Title Tags: A SEO friendly guide
Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Regardless if your site ranks well or not, Title Tags often give your visitors a first impression.
And we all know first impressions count.
I’ve seen it first-hand where a lot of sites try to cram as many of their keywords as possible into their title tag, and it’s not good.
Let’s be honest, crafting the perfect Title Tag might not throw you to the top of Google, but it’s certainly a crucial step on your SEO ladder.
Arguably one of the most, and with such little effort and high reward, it’s a no brainer!
What is a Title Tag?
A Title Tag is simply a HTML element. It specifies the name (title) of a specific page.
You will find Title Tags on a search engines result page, like so:
We use these to show an accurate description of what the web-page has to offer.
So naturally you will want to keep them as relevant as possible.
Title Tags also tend to be used in other places such as social media and web browsers.
But why does it matter?
Title Tags have a lot more value to your SEO than you realize
They’re actually quite a major aspect.
And encase you were wondering, this is what it looks like to Google
The Title tag shows what the post is about and can make or break your CTR (Click Through Rate)
As I’ve mentioned Title Tags are used to accurately display what your web-page is about.
But they also give Google (Other search engines are available) the ability to make sense of your page too.
That’s why cramming in your keywords isn’t going to help your rankings at all, because Google will have no clue what it’s actually looking for.
Ideally, you want to create a Title Tag that is both appealing to search engines, and the average human.
But finding that perfect middle ground between the two can be tough.
Title Tags also appear at the top of your browsers tab, so if your one to have multiple tabs open, it’s important your Title Tag shows up.
Generally, when you share something on social media your Title Tag is also shared with it, giving a representation of what the post is about.
Most social media sites have an option to individually change this, so you can optimize for each platform if you wish.
But it’s still always a good idea to make sure your original Title Tag is relevant just in case.
A lot of the time people tend to miss out one of the most important factors of a Title Tag…
Their brand name!
Having a reputable brand is a must, as I’m sure you already know.
So including your business name in each one of your Title Tags only increases the chance of someone clicking your page, especially if it’s someone who has already heard of you.
Something like this for example:
Even though it is important to include your brand name in the Title Tag, only do this if you have room.
The last thing you want to be doing is removing your page title or keyword just to fit your brand on.
Try and find the perfect mixture.
Header Tags vs Title Tags
Some people often get confused between Title Tags and Header Tags.
Which is completely understandable,
These are two completely different elements, but are also, the same in a way...confusing I know?
Both of these are HTML Tags and both will need to be nurtured for your SEO efforts.
However, the one main difference is that Title Tags show up in the SERP’s and lets your visitors and Google know what your page content consists of.
Where as your header tags will be included in your actual sites content, like so:
With all this being said…there's still one burning question we haven't answered.
How do I write the perfect Title Tag?
The first step in ensuring your tag success is to
1. Find a primary keyword to target
As I wrote above, trying to fit as many keywords into your title as possible will only hurt your rankings.
You need to find a single keyword or phrase that your going to target for your title.
The best practice would be to find yourself a long-tail keyword
This is often the aspect of your page you are trying to focus on most. Your “Head Keyword”.
For example, let’s say you have written a guide on how to make the perfect pizza.
The first thing you will need to do is head over to your favourite keyword research tool, and search all of those words we have just said, find the one with a combination of the lowest difficulty and the highest search volume.
You can read a more in-depth process of finding your perfect keywords in my latest article: The importance of keyword research
But no matter what you decide on, don’t forget, keep it relevant.
We don’t want our keyword to be burger, if were writing a guide on pizza.
When your writing your own Title Tag, this keyword will probably present itself fairly easy.
And you'll know exactly what to include.
There may not be a penalty for overdoing keywords per se. But it will be detrimental to your human approach.
Would you click on a page with a title like this?
Best pizza recipe, How to make pizza, pizza guide, step by step pizza
So make sure to avoid something like this.
And as i said, In a perfect world you’ll find a long-tail keyword for your niche.
2. Be careful of your title length
You have probably noticed that if a Title Tag is too long Google will cut off the remaining characters and replace it with an ellipsis (“”)
Most sites and web creating platforms will recommend you keep your title under 60 characters long.
This is not 100% accurate as it doesn't take factors into account such as capitalisation.
But it will generally help to keep your all title on the page.
Avoiding caps is probably a given but encase you didn’t work that out already, keeping everything (or as much as possible) in lower case ensures again, everything fits.
We have covered the fact that your title needs to be appealing to both Google and a visitor, keep this in mind when considering your title length.
Nobody likes to read anymore, and whether that's the difference between 4 words and 6, a long title tends to be a little off putting.
3. Put your keywords first
Now that you have your keywords ready to use.
You need to make sure they are in the right place.
As people tend to be put off by longer titles, it is important we keep our more valuable keywords towards the front of our Title Tag.
This way no matter if a visitor reads the entire thing or not, they can clearly see what your page is about.
From a search engines perspective, putting your keywords at the front can have a higher impact on rankings.
The way I set my Titles Tags are as follows:
[services/product] – [category] | brand name | Location (if applicable)
And this seems to have had the highest impact on performance.
4. Keep it unique
Whenever you create a new page or article, or so on, make sure it is unique to the last.
Having duplicate Title Tags can be disastrous, so try to avoid at all cost.
Keeping your Title Tags unique gives a clear view to what a visitor is clicking.
Make your tag stand out from not just your other pages, but your competitors too.
You’ll want to devise something specific, maybe you can categorize products or delve even deeper.
Just try to avoid the basic “home page” or general categories such as “shoes”.
Even though your visitors are looking for something different, something they are immediately enticed to click, it’s also about pleasing the almighty search engine gods.
Having duplicate content across your site hugely damages your rankings.
If your content is an exact duplicate of another, even if it isn’t your own content, Google may not even consider ranking it at all.
Thus having zero effect on your SEO.
The bottom line is, your Title Tag needs to communicate with the visitor, and the search engine at the highest level possible.
5. Bonus tips to consider
If your Title Tag is completely useless and doesn’t follow Googles algorithm in the slightest, Google will actually restructure your Title Tag to fit the needs.
Maybe, if you have made a complete mess of it, this adjustment might actually help.
But in the majority of cases, it will only make things worse for your SEO.
So if you ever see your title tag back to front or out of order, make sure to revisit it and take a look and what’s wrong.
Make your Heading Tags different
If both your heading and title tags are the same it will reduce the impact these have on your rankings.
Optimally you want these to be completely different, but focus around the same topic.
Take your Time
Don’t rush getting your Title Tag in place just because it seems like a small task.
As I have already said, it may be a small task, but has a huge impact on your Search Engine Optimization.
Take the time to research your keywords, find a long-tail keyword and make sure it’s the best possible solution.
For the most part, SEO is an absolute…pain.
But for once, something is actually reasonably easy.
Make sure to follow these steps and you will have created the perfect Title Tag in no time.
Enhancing your SEO efforts organically.
It doesn’t take long to do, and you will constantly reap the rewards.
Keyword research is also a little tricky to get right, especially if your in an over saturated market, but if you seem to be struggling, as mentioned before you can check out our article on keyword research here.
And as usual, if you need any help, please contact us for assistance :)