Title tags are a basic consideration when optimising your website and have been for many years. They still carry considerable weight with Google and other SERPS when your webpages are being assessed and ranked. However, it only takes a cursory look through a couple of pages on Google to see that many companies are still having trouble crafting title tags, with many falling into the same potholes. We have put together this quick FAQ list of the many questions we get asked when it comes to on-page optimisation.
We are always asked the same questions in our SEO training sessions, such as:
So for those interested in knowing more, here is some handy advice from the content marketing team at Soar Online:
What is a title tag?
Title tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what any given page on your site is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. This title will then appear in various places around the web, including the tab in your web browser. Your title tag will show up as the big blue link in search engine results. Most prominently the HTML title tag will show up as a clickable headline on Google. It’s therefore extremely important for both SEO purposes and for user experience that the title tag accurately and concisely describes the page’s content.
The ideal tag length is anywhere between 50-60 characters long. If you go over this title count then it is very likely that Google will truncate the text. If your title text is truncated, (which is essentially the ‘…’ that you sometimes see at the end of a sentence) this means that the user will not see all of the information you are trying to convey in the title. It is best practice to keep these titles poignant and concise.
What are meta tags?
Meta tags are HTML elements that provide information about a web page for search engines and website visitors. These elements must be placed as tags in the section of a HTML document. These elements are:
Meta description tag
Keyword tag (Now redundant)
Where do I add the title tag?
You can add a title tag in the section in your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:
Why are title tags important?
The title tag is the boldest, most obvious element in a search result and therefore a major part in the decision-making process of whether a searcher will click on your result or not. Not only that, but they are also a significant component in the search engine algorithm which allows Google and Bing and any other search engine to understand what your page is about.
Title tags are used in the results page of search engines:
As well as in the tabs of web browsers:
The title tag is often the first thing a new user will see about your website.
Are title tags used as a ranking signal?
Title tags have “long been considered one of the most important on-page SEO elements.” And the closer to the start of the title tag any given keyword is, the more likely it will be to rank for that keyword-based query.
How to write a great title tag
From an SEO point of view, the title tag should contain all the keywords you wish to rank for. The most important keyword should be at the beginning, followed by the second most important, then finally your brand name if there is enough space. If you are crafting the title tag for your homepage, then it is best practice to begin your tag with your brand. On all other pages, the keywords you wish to rank for then become the priority.
So what should you consider when writing your title tag? Here is a checklist for you to use when preparing your title tags.
Title tag checklist
Length: Title tags should be 50-60 characters long, including spaces.
Your most important keywords need to be first in your title tag, with your least important words coming last. Not only will this boost your SEO value with Google, but it makes perfect sense from a user experience point of view too. In a research test conducted by NN Group, it was found that many internet users scan the search results listing and often only absorb the information from two words in a headline.
If your company name is not part of the important keyword phrases, put it at the end of the title tag. It provides very little value to the user to see your brand name on every single page they visit.
Do not duplicate title tags
They must be written differently for every page. Don’t mass replicate your title tags it will negatively affect your page authority with the search engines. Remember, Google loves unique and valuable content. Repeat title tags are a sure-fire way to put out a red flag that your website may contain duplicate content.
Make it relevant
Title tags must accurately describe the content on the page. This is not just for the value of the Google bots that crawl and assess your website. Why are you writing a title tag? To entice a viewer to click on your page. It is a promise to the user that they will find awesome and valuable content that relates directly to their query. If the title tag is not relevant to the content on the page, it is likely to result in a very unhappy user on your website… it is definitely best practice to avoid an unhappy visitor at all costs!
Do not ‘keyword stuff’ title tags
These are badly written title tags that try to rank for everything or repeat a word over and over. Keyword stuffing is the worst offense when it comes to title tags and your website will be penalised for it. It is important to note that search engines now understand keyword variations. They will pick up if you stuff your tags with exact keywords or varying types of that same keyword as well. There is no need to engage in this practice, it is counter-productive and will only negatively impact the health and authority of your website.
Finally, one more bit of advice that will help with your search engine positions:
Make your headline (tag) different from the title tag: This is another opportunity to vary the keyword phrasing of your page and increase its chances of appearing for different search intent.