SEO Title Tags: Best Practices and Examples
Take a look at title tags and the best practices to ensure they’re optimized for crawlers and readers alike.
Title tags in SEO are like the title of your book for the demographics of your two most important types of readers; people and robots.
The people need to know what they can expect to find on your page when they click the link. The robots (crawlers) prioritize your page and its content through a ton of factors, with one very important SEO ranking signal being the title tag.
Let’s take a look at title tags and the best practices to ensure they’re optimized for crawlers and readers alike.
<Title> tags are an HTML element found in the <head> section of the HTML code of your web page.
In the HTML code of your web page, they should appear as:
<title> Your Title Goes Here </title>
These titles can appear in:
- Search engine results
- Social media posts
- Unfurled chat messages
- Browser tabs
Title tags are important because they let readers know what information will be present when a user clicks on a page.
They are important for the search engines for the same reason, except they also function to determine the relevancy of the web page as a result in a search query.
If Google doesn’t like your title tag, then they may change it to better suit their / user needs. If this happens, you can bet it most likely won’t be to your liking.
To ensure that your title tags are relevant to readers and the search engines, they should follow the below mentioned practices and guidelines.
Title tags should be between 50-60 characters in length. Google has not specifically come out and said that title tags should be this length; however, if your title is longer than 60 characters, you risk the chance of it becoming cut off in the middle.
Try to avoid those cringe-worthy three dots on the end of your title so users can know the full story of what your web page is about.
Also, stay away from all capital letters in your title tag as they’ll use up more character space than lower case letters will.
If you’re unsure how your page title will look when you publish, you can use the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin to optimize your title tag and make sure it’s not too long.
Perhaps even more important than length in your web page title tags are the keywords you use.
Title tags can do wonders for your SEO when optimized with the right keywords. Put in your most relevant and desired keywords you want to rank for in the title, but don’t overdo it.
Google can easily recognize keyword stuffing and may change the title of your web page if it feels you’re just throwing different variations of a keyword into it.
Example: Groom Your Dog: A Guide to Dog Grooming for Groomed Pups | Animal Grooming
The “grooming” keyword appears four times, which is way too much. A simple, “How to Groom Your Dog,” would certainly suffice here.
However, the one thing this example does well is to place the keyword in the beginning of the query.
There has been a lot of debate about where your keywords should be placed in a title tag for SEO; in the beginning or does it really matter?
If we look at the image below, the main keyword appears within the first five words of each article ranking at the top after the first organic result and SERP Feature results.
Obviously there are cases when the word can appear towards the end of a result; however, it’s a safe practice to place the keyword toward the beginning as much as possible.
A stop word can be any of the following:
Sometimes it might not seem possible to have a title tag without stop words, but if you try different combinations of the same title, you can find them.
Most web pages on your site are different so you should distinguish their differentiations with their titles. As Google states, don’t use generic titles like “Home” or “Profile” to name your pages.
If you do, Google may change the name to something more in line with what the web page contains.
For example, the website below has it’s title listed as such in the SERPs:
However, the title tag in the source code for the web page looks like this:
This is especially relevant for ecommerce pages that may feature a lot of similar products. Be sure to give each page as unique a title as possible to ensure you’re most desired pages are SEO optimized for their corresponding queries.
Whether you’re title tags are for the search engines or your buyer personas, the goal of having unique titles is to increase your click-through-rate and avoid any duplicate content misunderstandings between you and the search engines.
Furthermore, If you’re still using paginated content, then give each page a different title that is relevant to what’s on each title. You can also avoid this entirely by using a canonical tag that points to the original page so that first page only shows in the search engines.
Action words, or action verbs, are words that express an action. Having actions words in your title tags can help entice users to click-through.
Some examples of action words often used in titles are:
You get the idea.
Using actions words in your title will let the user know what kind of content they can expect to find on the page.
Using the word “learn,” in your title denotes an educational experience is awaiting. The word “get,” lets the user know that some kind of service will be available on the page or instructions on how to achieve a goal.
Titles like the one below can be confusing as they tell me what the “Free YouTube Views” article will be about, but they don’t tell me in what context.
Is it a program that will automatically generate YouTube views to my video? A guide? Just by looking at the title, I can’t tell.
It’s only after reading the meta tag description that I understand the title tag more fully. The are advocating for their method, which may result in a high bounce-rate if I’m expecting some automatic program to help me.
Create your title tags to supplement your meta description so that readers can know what to expect on your web page just from the title.
Well known brands should always feature their brand at the end of the title if there’s space. If not, shorten your page title and make space.
It can help click-through-rates immensely when users know the brand associated with the webpage, and you can really make it stand out in the page title.
Titles are the most prominent and noticeable part of a SERP result, thus, having your brand featured there can further convince users that the web page is reputable, trustworthy, and has solid information.
Using a different heading than your title tag will help you target different keywords. It works as a 1-2 SEO punch.
Take Conductor’s article about the Google Fred update.
You may expect to find the same title on the page; however, when you get to the page, they’ve optimized the H1 to target “dropped rankings” along with the keyword that appears in both: “Google Fred Algorithm”.
Take advantage of the different SEO ranking factors and optimize your content to maximize your ranking power for both.
Title tags may seem like a facet of beginner’s SEO; however, I would argue that title tags play an extremely important role and the way you use them can impact your SEO significantly.
Use all the SEO tools at your disposal wisely and ensure that you’re getting the most out of each SEO facet, no matter how small it seems.
How do you use title tags? Let us know in the comments below.
Also published on Medium.