When it comes to on-page SEO, there are few elements that are as important as your <title> tag. Your page’s titles tell both search engines and your users what the main theme of your website’s page is. This important element is frequently overlooked by site owners, but if leveraged correctly can result in more search visibility and higher click-through-rates.
The <title> tag is located in the <head> section of the HTML document of your website. It is the only piece of meta information that directly influences relevancy and ranking. In this post, I’ll share 9 simple tips you can use to create better <title> tags for your website.
1. Place Your Keyword at the Front
Where your keyword is placed matters. The positioning of the keyword shows the search engines what is most important. If you want to add your brand to the title, do so at the end of the tag. For major brands, you may want to consider having your brand name in front, because it could increase CTR. But for most pieces of content, the keyword should be the first word or as close to the front of the tag as possible.
2. Limit the Length to 50 Characters (Including Spaces)
Ever see a title that is cut off in the SERPs? Looks awkward, doesn’t it? Content in the <title> tag after 50 characters is most likely given less weight by the search engines. Furthermore, content over 49 characters gets cut off in the SERPs.
There is no set rule on how many characters Google will display because it is actually based on pixels. Currently, title tags can go up to 600px, but to be safe, I recommend keeping them within 480px-550px. This will ensure that your full title appears in the search results.
One thing to note is that just because you have a <title> tag, doesn’t mean that Google will display it in search. Google is choosing what to display based on several different factors and may at times modify your title to meet the needs of the end user better.
3. Incorporate Keywords and Phrases
While this seems obvious, many simply don’t do it. Be sure to include the primary keyword or phrase into your <title> tag.
4. Target Longer Phrases if Relevant
Choosing to include valuable and descriptive long-tail keywords or phrases can add a lot of value to your content. Use as many relevant terms or phrases as you can that add context to what your page is about.
A word of caution. Don’t use the same terms or phrases on multiple pages. You want to stick the rule, “one page, one purpose.” Don’t force the search engines to choose between two pages on your site; they may get it wrong.
Use long phrases to add context and help both your users and the search engines get a better understanding of your site’s content.
5. Use A Divider
When you are separating descriptive text from brand text, use a divider. You have the following options to work with inside your <title> tag; |, >, -, and : all of which work great. If you want to show hierarchy, you can combine them.
For example: “Brand | Product Name > Product Style: Model.”
This can help increase the CTR in the SERPs by telling the users a lot of great information about your page in one line.
6. Focus on CTR and Conversions
Getting more visibility in the SERPs is great, but if no one clicks on your link, you won’t be there very long. The goal of good SEO is focused on creating connections and conversions. For your organic visitors, your <title> tag is often the first piece of content they come in contact with. So focus on creating titles that drive action and point towards conversion.
Using Search Console and Google Analytics you can learn what is working and what is not. Adding a <title> tag should never be a “set it and forget” tactic. Just like site content, it should be measured, tweaked and changed as needed to improve the overall CTR and conversions of your site.
7. Target Searcher Intent
Understanding why someone is researching or querying a keyword in the search engines will give you great insight on how to optimize your <title> tags. For instance, if the searcher is looking to purchase or download something, make sure that your <title> tag is action-based. If the query is around researching something, be more descriptive.
User intent is one key element of SEO that all site owners need to understand. This will help you not just to better optimize your site for search; it will help you optimize your site for the people you want to reach and engage with.
8. Be Human
It’s easy when optimizing sites on a technical level to forget about the people our site is reaching. Sure, to add the right keywords and phrases, but make sure that a person can easily engage. After all, they are the ones who take action on your site.
9. Be Consistent
Consistency builds trust. Once you have developed and determined a formula that works for you and your audience, stick with it. This not only helps your users, but the search engines pick up on this as well.
Your site’s <title> tag is one of the most important on-page elements used by search engines to determine the relevance of your page. Many sites would see a huge increase in relevant traffic just by simply optimizing their <title> tags to match the context of their site. Sure, all of this takes time and effort, but when it comes to search, having a strong foundation and clear context is what always wins. This is why investing in research and developing great <title> tags is worth the effort!