Title Tag: Fundamentals & How to Write Titles That Rank High

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Welcome to another issue of our on-page optimization series and today I’ll be discussing title tags. A title tag is simply an HTML element used to specify the title of a web page. This is what’s displayed on search engines results pages (SERPs) as clickable headlines for different results like so:

title tag example

They are important because they encourage the click-through from a user, not just from search engine return pages but also when your URL is shared on social networks like Facebook or other websites.

title tags on social media

To a prospect, it answers the ‘what and why I should care’.

The Length of Your Title Tag

Typically, your title length should be between 50-65 characters long. Anything less may be displayed incorrectly or replaced with what AI (bots) thinks is more appropriate. However, you may want to stop at 60 characters to be safe. This is because the width that your words occupy matters too. Currently, at the time of this publication, 600 pixels wide is the maximum.

no caps title tag example

title width example

As you can see from the above screenshots, the moment that we used capitalized letters, the width our words occupied increased and therefore, the title tag was no longer legible.

The Importance of Good Title Tags

Your title tags are part of how search engines understand what your web page is all about. They are also the first thing that a potential visitor sees, whether on social media or a search engine. So you’ve got to make a good first impression if you want those clicks.

Your title is also used by web browsers and serves as a point of reference for users who have multiple windows open.

browser placeholder example

How to Write Great Title Tags

When developing your title tag, it’s easy to become solely focused on SEO. And while it’s important to be somewhat focused on this, the main focus should be on the prospect. What will make them click?

This is where understanding the intent of a user’s search query comes into play because if you know why they are searching, to begin with, you can frame your titles in ways that encourage clicks. Use the following checklist whenever you are working on a title tag.

1. Is It The Right Length?

If your title is too long, search engines will cut it off and add an ellipsis (…) to it. So keep your titles within the 50 – 65 characters and be mindful of the width that your words take up.

Also worth noting is that even if you’ve got the perfect title length, the bots may decide to replace it with something that they think is more suitable. To avoid this issue, keep your headings and title tags the same plus make sure that your web page content is relevant to it.

2. Are You Over Using Keywords?

Your title tag isn’t a place for stuffing keywords. Do this and you may get a silent penalty that’ll hinder your rankings. Instead, you should include your target keyword within your title once.

3. Does Your Title Begin With The Target Keyword?

Ideally, your primary keyword should be placed at the beginning or after 1-2 words of your title tag. Based on in-the-field observations and numerous testing from several experts in the industry, the closer your keyword is to the beginning, the better!

Also, people often scan search results and placing your keyword closer or at the beginning is a good way of grabbing their attention.

4. Does Another Page Have This Title?

Duplicate titles can cause issues with rankings because the bots may not know which one to rank. So make sure that all the web pages on your website have unique titles.

5. Did You Include Your Brand Name?

Use your brand name after the title. When you have lots of pages ranking on the SERPs, you have an opportunity to increase brand awareness by including your company name. Even if you don’t win the click, users will notice you.

6. Write For Users, Not Search Engines

This isn’t just for title tags. It goes for your web copy too. Your goal is to encourage favourable actions from prospects, so write for them and tell them why they should give you their time.

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Got any questions? Let me know in the comments.

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>> RELATED: Good Meta Description Examples And Fundamentals

Last Updated on June 12, 2019