titles, don’t forget to include your company or brand name. Put all of these tips together, you end up with a title that looks like this.

Road Cycles, Hybrid Cycles and Cycling Gear – Collin’s Bike Shop

Beware of putting your brand name at the beginning though because that’s the part where you want to put your keywords:

Collin’s Bike Shop – Road Cycles, Hybrid Cycles and Cycling Gear

Besides, this makes your titles look the same when people look at them in the browser tabs.

Since most small businesses don’t benefit from wide recognition of their name or brand, it’s best to include your company name at the end of your title. This allows the keywords for which you want your website to rank – to be first.

Clickability

One of the biggest factors of title tag importance is the fact that it can impact your organic search clickability.

So spend some time creating a title that people will want to be clicked:

  • Include numbers: Listicles work!
  • Make it a question: Searchers will be intrigued to click and find out an answer
  • Make it a comparison
  • Include your product price

Depending on your target keyword search intent, there may be more tricks to making your title tag more clickable. For example, when seo optimizing for informational queries, using “How to” in the title tag may be a good idea.

Whatever you do, don’t overdo it. Make sure your content delivers on the promise your title tag makes.

Finally, prevent Google from rewriting your title in the search snippets

Quite recently, Google has started to change the title of the snippet and neglect the page title tag when generating the search snippet.

It has been noticed that Google would often use an H1 tag from the page when creating a search snippet. They cite the usability reasons behind these changes: They want people to see the same text on the page they say in search results when clicking.

If you want Google to use your title tag, consider repeating it on a page as an H1 heading. This way Google would be forced to keep your title in the search snippet.

Title tag optimization is not rocket science but it does require some brainstorming and research. After working for hours on the content and layout of your page, spend at least 30 minutes creating an effective title tag. Your page deserves it!

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